What Makes a Great Patio?

When you have a large family or like to throw parties every now and then, having plenty of entertainment space in your home is important. While an upgraded living area or a kitchen works great, it’s also ideal to create an excellent outdoor space whenever possible. Mother Nature is the best exterior designer and she shows off her chops during summer and spring when the outdoors come alive with blooming flowers, nice breezes, bird songs, and the refreshing aroma of freshly-mowed grass. Is your home’s patio living up to her standards?
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Big Family Living: 4 Kitchen Tools to Make Cooking for a Crowd Easier

Contributed by Hannah Whittenly

Everyone loves kitchen gadgets. Some are more useful than others. When you’re cooking for a large family, it is important to have the right tools. Here are some items that will help you prepare those large quantity meals:

Consider a Large Crock Pot

A crock pot is a good way to save time on meal preparation. A large one can be used if you have a large family or if you are going to a family gathering. This is one way to ensure that there is enough food to go around. Crock pots are extremely versatile. It can be used for sauces, main courses, or desserts. This is a must have for every kitchen even if you don’t have a large family. You can make healthy soups and stews just by throwing in some ingredients. Then you can run out the door for the day, and still have dinner ready when you get home.
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Become an Experienced Cook with Simple Tips

Garlic

Do you walk into the kitchen and instead of cooking, pick up the phone and order out? Does cooking make you a little nervous or just seem scary because of past experiences?  You are not alone!  Many people feel this way. 🙂   All you need is a little patience and lots of practice.  Soon, with a little guidance you’ll be cooking like a pro! Follow these simple tips to become an experienced cook.

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Ways to Improve Your Kitchen Skills

Cooking Skill

 

Improving your cooking skills can seem a tad overwhelming. Sometimes just looking at a cookbook can make cooking seem harder than it is.  Learning to cook doesn’t have to be that difficult.  Here are a few tips that may be useful to you.

Make sure that you understand the conversions for substituting dried herbs for fresh in recipes. While some herbs lose flavor during the drying process, others like oregano can intensify. If you are unsure how much of an herb to use, start with small amounts and gradually add more.

When you are chopping herbs before your meal, throw a little bit of salt on the chopping board. This adds extra friction so you can maximize your cuts.  Quality cuts of herbs will produce a great meal!

It is important to season all of the meat you are cooking evenly. Sprinkle seasoning lightly over the meat like snow.  This will even your seasoning and prevent it from clumping.  Also, the flavor will be consistent all the way through it.

Keep your pantry well stocked with a selection of canned meats.  These come in handy when you need to prepare a meal quickly.  Plus, you never know when the power may go out!  Simply add a few other ingredients from your pantry and you can have a quick and easy dinner.

Remove the skin from nuts such as almonds and pistachios when cooking. You can blanch the nuts by boiling them in a pan of water for one minute. Drain the nuts, and place them on a towel.  Fold the towel over the nuts, and rub back and forth. The skins should rub off onto the towel.

To keep foods crispy in the oven, try using a wire rack on top of your baking sheet. If your oven “fried” chicken strips or other breaded items, tend to come out soggy on the bottom, try placing them on the wire rack.  This allows air to circulate on all sides and bakes the food evenly for a nice crunch.

I hope these simple tips will allow you to gain more experience and become more comfortable in the kitchen. Happy Cooking!