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Making the Cut

A good knife is a great tool. It doesn’t have to be expensive, though many are. Here’s what you should look for when choosing a knife.

What’s it made of?

You want a knife made of steel. No other metal is sturdy enough to make a high-quality knife, and ceramic tends to chip over time. While stainless steel is popular because it doesn’t corrode, carbon steel is harder and holds its blade better. As long as you care for it properly (which is easy), a good carbon steel knife should last a lifetime.

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Fresh in September

You’ll find fewer and fewer farmers markets open in September but seek them out if you can. The Miami County Farmers Market is open through September, Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm, at N Broadway and E 5th Streets, rain or shine. (In the event of rain, you’ll find the vendors inside the museum.)

Apple season peaks in September. Look for apples that are free from blemishes, have no bruises, and feel firm in your hand. If the apple peel is dull, it may be old. Wash and dry apples as soon as you have them home, then place them in your refrigerator crisper drawer.

Carrots are always a hit at our house. Yes, you can buy a bag of baby carrots, but you may be surprised at how much more flavor you’ll find in fresh, whole carrots. They’re what I choose for soups as the weather starts to cool. Look for bright orange color and smooth skin. Avoid carrots that are limp or are black near their tops—they aren’t fresh. Choose medium-sized carrots that taper at the end. Especially thick carrots may be tough.

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Save Time in the Kitchen

Time is precious. You can make more money, but you have exactly the same number of hours every single day. And no matter how much money or power you have, you have the exact same number of hours. So, saving time is important.

Saving time in the kitchen can be easy. Of course, as someone who sells kitchen tools, having the tools to do a job properly is one of my favorite ways to save time in the kitchen. But it isn’t necessary to have a kitchen full of cool tools to save time.

One way to save time is to purchase your fruits and vegetables already prepped and ready to go. If you don’t have to peel, slice, or dice, fixing dinner can take very little time.

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More Zucchini?!

The odd thing about zucchini is that no matter how little you plant, you’ll somehow wind up with a bumper crop of zucchini.

I once heard a story about a little girl. It was one of those summers when everyone seemed to have an overabundance of zucchini. Her mom, like everyone else, was sneaking zucchini into whatever they could in order to use it up. One day her mom took her to a local ice cream shop. She got a scoop of tutti frutti. As her mom handed it to her, she looked at it with suspicion and asked, “Is there zucchini in here?”

If you’ve got an overabundance of zucchini, or if you’ve got friends and neighbors trying to get rid of zucchini, I’ve got some ideas for you.

One of the best ways to preserve zucchini is to freeze it. To do this, shred it, then freeze it in 1- or 2-cup containers. I like to use zippered freezer bags. I put the zucchini in, then press it flat. I can get oodles of flat zippered bags in my freezer. I usually don’t keep the seeds, but that’s completely up to you.

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Don’t Throw That Out!

We’ve all been there. You’re down to the last little bit in a jar of mustard, jam, peanut butter, or whatever. You can’t really scrape any more out. There’s not enough to make your next sandwich with. But you don’t have to throw that last little bit out.

One of the best things to do with that last little bit stuff is to make a quick dressing. The easiest way to do that is to make a vinaigrette in the bottle. Add one-part vinegar and three parts oil to the jar (e.g. 1 teaspoon vinegar and 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) vegetable oil), and shake vigorously. A peanut butter vinaigrette will be delicious on an Asian salad. Mustard vinaigrette is great on most tossed salads.

Feeling adventurous? Switch up the type of vinegar and/or oil. Walnut oil adds a wonderful flavor to vinaigrettes. Balsamic vinegar adds an amazing sweetness. The number of combinations is nearly endless.

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Fresh in August

The booty at the farm markets is starting shrink. You’ll find less available in August than you found in July. But there will still be plenty to entice you. Remember, the Miami County Farmers Market is open Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm, at N Broadway and E 5th Streets, rain or shine. (In the event of rain, you’ll find the vendors inside the museum.)

Radicchio – it may look like red cabbage, but it’s more nutritious and adds a great, fresh flavor to salads. Look for bright, wine-colored heads with obvious midribs. Avoid anything with cracked or bruised leaves. Store it uncovered in the refrigerator. The crisper will be the best place to store it.

Zucchini - Look for zucchini that are small to medium-sized (up to 8 inches). They should be firm and free of nicks and cuts. You might even notice some tiny hairs. That’s fine. Wrap your zucchini tightly in plastic, and place it right in the refrigerator.

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Keep Cool

We’re deep into hot summer weather, and nothing is more refreshing than an icy cold drink. But if you’ve got a big glass of iced tea, that melting ice can leave you with an unsatisfyingly watery drink by the time you get to the bottom of the glass. Here are a couple of ideas for keeping your drink cold without the fear of watering it down.

Make your ice cubes out of your drink. If you’re always drinking iced tea, pour the last of your next pitcher of iced tea into an ice tray. If the melting ice cubes are adding tea to your iced tea, it won’t matter how hot it is or how long it takes you to finish your glass. You can do this with lemonade, with fruit juice, or with just about any non-carbonated drink you’re likely to enjoy.

Make your ice cubes out of something tasty. Add lemonade or fruit juice ice cubes to your iced tea. Your drink will transform as the cubes melt. This also works, of course, with any complementary flavors.

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Make It Last

Maybe you’re enjoying a bumper crop from your garden. Maybe you are taking advantage of the amazing deals at your local farm market. Whatever the reason, you’ve got a lot of fresh produce, and you want to make it last as long as possible. What’s the best way to do that? It depends on what you’ve got.