Learning As I Chop

Did You Know: Brown Sugar

Posted in Did You Know by R @ Learning As I Chop on June 21, 2011


In my last post about cookies, I spoke about de-clumping brown sugar. This was always a problem for me,  so I finally decided to spend a few more dollars and buy a certain type of brown sugar that avoids this issues. However this tip lead to wonder “why does brown sugar clump? Thanks to a quick google, I found this answer:

“Brown sugar is refined white sugar with anywhere from 3.5 to 6.5 percent molasses syrup, which is a sweet, viscous byproduct of sugarcane or beet sugar. This means brown sugar contains more moisture than conventional sugar. When a package is opened and exposed to air over time, its moisture will evaporate, and the sugar will harden, forming dense clusters.”

If you want to avoid this problem, here’s a solution:

One of the best and most common ways to store brown sugar is to place it in an airtight container (like Tupperware® or another similar product) and put it into the refrigerator or freezer. If it’s in the freezer, of course, it will feel hard, but you’ll find that it will thaw in about an hour and return to its desired powdery form. If it’s in the refrigerator, allow it to sit for about 15 minutes and return to room temperature. It can also be stored in its original plastic bag, as long as it is sealed very tightly, or in a glass jar or canister with a gasket that seals the lid.

Another favored method of keeping sugar soft is to store a piece of bread with the brown sugar. Others use half an apple or an orange slice to keep the brown sugar at its correct consistency.

Kitchen specialty stores also sell small disks (or other shapes) of clay that you insert in the bag of brown sugar (with the sugar covering the disk). The disk is soaked in cold water before placing it into the bag. Once it’s in place, the sugar can be kept at room temperature.

However if you find yourself with hard sugar and a need to bake, you can:

Place about a ½ pound of the hardened sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the sugar with two wet paper towels (not dripping) and then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Nuke for about 2 to 2 ½ minutes, depending on the wattage of your microwave. Divide the warmed sugar with a fork, stir, and use immediately. (Sugar will be very hot, so be careful!)

You can also place the open bag of sugar in the microwave with a cup of water beside it. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, turning the bag after each minute.

If you have the luxury of time, place the sugar in a bowl and place foil or plastic wrap directly onto the sugar. Put a crumpled, dampened paper towel on top of the wrap. The brown sugar will absorb the moisture. Remove once the paper towel has dried out.

I have some muffins on my mind and hope to bake them soon. In the meantime, enjoy!


Did You Know: Frying Edition

Posted in Did You Know by R @ Learning As I Chop on May 11, 2011

On Sunday night, I was frying chicken schnitzels when H entered the kitchen.  I had just laid the chicken onto the pan and nothing was happening. No sizzle, no crackle, no pop. Nada. Here’s a secret – I lack patience. I can never wait for the pan to warm-up before throwing my protein onto the fire. I just want to start and often trick myself into thinking things are ready when they’re clearly not. At the same, I am a contradiction and often prefer the slow and steady method – a low fire for more minutes rather than a quick flash in the pan. That way I prevent burning.

H realized things weren’t ready and decided to show me a small trick. So we waited until the first batch of schnitzels were done and started again. First we cleaned and re-oiled the pan, and placed it onto a medium fire. Then, after a minutes, H splashed a few drops of water onto the pan and magic happened – sizzling, cracking, steam. I was excited. That’s how you know that you’re ready to go. If a few drops of water create that sizzling effect, you can start frying. Enjoy!

Did You Know: Buttermilk

Posted in Did You Know, Tips by R @ Learning As I Chop on April 28, 2011

When I saw some leeks in the Farmers Market this past Saturday, I decided to make my potato leek soup for Sunday dinner. A quick meal, this soup always satisfies. I read the recipe and prepared to venture out to the market. However when I came upon the need for buttermilk, I was struck with an idea. Rather than purchase a quart, and only use a cup, I remembered Sari’s advice from our first edition of “Did You Know” – I could make my own. And that, my friends, is what I did.

1 tbsp white vinegar + 1 cup of milk + 10 minutes = 1 cup of buttermilk

So how did it turn out? 4 bowls, and a few days later, I’d say quite the success. Enjoy!