Dear Heloise: It's our custom to hold an open house on New Year's Day, when friends and family can just drop by to say "Happy New Year!" Every year I seem to serve the same old thing. Got any suggestions to make this year's BUFFET special? — Kate M., Shawnee, Okla.
Kate, I sure do! It's from my book "In the Kitchen With Heloise":
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup coconut milk (you can used canned) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and ginger, and cook slowly until transparent. Add the flour, salt and curry powder, and mix thoroughly. Add the milk and coconut milk, stirring constantly. Cook slowly until thick and smooth. Add the shrimp and heat thoroughly.
Dear Readers: Lately, with the holidays ending, people have begun to think about spring planting in their gardens, and have asked a number of questions about various vegetables. Since many involved cucumbers, it seemed like the perfect place to start.
There are basically two types: slicing cucumbers, grown to be eaten fresh, and pickling cucumbers, grown for pickling.
Slicing cucumbers are the common supermarket variety, and are about 6 to 9 inches long, with a dark-green skin. After these cucumbers are harvested, a wax coating is applied to lengthen the shelf life. The wax is safe to eat.
Pickling cucumbers are not usually found in the supermarket, but instead can be found in specialty stores or farmers markets. These usually are much smaller than slicing cucumbers. An example is the gherkin.
Another cucumber is the English (hothouse) cucumber. It's about 1 to 2 feet long, thinskinned, and the majority are seedless.
Dear Heloise: My 90-yearold "frugal" mother (who lived through the Depression) invented ways to recycle and reuse absolutely everything. Before throwing away a slightly used paper towel or napkin, Mom would always wipe the floor with it. I still do that. We both love your column! — Sally M., Belle Fourche, S.D.
Dear Heloise: Can you tell me what's happened to bacon? When I cook a major brand of bacon, water comes out, but very little bacon grease is produced. What's going on? — Susan P., via email
Susan, there are two primary methods of curing bacon: pumping is one, and dry curing is another.
Pumped bacon has ingredients added directly into the meat, which speeds up the curing process. If not correctly drained, the bacon can emit a white liquid substance during frying.
Dry-cured bacon requires a curing mixture be rubbed on the bacon. After the curing process, the meat usually is hung for up to two weeks until the moisture is drawn out.
P.S. Try changing brands, and closely read the contents listed on the label. If water is near the top of the ingredients list, that's a clue!