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Kitchen Tips?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:46 pm    Post subject: Kitchen Tips? Reply with quote

I bet lots of you have "things you do in the kitchen" that help you or that save time, that not everyone would think of...

Here are some of mine, including ones that maybe "should be obvious"...but weren't necessarily. (to me)

    * Soak dishes in hot or warm water before I wash 'em / pre-rinse and load 'em in the dishwasher (!)
    * When putting honey/molasses AND oil in a recipe, I measure the oil in first so the molasses doesn't stick to the measuring cup/spoon
    * Rinse things that haven't actually gotten dirty (i.e. spoons that have just stirred noodles) instead of letting them get mixed up with the "to wash" pile.
    * Clean the strainer asap if I've just strained bones out of broth!


What are some of yours?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

* Don't throw anything with fried egg in the dishwasher and expect it to get clean.

* The dishwasher holds more when you organize!!!

* If you nest all the silverware together in the dishwasher, it just ain't gonna work.

(The above three rules can be summarized into one single rule: don't let my wife load the dishwasher.)
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

* Learning correct knife skills cuts (sorry!) a lot of time out of the preparation.
* Making breads with bake power instead of yeast in a weeknight to save a lot of time and the bake powder ones are just as nice
* Make your roux ahead of time when making sauces from something that is in the oven so you just need to add some liquid
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

* For grocery items that come packaged in the supposedly helpful little 'resealable' plastic zips -- double-bagging them in ziplocks once open, because those resealable packages rarely seal right. Followup -- re-using those ziplocks for same, as long as they aren't dirty.

* Using the plastic grocery bags to tie up garbage that goes in my kitchen trash can, to reduce the smell and make sure I can fill up the kitchen can before smell becomes an issue. This also reduces dog curiosity.

* I buy the jars of minced garlic to use in recipes, because they keep longer than fresh. Plus, I can use small quantities of the oil it is packed in to flavor dishes I am cooking with garlic flavor without having actual garlic pieces in them.

* Thawing/marinating frozen chicken breasts in the refrigerator overnight in ziploc bags along with store brand italian dressing (usually on sale or under $1 a bottle). To me, this makes frozen chicken taste better when prepared.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A glass of wine and some good music playing, makes any job in the kitchen a pleasure.

Do as much washing up as possible while meal is cooking (some of us don't own a dishwasher).
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DukkhaWaynhim wrote:
* I buy the jars of minced garlic to use in recipes, because they keep longer than fresh. Plus, I can use small quantities of the oil it is packed in to flavor dishes I am cooking with garlic flavor without having actual garlic pieces in them.

Have you found a brand that doesn't have an acidic preservative in it, dw? Most jarred minced garlic I've tried has an off flavor to me. I use so much garlic I rarely have a problem with fresh going bad, and I've gotten the peeling and slicing routine down where it barely takes any time at all, IMO.

DukkhaWaynhim wrote:
* Thawing/marinating frozen chicken breasts in the refrigerator overnight in ziploc bags along with store brand italian dressing (usually on sale or under $1 a bottle). To me, this makes frozen chicken taste better when prepared.

To build upon this, prep and add the marinade to your chicken when you purchase it, and then store in freezer bags in the freezer. One less step before defrosting. Or if you cook frozen chicken in the crockpot, you just dump the frozen meat and marinade on to the rack in the crockpot, set it on low, and let it go for the day.

If you constantly use minced onions in cooked recipes, chop up a large onion and store what you don't need immediately in a zipper bag. I find it stays good for cooked recipes for three days or so. Always dice or slice fresh if using raw, though.

If you have the freezer space, adapt some Once a Month Cooking habits. Brown up several pounds of ground meat (beef, turkey, lamb, etc.) at once, divide into amounts needed for various recipes, and freeze in zipper bags dated and marked with the intended recipe or seasoning used. Defrost in the refrigerator the day you intend to use it, and add to your recipe when assembling.

The same can be done with cooked chicken. I prefer to use boneless/skinless thighs, but b/s chicken breasts can be prepped ahead of time and frozen for casserole or pasta dishes where the meat is cubed or shredded.

When making casseroles, prepare at least double. Line your second casserole with overhanging foil before filling. Once assembled, place some parchment over the top of the second casserole and freeze just until hardened. Use the overhanging foil to lift the frozen filling out of the casserole dish and remove the parchment. Wrap tightly with the excess foil; label the dish with what it is, the date, and which casserole dish you froze it in (so you can slide it back in while frozen when you go to cook it), and then place in a freezer bag. Homemade frozen dinner for a busy night!

There are lots of suggestions for OaMC which can be adapted to one recipe at a time. Once you have stocked up on meals, it really isn't all that difficult to replace them after using them when you have the time and inclination to cook fresh again.

~*~edit~*~
Oh, and for when I do indulge in pasta, one of my favorite tricks.

If assembling a casserole with pasta and lots of sauce, such as a lasagna, baked ziti, macaroni and cheese, etc., you do not need to cook the pasta first. This goes for any pasta, not just the "no boil" kind. All you need to do is to be sure there is enough sauce to cover every surface of the pasta. For a lasagna, the bottom layer can be sauce, then raw lasagna noodles, then cheese and filling, then more sauce, followed immediately by the next pasta layer. Be certain there is sauce along the edges of the pan, and over the top layer of noodles before topping with cheese.

