Whatever knowledge I have of cooking, kitchen tips, tricks, etc., has come from a lifetime of watching, reading and learning whatever I can from whomever was willing to teach me. Of course, watching Alton Brown for endless hours doesn’t hurt, but it all started out when I was a child, watching my grandmother in the kitchen.
She wasn’t a fancy cook, but she knew how to get flavors out of the most ordinary ingredients. I think it was the love she put into it. I have yet to find anything that can replace that.
I remember my first dinner party as a college student in an apartment I shared with my good friend, Catherine. I made lasagna, which I have to say, was pretty darn good. The best part of the evening wasn’t the food though.
The apartment was small…just 2 bedrooms, and a living room/dining area separated from the small kitchen. Just before I came out to serve, I stuffed three balloons inside my clothes (you can use your imagination to figure out where), singing whatever Italian song I could think of at the time.
Maybe it was because the food turned out great. Maybe it was because everyone had such a good time. Or maybe it was because everyone that was there were truly important to me. Looking back, I think it was the combination of all three. The universe conspired that night and it was telling me to ‘go forth ye, and cooketh’. Or something like that.
So here are some tips, observations and just simple advice that I hope will make your time in the kitchen enjoyable.
- Use kitchen thermometers. They’re your friends. Don’t be a doofus like me and think you’ll ‘just know’ when your fried chicken is done or when your melted sugar is ready. You won’t and you’ll end up with salmonella poisoning or you’ll get goopy sugar stuck in your teeth and maybe even loose a filling. Not that it happened to me mind you. la, la, la, la…
- One good sharp knife trumps 10 bad ones. Don’t even think of buying a knife at the dollar store. Get the best knife you can afford. The sharper the knife, the easier and safer it is to use.
- Never buy premade salad dressing. Just don’t do it. When your mustard bottle has given you all it can, don’t throw it away. Put some vinegar, (whatever you want is fine, but I prefer red wine or apple cider) a little bit of honey, salt and olive oil, shake, shake, shake and you’ve got yourself some good, homemade salad dressing. Go ahead and use herbs and spices if you want.
- Have different cutting boards for different types of food, i.e., fish, chicken, vegetables. You’ve seen them at kitchen stores everywhere and in kitchen supply catalogs. I use mine all the time. They’re indispensable.
- Don’t cook in the nude. And don’t fry foods in the nude. Especially if you’re a guy. Unless you’re one of these guys, http://pinterest.com/search/?q=hot+guys, then you can do whatever you want, and preferably when I’m around.
- Make a sandwich for your friends. For some reason, a sandwich made by someone else tastes better than one you make yourself, and they’ll think you rock. Just ask the aforementioned friend of mine, Catherine. And if you make a sandwich like this, you do indeed rock:
So go forth ye, and cooketh…or call for takeout.