Because I feel like you and I are real, live friends, I keep this running list in my head of all the things food- and recipe-related I want to call you up and chat with you about, except that a) I hate talking on the phone and b) I really hate talking on the phone and c) I don’t have your number so, yeah, that method isn’t going to work. I get a lot of the same questions over and over and sometimes assume that you guys just know what I’m talking about (you should feel very sorry for Brian’s existence based on that sentence) but since that obviously isn’t the case, here are a few things jumping around in my head that need to be shared based on my preference for certain ingredients:

rolls1) I haven’t specified this in the past but for nearly all of my yeast bread recipes, I usually use at least part whole wheat flour. Most of the recipes just list “flour” in the ingredients list, but in order to help those who want to incorporate whole grains, I’ve tried to go through and update the yeast bread recipes where I consistently use whole wheat flour – especially because for many of the recipes, I often use 100% whole wheat with great results. Also, this post (#1 and #2) on wheat and wheat grinding may be useful also since I grind my own wheat (hard white wheat) and think that can make a difference in the success of using whole wheat flour in bread. Sorry I haven’t done a mass update about this before now! I hope we can still be friends.

ground beef2) Speaking of substitutions, I almost exclusively use lean ground turkey for most recipes that call for ground beef (except for specific ones that use a blend of beef, pork, or something like that). Again, I’ve gone through and updated the recipes to indicate that little tidbit but in the event, I missed a few, know that in my world, lean ground turkey makes a great substitute for ground beef (PS: I have nothing against ground beef, I just like the leaner aspect and taste of ground turkey).

quinoa3) I don’t know that we’ve ever talked about this before, but while I love rice and pasta and potatoes and carbs in general with my whole soul, in an effort to reduce my carb intake a bit, for the last year, I always make a small batch of quinoa to serve alongside a meal if it involves eating it over rice and potatoes (like Hawaiian Haystacks, most of my stroganoffs, and all of the Indian-type curries we love). I save the leftovers, if there are any, for these divine little quinoa patties (which my kids eat up like crazy and make for a great easy dinner). So if you see a recipe that says “serve over rice, noodles or potatoes” chances are, I’m eating it with quinoa (always cooked in chicken broth with a touch of salt). Just thought you should know.

butter4) I know this is really looked down on in the foodie world, but I rarely, rarely use unsalted butter. I just don’t buy it and never really have and don’t really anticipate doing so in the near future. There goes my gourmet food career, darn it. So in my recipes, unless it specifically states in the ingredients “unsalted butter,” it means I’m using salted butter. The salt amounts in my recipes are adjusted for that fact so if you are using unsalted butter, you might want to increase the salt accordingly.

flour5) Although I don’t always state it in recipes (because it doesn’t necessarily affect the outcome of a baked good), I only use unbleached all-purpose flour for recipes that call for all-purpose flour. It’s ever so slightly darker in color than bleached flour and doesn’t have the strong chemical smell of bleached flour. I started buying it in bulk (at Sam’s Club – the Dakota brand) years ago and use it 100% of the time for regular ol’ flour. What it means is that in some light-colored baked goods (banana bread, maybe, or white cookies), my results are a shade darker but honestly, it’s hardly noticeable. I opened up a can of bleached flour from my basement food storage when I ran out of unbleached a month or so ago and the chemical smell nearly knocked me over. I was relieved to get unbleached flour back in my huge 25# container I keep in my pantry.

And…I think that’s it. Until next time.

If you have any questions about these tidbits or other preferences, let me know in the comments below!

95 Responses to I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You…

  1. Ella says:

    Hi! I wasn’t sure where to ask this question…. But I’ve been wondering if you could shed some light on doubling yeast bread recipes. I’ve heard they don’t double exactly right, like don’t double the yeast or something. So I’m always just making separate batches. What have you found works well with doubling?

    • Mel says:

      Ella – This is a great place to ask your recipe questions. I actually double and triple yeast bread recipes all the time. I think most are pretty foolproof. Sometimes I’ll only 1 1/2 the yeast if I’m doubling the other ingredients but usually I just double everything. In regards to your other question, I’m not super scientific about the size of the pizzas but I’m guessing maybe 2 pizzas about 9 or 10 inches in diameter. Again, that isn’t exact (because usually I’m doubling or tripling the recipe). And I love your parchment tip. Great minds think alike!

  2. Susan says:

    Where do you buy instant yeast? I would like to buy it in bulk but have only seen the regular active variety in that size.

