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Tuesday, May 30, 2006 

Tips for Southern Cooking

The Sun Herald in South Mississippi has a look at the new book Deep South Staples by Robert St John, and provides this list of 10 tips from the book as a sample of the handy ideas and hints that you will receive from this publication which promises to show you "How to Survive in a Southern Kitchen Without a Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup."

Here's the ten tips from the article:

Deviled eggs: In order to avoid deviled eggs that are too large for the mouth, use the smallest eggs possible, then after boiling, cut a nickel-size slice from each end to stabilize them. Halve the eggs crosswise, not lengthwise, to make them small enough to eat gracefully.

Vidalia onions: Because of the high sugar content, Vidalia onions spoil easily; always store them so that they are not touching each other.

Exfoliate: Use rough textured bathing or exfoliating gloves to quickly and easily clean root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and beets.

Baking powder: In order to test the potency of baking powder, mix 2 teaspoons into a cup of water. If it fizzes or foams immediately, it is OK. If the reaction is at all delayed, buy a fresh can.

Fried chicken: Putting several pieces of celery with leaves into the oil when frying chicken produces beautifully colored and better tasting fried chicken.

Boiling water more quickly: Speed up the process of boiling large quantities of water by boiling water in two pots, fore example, a half-full stock pot and a second pot with the balance of the water needed. Both will boil more quickly and continue to boil when the second is poured into the stock pot.

Freezing ground beef: When freezing ground beef, place about 1 pound of fresh ground beef in a zipper-lock bag and flatten with a rolling pin. This way, when you are ready to use it, the thinner meat is easier to break off if you don't have to thaw the whole thing. (And the flat beef thaws more quickly if you do.)

Stuffed peppers: Two ways to keep stuffed peppers upright during baking are to put them in a tube pan to ensure a snug fit, or in a muffin tin to prevent sliding.

Keeping a cookbook flat: Put a clear glass Pyrex dish on top of open cookbooks to keep them flat, readable and clean while cooking.

Separating fat from drippings: To separate fat from pan drippings, pour all the liquid from the roasting pan into a glass measuring cup. Carefully slip a transparent bulb baster beneath the layer of fat and pull out the juices into the baster.