“September is “Self Improvement Month” and in recognition of this and the online learning company Webucator’s “Teach Your Talent” project, I thought I would share some cooking and kitchen tips. To give back to the cause and help others improve their skills, they are also offering free monthly self-paced Microsoft training courses. This month the course is Advanced PowerPoint 2013.”
Cooking can be enjoyable and relaxing. I call it my yoga and can spend many hours in the kitchen cooking, especially at weekends, as a way to relax. Having music or a Netflix series in the background helps me too! It helps that when you cook in your own kitchen you are not under the same pressure as a commercial one and can pretty much bake at your own pace with planning and a few shortcuts always help.
Here are a few cooking tips that hopefully will entice your inner chef/Diva to come out.
- Keep your cutting board firm – Put a dish towel or damp paper towel under your cutting board to keep it from slipping and wobbling.
- Keeping lemon pips out of your recipe – When squeezing a lemon to add juice to a recipe, use a small strainer to catch the pips. Its saves picking them out of the bowl.
- Get the maximum juice out of your lime and lemons – Roll lemons or limes between the counter and the heel of your hand to make them easier to juice.
- Peel ginger with a spoon – So much easier to shave the skin off than cutting it with a knife. Ginger can be tricky to peel with all its bumps and irregularities. Rather than using a knife or vegetable peeler, reach for the spoon. Scrape it against the skin and it’ll come right off, following every contour and minimizing waste.
- Making grating ginger easier – Freeze ginger first to make it firm and easy to grate.
- Slice avocado in their skins. –Split them in half and remove the pit by whacking it with the heel of your knife and twisting it out, then slice it directly in the skin using the tip of a paring knife. Scoop out with a spoon and you will have slices ready to eat. A lot less messier than a slippery peeled avocado a cutting board.
- Save your Parmesan rinds – (or any hard cheese rind) after you finish off the cheese and store it in a sealed bag in the freezer. It can be used to add flavour to soups, sauces and stews by adding it to the simmering liquid for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Extend the lifespan of herbs and greens – You can extend the lifespan of washed herbs and greens by several days by rolling them up in damp paper towels and placing them in zipper-lock bags with the seals left slightly open. The paper towels will even give you a built-in freshness indicator. At the first hint of decay, you’ll see darker spots of liquid forming on the paper towels. This is a good sign that you should use up your herbs and greens within a day or two.
- Getting egg shell out of your bowl – Get the accidental broken egg shell out of the bowl by wetting your finger first (ensuring you have clean hands!) The egg shell is easier to pick out than chasing it around the bowl.
- Remove excess water from cauliflower rice -Use a nutbag to get all the water out of cauliflower rice/cooked cauliflower. Allow the cooked and drained cauliflower to cool down first (you don’t want to burn your hands). Place the cauliflower in the nut bag and squeeze the excess water out. Now you have a workable cauliflower mixture ready to make a tasty pizza base or wrap.
- Easy peeling of a kiwi – Use a spoon to peel a kiwi from the inside out. Cut the ends of the kiwi off, then slide the spoon under the skin around the kiwi.
- Quick way to caramelize onions – When sautéing onions, add a pinch of baking soda. This speeds browning and cuts the cooking time nearly in half.
- Easy grating of cheese – Coat your cheese grater with nonstick spray for delightfully clean, easy shredding.
- Get rid of onion cooking smell – If your house is smelling like onions, garlic, etc. simmer a pot with 1/2 inch of water, 1/2 inch of white vinegar and a cinnamon stick and in minutes the odors will be neutralized.
- Keeping berries fresh – When you buy berries take them out of the plastic container and line the container with paper towels. Then place berries back in. This helps to keep berries longer. Also, do not wash until you’re ready to eat!
- Easy peeling of a hard boiled egg – To peel a hard-boiled egg, crack it all over, roll under your palm, then use a spoon to get under the skin and peel it. Most often, it’ll come off in one fell swoop.
- Keeping citrus fruits and tomatoes fresh – Avoid putting citrus fruits or tomatoes in the fridge, the low temperatures take away the aroma and flavour of these fruits.
- Fresh Tupperware – When storing Tupperware, throw in a pinch of salt to keep them from getting stinky.
- Keeping celery fresh – Wrap celery in aluminium foil when putting in the refrigerator. It will keep for weeks.
- Effective use of oil to a pan – Add oil to the pan sides. When cooking with oil, add it not to the bottom but to the pan’s sides. This will allow the oil to heat up as it works its way down to the center. This will help keep the foods flavour locked in and make for a tasty meal.