HAPPY MONDAY from your friend who was out until 10 last night at a drinking work event.
Fried chicken for lunch, anyone? Don’t judge me.
Today, instead of a new recipe, I thought it’d be nice to share a few basic kitchen tips that I use a LOT. We’re talking BASIC here, people. I’ll tell you why, too – that way you don’t start to think that I’m just making up rules to run your life because I’m bossy.
Which of course would be also true, but there’s a method to this madness.
Some of these are pro tips, some are just things I’ve learned along the way. I’d love to know what your favorite tips are!
- Salt your pasta water. This means THIS: Bring pasta water to a boil, then add in a LOT of salt. 1 tablespoon or so for a big pot. Maybe more. Then, when you boil your pasta, the salt will flavor the PASTA. If you don’t do this then your perfectly-seasoned pasta SAUCE will taste bland because the pasta will be bland. Also. Salt the water once it boils. If you add salt right at the beginning it won’t dissolve right away, and might scratch the bottom of your pot.
- Like shapes and sizes: when you’re cooking things, try to keep veggies and/or meat uniform when you want the cooking time to be the same. Like veggies: if you’re roasting mixed veggies, cut them all into pieces that are similarly sized so that they’ll cook at the same pace. Same with mashed potatoes – cube potatoes small for faster boiling time, large if you have more time to spare. Either way, make everything similar so you don’t overcook or undercook part of the food.
- EXCEPTION TO THE RULE ABOVE. Not everything will always be uniform. What if you want minced garlic, chopped onion, and chunks of eggplant all in one dish? Start the dish with whatever takes the longest to cook. In this scenario, an eggplant tomato sauce, I’d add the eggplant chunks, THEN the onion to soften, THEN the garlic last since it’ll take the shortest amount of time to cook.
- Grills are tricky. This isn’t a tip so much as an…observation? People are kind of obsessed with grilling, but most (myself included) aren’t terribly good at it. Grills, more than stovetops, seem to have a wider range of heat, functionality, hot spots, etc. If you’re unsure about a grill that you’re using, cook things in pans, like this steak. You don’t lose anything in terms of quality of the food you’re preparing, and you don’t have the uncertainty of everything going WRONG ALL THE TIME, which might make you cry. No one likes a crybaby.
- Sharp knives are the key to the Earth. I can’t STAND dull knives, and am constantly baffled when people say they “can’t really tell” as they’re pulverizing a poor tomato on their cutting board. Um, yes, yes you can. Tomatoes are able to be diced. With a sharp knife. Also, sharp knives don’t have to be expensive. I have a KitchenAid set that I got YEARS ago from TJ Maxx on serious sale, and I have an electric sharpener from Target that I’ve had for 4 years. They weren’t expensive, they work great, and cooking is more fun and less frustrating because Sharp Knives are the Key to the Earth. That’ll be the title of my book.
- Eating vegetarian saves money. This is a no-brainer, but you know how meat is expensive and other things are less expensive? Think on it. Even if you aren’t vegetarian, eating meals like these once or twice a week is great for your wallet, and often healthier than a heavier meal with meat. Try it!
What are your favorite kitchen rules to live by? We all have our own set of rules – it’s fun to share them. Tell me, and have a happy day.