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Bachelorette & Bachelor Parties

If you’re planning a friend’s bachelorette or bachelor party, there are a lot of fun options out there. Now, if what you want is the stereotypical evening or weekend of drinking and debauchery, you can stop reading now. That’s not the type of thing you need my advice for. But, if you’re trying to think of something fun and fairly wholesome, where the bride or groom and their attendants can have some fun, I have some ideas.

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Kitchen Basics

Wedding season is beginning. People are graduating from school. As you are thinking about gifts for those setting up their first households, here’s a list of some of the basics I think are important for every kitchen.

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It’s May. What is in season this month? You’ll still find most of what you found fresh in April. You’ll also find …

Arugula – look for arugula that is fresh, vibrant and green. Avoid any that looks wilted, yellowing or slimy. When buying prepackaged arugula, check the bag for excess water, as moisture can cause arugula to rot quickly. And always buy a bag of greens with the least amount of air. Greens give off gasses as over time. The bag with the least amount of air will be the freshest.

Brussel Sprouts – look for a pronounced green color and tight, compact, firm heads. The fewer the yellowed, wilted, or loose leaves the better. Choose smaller heads; they're more tender and flavorful. Pick ones of similar size so they cook evenly. Store them in the refrigerator in the cardboard container they came in or in a loosely closed plastic bag. They should last a week or two.  

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A Good Wedding Guest

You’ve been invited to a wedding. Chances are good you know the bride or groom well. Maybe you know both. You want their special day to be wonderful. One way to help with that is to be a good wedding guest.

First, know who is invited. Only the people the envelope is addressed to are invited to the wedding. If the invitation includes an inner envelope, that envelope will list the names of everyone invited. If not, you must take your cue from the mailing envelope. If the Smiths are a family of four, and the envelope is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, only Mr. and Mrs. James Smith are invited to the wedding. They should leave the kids at home. If the envelope is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. James Smith and Family, the whole family is invited. If you are single and the envelope is addressed only to you, you are expected to attend alone. If it is addressed to you “and guest,” you are welcome to bring someone else along. And that means one guest, not your whole crew.

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Cheater Donuts

One of my favorite things to do is find shortcuts. Cheater recipes are one of my favorite shortcuts. It’s a way to make something quickly and easily that should take a long time and a lot of effort. One of my favorite cheater recipes is cheater donuts. Making real yeast donuts takes hours and several steps. I remember the Dunkin’ Donuts commercials with the tired man saying, “Time to make the donuts.” The first time I made yeast donuts I understood. Kneading is involved. The dough must rise twice. It’s a long process. Though I must admit, they are delicious.

One day I had an idea. I fried up canned biscuits. It’s quick and easy, and they taste great. No, they don’t taste exactly like real yeast donuts, but they are a passable substitute.

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Cutting Terms

When you’re making a recipe, you need to know exactly what each of the terms means. That’s especially important when it comes to terms for how to cut up whatever you’re cooking.

The first thing to remember is that you want to cut everything to a consistent size. That ensures that everything cooks evenly.

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Picking Good Produce

You know that fresh fruits and vegetables are not only good for you—they taste wonderful. But knowing how to pick the best produce intimidates a lot of people. Here are some good rules of thumb.

First, buy in season. If you’re buying at a farmers’ market or roadside stand, you know you’re buying what’s in season locally. But at the grocery store, it can be a little trickier. There are some good resources online for finding what’s currently in season in your area. My current favorite is www.fieldtoplate.com. Our local County Extension Office is also an excellent resource. It’s March as I write this it’s March. That means artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, mushrooms, peas, and radishes are in season.

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It’s April. What’s in season this month?

Artichokes—Lift the artichoke and test its weight. It should be heavy for its size. The leaves should be tightly packed. They may have a hint of purple; that’s good. Don’t buy an artichoke with brown tips on the leaves or leaves that are loose, dry, split, spongy, or pitted. If you hold the artichoke near your ear and squeeze its leaves with your fingers, you should hear a squeak. Once you have them home, spritz the stems with a little water, place them in a perforated plastic bag, and put the bag in the coldest part of your refrigerator. They should last up to a week. Don’t wash them until just before you eat them.