Make your food look as good as it tastes with presentation and storage tips from Martha.
Keep the bread in its paper bag and slip that into a larger cloth bag, or wrap it in plastic. (Look for bags that are long enough for baguettes and can be sealed with a twist tie.) Fresh Italian or French bread generally does not last longer than one day, unless you freeze it. When you take the bread out of the freezer, leave it wrapped until it comes to room temperature. Once it has been defrosted, heat it in the oven for a few minutes.
First, chill the cake until the frosting has set. Then slide two large, offset spatulas under the cake at the eight o'clock and four o'clock positions, and transfer it to the serving plate. Smooth any nicks you may have created. If you plan to pipe a border of icing around the base of the cake, do so last. Another approach is to assemble your cake directly on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve it on. To protect the stand from drips, slip strips of parchment under the cake around the perimeter before frosting. Once the cake has been decorated, slide out the parchment.
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Transit time may take more than two weeks, so look for cookies with a long shelf life. Shortbread is a good bet, and you can add variety with flavors such as chocolate or lemon. Oatmeal-raisin also has staying power, because dried fruit helps the cookies stay moist. Steer clear of chocolate chips, which are likely to melt; candy-coated M&M's are a good substitute. For maximum freshness, freeze the cookies until the day you're ready to send them. Place them in cushioned airtight containers, and fit that inside a Priority Mail Army Post Office/Fleet Post Office flat-rate box. Seal edges with packing tape.
Watermelon rind, pickled with sugar and spices such as cloves and cinnamon, is a traditional condiment in the South. Most recipes call for the rind of a large watermelon. If the entire fruit won't be eaten at one sitting, cut the rind from each piece before it's served. Rinse, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to one week. (Freezing is not recommended.) If you serve the watermelon with the rind intact, do not leave it in the sun; doing so accelerates bacteria growth and shortens shelf life. Follow standard pickling procedures, and keep the pickled rind for up to a year in a cool, dark place.
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High-quality milk and white chocolate are excellent choices. If you like more intense flavors, dark or bittersweet kinds provide a welcome contrast to the strawberries. Wash and dry the berries before coating them in melted chocolate, as even a drop of water can cause clumps to form. Once dipped, lay the coated fruit on parchment and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two days. If the confections won't be eaten right away, you may want to temper the chocolate to prevent blooming -- white spots that sometimes appear, over time, on the surface.
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