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5 clever cooking tips

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Whether you’re new to cooking or have been whipping up gourmet dishes for years, there’s always more you can learn. Here are five tips to level up your cooking game.

1. Don’t overcrowd the pan
Food releases moisture as it cooks. Therefore, if you overcrowd your pan, the food will steam instead of sear. This will leave you with mushy, dry, and unappetizing food.

2. Taste as you cook
It’s a good idea to taste your food while you cook. This will help ensure the dish is cooked properly and isn’t over or under-seasoned.

3. Preheat your pan
Always let your pan heat up for a few minutes before cooking. Carefully hover your hand over the pan to feel when it’s hot. If you’re using butter, simply wait for it to melt.


4. Don’t add oil to your pasta water
Putting oil in your pasta water prevents the sauce from sticking to the noodles. Instead, drizzle your cooked pasta with a bit of olive oil.

5. Read through the entire recipe
Making sure you understand the recipe you want to use will help you manage your time wisely so that the entire dish comes together at the right time.

To get the cooking supplies and ingredients you need, visit your local stores.

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Make the classic Reuben sandwich at home

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The sweetness of corned beef paired with the salty sourness of sauerkraut, nutty Swiss cheese and tangy Russian (or Thousand Island) dressing, all on earthy slices of rye bread.

The messy, glorious Reuben is a classic American sandwich for a reason: It’s incredibly delicious. And with just a few very common ingredients, it’s easy to prepare at home. Make just one for yourself or whip up a pile of them for family or guests — either one won’t take much time. This recipe makes four sandwiches, but scales up or down easily.

Ingredients
8 slices good-quality rye bread
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 c. Russian dressing (or you can use prepared Thousand Island dressing)
8 slices Swiss cheese
3/4 pound corned beef
1 c. sauerkraut, drained

For the Russian dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons horseradish
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


First, prepare the Russian dressing (if desired). Whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire, sugar, and paprika until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Next, butter each slice of bread on one side. Spread Russian dressing on the unbuttered sides of each slice. Top four slices with cheese, corned beef, and sauerkraut, then top each sandwich with the remaining slices, dressing side down. Place sandwiches in a skillet over medium heat and grill until the bread is golden and the cheese is melted — two to three minutes per side.

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25 foods you should always have on hand

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Here are 25 food staples you should always keep in your kitchen.

In the fridge
1. Tofu
2. Eggs
3. Lettuce
4. Condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise
5. Milk
6. Deli meat
7. Cheese

In the freezer
8. Vegetables like peas and corn
9. Boneless chicken
10. Fish fillets like cod, salmon, and sole
11. Ground meat like pork, beef, and turkey
12. Pre-cooked seafood like crab, pollock, and shrimp
13. Fruit
14. Sliced bread

In the pantry
15. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pecans
16. Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
17. Canned tuna
18. Pasta like macaroni, penne and spaghetti
19. Rice like brown, basmati, and jasmine
20. Condensed soups like tomato, celery, and mushroom
21. Canned tomatoes
22. Potatoes
23. Onions
24. Flour
25. Sugar

Front Royal Virginia

Visit your local grocery store to find everything you need to prepare delicious meals.

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5 tips for making mashed potatoes

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Mashed potatoes pair well with a variety of other foods. Here are five tips for making this side dish great every time.

1. Use the right potatoes
You can use any kind of potato to make mashed potatoes. However, Idaho®, russet, and Yukon gold potatoes are ideal for mashing because they provide superior texture and taste.

2. Adjust the cooking time
Boil your potatoes in a pot of heavily salted water. You can peel them or leave the skin on. The potatoes are ready once you can easily poke through them with a fork. Peeled and cut potatoes cook faster. However, they absorb more water, which can affect their texture.

3. Add butter immediately
Coat your potatoes in butter before mashing them. This will help lock in the starch and give your mashed potatoes a silky texture.


4. Don’t over mash them
For an even texture, use a potato masher with small holes. However, make sure you don’t over-mash your potatoes. This can make them gummy and unappetizing.

5. Add milk at the end
Adding milk helps prevent your potatoes from becoming gluey. If you want, you can heat up the milk in the microwave to prevent your mashed potatoes from cooling down too quickly. If you want to make this side dish more decadent, swap the milk for cooking cream.

Enjoy!

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Reduce food waste with gleaning

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Do you enjoy being outdoors and eating fresh produce? If so, you may want to try gleaning. This activity combines both these elements and helps reduce food waste. Here’s what you should know.

What’s gleaning?
Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover or overlooked fruits and vegetables from fields and orchards after they’ve been commercially harvested. This practice limits food waste by allowing people to pick produce before it’s thrown away or no longer edible. It also allows people to eat fruits and vegetables that don’t meet the strict aesthetic requirements of retail markets.

