Reusable Produce and Gift Bags

Homemade reusable cloth bags can transport and store produce, bulk food, and gifts. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
No matter how you celebrate, the year’s end brings a giving mood. In my family, handmade gifts have always dominated. The Christmas tree nearly topples over from the weight of handmade ornaments. Someone is always sporting a handknitted sweater or mittens after presents are unwrapped. Pantries fill with home-canned jars as quickly as trays empty of homemade cookies.

My Twice as Tasty gift to you this year is not only handmade but useful and reusable: cloth produce and bulk food bags. They’re so easy to make you’ll quickly have a stash, so you can even use them as gift bags for your homemade treats and other presents. For each one you give away, you dispense with gift paper, ribbons, and tape and instead wrap your gift in a fabric bag that can be reused or regifted.
Read more about making reusable cloth bags

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Pantry Dinners

I love to play in the kitchen, but I also love easy meals. Get pantry-based recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
As much as I love to play in the kitchen, even I have days when I want an easy meal. But most people who eat my easy meals can’t believe food this good can be so easy. The secret is in what I’m emphasizing all month: a well-stocked basic pantry.

Some of my favorite easy meals developed from flavors I fell in love with while exploring other countries and cultures. My freezer always holds a bag of frozen shrimp, often destined for the grill. But on rainy, freezing, or just plain lazy nights, a cast-iron skillet and oven broiler fill in beautifully. Add some oil, a couple of spices, and a lot of garlic, and the meal brings back memories of Spanish tapas bars and gambas al ajillo. If I cooked up a pot of beans earlier in the week, or have a can stashed on the shelf, I can sip wine, think fondly of Italy, and have a surprisingly filling vegetarian or vegan pasta on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Learn to make Spanish Shrimp in Garlic Oil and Smashed Bean Pasta

In the Pantry

The secret to a well-stocked pantry is to keep small quantities of a large number of basic ingredients. Discover pantry essentials at TwiceasTasty.com.At 500 square feet, my house has a smaller kitchen and less food-storage space than most. Yet at any given moment, I can conjure a dozen of meals for a dozen people—I just need to find places for them to sit.

The secret to a well-stocked pantry is to keep small quantities of a large number of basic ingredients. Instead of buying prepackaged meals, sauces, and mixes, you can store fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, proteins, and flavorings individually and mix them in endless variations. I dedicate at least half my pantry and most of my freezer and fridge space to such items. I fill the rest with homemade items that let me shortcut regularly used recipes, from stocks to pestos to condiments.

The advantages go beyond versatility. Stocking your pantry in this manner means your ingredients stay fresh, you can spend your money on quality items instead of large quantities that go stale before you finish them, and you’ll always open the fridge or cupboard and find something you want to eat.
Read more about improving your pantry

Quick Ferments

When vegetables are sliced or pureed before fermentation, it’s easy to use them straight from the jar. Get veggie ferment recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
If you’re new to vegetable fermentation, you likely look at recipes and think, “Can it be that easy?” This instantly leads to the terrifying thought, “It can’t; surely I’ll get it wrong.” So to kick off this month’s recipes for vegetable ferments, I offer my most foolproof recipe for your first foray into fermentation. Here, the carrots actually aren’t fully fermented; they sit barely long enough to kick off the process. Still, they use a lot of the techniques that apply to full fermentation of other vegetables: salting, weighting to encourage the carrots to release even liquid, and a rest period to pull even more water and sugars from the produce. Because these carrots are prepared as thin ribbons, it’s easy to open the jar and slide a few onto a sandwich, into a sourdough pita, or straight into your mouth. The recipe is so simple that while you’re at it, you might as well prepare your own horseradish to go in the jar—especially if you’re growing it.
Learn to make Barely Fermented Carrots and Horseradish Paste