Friday, May 27, 2016

12 Kitchen Tips From 8 Years of Reluctant Cooking

Contributing Author: The Tortoise

The Tortoise is a mess-averse spectrum individual relatively new to cooking for others. Eight years of trial and error in 3 kitchens, plus one hospital visit, have produced these following kitchen tips.

  1. Wear your rubber washing gloves to open any pull-tab or pull-top tin cans, such as sardine tins, baked beans tins or tinned meat. If your hand slips, you will not cut yourself.
  2. A tip from Mum: When stir-frying/cooking dishes which do not need sugar, add a (literal) pinch of sugar anyway. This helps brings out flavour in a similar way to 'taste-enhancers' such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), but without the negative effects.
  3. If you are tired of soaking and scrubbing blackened oven trays after roasting chicken/meat, line the trays with oven-safe greaseproof/baking paper (£1.20 for 20 metres), and just roll up and bin the paper after cooking. No mess, no soaking!
  4. To prevent chicken pieces from cooking in a bath of their own fat in the oven, line the tray with cheap stale bread (on top of the greaseproof paper). Sit the chicken on top, and the bread soaks up all the fat that comes out.
  5. A tip from Grandma for curry lovers: When adding water to the pot after frying the spices, add the water VERY SLOWLY, a little drizzle at a time until you've put all the water in. Do NOT add the water all at once, or in large splashes. If you flood the pot and drive the temperature down, your curry will lose the best of its flavour.
  6. Another tip from Grandma: If you're making a creamy white fish soup, add a spoonful of peanut butter. It adds great flavour.
  7. If you grind a little WHITE pepper into your scrambled egg mix whilst beating it, it makes the dish much creamier in taste. Do not use too much!
  8. If you put a metal dish of water inside the oven when you bake bread or roast meat or vegetables, the steam helps prevent food from drying out while cooking.
  9. To prevent mess during food-preparation, place a sheet of newspaper on the worktop, sit the chopping board on top, and prep. Push all chopped waste off the board onto the newspaper. When you've finished, simply wrap up all the waste into a small neat newspaper parcel, and bin it. No mess!
  10. Newspaper is also very good at killing odour. Wrap particularly pongy waste such as brassica or fish leftovers in a piece of newspaper before putting it in the bin. Or if the bin itself smells too much, sit a piece of newspaper over the waste inside, and push the edges down between the waste and the interior bin wall. This will form an odour-eating seal.
  11. If you can't get rid of the smell from a jar (glass, plastic, etc), just stuff it full of newspaper right up to the rim, fill it with water, put the cap back on and let it sit for a couple of days. The more black text print is on the newspaper, the better it works.
  12. If you are a new cook, do your cooking slowly, over a low fire. This does not noticeably reduce the quality of the meal in most cases, lets you take your time without panicking or burning things, and gives you far more control over the situation and the final result. It works.

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