How does it work?
Gleaning has been around for hundreds of years and was often practiced on grain crops. However, today it applies to a wide variety of produce, including blueberries, strawberries, apples, squashes, pears, cucumbers, and more. The harvested food is usually divided between volunteers, producers, and community food banks to help those in need and prevent large quantities of fruits and vegetables from going to waste.

You can enjoy fresh, local food and save on your grocery bill by looking for gleaning groups in your area.


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4 interesting facts about coconuts

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Coconut can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Here are four interesting facts about this tropical fruit.

They’re green
The hard brown fruit you usually buy in the grocery store is a dried coconut. Fresh coconuts are green and have soft, shiny skin.

They have many uses
Coconut milk, flour, water, oil, and sugar can be used to make a variety of soups, pastries, smoothies, sauces, and more.

They’re from Asia
Coconuts are primarily cultivated in southern Asian countries like Indonesia and the Philippines. However, they’re also found in India, Thailand, and Vietnam.


They have health benefits
Rich in fat and fiber, coconuts are a good source of iron, potassium, and phosphorus. They also contain magnesium and various other essential vitamins and minerals.

Unsweetened coconut makes a great addition to a balanced diet.

How to open a coconut
Start by piercing the eyes of the coconut with a knife. Then, tap the coconut all the way around with the flat end of a knife until it splits in half. You can also place it in a bag and tap it against the ground or put it in an oven at 375 F for 10 minutes and let it cool before cracking it open.

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Ruby chocolate puffed rice squares

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These crispy, chocolatey treats are sure to delight your Easter guests.

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients
• 1/2 cup salted butter
• 2 cups marshmallows
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 7 cups puffed rice cereal
• 1 cup ruby chocolate chips
• 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
• 1/2 cup decorative candy

Directions
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter, marshmallows, and vanilla extract over low heat until smooth.


2. Remove from heat and using a spatula, gently fold in the puffed rice cereal.

3. In a large greased rectangular pan, spoon in the mixture. Let cool to room temperature.

4. In a double boiler, melt the ruby chocolate chips and vegetable shortening. Allow the chocolate to temper.

5. Cut the puffed rice mixture into squares and remove them from the pan.

6. Carefully dip the top of each square in the ruby chocolate mixture or drizzle it on with a spoon. Garnish with decorative candies.

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Upcoming Events

May
18
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
May 18 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
May
21
Sat
9:00 am Kids’ Fishing Tournament @ Shenandoah River State Park
Kids’ Fishing Tournament @ Shenandoah River State Park
May 21 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Kids' Fishing Tournament @ Shenandoah River State Park
Held in the picnic area by the river. 2 prize categories: biggest catch and most unique catch Children ages 15 years and younger are eligible to compete Check in with the ranger at Shelter 1[...]
10:00 am Birds of the Woods and Fields @ Sky Meadows State Park
Birds of the Woods and Fields @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 21 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Birds of the Woods and Fields @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail Join Shenandoah Chapter Master Naturalist Margaret Wester and explore the habitat of birds and the woodland wonders utilized for their survival. Discover the diverse stories of the Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Wood[...]
11:00 am National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 21 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
National Kids to Parks Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Children’s Discovery Area This National Kids to Parks Day, join us for fun-filled activities and music at our interactive discovery stations. Kids, pick up a scavenger hunt brochure and hike on the Track Trail or[...]
May
22
Sun
2:00 pm Common Scents: Historic Perfume ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Common Scents: Historic Perfume ... @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 22 @ 2:00 pm – May 23 @ 4:00 pm
Common Scents: Historic Perfume Making Workshop @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Have you ever wondered how to harvest the fragrance of a flower or capture the irresistible aroma of sandalwood? Then this hands-on workshop is for you! Join us and learn how people in[...]
5:00 pm Let’s Come Together @ DoubleTree by Hilton
Let’s Come Together @ DoubleTree by Hilton
May 22 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Let's Come Together @ DoubleTree by Hilton
A Night of Prayer and Worship, All are Welcome Prayers led by Pastor John Miller of Abundant Life Church and other Local Pastors DoubleTree by Hilton 111 Hospitality Dr. Front Royal, VA Sunday, May 22[...]
May
25
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
May 25 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
May
28
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8:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
May 28 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area: Discover our International Dark-Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion[...]
May
30
Mon
7:00 pm 2022 Memorial Day Community Band... @ Gazebo
2022 Memorial Day Community Band... @ Gazebo
May 30 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
2022 Memorial Day Community Band Concert @ Gazebo
2022 Memorial Day Concert by Front Royal Community Band Monday, May 30, 2022, 7pm, at the Gazebo on Main St. (sponsored by American Legion Post #53)