Friday, March 4, 2011

Kitchen Tips

One of my favorite things to do, as it might be yours, is to WATCH people cook. Reading a recipe is good and all, but I like to see how they put the tasty dish together. And, with a good teacher cooking while talking, you might also hear some of their tips for cooking in the kitchen.

Here are just a few celeb cooks/chefs who are great teachers:
Giada De Laurentiis
Alain Ducasse
Rachael Ray
Julia Child, of course

But they're rich and famous and make cooking seem like a breeze on TV. But I'll start today with a running list of tips in the kitchen. I thought about putting the source next to them but, the truth is, I'm not sure where all of these came from. Plus, multiple people say the same tip sometimes. So here goes:

*To save time, money, and sanity*

Clean: Clean out your fridge every 2 weeks (before you hit the grocery). Share the cleaning responsibilities. From Matt: Kiss your wife when she's baking cookies.

Counter: Clean that counter! I learned this from matter how busy and crazy the mornings are, she always wiped down the counter before leaving for work. This left an inviting touch for coming home tired and cooking dinner after a long day. Clean now, play later. (I'm learning.)

Dishes: Clean as you go. Soak pots in warm, soapy water before you eat at the table. This saves so much time, sanity, and prevents fighting between spouses. Reuse bowls when baking or making sauces.

Gadgets: Keep your gadgets organized in a drawer in organization trays. I'll post some of my favorites another day (my weakness).

Garlic: Crack and peel (and press) an entire bulb of garlic. Put it in an airtight container or baggie and pop it in the freezer for easy grabbing. Use the side of a knife to crack the clove and save time on peeling.

Ginger: Instead of wasting an entire "branch" from sticking it in the fridge for weeks (guilty), take the piece home from the store, peel it all, and stick it in an airtight baggie in the freezer. When you need it, grab it..frozen ginger is easier to grate, too.
Pots & Baking: Hand wash pots, pans and baking sheets. This keeps them from warping and, if non-stick, keeps the coating intact longer.

Produce: After coming home from the store, fill your kitchen sink with cold water and rinse everything off before putting it in the fridge. That way, you can grab lettuce, apples, whatever, quickly!   

Spices: Buy them in bulk, or at least from stores where you fill them in baggies. It's almost always cheaper to measure out spices yourself rather than buy the little jars. Plus, you get to try out new ones. When you need common ingredients like bay leaves, cinnamon, sea salt, look for the "International Foods" versions (like cinnamon from Mexico) because they are $$$ mucho cheaper and equivalent quality to the common brands.

Storage Containers: Keep a set that matches (I love the swivel set with the same lids to add to any size.) to save sanity and messy cabinets of Tupperware. Buying a couple of "fun" enticing storage bowls the size of one family meal (2 servings in my house) will encourage you to eat your leftovers, stretch your dollar, and make meals easy. Also, put one-serving containers together for next day lunch. Freeze leftovers you know you can't get through in a few days.

Utensils: Keep your knives sharp. Have a jar full of staple utensils easily accessible. Include: slotted spoon, wooden spoons, spatulas (grill, big pancake, icing), silicone tongs, ladle, mallet, potato masher. 


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