Originally created 05/25/05

Small bites



Mixed imperatives from the same menu of titles?

Coincidences enliven daily life. Consider these three new, very different food books that happen to be lined up currently on bookstore shelves:

"Eat This Book" (Potter, $32.50) by television chef Tyler Florence: a bright, well-flavored cookbook drawing on ideas from global cuisines, with some 150 recipes for the home cook, illustrated with color photos.

"Don't Eat This Book!" (Putnam, $21.95) by Morgan Spurlock, producer-director-star of the Oscar-nominated movie documentary "Super Size Me." Subtitled "Fast Food and the Supersizing of America," it further explores in Spurlock's breezy tone what he sees as the serious dangers of the unhealthy food Americans find all too temptingly around them.

"Read It and Eat" (Hudson Street Press, $19.95) by Sarah Gardner: a month-to-month guide to "scintillating book club selections and mouthwatering menus," which pairs suggestions for book-club choices, topics for discussion, and recipes for feeding the literary gathering.

Test kitchen tips

When you need to improvise with kitchen gadgets, remember these tips from Parents magazine's food editors Fraya Berg and Jackie Plant, in the magazine's June issue:

Use an ice cream scoop to:

-Scoop cookie dough.

-Measure muffin and cupcake batter.

-Shape cooked rice or mashed potatoes into balls to decorate a plate.

Use a melon baller to:

-Add balls of fruit or veggies to a salad.

-Remove seeds from cucumbers, melons, or winter squash.

-Scrape the hairy center from an artichoke.

-Make tiny ice cream balls for parfaits and sundaes. Added benefit: Your kids get a treat, but it's really small.

Use a pair of scissors to:

-Cut pizza and quesadillas.

-Snip parsley and other herbs.

-Cut up chicken.

-Cut canned tomatoes into chunks.

Tools that multi-task

-Grab a potato masher to crumble the meat when you're cooking ground beef, pork, or turkey.

-Use a spoon to peel fresh ginger quickly.

-Rev up your salad spinner to thoroughly drain elbow macaroni and to clean and dry fruits and herbs.

-Cut chewy brownies with a plastic knife -- they won't stick or crumble.

-Slice strawberries, kiwi, and mushrooms fast and neatly with an egg slicer.

-Get out your garlic press if a recipe calls for minced garlic -- but also use it to squeeze the juice from a piece of ginger or onion; it adds great flavor.

(Source: Parents magazine June issue)

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Top 10 safe grilling tips for propane

The Propane Education and Research Council urges grillers to not only read safety advice, but follow it. Getting into the habit of using safety procedures is a good start. "This way, every barbecue or cookout this summer can be fun and safe," says Steven Raichlen, grilling authority and author of "The Barbecue! Bible."

1. When the cylinder is refilled, have the supplier check for dents, damage, rust or leaks.

2. After filling or exchanging, take the cylinder home immediately. Keep the vehicle ventilated and the cylinder valve closed and capped.

3. Always use or store cylinders outdoors in an upright position. Do not use, store, or transport cylinders near high temperatures (this includes storing spare cylinders near the grill).

4. Never leave the grill unattended. Always follow grill manufacturers' instructions on lighting the grill and make sure the grill top is open.

5. Before connecting or lighting a propane gas grill, use a leak-detection solution to check connections for tightness. Do not use matches or lighters to check for leaks.

6. If you suspect a gas leak, and are able to safely turn off the gas supply valve, do so immediately and call the fire department.

7. Do not allow children to tamper or play with the cylinder or grill.

8. Do not smoke while handling a propane cylinder.

9. Never pour an accelerant such as lighter fluid or gasoline on the grill.

10. When not in use, grill burner controls should be turned off and cylinder valve closed.