Saturday, November 13, 2010

Five Free Kitchen Tips

Last night I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a FREE cooking class with a few ladies from my church. A friend of a friend is starting up his own school of classes and wants to run several test classes before he starts charging. We were his very first test class! He had just moved into his kitchen an hour before we arrived, so it was a little crazy, but a ton of fun! Each person could decide whether they wanted to observe or participate. I love to cook, so I jumped in with two eager hands! Chopping, frying, stirring... I was glad I hadn't made dinner earlier. We put together a basic side salad, and cooked Cream of Potato Soup and Minestrone Soup. I had never made either soup before so it was great to try two new dishes! We also learned how to make a vegetable stock (easiest thing EVER), potato skins, and sopapillas. I savored those sopapillas straight out of the deep fat fryer...mmm. I'll be making them in my oven. :-)

"Chef Pete" also shared several kitchen tips with us as we went along and I want to share the knowledge with all of you! I love learning new tips to help things run more efficiently in my kitchen.

Tip #1: Mise en Place
Do you ever find yourself frantically galloping circles around your kitchen trying to locate the next ingredient before the first ingredient sets the house on fire on the stove top? Sometimes this feels like a nightly routine in my kitchen. Mise en Place is a French phrase meaning "everything in its place;" literally, "putting in place." It describes the process of preparing your kitchen to cook. Wash and ready your ingredients, set out your tools and utensils, and pre-heat your oven. When everything is readied before cooking begins, cooking is more efficient and has less interruptions. Whenever I can manage "mise en place" in my own kitchen, prep goes quicker, clean up goes quicker, and there is waaay less mess in between!

Tip #2: No-Slip Cutting Board
Have you almost chopped off a finger (or hand) because your cutting board likes to play slip 'n slide? Well you can buy one with rubber feet, OR you can save the cash and put a damp dishtowel between the board and the counter. No more slippery cutting board!

Tip #3: You Don't Need a Peeler
Vegetable peelers annoy me. Who would have thought I don't even need one! I can use the knife that's already in my hand.
Let's work with a carrot. Holding one end of the carrot in one hand, set the other end down on your cutting board. Hold your knife at an angle, perpendicular to the carrot, blade facing you, and scrape down toward the cutting board, peeling off the outside layer. Voila!

Tip #4: Cleaning Mushrooms
A once tedious task in my kitchen, this will now be one of the fastest veggies to clean. Put all your mushrooms in a colander and get 'em wet. Then (are you ready for this?) toss them in corn starch. Get 'em all coated well, then rinse. All the dirt and muck rinses away with the corn starch! 30 seconds to clean mushrooms!
(Interestingly enough, the corn starch method also works for fresh spots on your carpet. Sprinkle with corn starch, wait 15 minutes, vacuum up.)

Tip #5: Easy-Out Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is very thick and usually requires some prodding with a spoon to get it all out of the can. Or, try this: Use your can opener to slice all the way around both ends of the can, then push one end all the way through the can, ejecting the tomato paste (and other end of the can) out the other side! This is my favorite new tip! It's the little things in life, ya know.

Here we are gettin' our cook on!

1 comment:

  1. awesome pics! wish i could have made it. looks like a fun time!!! =)


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