15 Shortcuts for Everyday Cooks

March 14, 2014
If you are like me, weeknight cooking involves simple recipes that don't take up a lot of time but taste great. While I love trying new recipes and techniques, I usually save the 10+ ingredient list and time consuming recipes for the weekends. This allows more quality time with my family after a long day in the office. So, here are 15 shortcuts for everyday cooks; hopefully these quick tips will save you a little time in the kitchen too.

1. To revive tired veggies like carrots + celery that have lost moisture and firmness, toll them in a bowl of ice-cold water for 30 minutes.

2. Hate cleaning your garlic press? Instead use a microplane or zester for a similar mincing effect.

3. Buying pre-mixed salad in a container? Flip the container over every 2 days to avoid moisture collection the bottom which speeds up the rotting process.

4. When measuring sticky substances like molasses, honey or syrup, spray your measuring cups with a nonstick spray like pam and the liquids will slide right out, making for easy clean up.

5. To keep herbs from flying around as you chop, sprinkle some coarse salt on your cutting board.

6. Have extra-firm citrus? Zap lemons and limes in the microwave for 20 seconds to help break dwon cellular walls and make them easier to juice.

7. Don't throw away your cheese rinds. Put them aside in a zip-lock bag until it's soup night. Throwing an extra hunk of parmesan will give your soups added flavor.

8. The secret to perfect pie crusts is cold butter. Shred frozen butter with a box grater for perfect flakes.

9. Serving a bottle of wine? Pour a cup from the bottle into an ice cube tray and freeze. When a recipe calls for a splash of wine, grab a couple ice cubes versus having to open a new bottle.

10. To keep brown sugar from hardening, throw a heel of a bread loaf into the bag. The bread's moisture will keep the sugar fresh + soft.

11. Instead of tossing veggie scraps into the garbage, set aside your onion skins, celery ribs, fennel bulbs and carrot tops into a plastic bag and freeze. When it comes time to make soup stock, just add water and some spices.

12. A rusty pot or pan can be scrubbed clean with a potato that's been sliced in half and dipped in coarse salt.

13. You can either patiently skim fat from soup as you are cooking or instead, put it in the fridge over night so the fat neatly hardens at the top. It will be ready to be lifted off with one swift scoop in the morning.

14. No one likes having to stir the oil back into natural peanut butter. So store you peanut butter jar upside down so the oil settles in the lid. When you flip it over, the contents will already be mixed.

15. As you cook, keep a garbage bowl by your cutting board. This will minimize the time you spend shuffling around and help maintain your mise en place. 


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- Jaime