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Hints for the Bumbler

March 07, 2001

When reading the article by Roy Rivenburg, ('The Bumbling Gourmet," Feb. 28), some observations came to mind. First, he had trouble with the fact that most recipes have measured ingredients for a specific number of people. My suggestion: If serving fewer people than the recipe makes, cook the whole recipe. Freeze the rest. Currants: You're on your own, but I think when dried, they probably resemble black, wrinkled BBs. Ground ginger: I have no idea how to grind it. Use the powdered kind. Chicken breasts: You may have to resort to scissors to cut them into bite-sized pieces. Asparagus Roll-Ups: Forget that. Dump a bottle of mango chutney over a package of cream cheese. First, remove box and foil and set on a plate. Surround with fancy crackers and a small knife for spreading. You can't dip into that stuff. Packaged salad: Use the entire package. Any left in the package for later acquires a peculiar smell. Toss it-out. Dessert: It's easier to go to the dessert section in the supermarket.

These handy suggestions come from my own cooking experience. Yes, I'm the one who peeled the zucchini the first time I cooked it. I'm great at making dinner-reservations. (Thanks to whoever said that first.)

JANE GARRISON

Santa Barbara

There is another cookbook for beginners. It's been reprinted by Dover Books, and it's called "Cooking for Absolute Beginners." The first recipe is for boiling water. The food is plain but a good starting place for more advanced books. Pastry blenders: Supermarkets and some hardware stores carry them. You can find pictures in cookbooks like "Fanny Farmer."

P.J. EVANS

Via e-mail

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