Make foolproof rice
photo by threelayercake
Making rice on the stovetop can be tricky. You have to watch it, or it can boil over, get mushy or burn. You can use the index-finger method of measuring for both rice cookers and traditional rice cooked on the stovetop. You simply add the amount of rice you want to cook, keeping in mind that 1 cup of uncooked rice equals 3 cups cooked rice. Slowly add water, and place your index finger into your cooking pot so it touches the top of the rice. Continue to add water until it fills to the first joint on your finger. This equals about 1/2 inch of water above the top of the rice. If frying rice, let your cooked rice cool before frying it. Rice cookers are wonderful, but if you don’t want to spend money on one, the first tip is an excellent option for cooking perfect rice.
EASY BAKE: Recently, a reader discussed using a rice cooker, and I wanted to add my two cents. One of the easiest ways to cook rice is to put one part rice to two parts water in a covered casserole dish and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. The rice is perfect and, if covered, keeps warm for a long time. No need to purchase a rice cooker or have a pot boil over on the stove. — Margaret C., e-mail
SAVE SEEDS: Don’t forget to save your squash seeds for a great snack. Pumpkin seeds can be saved, too. They are a great source of potassium, magnesium and zinc, plus others. They are somewhat high in fat but low in saturated fat, so while they have a few calories, the fat is the good fat. Just spread them out on a cookie sheet, and use a flavored salt or seasoning on them. They will be sort of slimy from the squash, but don’t rinse them off — that is flavor, too. Put them in the oven at 200 F for about 30 minutes. Check and try to turn the ones you can easily at the 15-minute mark. Salt/season again, and put back in oven. If not quite dry at 30 minutes, leave in a little longer. I will sometimes just turn the oven off and let them sit in the oven while it cools. I can’t bake them as fast as I can eat them. I get a better seasoning doing these in the oven as opposed to the dehydrator. — Bev, Washington
REUSE WATER: I wanted to share a water-saving tip that people may use. We live in Ohio and keep our dehumidifier running most of the time. It fills a five-gallon bucket a few times a day sometimes. I take the pure water and water my plants. I also pour one or two buckets in the washer and use it when I do laundry. — Chris D., e-mail
VINEGAR USE: When cooking any kind of beef, in a slow cooker or oven, pierce with a fork, and add three or four drops of apple-cider vinegar to the meat. It will be so tender that it falls apart. — Linda, North Carolina
EXTERIOR FRUGAL DECORATING: When the large round planters at the front of our home are done in the fall, we pull out the vegetation and top the potting soil with a large planter saucer that is just below the edge of the planter. Then we fill the saucer with pine cones, which you can get free. I add some essential oils to a portion of the pine cones, which gives off a nice scent walking up to the front door. I tuck in some artificial fall leaves with the pine cones, as well as Indian corn, gourds or pumpkins from the garden. For the winter, I tuck some pine boughs into the pots, along with the pine cones. Another free resource. — Karen, Kansas