It may be the end of the season, but I’ve finally figured out how to cut watermelon without chopping off my fingers. For years I’ve shied away from buying them until I finally realized to cut it as I would cut anything round (from a carrot, to a butternut squash, to a watermelon). Always start by giving yourself a flat edge. Then liberally trim off the skin. The white and light pink meat hold very little flavor. Continue by dicing small portions at a time, always rocking and rotating to give yourself a flat surface.

We eat a lot of waffles around here. I can do things on repeat forever and ever, but Kev needs variety. Inspired by I am a Food Blog, we flavored our syrup with fruit this weekend. Add chopped berries or stone fruit to a saucepan with a thin layer of water and cook on medium-high heat until bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Add desired amount of maple syrup and warm through. Serve. For added flavor, drop in a sprig of fresh herbs while cooking.

How do you know when a peach is ripe? My mom grew up in the south, making her a peach expert. She taught us at a young age to only eat a peach when you can smell it. And when they’re not as ripe as you’d like or if you have a peach cobbler, crisp, or galette to make later that day, stick them in a brown paper bag and seal to speed up the process.

It’s hard to balance quick summer cooking with homemade (semi) time-intensive recipes like homemade burger buns.  Problem solved. Make a huge batch. Then individually wrap in foil or plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe bag, making sure all the air is out. When you’re ready to use, take them straight from the freezer, remove foil, and wrap in a damp paper towel. Using the defrost setting on your microwave, defrost for no more than 5 minutes. They will be soft, warm, and ready to eat. Slice, drizzle with olive oil, and toast on the grill.

For better or worse, I put down my fair share of lattes. The other day I found myself without simple syrup. (I like a tiny touch of sweetness.) I opened the fridge, stared, and my eyes landed on maple syrup. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Now I put down my fair share of maple sweetened lattes. A little goes a long way.

Cooling melted butter seems to take years when I’m in a hurry. To cut corners, reserve a tablespoon or so of chilled butter, and stir it into the melted butter. But why cool melted butter in the first place? Adding ingredients of a different temperature often yields a lumpy batter as they quickly try to reach a common temperature. Butter turns back into its solid state, eggs cook, etc.

Need room temperature butter? Check out this tip. 

It’s nearly summer vacation time. There’s nothing worse than leaving a kitchen full of fresh food only to come back and find it…not fresh. Will you join in on this tip? What do you do to prep your pantry before heading out of town? Leave a comment; save a strawberry.

Here’s what we do: make banana curd with ripe bananas  |  make ice cream with cream and milk  |  wash, cut, and freeze fresh fruit  |  roast your veggie drawer to eat before or freeze  |  make pesto with leafy greens  |  make a greenhouse for the herbs