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When you buy your knives you want to get high carbon steel or high carbon stainless steel.

The high carbon steel will end up looking splotchy but they sharpen GREAT and hold their edge the best.

If you're a stickler about having stainless steel, get high carbon stainless. They'll stay pretty looking for you and sharpen easily.

Stainless steel knives that are not high carbon you might as well throw away when the edge gets bad. They are next to impossible to sharpen, and you have to sharpen them often.

Ideally you don't want to sharpen your knives very often because you remove steel every time you do.

What you do want to do is run it on a GOOD steel. It won't remove the steel like when you sharpen it but it will straighten the edges.

You'll be surprised how wonderfully this works.

Every time you go to use your knives you should VERY carefully check the edge with your fingers, you DON'T want to get cut.

To do this hold, the steel at about 22 degrees to the blade. Starting at the tip run the knife down the front and then down the back. 

This way you get both sides of the knife. Do this 3 or 4 times, then you're done.

If I'm doing ALOT of cutting or chopping sometimes I'll have to stop and clean the knife and run it on the steel again then I get back to work.

In taking care of your knives one IMPORTANT thing to remember is to be careful of the surfaces you use them on.

For instance you don't want to cut on a tile, granite, or marble countertop, by doing so you not only make your knives dull but you can actually ruin (flatten or bend) the edge of your knives. 

A wood or plastic cutting board is the better choice over tile or granite.

We all know that good knives can be very costly so it's to our advantage to take care of them


Those of you that are afraid of sharp knives shouldn't be. Yes, they are sharp and as with anything that's sharp you need to be careful 

but the fact is more people get cut with dull knives than with sharp ones. Why? Because they have to use more pressure to make the

cuts and end up cutting themselves because the food moves from the pressure and instead they get their hand or fingers, and get cut 

sometimes very severely. With a sharp knife you don't use much pressure and have a lot less accidents and stitches.

Kitchen Helps


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Parchment paper is a BIG one. It saves you on clean up.

Baking several batches of cookies for a bake sale? Parchment paper is a MUST!

Take 2 cookie sheets and line them with parchment paper. Cook them. Remove them from the oven and slide them with the parchment

paper onto the counter to let them cool. Line the same cookie sheets with parchment paper again and repeat. Except this time when you

go to put more onto bake the first batch will be cool so you can put them onto a plate and re-use the parchment paper from them to 

cook this batch. 

The beauty of parchment paper is:

1) You don't need to oil the cookie sheet if you're cooking something sticky- saving time, money, and calories!

2) It's re-usable until it literally gets all brown and crumbly

3) (my favorite) You don't need to wash the cookie sheets or pans-just throw away the parchment paper and put the    cookie sheet or pan away.

4) It is relatively inexpensive- get it at restaurant supply for about $36 for 1,000 double sheets-translates to 2,000 cookies sheet size pans.

Staying Healthy During Flu & Cold Season


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I'm NO Doctor but I am an experienced mother of 9 children and I have come to the conclusion that if you stay dry, and warm, and wear shoes on your feet you stay much healthier.

If you do go out and get wet come in and dry off.

If you're chilled get warmed up (stand in front of a fire, drink something hot, take a hot bath).

Cough medicine anyone?

Sucking on cough / throat drops, hard candy works well but if you run out in the middle of the night and need something then you can 

take a soup spoon of sugar and add a few drops of lemon juice to it and melt it over the stove, it helps to soothe the throat and settle the cough for a while anyway.

To keep those germs that will make you sick at bay, use this easy and inexpensive disinfectant for your home and kitchen:



1 oz. of ammonia to 15 oz. water in a spray bottle will disinfect your hard surfaces and is very inexpensive.

Working with Dough


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Rolling out dough
When making pastry, pie, or pizza dough use a cold surface to roll it out on. Granite, marble,or  ceramic surfaces are great to roll dough on.

They are always cooler to the touch than wood for instance. By rolling out on a cool surface your dough will be flakier. 

I ALWAYS use parchment paper under my dough on whatever surface I roll out on, it sure makes clean up A LOT easier.

Picnic Baskets


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Picnic Baskets

We love going on picnics. Everyone gets to play and have fun or just relax. It's also a great way to bond with your kids and make memories that last a life time. I love them. We like to be ready to go on the spur of the moment.

Here's what we have ready to go at all times.

In a crate with flip lids (you could use any storage bin):

1 single burner stove (screws on top of a propane bottle- use a chubby bottle, they are more secure)

1 can of propane

1 box of matches

1 tea kettle

1 coffee pot

6 coffee filters

1 small container of evaporated cane juice

1 box of instant cocoa

1 bread knife

1 serving spoon

1 pkg. of paper cups

1 pkg. of plastic flatware

1 pkg. of napkins

1 pkg. of paper plates

6 pk. of bottled water

1 sm. jar of pepperoncini's

1 sleeve of crackers

1 bag of chips or snack mix

1 can of nuts

1 pkg. of cookies

1 bottle of sunscreen

1 can of bug repellant

1 pkg. of wipes

1 bottle of hand sanitizer

1 cribbage board

1 deck of cards

1 note book

1 pen

1 Frisbee

1 container for catching snakes and lizards or other critter

Then in a small ice chest we put in our cold food and ground coffee beans.

We bring a jug of iced tea and a jug of water (for making coffee and cocoa). It may also come in handy for the car’s radiator- you never know!

A Few Tidbits


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Macaroni and Cheese

To keep things interesting when you make macaroni and cheese it's nice to sometimes make little changes. 

Something as simple as changing the type of cheese you use or adding a little bit of chili paste (to taste) or other seasoning, can really make a difference and keep them wanting more.

Give it a try sometime and see what your family thinks about it. You may be surprised. They may even make a suggestion for next time.


