Friday, February 8, 2008

Tips and Tricks

  • Revisions: If you find a "better way" when using recipes, make a note in your cookbook by writing directly in the book or adding a sticky note of some sort.
  • Efficiency: I tear off a sheet of freezer paper and line one side of my double sink, wax side down, with it. I peel vegetables into the sink, toss paper towels, eggshells, etc. This keeps me from opening the trash bin every five minutes. When I'm done I fold the corners over and drop it into the trash bin.
  • Preparation: I measure, slice, dice, and "prep" all my ingredients before I start cooking/assembling the recipe. This serves several purposes...I can double check that I have all my ingredients in the house and also nearby so I don'tfind myself with something boiling over on the stove AND trying to find the ingredient I needed to add ten minutes ago. With everything beside the stove I can stir, add, and leave anything unattended. It also fulfills any OCD traits tendencies you might be harboring.
  • Clean Up: Clean as you go. Measure the sugar, put it away. Empty the dish, put it with the others, either in the sudsy water, dishwasher or in a designated place on the counter. When you're done, you're nearly done. It doesn't seem like such a chore to cook. And if you're cooking multiple meals like I do, you're ready to carry on with the next.
  • Cooking Times: Especially when recipes are new to you, set the timer for a few minutes less than your recipe calls for. It's much better to have to checked for doneness a few times than wish you had.
  • Revisions: When you make a recipe for the first time follow the directions. Make your ingredient, timing, and measurement changes on subsequent attempts. This way you have a baseline and know how little, or how much, or how not-at-all adjustments are needed in the future.
  • Failure: Recipes will flop under your deft hands. It's OK. New ones, old ones, it-has-to-be-perfect-TONIGHT ones. Smile and then try cooking with wine.
  • Recycle Spice Jars: You can use those little spice "kegs" and their shakere tops again. Many recipes call for mixing spices and then coating the meat or "dusting" the dessert. For spices, measure your spices onto a piece of parchment paper and bend the paper in half to make a chute. Slide the mix into one of the jars and then sprinkle it over your meat. For sugar or cocoa, measure and spoon the topping onto the jar and again, sprinkle away.
  • Brown Sugar: Wrap it up, bag it, bag it again and put in the freezer.
  • Cooking with wine: Notice I didn't say to put it in your recipe. It's my recipe for enjoyment while I'm cooking.

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