Some ideas to keep in mind when we are about to cook.
Often we need to use our human ingenuity to get out of more than one sticky situation in the kitchen.
All sorts of cooking tricks
Create a funnel: A simple eggshell can turn into an improvised funnel to pour liquid inside a narrow neck bottle.
Brittle glass: Did you know that glass jars, bottles and carafes became very fragile when full and they can break with the lightest knock? You have to take more care with a full bottle than with an empty one.
Cean bottles: To get rid off that white film in milk bottles you should wash them in cold water first and in hot water afterwards; just the other way round to what we usually do.
Celery chic: Curled celery is a stylish decoration for any plate. Scrape the celery stalk, cut thin strips from the ends and let them stand in ice-cold water for an hour. They will curl as prettily as the ribbons used for birthday presents.
Non-stick pan: If your frying pan sticks, heat up a little oil and fry onion until it burns. Throw the onion away, and, without washing it, use the pan to cook the food as planned.
Timbale of rice: line the inside of a cup with cling film. Pack cooked rice tightly inside, cover with the plate - pressing - and turn around plate and cup together. Remove the cup and film. A perfect timbale of rice should stand onto the plate.
Save a dish too salty: If your recipe has come out too salty, cook a potato, peeled, in the dish, and remove it before serving. The potato absorbs all flavors and the dish will taste less salty. If you don't have much time, try adding a little cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp at a time, to curb the taste.
Flavorful pastry: Crumble a stock cube into the pastry to give it extra taste. Try beef stock for steak and kidney pie or pudding, and vegetable stock for savory pies and tarts.
Only 24 hours: Keep for only 24 hours sweets with cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, or vanilla flavored sugar.
Canned food: Transfer a.s.a.p. any leftover food from the can to a porcelain or glass jar. Keep the jar in the fridge. If you don’t have a fridge handy, cover with a little oil to prevent contact with air and keep it “fresh.”
Artichokes: Artichokes keep as well in a vase with the stems in water as if they were flowers. This method also applies to asparagus.
Beans and pulses: To prevent bugs growing in your beans and pulses, put a couple of peeled garlic cloves in the jar where you keep them. Your grandmother knew this. If you don't like the smell of garlic, add a couple of bay leaves to the jar.
Rice: Rice can also grow uninvited guests. Add a fresh bay leaf to the jar where you keep the rice. Rice would absorb too much of the garlic flavor.
Meat: Best kept in the fridge. But if you don’t have one, meat can keep for a day or two out of the fridge – beef can keep for a few days - covered in oil. Use that oil later for cooking – cooking, never raw as in a salad dressing.
Hang out: Meat is much more tender if it has been hanging for a few days. Meat from a recently dead animal is tough.
When in doubt: Throw it!
Keep green olives: In water with salt. Add a slice of lemon for flavor.
To keep black olives: Drain the liquid. Put them in a glass jar with 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and covered in oil. Marinate 10 days. You can add new olives as you use them. Once finished, use the oil for salads or cooking. You could add paprika to the marinade, in that case, the remaining oil wil be good only for cooking.
Peaches: They will keep them in the fridge, in the vegetable draw, for a few days; let the ones with firm flesh out until soft and use the very ripe in the day.
The right cooking utensils
Baking cookies: Use shiny cookie sheets when baking cookies, it will allow them to bake more evenly while dark sheets absorb the heat faster and will brown the crust prematurely.
Care for your knives: To keep your kitchen knives in top condition, do not let them get in contact with burning hot fat.
Save energy: Whenever possible, cover the pan when boiling or simmering and make sure that the bottom of the pan is the same size and larger than the burner -especially if the stove is electric.
Use the right size cake pan: If you do not have a pan of the same size of the one given on the recipe, choose one of the same depth and similar area, and fill only half of the pan for the cake to have room to rise.
Round or square: An 8-inch square pan can be substituted for a 9-inch round one.
Cooking Without Tricks
How to cook pasta: Fill a large pot with water, add a few drops of olive oil to prevent sticking. You can also add salt for flavoring. Bring to a boil over high heat and add uncooked pasta once it reaches a boil. Once the water reaches a boil again, turn the heat down to medium low and boil according the manufacturer’s cooking times. Once cooked, rinse with water to remove starch and strain completely.
When it comes to beef, here’s an explanation of doneness. Rare has a bloody red center (125° F internal temperature), medium rare has a reddish-pink middle (130° F), medium has a thin light pink center (145° F) and well done is cooked all the way through (165° F).
Pork and poultry should be fully cooked before serving. The way to determine its doneness is with a meat thermometer. Pork is safely cooked at 145° F and poultry is safely cooked at 165° F. Note, any ground meats need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160° F.
Living without a fridge: We are so used to have a fridge and a freezer that we cannot think of situations when there is not one. Camping, for instance, could be one of those. Not everyone has a house on wheels and it does not mean you need to starve.
Olive oil: Olive oil keeps much better and for longer away from light; store oil in a dark place. When buying, tins are better than glass bottles, and dark glass is better than clear.
Keep oil fresh: If you want to prevent seldom used oil from turning rancid, introduce a sugar cube into the bottle and the oil will keep fresh.