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10 kitchen secrets revelealed

This undated phoprovided by NMSU Chile Pepper Institute shows new NuMex Heritage Big Jim chile pepper variety . Researchers New

This undated photo provided by NMSU Chile Pepper Institute shows the new NuMex Heritage Big Jim chile pepper variety . Researchers at New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute developed this and another new variety, the NuMex Heritage 6-4, by essentially "cleaning up" the breeding line of two previously existing, popular varieties. The new varieties have five times more flavor and aroma than the varieties from which they are derived. (AP Photo/ NMSU Chile Pepper Institute, Danise Coon)

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Updated: October 9, 2012 11:23AM

Often it’s the little things that make your time in the kitchen better. Here are a few handy hints:

† Unless using basil as a fresh garnish, blanch it for a few seconds before use. This stops the leaves from turning black once cooked.

† Remove that last bit of moisture when spinning dry those greens by adding a paper towel during the final spin. Dry greens are the secret to the dressing coating each leaf.

† Mix a few grains of rice into the salt before storing in a salt shaker. This stops the salt from clumping in the humidity.

† Reuse the perforated plastic bags used for grapes to store washed greens — the holes allow air to circulate and prevent moisture from collecting. Greens will stay fresh for about three days.

† Tone down the aftermath of a too-spicy meal by drinking milk or eating yogurt. Or whip up an Indian lassi: Blend together yogurt, a rich fruit such as mango and a pinch of salt.

† Soften hardened brown sugar by adding a piece of bread or apple slice and sealing the bag overnight. Place it all in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container if the seal is broken.

† The white ribs found on the insides of chile peppers contain much of the heat found in a pepper, so scrape them away along with any seeds for less of a kick.

† Keep a clean spray bottle on hand to fill with iced water if your pie dough is too dry and crumbly when rolled out. A quick misting will moisten the dough enough as you pinch bits back together.

† Spray a box grater with cooking spray before grating a block of cheese to prevent sticking.

† Let meat sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This helps the meat cook evenly.

Scripps Howard

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