Here are some cooking tips collected recently from readers of the Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

- Spices (and herbs) should always go in oil first. If you're going to make spaghetti sauce, when you're browning the onions until they're transparent, put your spices in with that before you put in the tomato sauce. It's the oil that releases the seasoning.- Right after you make soup, let it sit for about five minutes so all the fat particles rise to the top. Put a paper towel right on top of the soup and all the fat will rise into the paper towel. Then throw it away. It's so very simple. You might have to use a couple of paper towels.

- Pour 1 quart of boiling water over four bouillon cubes. Stir well and store in the refrigerator. Keep this ready to use instead of shortening for cooking and browning meat, vegetables or chicken. Or have a cup of bouillon for a low-calorie snack, hot or cold. Fix vegetables in the microwave and add bouillon instead of water. It's a quick, low-calorie fix for everyday cooking.

- Use your Salad Shooter for grating cheese! This saves time as well as knuckle skin.

- When buying fresh strawberries, store them in a large glass jar with a paper towel over the top. Then put the lid on and store it upside down in the fridge. They stay fresh for a long time. The trick is not to wash the strawberries.