Posted by: Ms. Crackers | November 9, 2008

{ helping hand }

With all of the baking I did yesterday, I thought it would be nice to mention a few of the little “kitchen tricks” I use regularly to make my life a little easier. I broke my brown betty (it’s a teapot), so I’m a little sad and needed some picking up…:(

We all have these things, whether we’ve found them serendipitously, or whether they’ve been handed down/passed on to us from others in the know.  They can be small, second-nature, “duh”-caliber tricks, or they can make the difference between a successful kitchen story and a nightmare from which you cannot wake up.  Mine are all pretty small and “duh”, but they do make my life a lot easier, and I want to share them with you.

  1. Add a bit of oil to your pasta water. This, for whatever reason, takes the foamy bits out of the water and allows your pasta to roll about without the threat of boiling over.  I have heard to avoid adding oil to your water as it makes the pasta oily, but I have yet to encounter this myself.  I think it is because I use a LOT of water and a LITTLE bit of oil, for a reasonable amount of pasta.  In this house, adding oil, salting the water and NOT rinsing the pasta has brought me great success.
  2. Get rid of fruit flies.  For some reason, and I don’t think it’s just because we’re messy, we always have a lot of fruit flies in warmer weather.  Hello, they were in my BATHROOM this week.  What?!  Anyway, here’s my trick to get rid of fruit flies, and I guarantee it will work.  Take a small container or cup and add enough red wine vinegar to fill it about 1″ in depth.  Add a squirt of soapy water (well, I dilute my dish soap, so I guess a drop of soap and a tablespoon of water would do it) and cover the container with plastic wrap.  Poke a hole in the middle of the wrap (probably about the size of a toonie) and place it near the congregation of fruit flies.  Within a day or two, they should all be drunk and sunk.
  3. Have a refuse bowl. I think I actually heard this one on a show referring to Rachel Ray’s “tip”, but this is a pretty solid one regardless of where it came from.  Keep a medium-sized bowl on your workspace and just stick all of your junk in there as you are cooking.  Once you’re done and ready to clean up, the whole thing goes in the trash.  It saves you a lot of running around during the cooking process, and it keeps your space tidy.
  4. Make garlic edible.  If you are a garlic fan, like myself, you want to eat loooots of it, all the time, but sometimes it can just be too strong.  The root’s the thing.  Take each clove and run a paring knife down it’s length.  Open it up and take out that little sprout/germ inside – it could be clear/white or turning green already, but it should be easy to remove regardless.  This bit is usually quite bitter, so the garlic you are left with is clean and delish.  Now, that being said, if you’re not straight-up eating the garlic clove, it doesn’t hurt to just leave it in.
  5. Preparation is key.  Duh, right?  When I’m baking or cooking, I like to make sure I have the following things in place:  a clean workspace, an empty dishwasher, a soapy-watery sink, a copy of my recipe (if needed) and all of my ingredients ready to go.  This makes it easy to keep my kitchen clean and maximizes my productivity while cutting back on the mess.  There are a few situations when I like to fly by the seat of my pants, but cooking is not one of them.

Alright, folks, so now it’s your turn. What are some of your tried-and-true kitchen tips?

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