The Dish

THE DISH

April 07, 2004|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

A clean routine

If searching through your refrigerator has begun to feel like an archaeological expedition, it's time to start cleaning.

Here are some dos and don'ts from Glad on how to clean up that mess and keep it clean.

DON'T:

* Leave bulk items in their original packaging; it makes them prone to freezer burn and takes up more space.

* Leave drinks uncovered in the refrigerator.

* Store raw meat on the top shelf where it can contaminate foods below.

* Store bread in the refrigerator; it dries it out.

DO:

* Re-wrap bread and freeze extra loaves to seal in freshness.

* Put sliding shelves and baskets in your refrigerator to make it easier to find items.

* Wrap bulky items individually or in smaller groups for easy storage and faster defrosting.

* Put taller items in the back.

And to make cleanup easier, try putting absorbent liners on shelves and in the bottom of the refrigerator. Duck brand is offering trial-size boxes of Fridge Fresh Liners for $1.57 at Wal-Mart.

Going for the green of smooth, tender spears

Probably no other vegetable is as closely identified with early spring as asparagus.

Despite what you may have heard, the size of asparagus doesn't matter when it comes to tenderness, according to the California Asparagus Commission. Choose tender spears by looking for asparagus that is bright green and has compact tips and smooth skin.

Before cooking, trim about an inch from the butt end. Once it is cooked, refrigerate asparagus for no more than two days.

For more information, visit www.calasparagus.com.

Spiritual fulfillment

From the multitiered wedding cake to the lamb sacrificed at the conclusion of a pilgrimage to Mecca, food is essential to spiritual celebrations around the world.

A new book, Sacred Food: Cooking for Spiritual Nourishment (Chicago Review Press, $24.95), examines the role food plays in all sorts of rituals.

Author Elisabeth Luard includes 40 recipes for dishes such as the Italian Christmas panettone and Chinese New Year dumplings. But the recipes aren't nearly as intriguing as the stories behind them and the insights into the culinary instincts that unite and divide cultures.

The book, which is amply illustrated with photographs and drawings, is available at www.amazon.com.

New twists

Eating healthfully doesn't mean forgoing flavor. Frito-Lay's new Gold Heartzel Pretzels have received the American Heart Association's "Heart-check mark" for meeting the association's guidelines as a heart-healthy food.

The heart-shaped pretzels contain no saturated fat, no cholesterol, less sodium than regular pretzels and have been formulated to be a good source of fiber and iron. The new snacks are now available in grocery stores at $2.19 for a 10-ounce bag.

EVENTS

* The Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce will present a festival of food, music and community spirit at the annual Taste of Catons-ville, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Bloomsbury Community Center, 106 Bloomsbury Ave. $20 per person in advance, $25 at the door. For reservations or more information, call 410-719-9609.

* Learn to make fast spring dinners from the Mediterranean 6:30 p.m. April 14 at Donna's, 5850 Waterloo Road, Columbia. $35. Call 410-659-5248, Ext. 112.

* The Family Tree, the state's largest child-abuse- prevention organization, will hold its Great Chefs' Dinner 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. April 19 at the Grand Lodge, 304 International Circle in Hunt Valley. $250 for five-course dinner, wines and auction. Call 410-889-2300.

* Would you like to catch a glimpse of Bobby Flay or Jacques Pepin? The International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference is seeking volunteers to help at its annual conference April 21-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Call Nancy Sacco, 410-527-6707.

The Dish welcomes food news and notes. Send to The Dish, Attn.: Liz Atwood, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; fax to 410-783-2519; e-mail food@baltsun.com.

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