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Mixed food tips

Salads are delicious and nutritious but they spoil quickly. There is often a lot of waste since nobody wants to eat a salad with wilted lettuce and limp vegetables. Save yesterday's salad by putting it in a blender, with or without dressing. Blended salad becomes a wonderful green dip for chips and nachos that will keep for several days if refrigerated. It has all the nutrition and flavor of the salad and you can enjoy it to the last bite.

Small spinning blade coffee grinders can grind more than coffee beans.

* Rice can be ground into cream of rice; good for thickening stew or as a hot breakfast cereal. Other whole grains are good too.

* Lentils can be ground into lentil flour. Stir into boiling water and in less than five minutes you have a hot lentil paste with a wonderful taste and smell. Good by itself with a little butter, add spices to make dips and spreads.

* Pea soup normally takes hours but grinding the split peas shortens it to minutes.

* Whole spices keep better and are often cheaper than ground spices. Grind them just before use for best flavor.

Hot air corn poppers have been largely replaced by microwave popcorn but there are still a lot of them around. They can cook other things if you add a screen to retain the contents. The cooking happens quickly so you will need to count seconds or sniff the air stream to know when it is finished. Experiment to find the best timing and batch size then write it down.

* Coffee bean roasting. Fills the room with a wonderful smell.

* Soy beans. The hard dried soy beans that have to be boiled for hours turn into crunchy toasted soy beans.

* Garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas, toast like soy beans but they get really hard and crunchy.

* Jerky. This is somewhat tricky and messy; you have to cut the meat in little cubes and they have to tumble. Not all poppers will work for this. Stop and add flavorings just before they are done.

Old fashioned oatmeal is cheap and good for you but it can be boring.

Try adding it to whole milk or fruit juice instead of water. Interesting extras include raisins (my favorite), peanut butter, egg (cooks with the oatmeal), granola, trail mix, shredded coconut, and nuts. Add extras before cooking.

I have grown big goldfish in an outdoor pond feeding them old fashioned oatmeal instead of expensive fish food.

Lhassi is a popular drink in India. When served in Indian restaurants it is usually mango juice blended with yogurt. For an easy lhassi just mix half and half orange juice and whole milk. This is cheaper and mixes more easily than a real lhassi. The result is a delicious and filling drink full of good nutrition for adults and children alike.

When you freeze leftovers in ziplock bags take an extra moment to squeeze air out of the bag and press it flat under a pan. Flat square bags of leftovers freeze faster, thaw faster, and stack better in the freezer.

Ginger is a stimulant like coffee; it will keep you awake and alert for a while. Ginger makes a tasty tea; just grind it up and steep it in hot or boiling water then sugar to taste. Ginger beer is good for a lift, especially on a long drive where you have to stay awake.