  3. KIm says:

    I know a lot of people are making the switch to ground turkey but I have two concerns/questions. First, when I check the fat content of ground turkey and compare it to lean ground beef, it’s the same (about 7%). Now if you go with a ground turkey breast, you’ll drop that fat content even more. Secondly, there’s something about the way ground turkey smells when it’s cooking that I find distasteful. Even after it’s been smothered in spaghetti sauce, I can still smell it. Any ideas how to combat this?

    • Mel says:

      Kim – good questions/thoughts. I haven’t noticed a smell, really. Maybe I did when I first started using it but we eat it often enough that the smell must be lost on us. I use the white (breast meat) ground turkey so the fat content is leaner than I can get with ground beef. But even the less lean ground turkey is a bit cheaper and easier to find for me so that’s why I use it in favor of ground beef although others may have different reasons. I’m not sure how to deal with the smell issue – it may just be that ground turkey isn’t your preference. If lean ground beef tastes/smells better to you, I’d stick with that!

  4. Carole Rapuano says:

    Thank you so much for the site. Today is a good day for baking and I am sure we will enjoy the buns.

  5. Lori says:

    Would love to see your pantry!

  6. Carole Rapuano says:

    I had copied your recipe for buns and the directions for making the three types of buns and I cannot find them. It is driving me crazy because they were so terrific and I was going to make them today. I hope you will see this and send them to me.
    Thanks for the great recipes.

  7. susanj says:

    Thanks for the confession, I am just like you and usually sneak in the whole wheat flour into just about everything. I love that you offer so many recipes with whole grains. Thanks!

  8. Tanya M says:

    I have to pass along something funny… My boys (11 & 14) were playing the logo quiz game on my kindle and when they saw the Hard Rock Cafe logo with “cafe” as the only part of the logo showing– my son yelled out Mel’s Kitchen Cafe!! Haha! You’re more famous than Hard Rock in our house!! 😉

  9. Maureen says:

    Mel and Jan,

    Thanks for the reassurance on the ground turkey — I have 6 tubes in my freezer that have been making me feel guilty because I just couldn’t bring myself to use them anymore. (I was half-afraid it was all in my head!) Now I can use them as dog food without feeling wasteful and know that there is something better out there for us humans! 🙂

  10. Don’t worry I’m on the non-gourmet “salted butter train” too. Don’t think I’ll be hopping off any time soon either! Your post has just made me realise that I too have been a bit vague with my ingredient lists, whoops!

  11. Misty says:

    Thanks for the nod to ground turkey. Since my husband found out he has heart disease I always choose ground turkey over ground beef. Made your lightened up stroganoff last night. Delicious, simple, comforting!

  12. Tanya M says:

    For those commenters who need large containers.. I have a 5 gallon bucket in my pantry for each of my basic items: rice, flour, wheat, beans (pinto and black), white and brown sugar (yes 25lbs of brown sugar stores just fine in an air-tight container), popcorn, (even hot chocolate in bulk!) etc. I have Gamma lids that unscrew and are simple to use. Google it and you’ll see what they are. These buckets in super sturdy and inexpensive (think the orange Homer buckets from Home Depot but white and food-grade). They work great and hold 25 lbs of just about anything! I keep smaller-sized bins (1 gallon) in my lazy Susan cabinet for quick access of small quantities or when my kids are cooking. 😉

  13. Lana says:

    I’m with you on adding whole wheat flour everywhere I can. I have found that chocolate chip cookies made with half whole wheat flour are the best I have ever made. They are chewy and keep on the counter for a week.

  14. Mikki says:

    Question: you say you use unbleached all purpose flour, does that mean that you buy supermarket flour, or do you grind your own ‘all-purpose’ flour from berries? I am wanting to move toward grinding my own 100% of the time, and was wondering under what conditions you might buy from the supermarket? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Mikki – no, I don’t grind my own all-purpose flour. I grind my own whole wheat flour and by the unbleached all-purpose flour from the store.

  15. Adrienne says:

    I meant 25 lb bags….I like to bake, but good grief!!

    Im part of a dinner group and I swear 75% of the recipes we all make are yours! This week it was Mexican lasagna and your chicken cordon blue, both delicious.

  16. Adrienne says:

    I buy 50 lb bags of flour and sugar as well and store them in bins I ordered online meant for dog food! they’re amazing, on wheels with a simple lid that snap open and close. just fyi.

