On a cold winter's day, few things feel better than a cup of icy hands around a bowl of hot soup.
With January being National Soup Month -- and the forecast for more cold weather -- now's an excellent time to practice your soup-making skills.
Soups also are a great way to use up frozen holiday leftovers.
Even culinary novices can make soup without consulting a cookbook. Just start with a couple of cans of stock, add whatever tidbits of cooked meats are hiding in your freezer and chop some veggies. If you'd like, skip the chopping and add a bag of frozen, mixed veggies instead.
Season your soup with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs. Turn the stove to low/medium -- all you need is a slow simmer -- and let your soup cook for an hour or so.
Add some garlic toast or homemade biscuits and you've got a tasty, easy meal guaranteed to chase winter chills away.
If your pasta always comes out gummy, follow this tip from Real Simple magazine: Start with your largest pot and fill it with water. Adding pasta to a small amount of water lowers the temperature enough that it takes several minutes to return to a boil. In that time the pasta sits on the bottom of the pot and starts to clump and become gummy unless you're standing right there stirring constantly.
Also, adding lots of pasta to a small amount of water makes the ratio of pasta starch to water too high -- another cause of gummy pasta.
Consumers looking for healthy breakfast choices can be fooled by packaging. Instead of reading the front of the box, turn it over and read the ingredient label first.
Instant oatmeal is one example. The front of the box may sport descriptors such as "wholesome" and "nutritious." But you won't find the sugar content out front -- that information is on the ingredient label.
Keep in mind, one teaspoon of sugar equals four grams. Some of the "maple" or other favors have more than 12 grams per serving.
Far better to buy whole oats, microwave a serving for a minute in a glass dish, stir in a quarter-cup of raisins, cook one more minute, and you have a nutritious, tasty breakfast.
The book: Come Home To Supper by Christy Jordan.
Best for: The author has gathered 200 recipes that are easy on the wallet, family friendly and go together quickly and easily. They're all organized according to the main ingredient -- beef, chicken, seafood and pork. She's also included tips on making good use of your slow cooker and many are single pot or skillet meals.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive a recipe via email each Tuesday, register at tricityherald.com and click on newsletters. If you already are registered, click on edit account and newsletters to select Recipe of the Week. This exclusive recipe does not appear in the newspaper.