Bookmark and Share

Listener Cooking Tips Contest

North by Northwest listeners share their cooking tips in the hopes of winning a copy of the latest Looney Spoons cookbook.

Store your spices in a cool dark place. Not above your stove. Humidity, light, and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor.



If you want to to cut a bunch of cherry tomatoes in half easily take two plastic tupperware style lids the same size. Place the lid rim up on the counter cover the lid with cherry tomatoes. Invert the second lid on the cherry tomatoes and slice in between the lids with your sharpest knife. You will slice all the tomatoes in half and do it in jig time.

Chef Bruce

Instead of letting your root ginger  shrivel up on the shelf in the fridge and then throwing it out.  Keep it in the freezer and take it out to grate and then return it frozen.  No waste.

When canning fresh pickled beans in the same style of dill pickles, add a fresh grape leaf in the top of each jar and your beans will stay beautifully crispy and crunchy!
You know how most people put a bit of vinegar in the water so that the Easter eggs are able to absorb colour.  The same principle works for making soup stock from bones.  Add about a tablespoon of vinegar to every litre of water.  It breaks down the bone and leaches the calcium and all the other good stuff from the bone, and enriches the broth.
One of the best investments I ever made was on one of the Food Saver vacuum machines. They really do work - I can double or triple recipes and freeze the leftovers for another meal, and they are as fresh as the day they were made.  Plus, buying in bulk (especially meats when they're on sale) and sealing them before freezing saves big bucks. Opening a vacuum bag filled with last year's blueberries, still plump and blue and yummy -  unbelievable!

Also grow, or buy at your local farmers' market, more cherry tomatoes than you think you will ever eat, and ROAST them.  It's dead easy:  slice the tomatoes in half and spread (face up)on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt, throw in a few (or many!) garlic cloves, and bake in a slow (300 degrees) oven for approx. an hour, until the tomatoes are a little browned and most of their juices reduced.  Once cooled, add some chopped basil and a little more oil, and smoosh it all together.  This freezes well, if you can manage not to eat it all standing at the counter!  I use it as brochette, or thrown into sauces, or as a topping on baked fish.  And in the winter when the tomatoes in the store taste like Styrofoam, these little packets are life savers.


When trying to make healthy recipes for my family, I always try to think "sneak" in a bit of ground flax. My uncle was a organic farmer in the prairies - and he always said that there was "nothing better" than ground flax (whole flax are not very effective - but ground allows the body to process it better - get more nutritional value out of it). I keep my ground flax in the freezer in a Ziploc freezer bag - makes it easy to add to recipes if its readily available.
I substitute a few tables spoons when recipes call for flour (easy enough to do that for muffins and breads). I've even added it to fruit crisps, and as part of the basic bread coating for chicken and fish.
No one even notices the addition - and I always feel better about us making healthy food choices.
When coating fish, (or chicken), put breadcrumbs or flour mix with the spices you want into a plastic bag, then shake the fish pieces up in the bag of crumbs. This not only coats the pieces very evenly, but saves getting a chopping board all messed up
My favourite cooking tip is for lasagne noodles. You NEVER have to cook them separately. Some people buy the "no cook" variety, but you can do this with any type of lasagne noodle, including whole wheat. Just put down a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan before you put down the noodles. That's it. If you are still wary, add some water to the pan after it is all assembled (1/2 cup poured around the edges) but really all you need is that first layer of sauce.

If you happen to enjoy a libation whilst cooking this is a way to keep ice cubes fresh. After making ice cubes in your freezing compartment, put them in a plastic bag to keep the air from them.  This way they remain fresh much longer.  It also works for ice cream, if you need to keep it for some time.