    Love your blog!!

  17. Mitch says:

    I just made the quinoa patties, and like your family, my family loved them (we are decidedly older, however). The only changes I made to the recipe is using panko instead of crackers, and using dried tarragon in place of the parsley. I topped them with a red pickle relish. Delicious.

    For large storage containers, I’ve been using Cambro with great results. You can find them online and at good restaurant supply stores. They make some very large sizes that will easily hold 25 lbs of flour, sugar or grains.

  18. Bri says:

    Now I know why I like you so much! I HATE THE PHONE. Like hate it so much I have a phone phobia. It drives Dan crazy.

    Costco just started carrying organic unbleached flour! Love Costco! I am still mostly GF, but indulge here and there. I plan to make your nutella cookies this weekend. Lets just say I’m probably going to be craving gluten for the next 10 months…;-).

  19. Jan says:

    Hi Mel,
    Thanks for the posting about what you use. It sure helps. When I make my breads, rolls etc. with white whole wheat flour it never is white in color like your photos. Your bread photos look great but they say whole wheat or white whole wheat flour and they are pictures of white bread, sure confuses me.
    I wish I had you to go to when my family was the same age as yours. My hubby and I are empty nesters but I love the recipes from you. I’ve learned a lot from you.

    Maureen – I have used ground turkey for more than 20 years and I NEVER use that brand for the same reason you describe and because I don’t like the taste of that brand.

  20. Abi says:

    What 25 # flour container do you use? Where did you get it? I have been trying to find large flour containers and not having much luck. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Abi – I use some really large plastic/tupperware type containers I got at Sam’s club a few years ago. They are amazing but unfortunately I just tried looking online and it doesn’t seem like Sam’s club carries them anymore. If I can find info on my containers I’ll repost with details!

  21. One more reason why we are twins. I hate the phone too. I’m sure I’ve said it in a post before but my husband thinks I need therapy for if because I hate it so bad. I do the turkey thing too. We rarely eat beef.

  22. heather says:

    Wow, thanks for the tip about the butter. I always use unsalted for baking, and the brand I use has a VERY different response in baking if it’s salted. I know because I was inadvertently using salted and could not figure out why my staple cookies were all wrong. I had a problem with one of the cookie recipes here, too. Maybe the salt was the issue. Baking is alll about chemistry. Anyway, thanks for the clarification.

  23. Katrina says:

    Great post! I knew I liked you. Before I myself went gluten free, I was always using at least some white whole wheat flour and always using unbleached–I still do for everyone else. And I also eat, love, prefer quinoa (esp. since going GF) instead of rice/noodles. Great post.

  24. diane h says:

    For fluffy not flat chocolate chip cookies try Mel’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (The Best Recipe). The recipe uses melted butter but somehow does not spread out! In fact, I find it difficult to tell when they are done since there are no crispy edges. They are done when the puffy top hardens slightly. I use walnuts and cinnamon and these are the Best!

  25. Susanne says:

    I was thrilled to read about the unsalted butter. My daughter swears by unsalted butter, but every time I try it I am disappointed. I will go forward using my salted butter with joy in my heart!

  26. Maureen says:

    Hi Mel,

    Which brand of ground turkey do you use? I liked the taste and idea of using the turkey, but then once in a while I’ve found a piece of ground bone (and feather?) :/ So it’s put me off and I haven’t tried in a long while. I’m hoping it’s just that I’ve been using the wrong label (frozen Jennie O from Walmart – the pound tubes).

    • Mel says:

      Maureen – oooh, that’s gross! Yeah, I’d be wary of ground turkey, too, if I were you. Most recently I buy and enjoy the Honeyville brand (the double pack from Sam’s but I know the brand is available elsewhere too). I have had rotten luck with the tube variety of any meat (think: mushy and just plain gross) so I always avoid ground beef and turkey in the plastic tubes. I always go for the plastic/styrofoam trays.

  27. Diane says:

    Beth, you mentioned your chocolate chip cookies spreading. Make sure you refrigerate your pan first to make it cold. I sometimes put it in the freezer. I have also used equal measures of butter and shortening. Hope this helps.

  28. Kim says:

    I just love your blog!! LOVE! I am a seasoned FACS (home ec) teacher and I just love using your recipes at home and in class and all your informative posts are just beyond good. Keep up the amazing work you do.

  29. Leslie says:

    Great, informative post. Thank you!

