Homemade Ghee – Better for Cooking Than Butter and Oil

Growing up, I remember my mother in front of a huge steel pot churning butter with a long wooden spoon. She would never let me get close to the pot due to the rapid heat and boils. What she was making is called Ghee, which is unsalted butter boiled heavily. We used ghee for everything from a cooking oil to lighting small cotton wicks used in praying and as an ointment for blisters and burns. The ghee bottle in my home sits next to the salt and sugar; it’s a staple ingredient I use quite often when cooking meals.

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Benefits of Using Ghee vs. Butter and Oil

Ghee has a good shelf live. It can be stored without refrigeration if kept in an airtight container. Tip: jam bottles work great.

According to many sources, Ghee helps balance stomach acid and helps to repair the mucus lining of the stomach.

Ghee acts as a cream for burns, blisters and scars. I have burnt butter before but have yet to burn ghee. It has a very high burning point and doesn’t burn or smoke easily during cooking.

How to Make Ghee in Your Home

I decided to learn how to make Ghee without having to use the large pots and potentially hurting my back.

You need very little ingredients – Pure unsalted butter. I usually use 4 sticks of butter.

1.) Start by melting the butter in a medium saucepan or 2 quart pot on high-medium heat until it starts boiling or bubbling.Tip. You have to keep a close watch on the ghee, as it can spurt bubbles at a very high temperature and can burn harshly. The boiling happens quickly in 2-3 minutes.

2.) Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered until butter turns to a clear golden color.

3.) You will know when the ghee is done because there will be foam on top of the butter.Tip. I usually turn off the heat when the splattering sound stops and I see a clear color underneath the foam.

4.) After it cools, strain the ghee using a cheesecloth into a dry container. There will be a brown curd like component at the bottom of the pot. Tip: You can also use a very fine mesh strainer.

4.) Cool it and make sure to store the ghee in a dry air tight container.Tip. Keep it away from moisture. Never scoop out ghee with a damp/wet spoon.

Ghee obviously is a taste that I have grown to love. As you see, it is very easy to make. Nor oil or butter can beat the smell, flavor, and taste in foods ghee has to offer.

Cooking at Home: The Worst Idea Ever?

Maybe the Money Saved by Cooking at Home Just Isn’t Worth It

In these times of economic crisis (I make article #3,664,908 that begins with that phrase, by the way), you may have decided – wisely – to examine your budget. Don’t have a budget? Perhaps you’ve decided to create one, to map out your spending. You know you can’t cheat, so this is a scary prospect. I, for instance, knew exactly how much I was spending on cheese danish from the vending machine at work – but that didn’t make me any less apprehensive about actually writing down the figure. Perhaps you’re deciding that some spending needs to be cut. Perhaps, for you and your family, that clearly means eating out less, and eating in more.

It can’t be that hard, can it? I mean, people have been cooking for themselves since the first caveman stuck an antelope leg into a forest fire. Surely, your natural genetic memory will kick in, and before you can count to four you’ll be a regular Top Chef in the kitchen, flipping stir-fried vegetables and “eyeballing” your seasonings just like Emeril. Bam! Or maybe you imagine yourself strolling happily through the Farmer’s Market on a warm Saturday morning, in a wide-brimmed straw hat and a large canvas shopping bag, intelligently selecting only the most delectable fresh-picked produce for your family’s table. Perhaps you’re even starting to get a little excited by the prospect of cooking for yourself more.

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Now, you may never have been the “Donna Reed” or “Mr. Mom” type, but you’re savvy enough to know that “home-cooked” doesn’t mean “nuked for 4-6 minutes.” And you certainly know that take-out isn’t any better than delivery, even if you don’t have to tip. But let’s find out how much you do know: can you name the basic components needed to make bread dough? How about the four types of foods needed for a casserole? How long should you boil an egg before it’s considered “hard-boiled”? How long do you leave food in your fancy Phillips air fryer? Most importantly, do you even care? It’s an awful lot to learn, and you certainly don’t want to be spending money on books, videos, or classes at your local community college – isn’t the point here to save money?

Don’t get me wrong; I believe cooking is a very important skill that everyone should spend a little time learning. But do try to take it all into consideration – the money for tools, equipment, and education, the cost of the ingredients, and what about your own time? What is that worth to you? Remember that back in the day, cooking dinner took up the better part of the housewife’s day. It’s really not something you can throw together in that hectic time between 5:30 and so-hungry-I’m-ready-to-eat-my-shoe-o’clock. It takes real commitment, and a huge personal obligation to manage all the planning, shopping, preparation, and clean-up. And yes, buying disposable cookware IS cheating.

