January 29,2016
Setting the Table Like a Pro

Today's tip is to help you when setting the table. Here are the traditional ways to set an informal and a formal setting. It is also good practice for the kids!

Etiquette and proper table manners have become somewhat of a lost art.
Does the family wait for you to sit down at the table before they begin eating or are they halfway done with the meal you prepared when you arrive? Good manners is more than just using the right fork.

After having hosted a variety of people from many different cultures, good table manners reflects respect for others and appreciation for the hard work that went in to preparing their meal.

I encourage you to take the time occasionally and enjoy time spent around the table, preparing your kids for that special event they will eventually attend without you. What will their table manners reflect?

February 4, 2016​

Help! How do I know if it is done?  
Does this thought run through your mind as you look at that piece of steak, chicken, fish or pork? 
How about on Thanksgiving afternoon when you look in the oven at that huge bird?
Here are four easy steps to help you be a better cook...
First, I recommend buying yourself a high quality instant read thermometer.
I use this one: http://thermoworks.com/products/thermapen/
Yes, you are reading that price right - $99.


Sign up for their emails because they occasionally have sales - that is why I have a brown one. I guess brown is not everyone's favorite color.
Second, print out this chart and keep in taped to the inside of the cabinet for easy reference. It will not be useful if you have to search through the junk drawer for it.

​​Third, if you are using the oven and not the stovetop, make sure your oven is the right temperature. The digital temperature may not be accurate on your stove! Sometimes my oven takes an additional 15 - 20 minutes to get to the right temperature.
I use this one:


Lastly, use the recipe as a guide. Start checking your dish a few minutes before it is supposed to be done. You can always cook it longer, but there is no recovery if you over cook it! 

Tips from 2016

March 10, 2016

Knife Skills
Many times when you read a recipe it will specify the type of cut in the instructions. Without a picture, you may not know how big to cut those onions or carrots. Here is a quick reference below!

Cutting your vegetables approximately the same size will help them cook more evenly. Ever mashed some potatoes and there were pieces that had not cooked enough? This may be because you cut many different sized chunks of potatoes and when you tested them for doneness the fork pierced one cube perfectly, but other larger pieces were not quite cooked...
Size matters! Do your best to improve your knife skills and your dishes will improve too!

March 3, 2016

Skills not Stuff - The inevitable military moving season

I know that March has just started, but so have the PCS (permanent change of station) season conversations.  Have you noticed lately everyone seems to be talking about who is moving this summer?  I know I have found myself making a mental list of who is staying and who is going. After you discuss their move date, it seems inevitable the discussion turns towards "stuff", how much they have acquired since the last move and the need to get rid of those belongings they do not want to see at their next duty station.
So instead of sharing a cooking tip today I thought instead I would share 
 some thoughts I have after reading an article about collecting "skills not stuff".
We all have taken the trip to the donation bin with our abundance of castoffs: old clothes, knickknacks, and that gadget we were sure we would use, but never did. Why not start acquiring more skills instead of stuff? Investing in yourself, in further education, certifications, and the like will reap many personal rewards and make the material load lighter. 
I hope Cooking Thyme is a place for you to acquire new skills, to have comradery amongst friends, and inspiration for your life.  Our family is moving the end of July so I have just a short time left to share some recipes, laughs, and hopefully a good meal or two! 
My last thought I will leave you with is a quote from the article:
 "anything that expands your capacity to enjoy what you love will pay dividends for the rest of your life". 
I would feel privileged if you shared some time with me doing what I love, sharing the joy of cooking and hospitality!

February 12, 2016
Sweets for your sweetie!
This weekend we will celebrate Valentine's Day! 
Since this holiday seems to be centered around showing love and eating chocolate... why not make something this weekend to spread the love!
Here is an easy 4 ingredient recipe for some decadent chocolate cookies that come together in a snap!
Enjoy and Happy Hearts Day to you and yours!

Makes 2 ½ dozen
1 package devil’s food cake mix
½ cup oil
2 eggs
½ package chocolate chips
Combine cake mix, oil and eggs in a medium bowl.  Then stir in chocolate chips. Drop about 1 1/2 rounded tablespoons of cookie dough for each cookie on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees on the ungreased cookie sheet 9 – 12 minutes until set. Cool 2 minutes and then remove from baking sheet.

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