I find I prefer the texture of the pasta when oven baked this way, and allowed to rest for ten minutes before serving, than compared to pasta which was boiled before being added to the casserole.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Menolly wrote:
If assembling a casserole with pasta and lots of sauce, such as a lasagna, baked ziti, macaroni and cheese, etc., you do not need to cook the pasta first.


Good advice. If you cook the pasta first it soaks with water which doesn't really have taste at all (if the water from your faucet has taste it's about time to get worried). The pasta can't absorb the sauce anymore, making the dish taste rather bland. Uncooked pasta (especially lasagne) needs to absorb the sauce in order to create a harmonic and coherent dish. The first layer (almost typed lawyer) for a lasagne always is bechamel sauce.

My kitchen tip:

DON'T FRY BACON NAKED.

But I reckon y'all guessed already ...
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vader wrote:
My kitchen tip:

DON'T FRY BACON NAKED.

But I reckon y'all guessed already ...

heh...

I'll make it even "brief" -er.

DON'T FRY BACON.

Really.
Put it on a rack or broiler pan and bake it at 350F in the oven. I like my bacon on the soft side, so I bake it for twenty minutes. I think most folks would go for half an hour or even forty minutes, though.

Frees up your skillet or griddle for your eggs and pancakes. And the drippings in the pan underneath tends to be really nice for saving.
Although I use my pizza stone, slanted at an angle over the drip pan. Seasons it really nicely.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With these paper thin rashers you get over here twenty minutes in the oven would turn bacon into charcoal.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Menolly, I finally read your directions for baking bacon more carefully. Do you cover the pan? Because if not, I think the only people who would be interested in doing it this way would be either: a) crazy or b) owners of a self-cleaning oven. Wink

My bacon hint is to sandwich the slices between a few sheets of microwave-safe paper towels and nuke 'em. It takes about a minute per slice in my microwave. And there's no greasy pan (or greasy oven!) to clean up.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aliantha wrote:
My bacon hint is to sandwich the slices between a few sheets of microwave-safe paper towels and nuke 'em. It takes about a minute per slice in my microwave. And there's no greasy pan (or greasy oven!) to clean up.
Sounds like a waste of perfectly good bacon grease! Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vader wrote:
With these paper thin rashers you get over here twenty minutes in the oven would turn bacon into charcoal.

I try to buy Oscar Mayer brand sliced bacon when I can, and those rashers are sliced pretty thin. Even so, twenty minutes at 350°F leaves the bacon at the limp texture we prefer. I believe I've heard Damelon say he bakes his at 400°F to attain crispy bacon, but I don't recall for how long.

aliantha wrote:
Menolly, I finally read your directions for baking bacon more carefully. Do you cover the pan? Because if not, I think the only people who would be interested in doing it this way would be either: a) crazy or b) owners of a self-cleaning oven. Wink

I've never had the bacon spatter in the oven when cooked this way. Have you ever done bacon wrapped filets? Have they spattered all over your oven? I've never had a problem...
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't eat much in the way of preserved/processed meats at all. Haven't for years, ever since nitrites (nitrates?) were linked to cancer.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aliantha wrote:
My bacon hint is to sandwich the slices between a few sheets of microwave-safe paper towels and nuke 'em. It takes about a minute per slice in my microwave. And there's no greasy pan (or greasy oven!) to clean up.


That's disgusting. Laughing There should be a law against microwaving bacon. Grill it or pan fry it.

I'm not even convinced about the baking. Shifty

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me neither. Nothing like a good pan-fry. Hey, aliantha, I thought you could make your own bacon at home without the nitrates?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

*looking round* mod required! Can we keep bacon chat to the bacon thread please?

oh wait the mod started it!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stonemaybe wrote:
*looking round* mod required! Can we keep bacon chat to the bacon thread please?

oh wait the mod started it!


nuh-uh!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to put too fine a point on it, but while Vader was the first to mention bacon -- only in passing -- Stone is correct that Menolly instigated the perseveration on the topic.

Can't resist a little continuation...

Smokey Bacon Maple Bar

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Menolly wrote:
I use so much garlic I rarely have a problem with fresh going bad, and I've gotten the peeling and slicing routine down where it barely takes any time at all, IMO.
Maybe you already know this, but if you'll take a spatula (or other flat object), lay it on the garlic clove, and then smash it with your fist, the peel will literally fall right off.

My best tip: keep a box of disposable vinyl gloves around at all times! I buy them by the 100. Whenevery you're dealing with raw meat, you don't have to keep washing your hands. Just throw the gloves away and grab another pair when needed. I even use them when mincing a lot of garlic or dealing with chopped onions, so my hands don't smell like garlic/onions all day.

Also, when you do have to wash your hands, those automatic motion-detecting soap dispensers are very cheap nowadays. You can get them at Walmart. (Can you tell I'm pretty anal about clean hands in the kitchen? Laughing )

Bread thaws out just fine, very quickly. I freeze half of my hamburger buns, hotdog buns, or even half a loaf of bread so that they don't go stale or moldy before I can eat them.

It's always easier to make more than you need than it is to cook twice. Tupperware, Ziplocks, and the freezer are your friends. I keep scaling up my recipes as I buy larger pots and pans. I've just cooked up about two weeks worth of food in the last two days.

Get a smoker. You'll never regret it. Okay, that's not really the kitchen, but it gets you out in the open air, and gives you a great excuse to have several adult beverages. Tedious work requires a boredom-busting beverage.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can now confirm that oven-baked bacon does not spatter. Menolly demonstrated the technique this morning and there is no residue on the interior of my oven...just collected bacon drippings in the bottom of the broiler pan.
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