If you’re really that interested in learning how to prepare home-cooked meals for your family, then more power to you. There are a ton of resources out there for you, and the benefits are definitely worthwhile. But be realistic. It was a lack of realism that got us into this mess in the first place, and the last thing we need is a massive nationwide movement to Walden Pond living. Find the balance that works for you. Even if your “dining out” numbers are leaping off the page and begging for adjustment, consider turning your attention elsewhere for now. Don’t be hasty or overzealous about cooking – you will almost certainly find yourself beaten down, fanning the smoke through the open window, barely able to see the buttons on the phone through your tears. Thankfully, you have the number for the Chinese place memorized. Now what to do with all that burnt lasagna…

Money Saving Cooking Tips for Busy Moms

I know that with today’s economy everyone is looking for ideas to make less money and less food go farther. I have found a few time-saving tips along with several money saving tips that may help.
2204492495_a216c82e2e_b1Anytime I buy a large package of hamburger meat, instead of separating and freezing it when I get home, I cook all of it and then separate it into freezer bags and freeze. This makes cooking casseroles and spaghetti a snap. I also have found that when I cook any kind of meal like chili, soup, casseroles and even spaghetti, that if I take the time to make a little extra and freeze it, it really saves time on those nights when we are rushed with after school activities. Now on to the really old tips from my grandmother. She would take a plastic container with a lid and sit it in her fridge and every night after supper any leftover vegetables, like peas and corn and green beans went into this bowl and on Friday the entire bowl went into the freezer. She used this to make some of the best pots of vegetable soup that I have ever eaten.

Another great time-saving tip is the way my cousin makes her fried chicken. Now I am southern to the core and there is nothing I like better than crispy fried chicken, but I don’t like standing over the stove for an hour to fry it…so here is a simpler way. Take the chicken and bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let it cool completely. This step can be done the night before or the morning of the day you want to cook it. Then just batter and fry as normal. It only takes about 10 minutes to cook it completely and it is still crispy and delicious.

Another good tip is for potatoes. When I find a really good sale on potatoes I buy 2 bags. Now we can’t eat this many potatoes before they ruin, but you can take half of them and cut them up like you would for soups and stews and boil them until they are tough-tender. (still to hard to stick a fork in) Then you drain them and freeze them. Then they are ready to throw into casseroles and stews. This can also apply to onions and bell peppers when you catch them on sale, just dice them and freeze.

With milk almost 5 dollars a gallon, I have stopped using regular milk for cooking. I buy the powdered milk and buttermilk and use it for all of my cooking needs. No one knows the difference unless they see me using it and it saves alot of money over the course of a year. There is even a website called the Hillbilly Housewife that has recipes to make your own sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk out of the powdered milk.

Get Kids Cooking: Let Them Create a Cookbook

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My daughter has loved corn on the cob since her new top teeth met her very young bottom teeth. Still, if you’d had told me that at age eight she would love to prepare and eat and a cold corn and basil salad with scallions and red wine vinegar no less, I would have been skeptical. I can take no credit for this blessing, other than enrolling in her a culinary kid’s camp. Daily she came home with delightful leftovers and big smile.
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At the end of the week though she came home with the crown jewel- a laminated copy of a cookbook with recipes she’d tried and liked, complete a photo of her donning a chef’s hat and stirring away in a large blue mixing bowl. Throughout the week we had enjoyed her homemade lasagna rolls, chocolate chip cookies, chives and red potato smash, banana muffins and then of course, the corn and basil salad. The only thing we enjoyed more than her tasty contributions to our meals was her incredible enthusiasm for cooking. While the extra frozen slice and bake chocolate chip cookie dough was an incredible gift, we quickly learned that what really sealed the deal for our daughter to initiate cooking was the handmade cookbook. It was all about ownership. This was Her cookbook and therefore, she was excited to cook Her own dishes.

We’ve enjoyed her corn and basil salad many times at home. Then she took her show on the road. When we travel we always pack a box of dry goods as well as a cooler of local meats and produce. We were packing for a week of fishing and as soon as we added in the locally grown corn our daughter ran and grabbed her cookbook and put it in the box. When we arrived, she cooked the corn, cut it off the cob, diced the scallions, measured the olive oil and red wine vinegar and added the basil. It made a perfect side for both our grilled dinners and river side picnics. Our friends were impressed that she cooked it but they seemed even more impressed that she enjoyed eating it. I suppose it just doesn’t’ seem like a kid attractive recipe. I dare think our daughter would have been enticed by this recipe if it had simply been presented from a cooking magazine, cookbook or cooking show. Kids are very egocentric and while this can often be exasperating, it can also be used to an advantage to expand their horizons, in life and certainly in the kitchen.

Homemade cookbooks can take family recipes, trial, and error experiments or even recipes from books, magazine or shows and turn them into your child’s Own recipes. Handmade recipe books or boxes can be created in a variety of ways. The important thing is that they participate in making the collection and most important that they choose the recipes that they include.

Our daughter’s cookbook was made by printing recipes she chose on colored paper and laminating a cover with her name and photo. It was hole punched and tied by together by her hands with a sparkly ribbon. In some of my own kid’s cooking classes, I’ve offered up reusable cardboard and wallpaper book scraps for covers. Given materials and free range, kids always delight me. One of my students chose a cloud covered wallpaper scrap for her cover and called her cookbook “Recipes from Heaven.” Index cards and a flip top box will do as long as the recipes inside are of their own choosing. Some may say, “Build it and they will come.” When it comes to recipe collections, I say “Let kids build it and they will cook.”

Corn and Basil Salad

3 ears of corn, cooled and cut off of the cob
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/3-cup olive oil
¼ cup basil
1 chopped scallion

We often double the recipe as it stores and serves well leftover.