  30. Katie says:

    THIS post is just another reason why I LOVE your blog!!

  31. Marci says:

    When do you use each different Bosch attachment (dough hook vs cookie paddles vs whisk). For years I’ve used the whisk for my cookies and I think Ive deformed them.

    • Mel says:

      Marci – I use the dough hook just for breads, the cookie paddles I use for all my cookie dough batters and the whisks I only use for quick breads, frostings and cakes.

  32. Jolie says:

    I always appreciate finding out the tested and approved ingredient selections for home cooks, and I agree with most of these, although I still use mostly ground beef since we purchased a “half cow” and have some wonderful local grass-fed stuff. Which makes me sound way more food-snobbish than I am, I promise.

    I thought I’d offer a suggestion for those looking for ways to store large amounts of flour. Grocery store bakeries get their icing in large five gallon buckets which they then typically throw away. If you go ask at the bakery, they will give you the buckets if they’ve got them. Sometimes you have to wash out the greasy icing, but then you have a food-grade bucket with airtight lid that will easily hold 25lbs of flour or other such bulk items. Mine are sitting on my pantry flour.

  33. I didn’t know Sam’s carried unbleached flour. That’s going to save me so much money. Thanks for sharing!

  34. BobbiLynn P says:

    I don’t have as much to say except thank you. And I’m not sure who loves you more- me or my mister! Always great tips and deliciousness!!

  35. Elizabeth Mortier says:

    Funny…I do all of the above as well…except for the ground turkey because I just haven’t found any in Canada that doesn’t gross me out ( but I haven’t been here that long…not Canada’s fault!)

  36. Amy says:

    Hi Mel! I’ve been meaning to tell you that I am so glad I came across your blog. I have tried 2-3 recipes a week and have loved every one of them. I am so enjoying cooking and it’s because of YOU! I appreciate all your recipes and info you share!

  37. Michelle says:

    Thanks Mel, for your recipes and blog that has taught me so many things i can’t even tell you how much easier all the hard work you’ve already done has made my organic slow food from scratch at home a success with tasty yummy recipes. i will try the quinoa. today i made your baked potato soup. delicious! i too use unbleached flour and i have wondered about the whole wheat substitutions and will try it when i make your french bread rolls Saturday. i am the same with unsalted butter AND your dinner roll shaping motivated me into getting a scale of my own. thats just what i’ve been wanting to say.. Have a good weekend- Michelle.

  38. norniea says:

    Your blog is my favorite go-to place! I recently started using Quinoa and have found that I like cooking up a pan with plain water and a little salt to keep in the fridge to add to my cooked oatmeal in the morning. I sometimes add a little to my brownies, muffins (your healthy applesauce ones) and cookies. Plus I will toast some cooked Quinoa with a bit of butter till its crunchy and eat it as a snack! I love the texture!

  39. Teri Larsen says:

    Well…we may be twins who were separated at birth. I hate, HATE, HATE talking on the phone, too, and the only reason I buy unsalted butter is to eat it on my popcorn. And, from a previous post, I hate figuring out what to eat for lunch. 🙂 I think that’s okay. Our kiddos won’t mind that gourmet cooks would turn their noses up at us…they still seem to be pretty happy at mealtimes. 🙂

  40. Model A Cook says:

    Okay, let’s talk unsalted butter. I, like you, use it where called for in a recipe, AND I use it to make CLARIFIED BUTTER. So whenever using an oil to sautee meat or fry eggs, I use clarified butter and the content of the fry pan ‘slither’ around the skillet and flip very easily. So being an engineer, I had to analyze, so I weigh the 16 oz before melting and after creating the lump of clarified butter fat. Almost 20% of the weight is lost to the water and milk parts removed as sediment and float. Final results, butter fat that won’t brown, butter fat that won’t spatter and fabulous cooking aid.

    BOTTOM LINE: I always have a container of clarified butter in the fridge.

    • Mel says:

      Model A Cook (don’t worry, I know who you really are!) – my friend, Sujoo, just taught me how to make clarified butter and yes, she does use unsalted butter. I am loving it for everything! She keeps hers at room temperature for weeks and weeks and it doesn’t spoil. I’m actually planning a how-to on making clarified butter since it is so versatile. Thanks for weighing in. I actually remember you telling me about this a while back.

  41. Mitch says:

    I confused you with someone else regarding the cut finger. Sorry for the comment.

