Monday, September 13, 2010

A Near Plethora of Incredible Cooking Tips and Kitchen Hints

A short time ago I posted a nice list of helpful cooking tips and kitchen tips right here on this blog. And you, the public, responded with a plethora of e-mails, cards and letters demanding "More! More!"

Well, actually, it was more like a stray comment here or there. Something more akin to: "What? Is that it?" or "Is that all you got?"

My answer? A resounding NO! Here's eight more!

Now, keep those cards and letters coming.

You can pretty much discount the credibility of anyone who uses the word 'plethora' in any form of written or oral communication. If they use it twice in the same communication, you will be absolved if you hunt them down and beat them repeatedly with a Roget's Thesaurus.

When microwave ovens were introduced they were supposed to revolutionize our culinary lives. Manufacturers claimed they would do everything except crush garlic and wash dishes. I have owned a microwave for over three decades and am convinced it is good for only four things: popping bags of popcorn, defrosting or cooking frozen veggies, reheating last night's dinner for lunch, and taking up three square feet of precious counter space. (Reports that it can also dry wet cats are purely speculative).

Many of us make a real effort to show up for a dinner party a little later than when we are told to arrive. This is good form. However, there is a very small minority who insist on showing up early. Sometimes very early. When these socially-inept morons arrive while you are finishing a sauce or fluffing the rice, throw some sliced onions in a skillet with some olive oil and saute them. The aroma will drive them nuts and they will drool uncontrollably, which is always good for a few laughs. (Oh, and be sure to pour some of your cheap wine in a carafe and set it out. Save the good stuff for those guests who have the good sense to show up at the right time).

Placing an open box of baking soda in the back of the fridge to keep it odor-free is a strategy that has been handed down from great-grandparents to grandparents to parents. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work. Here is the best way to keep your fridge odor-free: Make sure all of your food is tightly-wrapped, throw out the veggies that are starting to rot, and clean the refrigerator every now and then with soap and water. I know it's more work than putting a little yellow box on the shelf, but this technique actually works.

Removing chicken skin with your bare fingers works just fine with the first piece. After that they get so slimy you may as well have had them dipped in oil. Instead, use a paper towel to grasp the skin and then toss the paper towel when you're done. No muss. No fuss.

The quickest way to thaw frozen steaks and chops is to place them unwrapped in a heavy aluminum skillet or baking pan (the heavier and thicker, the better) at room temperature. You'll be amazed at how quickly they defrost. Of course, thicker roasts and chicken should only be defrosted in the fridge.

A pound of fresh spinach looks like it could feed a small army but when it cooks down it only yields about one cup. Keep that in mind when you're out shopping.

The effectiveness of any gadget advertised on a late night infomercial is diminished in proportion to the amount of airtime said infomercial expends.


  1. I never knew about the quick thawing technique-thanks!

  2. It's surprising, Abbey, but it really works. Metal, and aluminum especially, is a great heat conductor. No more thawing (and unintentionally partially cooking) steaks and chops in the microwave. This method rocks when you get home in the evening and have a yen for a steak, chop, or shrimp but they're all frozen.

  3. Microwaves are an abomination in the sight of the Lord... I'm sure Leviticus said that. They're only good for heating water for a quick coffee (if you have to resort to instant) and defrosting. Popping corn must be done the old fashioned way in a cast iron pot.


  4. I agree about popping corn. But in a pinch, Orville's popcorn in a bag will sometimes do when there's a good movie on and you can't break away for a few minutes. lol.

  5. I was laughing so hard when I read the "When guest show up early." I usually get there 1 minute early or late. I am very punctual. I use to get so mad when people were late, I thought it was rude. But in the last couple years, I really appreciate them being a half hour late, I have needed the extra time to get ready. I will try to run a little late in the future but it is hard. I am always worried that the host will be offended.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Late night gadget infomercials... you can't possibly tell me the ninja cooking system doesn't work.

  7. I used my microwave to hide food from the cat. The cat -- and the daughter who owned her -- moved out and I gave my daughter the microwave. I really appreciate the counter space, though I will admit that I occasionally miss microwave popcorn or heating a cup of coffee.

    I'm not sure about drying cats, but two pre-schoolers here put two puppies in the microwave and turned it on. The puppies were burned. To make things even worse, the parents didn't take it to the vet.

  8. @ wosnes Good use of a microwave! LOL. Bummer about the puppies tho'. That sure sucks.

  9. This sounds absolutely fantastic! Thanks for sharing!