Ree, your ranch is pretty remote. How often do you go to the store and how do you plan your meals for the week? Matt Pelis from Shelburne Falls, Mass.
We have a small grocery store in our town where I can get lots of essentials. I don’t plan my meals by the week at all. Instead, I just make sure to have plenty of staples on hand: meats, pastas, beans, canned tomato products, onions, potatoes, carrots and rice. I can whip up most things I need with these basics. When my husband or I pass through town, we’ll grab lettuce and other shorter-lived products. And when I’m in the big city, I get things I can’t get locally, like jarred pesto, great sauces and relishes.
Next time you shop for apples, pick up a few varieties and combine them in recipes. Try tart (Granny Smith or Cortland) with sweet (Pink Lady or Macoun), and mix textures too: Empire and McIntosh soften when they’re cooked; Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp retain their shape. Just avoid Red Delicious — they get too mushy.
For a super fast dinner, pound your meat before grilling or sauteing it: Thinner pieces cook quickly (check out Food Network Magazine‘s Pork Scallopini Salad). Pounding also breaks up the connective tissue in tougher cuts, making them more tender. Place the meat between pieces of plastic wrap, and pound to an even thickness with the flat side of a meat mallet, a rolling pinor a small heavy skillet.
Giada, your daughter, Jade, has such a mature palate. As the mother of an 8-month-old, I wonder if you have any advice to ensure my child will like different cuisines and not just kid stuff. Ann Kording from Woodbridge, Va.
You can’t feed her kid stuff. As soon as she starts eating solids, you need to make her real food. Eight months is a little young because there are a lot of things she can’t eat yet, but as soon as possible she needs to eat what you eat. I grew up eating adult food with my parents, and Jade eats what we eat, too.
—Giada De Laurentiis
If you’re making a sauce, soup or stew with meat, a layer of fat will probably appear on the surface. To remove it, position your pot halfway off the burner: The fat will migrate to the cooler side. Then gently lower a ladle onto the surface of the fat (try not to disturb the surface too much or you’ll stir the fat back in). Better yet, if you have time, chill the dish: The fat will congeal and you can scoop it off.
When you’re making burgers, meatballs or other ground-meat dishes, combine equal parts of beef or pork with a leaner meat like turkey or chicken. You’ll save on fat and calories without sacrificing flavor and texture. We mixed ground beef with ground turkey for Food Network Magazine‘s Light Shepherd’s Pie — if you go all-turkey, you lose that great beefy taste.