  42. Mitch says:

    Mel, so sorry for your injured finger. I hope it heals quickly. I seriously cut my left ring finger and spent about 8 hours in the emergency room at night, mostly waiting to be seen. I was able to resume cooking, carefully, within a few days by using a finger cot over the injured finger. I found them in a large pharmacy.

    I was wondering what type of containers you use to store large quantities of ingredients. I have been using Cambro containers for several years with excellent results.

    Thanks for all of your great recipes and cooking tips.

  43. Sheila says:

    Ditto! Hate talking on the phone. I make quinoa frequently in the same way as you to replace rice. Since using your bread recipes I have been halving the flour content with King Arthur’s 100% whole white wheat and have always, always used unbleached AP. After your coconut oil blog, I frequently use the coconut oil to replace all others. Beef is always in our freezer because we raise our own cow for meat. Thank you for all these wonderful tips!

  44. Susan says:

    Hi Mel! Oh my goodness….I hate to talk on the phone too!!! And, I do consider you as a “friend” of our family since you have provided us with some truly nourishing and delicious meals!!! I’ve been wondering since you have such great taste in clothes, kitchen gadgets etc., do you drink coffee? I would imagine that one would have to in the Northern Tundra of Minnesota…or at least something warm at all times…anyway, if you do drink coffee do you have a preferred method of making it? If so, what is it and where can I find one? : ) Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Susan – I am not a coffee drinker. I’m sure I could stay a lot warmer if I was (thank goodness for hot chocolate!). Sorry I can’t help you on any tried-and-true methods for making coffee.

  45. Emily says:

    You rock! Thank you for keeping me and others so inspired everyday! I love your food.

  46. Jenn A says:

    The tip about adding in white whole wheat flour is helpful. I have been wondering if that would work well, but haven’t tried it. I am on a low sodium diet because of a heart condition that began four years ago. I had to get my diet as low in sodium as possible, so I switched to unsalted butter. It was horrible at first, but my whole family has adjusted now and it is pretty much all I buy. However, without the heart issue I would have been a salted butter girl too! I think I’ll try the quinoa thing too. Sounds like a good idea! Love your blog!

  47. Andrea says:

    I make quinoa periodically but do not love it. I rinse it first, but it still has an aftertaste. My husband can’t stand it. Do you notice an aftertaste?

    • Mel says:

      Andrea – quinoa definitely does have a unique taste (which is why 2 of my 5 kids still prefer rice!) but I notice it less and less the more I eat it. In fact, I don’t really notice it now, especially when we eat it with foods with a lot of gravy/sauce. I rinse the heck out of mine, though – at least a full minute under cool running water.

  48. Army of 7 says:

    Great tips!!! I love your site. I may not be the first to say but the title might be missing the word “been”. It looks like it says I’ve meaning to tell you.

  49. Letitia says:

    Love your recipes! My kids will ask regarding a recipe, “Is this from Mel?” Like we know you. Plus my four year old thinks you rock with your olive video! Anyway, I say “ditto” to all your cooking suggestions/applications. Totally relate and follow the same adaptations. Looking forward to more recipes!

  50. marina hernandez says:

    Hi mel…im also like randi….my family , know you very well..
    example..yesterday they ask..whats for dinner tomorrow mom..
    bbk ribs, mas potatoes and mel’s corn…
    this past monday i have a day of cooking with my girlfriends, on how to make perfect rolls and garlic bread stick…because every two weeks we have a coffe day..and i talk a lot about your news recipes..
    also i have a question, regarding the picture of the cookies..wich one is the unsalted butter??

    • Mel says:

      Marina – in the picture with the cookies, it’s all salted butter. I just grabbed that picture to use in this post since it had butter in it. 🙂

  51. Debi says:

    I have a question about your cinnamon bread. I’ve been buying a cinnamon raisin bread at the store and would like to make my own. Have you ever added raisins to your recipe?

  52. Susan says:

    Since you mentioned the butter – on last Sat.’s The Kitchen, they asked Marcella (?) which she used, salted or unsalted, she pompously replied that she ONLY used sweet cream butter so she could control the salt intake. I’ve heard this before, but here’s the question. Isn’t most of the butter we see in stores sweet cream butter, but the choice is salted or unsalted? I could be wrong, but thought I’d ask all of you. I only buy salted, but I do believe it’s still sweet cream butter.

