Author Archives: Jim Balano
Jim Balano

Vintage Freezer Contents?

BigChill3When was the last time you went searching for something in your freezer? What were your results?  Did you find the food item you were looking for? And how many bags of mystery did you lift out and back into your freezer compartment.  When you open the freezer door, does the same container fall to the floor, and you just try to push it back in? Does your freezer have a “vintage” feel….on the inside?Freezer1

It is time to clean out your freezer.

If it is a true mystery, with no label, and no way of identifying, please throw it out. It is just taking up valuable space.  I found 5 different empty storage bags and containers.

If you can identify the food item, plan your menu accordingly, and incorporate it into your next week’s dinner plan. Could it be turkey stock from last Thanksgiving?  Make a soup.  Frozen blueberries from spring 2015? Bake some muffins. Chicken breasts? Time to make chicken salad for the weekend sandwiches. Pork tenderloin? Cook it on the grill for Memorial Day.Freezer2

Better yet, list your entire inventory of food items in your freezer and plan your meals for the next thirty days. Empty that freezer! You will save money and clear up space for this season’s fresh fruit and vegetables.

After you have organized your freezer, set up rules. Double wrap or, better yet, use a vacuum food saver to prolong the life of the food in the freezer.  Avoid freezer burn and your food will not dry out.



I was inspired to clean out my freezer from a friend’s blog  that you can visit here.


Grateful Gobbling


With Thanksgiving a week away….here are some tips, a simple recipe, and some words of comforting wisdom from our own Jim Balano.

1. Do NOT Self Clean Your Oven. That type of extreme heat could stress your oven before the big day. Please wait until after the holidays to do it.

2. Turning the Turkey Lets It Cook Evenly. Roasting a bird breast side down for at least half of the cooking time shields the delicate breast meat from heat currents in the oven and exposes the thigh meat to direct heat. The bird will need to be turned breast side up allowing the skin on the breast to brown and crisp. Roast the turkey breast side up for at least the last hour of roasting. If the breast skin isn’t browning, raise the oven temperature slightly and baste the skin with clarified butter or oil. As an alternative to flipping, cook the bird breast side up the whole time shielding the breast with foil until the last half of the roasting time.


3. Brining the Bird. Brining makes a bird juicy. Brining is soaking a whole turkey in a salt solution. The salt in brining breaks down proteins in the meat and exposes more bonding sites for water molecules, thus allowing the meat to retain more water as it cooks. During brining, a turkey absorbs 10 to 15 percent additional weight in water. As it cooks, the bird naturally loses 20 to 30 percent of its initial water content. Brining cuts the net loss in half resulting in a juicier, more tender turkey. Another plus, the salt in the brine makes the bird taste more seasoned. Pan drippings from a brined bird can be very salty, so be sure to use little to no additional salt in gravy made from the drippings. I use my larger cooler to brine the bird with ice.

4. Pies. Home made pies are the best if they are warm out of the oven. Place baked pies in the warm oven when you are ready to serve the meal.


5. Letting the Turkey Rest. Take the turkey out of the oven 30/45 minutes before carving.  Tent it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.  This allows juices to resettle in the turkey.


6. Meat Thermometer. Does your oven have a temperature probe? Set it for 165F.  It will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. This will reduce the chance of an overcooked dried turkey.

7. Saving Tummy Room. Thanksgiving dinner has all of your family’s favorites.  Reduce or eliminate your appetizers before the meal so that you will have space in your tummy to enjoy the second helping or your mother’s pie or dessert.

8. Be Thankful. After our prayers are given, we hold hands and declare what we are so thankful for from the current year. Enjoy the company of your family and friends.


I grew up in Massachusetts with a cranberry bog in my backyard. This recipe is so simple, but so tasty…

Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce


1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 12-ounce package Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, rinsed and drained


Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time. Makes 2 1/4 cups.