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"Peel Appeal"

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for May, 2004

A lot of people tell me they'd cook more interestingly, and more often, if cooking were easier.

For me, it's no big deal. I can cook a complete multi-course meal for four people in 20 or 30 minutes. I enjoy it, cooking is a creative outlet for me, and of course it's much cheaper than using convenience foods or eating out.

So... every once in a while, this column will provide cooking tips that make it easier for you to cook your own meals.

Today's lesson: Easy and quick ways to remove peels.

Garlic: Place the flat side of a large knife on top of the clove. Press hard, and the outer paper will crack open and easily peel back. Fresh garlic is so much better to cook with!

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, eggplant, winter squash--all peel very easily after baking or boiling. It can take half an hour to peel some of these when they're raw, but you can scoop out the contents in a minute or two once they're done.

Carrots, cucumbers: a good sharp potato peeler makes short work. Or buy organic and don't even bother to peel--just wash.

Ginger, tomatoes, radishes. No need. Recipes may call for peeling, but you can almost always skip that step.

Apples: If you're making pies in quantity and peeling a lot of apples, invest in a hand-operated peeler-corer, available from kitchen specialty stores or country-kitchen catalogs. If you usually just eat the apples, eat the skins too--and for the once in a while you make a pie, use your potato peeler or a sharp small paring knife.

Oranges: Cut in quarters and peel each quarter away from the skin.

Coconuts (getting them out of the shell, not exactly peeling): Drill two holes and drain the milk (save it). Wrap the coconut in a plastic bag, tie it shut, and drop from a height of about four feet onto a very hard surface. I use my brick walkway.

There--doesn't that make cooking more fun?

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