    • Mel says:

      Susan – from what I understand most butter is sweet cream. I’m pretty sure Marcella (whoever that is, sorry I don’t know) meant unsalted butter. Usually the butter options are salted or unsalted (both of which are sweet cream if I understand correctly).

  53. Debi says:

    Thanks for the info! I’ve never tried quinoa either and would love more info on it. I’m enjoying your website! I made the Autumn Minestrone the other night and since it’s just me, I halved it. It was DELICIOUS! And I’m in LOVE with the green soup! That stuff is amazing! So, thanks again for your posts!

  54. Rhonda says:

    Your the best Mel! Your recipes are very well explained and so good I hate condensed soups so having a place where I can go and its not, is so wonderful…. anyway so this is really off the topic but since you are doing an FYI post I have a question that I have wondered about for honestly a couple years. What kind of camera do you use to get your pics? Thanks so much!! (and I’m with you on salted butter and bleached flour)

  55. Hi Mel,

    Ohhhh I just love you. I found myself nodding at everything. I don’t buy unsalted butter either, and when I’ve tried it both ways . . . nobody can tell the difference anyway! I also hate talking on the phone. I thought I was the only one with that problem!
    I have enjoyed many, many of your recipes. I also know some of your sweet relatives in the Idaho area. You are a rock-star around here as well. Thanks for all your hard work. I certainly know how much time and energy you put into it, because I have the same darn obsession.

  56. Cammee says:

    Salted butter for life!! And where did the insanity of bleached flour come from anyway? I’m the same, I can’t even stand the smell.

  57. Always always always use unbleached AP flour! And the same thing with ground turkey instead of ground beef. Oh but I feel that the whole world uses salted butter (including all the pros) and I am the only one who doesn’t…. that’s just what my Mom always used and so that is how I roll too.

  58. Beth says:

    please explain the picture of the 3 chocolate chip cookies. I get the premise and have tried both softened and melted but what I guess I need to know is how to prevent my cookies from getting flat. I can make every kind of cookie fairly well; except for the all important chocolate chip! it’s the bain on my baking existence…I do not like a flat crispy cookie; I want fluffy, soft and chewy. thanks so much

  59. Desiree says:

    Hi Mel!

    I’ve been buying the Dakota brand flour from SAMs too, but I should really just pop over to the mill and buy it there. I’m wondering what your using to store your flour in. I just keep the big sacks on shelves in my basement and I’d love to find a good canister. Suggestions? I know I’ve said this before but if you are ever in Grand Forks I’d love to meet up, our kids can play and I can pick your brain. Have a great day!

  60. bluebaker says:

    I wouldn’t have guessed you hate talking on the phone- you are such a good speaker in your videos. Lately our family is loving the spaghetti pie, the ham and cheese and broccoli quinoa bites, and the quick elfredo sauce with pasta. I add cubed ham to it sometimes, or seafood. We like the seafood linguine version. If I ever met you I think we could be friends in real life. (hope that doesn’t sound creepy/stalker-ish.)

  61. Barbara says:

    Can I adopt you? Sure, your whole family would be welcome! I am saving your quinoa patties recipe right now. We are on the same wavelength with so many things! Subbing quinoa for other carbs, using at least part whole wheat, and absolutely unbleached flour……Thanks so much! And hugs!

  62. Michelle says:

    You say you make a small batch of quinoa to serve along side a meal; how much is “small”? 1 cup quinoa cooked or what? Thanks! I appreciate your amazing blog!

  63. Tanya says:

    Hello from Oz! I am new to your website and am absolutely loving it. You are a girl after my own heart. I love cooking whole food and am loving all your recipes that are giving me new fresh inspiration. I have been trying to get my family to eat a larger variety of foods including different carbs and have had mixed results. Where you say you make a side of quinoa is that just for you or your whole family. Or do you make rice or pasta for hubby and the kids? I have four children aged 14 – 1.5 and although they are good eaters the carb issue is a big one in our family. Just wondering how your family goes or if it is just for you. Thankyou. X

  64. Isabelle says:

    I also have never cooked with quinoa before, so I’d love a how-to of how you actually make it. I’ve been afraid of it because my meat-and-potatoes husband will probably form a negative opinon of it, and so if I try it, I’d better do it right the first time and maybe he won’t notice! Haha.

  65. Kathy says:

    I started buying and cooking quiona when it first started showing up in recipes, maybe 4ish years ago. Back then, it was kind of hard to find. I never had trouble cooking it. Now I find, since I can easily purchase it at the grocery store, I’m having trouble cooking it properly. It has come out way too chewy, doesn’t “open” up, and gummy-I either over or under cook it lately. I also would appreciate a quiona cooking 101. Thanks.

