Q: I am very very new to baking. I have tried to make pizza so many times and failed every single time. The crust is always very flat, crunchy, and hard. It doesn't form into a bread-like substance. Where I live in India, I don't get all-purpose flour so I used maida flour. Help!
I have two left thumbs when it comes to anything crafty, and I approach making things "look pretty" more like a wrestling match than an afternoon of fun. But if I can do it, so can you. I have three tips that will take your special treats from baking sheet to gift-ready in no time flat.
Homemade vanilla extract takes just two ingredients — vanilla beans and alcohol — and you can be as straightforward or creative as you like. Though it does take a bit of patience as you wait for the alcohol to extract the flavor from the beans, the delicious results are well worth it.
Q: Do your readers have any suggestions for thoughtful and creative (yet rather inexpensive) DIY gifts for the holiday season? I'm thinking of infusing sea salt with lavender and rosemary and giving it away in little jars — and I'm looking for more ideas like this!
Q: I'm giving some delicious chocolate sauce as a gift for Christmas. I have always let it cool and then refrigerated it. Is there a way to seal it in jars without canning or changing the characteristics of the sauce?
Chewy caramels and caramel sauce, we love. Cleaning the sticky pot shellacked with sugar residue after making those caramels, we love not so much. Here's a trick that will save you some time and save your poor arms a lot of scrubbing! (Hint: It involves laziness.)
A year ago, if you had asked what my favorite foods were, I would have replied, bread, butter, bread, almonds, bread ... and did I mention bread? I pitied my gluten-intolerant friends and rolled my eyes at the trendiness of "everything-free" diets. So of course it happened: I found myself struggling with health problems, followed by the discovery that I, too, was one of those people who couldn't tolerate gluten, dairy, nuts, or refined sugar. As someone who loves and works in food, this seemed like a tragedy. Little did I know it would reinvigorate my cooking, not to mention my health and happiness.
Here's how I cut out my favorite foods and what I learned along the way...
Q: My boyfriend's mother loves those little mint nonpareils. You know, the pink green and yellow ones with the tiny white sprinkles. Is it possible to make them yourself? A DIY version would really wow her.