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Butter wrappers, eggshells, bread ends: Don't throw any of it away! There's a Good Thing for everything.
Rather than discard the wrapper after you've used a stick of butter, stash it in the freezer inside a resealable plastic bag. When you need to butter a baking dish, take out a wrapper, let it soften slightly, and use.
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Do as the Italians do and toss the rind of a hard cheese into a stock. Freeze leftover rinds, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, so you'll be ready to add one to a simmering minestrone or roasted vegetable soup to thicken it and impart a rich flavor. Remove rind before serving.
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A soup may taste delicious, but if it looks deep and rich in color, it’s even more appealing. To give a broth or soup base a deeper, more amber hue, leave the skin on the onions after you've cut them into halves or quarters. The skins will beautifully color the stock; strain before using it as broth or in a soup.
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Egg Yolks or Whites
Have a recipe that calls for only whites, or vice versa? If you don't plan to use the eggs immediately, pour them into an airtight container and freeze. To prevent the yolks from gelling, add a pinch of salt (for main dishes) or a heaping teaspoon of sugar (for desserts) per every four yolks. The day before you use the eggs, place the container in the refrigerator and allow them to thaw overnight.
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After you've squeezed all of the juice from a lemon or lime, freeze the spent halves in a resealable plastic bag (for up to three months). Grate the desired amount of frozen peel the next time you are using a recipe that calls for fresh zest.
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Of course, we wouldn't blame you if you simply ate it as is, but here's a dessert-garnishing trick: Warm the block of chocolate in your hands, then use a vegetable peeler to create curls. The curls will become more graceful as you go, so don't be discouraged by the first few tries. For longer curls, pour melted chocolate onto a clean, flat surface, spread it to a thin, even thickness, and let it cool. Slowly scrape chocolate up with a bench scraper. To transfer curls without breaking them, slip a toothpick into the center and move delicately.
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Freshly ground seeds of cumin, coriander, and fennel don't just spice up your cooking, they also cling to the grinder. For a quick cleaning, run soft, fresh white bread through the grinder to pick up lingering spices and absorb the oil they leave behind.
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Use eggshells as pots to start seeds (plus, coffee-stirrer tags to keep track of them). Plant seeds according to package instructions, and nestle planters in an egg carton on a sunny windowsill, where they can be watered easily. The first leaves to sprout will be the cotyledons or seed leaves, which supply nutrients to the young plant until the first true leaves (resembling those of the parent plant) appear. When plants have grown to about three inches and have at least two sets of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted to the garden.
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When your recipe calls for a tablespoon or two, the rest often goes to waste. To save the rest: Carefully open both ends of the can with a can opener. Remove one metal end, and discard it. Leave the other in place. Wrap the entire can in plastic wrap, and freeze overnight. The next day, use the metal end to push the frozen paste out the open end. Discard can, tightly rewrap unused portion, and store in freezer up to three months, slicing off just as much as you need each time you cook.
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The next time you bake a cake, don't toss the trimmings into the trash. Instead, keep them to use as building blocks for another dessert. We saved chocolate-cake scraps and layered them with whipped cream and fresh raspberries for a quick and easy trifle. Freeze cake morsels in an airtight container for up to one month.