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Holidays also are the season of leftovers, so here's a handy website that could quite literally keep you alive. StillTasty.com is a guide to shelf life. In the "Keep it or toss it?" section, you can type in a food -- say, spinach dip -- and a guide will pop up sorted by commercial or homemade, opened or unopened. (By the way, on the spinach dip, three to four days in the fridge.) Its primary source is food safety research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FDA and Centers for Disease Control. There also are dozens of frequently asked questions, and info about expiration dates, safe defrosting tips and more. That freshly baked fruitcake? Good for six months in the refrigerator. But you knew that.Paper or tapioca?
Lakewinds, a member-owned natural food co-op in Minnetonka, Chanhassen and Anoka, is the nation's first customer for the new Ecoplas bag, a reusable, fully compostable bag made from tapioca root. Libby Trader, general manager for Lakewinds, said that even paper bags made with recycled paper have a high carbon footprint, given the amount of chemicals, water and other processes used in making them. Lakewinds, which eliminated plastic bags from its stores about a year ago, currently buys about 350,000 paper bags a year. Ecoplas bags are made from Indonesian cassava and sago, widely and easily grown plants that produce tapioca. Said to be durable enough to re-use for several trips to the store, an Ecoplas bag will biodegrade in 12 weeks when put into home compost. Lakewinds doesn't expect to do away with paper bags completely, but members and shoppers seem to be enthusiastic converts once they hear their checkout choice: "Paper or tapioca?"Loss is another's gain
When Gourmet magazine went porkbelly up in October, the 3,500 cookbooks in its research library were homeless. Now they're part of the culinary collection at the Fales Library of New York University, one of the nation's most extensive collections of culinary works. The 500 boxes of books, for which the library paid $14,000, represents "the best of the best," said the library's director, with the selection itself evidence of trends over the past 75 years. Even so, seven shelves of Cajun books? Laissez les bons temps rouler!Spout hits the spot
The name has a whiff of double-entrendre, but apparently the "G" in G-Spout stands for grease that it aims to strain without spilling. The G-Spout is a new utensil that clips onto the side of saucepans, frying pans, cans and bowls and works both as a strainer and spout. "G" might also stand for "green." The Colorado manufacturer says it wants to help hold down the costs of water treatment caused by too many people dumping their grease down the sink and, ultimately, into our waterways. The device is made of high-temperature, food-grade silicone and is microwaveable and dishwasher-safe. It's available for $12.99 at www.g-Spout.com.