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Tips For Making Good Food On Any Budget

Aug 17, 2007
While it is true that we do not live to eat, but eat to live, we spend so much time at it that good eating and good living become almost synonymous. I have found that it is not necessary to be a person of means to prepare and serve food "fit for a king." Let me tell you some of the things I have myself learned about making the most of food.

Never shop for only one meal. If you do, you will lose the fun of glorifying leftovers; and furthermore, should a friend arrive unexpectedly around the dinner hour, you will be torn between finding a way to stretch your meal or, far worse, finding an excuse to exclude a guest.

If you have a deep freezer then all your problems are solved. Any dish that you cook can be frozen. The only thing I found that would not freeze without losing flavor is chopped liver. So, when you cook, cook in bulk; divide into one-meal portions, put them into freezing containers, list and freeze.

Think how easy life becomes when all you have to do is take enough cooked food from the freezer the night before and put it into the bottom of the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it the following day. One half hour before serving, put the meal in the oven to warm, set your table, prepare your salad, coffee, dessert, and you are ready to eat. If you are out, you don't have to rush home - the whole day is yours to do with as you will, and your meal does not suffer because of it. (Do remember, though, that food deteriorates fast after thawing - so use your food within the next few days.)

If you do not have a deep freezer, you can still prepare your food in advance. The only kind of food you cannot prepare beforehand is broiled food. The oven will warm any cooked food including fried chicken or fried veal cutlets. Your refrigerator will keep most cooked foods (with very few exceptions) for at least a week - so cook for three or more days at a time.

I use chicken fat for shortening because, as Mama used to say, it gives food "dem Yiddishin tom" - but you can, if you will, substitute any of your favorite shortenings.

My recipes for appetizers can be used for a main dish if you serve soup to begin with, and an ample side dish, and dessert to finish off the meal.

Mama used to say if there are eggs and fat in the refrigerator you can always stretch a meal to include one or more guests, by making eggs and onions and a kugel of some kind.

When cooking, leave lid off pot, so you can see when water reaches boiling point; then adjust heat to low or fast boil, as desired, and cover.

When reheating food in the oven, most foods should be covered, except food that needs crisping, such as fried chicken, veal cutlets, etc. Though these tips will not get you from point A to Z in your culinary experience, they're small details that will add to each dish.
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