  66. David says:

    Ok, me again. I just read your post on wheat and wheat grinding 101…so I think that answers some of my storage questions. Do you buy your meats in bulk too and freeze?

    • Mel says:

      Hi David (again) – I do buy most of my meats in bulk. I’m toying with getting a foodsaver for better freezing but for now, I separate the meat into freezer ziploc bags and freeze that way.

  67. susan says:

    Hi mel, what kind of quinoa do you use and where do you buy it? What is your foolproof recipe you make? Thanks, your friend, susan

    • Mel says:

      Hi Susan – I use the white quinoa – I’ve bought it from many places and I feel like most of the brands I’ve tried are fairly similar. The key is to rinse it very, very well (even if it says prerinsed, I always rinse it). Then I cook 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (sometimes with an extra pinch of salt). I bring it to a simmer, cover it and cook for 15 minutes until the quinoa has opened and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Hope that helps!

  68. David says:

    Great post Mel, I was just thinking about your recipes using salted/unsalted butter. Your comment about all purpose flour got my gears turning again. When you buy ingredients from big box stores (i.e. Sam’s) how do you store them? In my dinosaur brain I think a small container for kitchen use…but do you have sacks of flour and rice sitting on your pantry floor in the original containers? Maybe it’s worthy of its own post but I just thought I’d see what you did in that department. Thanks!
    (I’m a Costco man myself so try not to hold it against me).

  69. Jill says:

    I’m so glad you use salted butter. I find salted butter in bulk at my grocery store and they don’t sell the unsalted at the same price so, salted it is! Thanks for the tips post!!

  70. Megan Lang says:

    I am totally with you on #1 (I almost always add wheat flour to my recipes), #4 (I feel like a bad baker admitting it, but I think it tastes so much better to add less salt and use salted butter), and #5 (I don’t think I’ve ever tried bleached, yucky), and I am totally intrigued with the quinoa-replacing-rice idea. I am not sure how the fam will take it, but I think I will try it out. Just wanted you to know, you are not alone.

  71. Heather bell says:

    We like quinoa sbd looking forward to trying the patties

  72. Kim in MD says:

    I agree with Randi- I feel like we are “real” friends! I didn’t know you hate talking on the phone! That explains why you don’t call me more often! 😉 Thanks for sharing these preferences, Mel. The little details really can change the outcome of a recipe. I use all of your swaps except the salted butter. I always use unsalted butter for recipes but salted butter is a must for spreading on bread or toast!

  73. Ashley_M says:

    I have to ask. Flour comes in cans? Really? Where have I been to not know this?

    • Mel says:

      Hey everyone! I’ve been gone most of the day at an indoor trampoline park with my kids (fun and total chaos) and am just now getting to answering your questions so here goes!

      David – I’m actually jealous you are a Costco shopper – I would be too if I had one within 3 hours. Love that store! I have some huge Rubbermaid bins that I bought from {sorry} Sam’s Club years ago. The huge one I use for flour and the less huge one I use for sugar. They sit on the floor of my pantry and are easier to dip into than the bulk bags.

  74. Becky says:

    Unsalted butter is for the birds…or real foodies 🙂

    Anyway, I have a question about the whole wheat thing. I don’t grind my own wheat, but when you refer to “hard white wheat” would that be considered white whole wheat flour at the store or regular whole wheat flour?


    • Mel says:

      Hi Becky – yes hard white wheat when ground is usually called white whole wheat flour. Regular (or unlabeled) is usually hard red wheat.

  75. Julie says:

    I was so surprised to see you mention that you will never qualify as a foodie because you use salted butter. I am much older than you, but decades ago I learned that there really is a difference, and unsalted butter is far too much trouble without any added benefit. I will never be a foodie either, but I have learned a few things along the way. Thanks, Mel, my best friend, for backing me up!

  76. Randi says:

    Hi Mel! I wanted to comment because I feel like we are “real” friends, too – and my husband and I talk about “Mel” in our house like you could show up at the front door at any moment! He’s the cook in our house (he enjoys it more than me and is MUCH better) and we have three or four of your recipes on our dinner table every.single.week! Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to post so many delicious recipes and especially for posts like today, where it really shows you are dedicated to helping your “friends” succeed in the kitchen! 🙂

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