Pineapple Upside-down Cake

When making upside down cake don't be stuck in a rut with only using pineapple, try apricots or peaches or some other favorite fruit or fruit spread.


Trying Something New

Whenever trying something new keep notes!

That way you can look back and make changes as necessary.

Stretching Your Food Dollars


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Need to stretch the food dollars? Here's a tidbit for you…

How to serve 6 people four meals for $14 using 1 chicken:

1. Cook Chicken (I use big chickens) on the barbecue and serve it with a cool green salad. (Cost about $6) 

2. The next day take the drippings and the carcasses from the chickens and make Chicken Stock. (Cost about $1) Use the chicken stock and make Ranch Beans for dinner and serve it with Corn Bread and Salad. (Cost about $4)

3. Take the leftover chicken meat and cut it up into bite size pieces. throw on a couple of potatoes to bake or peel and cut them into bite size pieces, put them in a pot of water and boil 'til tender and drain the water off, and use them to make Chicken Pot Pie.(Cost about $3)


4. Use leftover beans and any leftover chicken to make Tamale pie.

There you have 4 meals from 1 Chicken total cost of about $14. How's that for stretching your food dollars?!

Ricotta Cheese Substitute


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The other night our daughter wanted Manicotti for her birthday dinner. I went shopping the day before and thought I got everything I 

needed and was sure I had the cheese at home. Only come to find out I needed Ricotta cheese after all. I( was really stuck. Everyone 

knows Manicotti and Lasagna is ALWAYS better the next day so I wanted to make it ahead and eat it the next day. What was I going to do 

with out Ricotta or Cottage cheese? So I looked in my fridge and found I had cream cheese and sour cream. Then I mixed equal parts of 

both to make the texture right and tasted it. It tasted great so I went ahead and used it instead of running out to the store which is 8 miles 

away. I was hoping it would go over well, sweating while I waited to see everyones comments. Whew, it worked! No one knew what I did

and they all said it was the best they ever had.

I love being creative and making substitutes that work, well at that.

Potlucks and Potluck Etiquette


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Potlucks and Potluck Etiquette

This is dedicated to my friend Renee´ because if not for her suggestion I never would have thought of this topic.


You may be talking to yourself saying things like “Where do I begin? I mean I really do want to have several people over and have them bring a dish but, how do I go about it?”

Well I hope you find your questions answered in this book.

Let’s begin.

To start with you need a date, time, and guest list. Secondly you need a menu. This is where a lot of people get stuck. I find it easier to plan a menu when you have a theme, for instance, Christmas.

Now that you have a theme you can plan the menu. Below I’ve given you a sample menu.


Roasted nuts

Potato chips

Dips (onion, ranch, spinach)

Vegetable tray

Fruit tray


Christmas dinner:




Mashed potatoes




Tossed green salad

Cranberry sauce

Green bean casserole

Jell-O salad

Sparkling cider



Apple Pie

Pecan Pie

Cheesecake bars

Cookies (especially if there’s a lot of kids)


As the host/ hostess it’s your place to supply the main dish(es), and tableware (plates, cups,  flatware, napkins, table cloths), at least some of the appetizers, and the basic condiments (butter, salt, and pepper).

if you decorate according to So for Christmas dinner you would supply the turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, butter, salt, pepper, plus the items listed above.

It's also fun to have a theme.

You may even want to have people dress in costumes, if it’s appropriate.


After you’ve made your menu, when you get RSVP’s you just write down their name next to the item(s) they’re bringing.

After that’s done you may find that you’ll need to revise your menu a bit and fill in the gaps.

For church or club potlucks it’s best to break up the last names by

Groups, such as A-D, E-H, I-L, M-P, Q-T,U-Z. Now you can assign each group a dish to bring (appetizers, main dish, side dish, bread, beverages). The church or club would be responsible for all tableware, condiments, coffee, and pitchers of water. If it’s a small group they may also put out a main dish and a dessert just as a buffer. Main dishes and desserts are probably the two most important items to be sure there’s plenty of to keep everybody happy.


Themes are a great way to help plan a menu. This is especially nice for church or club potlucks. It helps people to be able to come up with a dish to bring. I’ve found that if there isn’t a theme then you end up with a huge amount of desserts and not nearly enough of main or side dishes. This makes for a lot of grumbling adults and very hyper kids.

Here’s a list of different themes you may like to try:

All American


Family Heritage



Soup and Salads


There’s an etiquette associated with potlucks? Officially no, but in “my book” there is.

Just look back to the potlucks you have been to in the past.

One question that gets tumbled around is “Who goes to the front of the line?”

Here’s the answer.

Pregnant women and their families along with the elderly.

Why? You ask.

Here’s why.

Maybe you’re pregnant and by the time you get to the food you’re about to pass out from low blood sugar.

It’s hard enough for many elderly people to stand very long. They lose their balance easily so getting bumped into by someone running into them can cause them to fall and possibly break something. Besides they deserve to have some respect shown to them by letting them ahead of the line.

How many times have you been waiting in line and a couple of kids take four pieces of fried chicken that you know they’re not going to eat only to have them take a bite out of one and throw the rest away?

Maybe you’ve finished your real food and are ready for some dessert. So you go to get the one you’ve been waiting for only to have someone ahead of you take three or four desserts, and of course there’s nothing left of the one you wanted. Walking back to your seat you see several people have loaded up on desserts leaving several people without any?

To solve this problem parents of children nine years old or younger should dish up what they expect their child(ren) to actually eat for the meal before they get dessert. When their child(ren) is/are done with their food the parents should get some dessert for their child(ren). This way the kids eat a meal, get some dessert, and provided there was plenty of food and desserts brought in the first place everyone benefits and is happy.

In Closing

This is meant to be a guideline for those putting on or in charge of potlucks.

I did not include recipes.