Tuesday Tip: Get Organized in the Kitchen

7 09 2010

It is so easy to stay out of that hot kitchen through the summer months, isn’t it? It’s tempting to subsist only on light meals throughout the day, running out to eat with friends in the longer nights in the evenings, and enjoying spontaneous picnics out of doors.

But come the advent of fall time, the kiddies go back to school, and there’s just something in all of us that makes us want to get back into a routine schedule (that’s not just me, right)?

With that, always comes a renewed effort to cook a few more meals at home, curl in with a good meal, stack of books, a few friends, or just by yourself. So, this month, we’ll focus our Tuesday Tips on a few of those things we missed in Home Ec, or that mom tried to teach us, but we were too busy sampling the goodies to really listen and pay attention to.

  • Turn on that oven the minute you walk in the door. Get that thing preheated while you’re starting other things.
  • Create a running grocery list inside your pantry. You’ll never remember when you’re in aisle 7 that you’re out of angel hair pasta until you’ve started boiling the water and have to make speghetti and meatballs with elbow noodles.
  • Bring your foods to room temperature before you cook or bake. They’ll get there a whole lot faster than if they are chilled.
  • Didn’t anyone ever tell you to read the instructions all the way through before starting on step one? You’ll make sure you know what you’re doing, and you’ll have all the ingredients on hand before you begin. For that matter, read all your recipes all the way through. This way, if in one, you’re chopping 1/4 a cup of onions in one, and 3/4 in the other, you can just keep on chopping until you’ve got a full cup, separating out later. (It’s not a bad idea to chop, measure, and prepare all the raw ingredients before you even begin. It not only makes sure you’ve got everything ready to go so something isn’t languishing on the burner for longer than it’s meant, there’s a reason Paula does that on her show before she starts. You’ll have more fun, and in case someone is watching, you’ll look like an expert.)
  • Go ahead and invest in a few kitchen timers, one for each dish you’r cooking. It’s so easy for a busy cook to start on one, forget the timing on the other, and wind up ruining a dish.
  • Most of all, if something goes wrong, it’s between you and the stove top. Play it off as if nothing is wrong, and probably, no one but you will ever know. (If necessary, change the names to protect the innocent — souffles can easily become “puddings.”)
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