When baking Halibut in the oven, remove the skin first. This will drastically reduce the strong
(fish) smell.
A trick for stuffing turkey.
Once you have your stuffing prepared, don't stuff it into the bird, instead stuff it into a nylon stocking (a new one, of course), tie the top into a knot, and then stuff that into the cavity.  They are pliable and make for easy wodging. They also hold a lot!  Knee-highs work best.
Then, when it's time to serve, simply draw the 'stuffed stocking' out.
When I cook vegetables I use a bit of water and a little bit of salt or stock mix.
Instead of draining the liquid I don't need in the recipe down the sink, I keep it in a cup and drink after it is cool. This is very yummy, especially from carrots, cauliflower, broccoli.
Love your show,
My cooking tip is around salt:  my husband is concerned about his 
high blood pressure, so when any recipe calls for salt, even just a 
little, I leave it out, and use Kirkland's (COSTCO"s brand) Organic 
No Salt Seasoning.  It adds great flavour and reduces his worries 
about his blood pressure.
Before rolling out dough on wax paper, I wet the counter slightly and place the wax paper on top to keep it from slipping around while rolling.Li
Chicken or turkey soup.
Place all the meat and bones in a large pot and cover or almost cover in
water. Add in one large peeled onion covered in whole Cloves.  You poke the
whole cloves into the onion and 30 is not too many. This is the Sputnik.
Bring to a boil and simmer till you go to bed. Just before bed, place
the whole pot into the fridge.
The next day take the Sputnik out and throw it away. Strip the meat
from the bones and go at it.  Add what ever other vegetables, rice,
potatoes or what ever you like for your soup.
Makes the best tasting stock ever!!!
I use salsa in almost everything to spice it up! I buy a large container of it at a Super Store, and add it liberally as I cook. No time to make Spanish Rice? Stir some salsa into cooked rice. Is your soup a little lacking? You guessed it, salsa will lift it's spirits (and yours!). Salsa mashed with a ripe avacado and a dash of lemon makes the most mouth-watering guacamole. Omelettes, stir-fries,casseroles, the possibilities are endless - give it a try!
When mixing up a cake or even cookies, you can substitute part or all of the fat ingredients with shredded apples, carrots or beets; or even use a combination of all of these.  This gives the final baking lot of moisture.

While in Montreal this Christmas I was in an Eastern Mediterranean store called Adonis in the suburbs. Fantastic store full of so many delights. They sold parsley in tubs all chopped up ready to use for tabouli and other delectable dishes.
I decided to try it back home in Victoria. I take scissors, a big bowl and chop up the parsley into small bits. I then store it in a big plastic container.
Instead of throwing out parsley after a week because it shrivelled up, I've got it fresh and ready to use.
What a delight. No more guilt about throwing it out. It all gets used up in soups, salads, on top of any dish that begs for parsley. AND it lasts for such a long time - up to three weeks.
And when I want to make tabouli, I don't have to spend forever chopping it up. So yummy, healthy and green!Sandra
Three tips from my collection:
1 Boil a cracked egg by wrapping it in a twist of waxed paper before boiling.  You won't lose any of the contents.
2 Keep ice cream fresh by pressing heavy-duty plastic wrap onto the ice cream before replacing the carton lid.  Won't crystallize so quickly.
3 When you crave a certain food and you shouldn't really have it:  brush your teeth.  The craving will go away.  This is why ice cream lasts longer.
I have a  solution for keeping cheese longer without mildew. You wrap the chunk with paper towel that has been soaked in regular white vinegar,then put in a ziplock bag. This will keep in the fridge for a month or more.  This does not change the flavor of the cheese but you get to eat all of the cheese.
Harvest the dill from your garden in it's prime, wrap it (bunch up the tiny green fronds) in plastic wrap like a cigar, & freeze the dill cigars in zip-lock bags.
In the winter unwrap a dill cigar and slice off some dill to use like fresh dill! - Delicious! Then re-wrap the cigar and keep frozen for the next time.
Add a cup or so of cooked red lentils to your favourite chili recipe (I use The Ladle in Red).  It thickens the chili, and adds more flavour, fibre and a wide range of nutrients.
Plus... lentils are a powerhouse Canadian crop.
When baking fish (I usually use salmon) after you have prepared it the way you like ( i.e. onions & lemon slices inside) then take the outer leaves off some lettuce that you would normally discard and place on the top and  bottom totally covering the fish before you then cover it with foil. This holds in the 
moisture and you will be delighted with the results. P.S. Don't forget to wash the lettuce first and dry slightly.
Making homemade pizza dough and freezing it in an oiled zip lock bag. Easy to defrost and use when you want.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.