Every time I think I’m getting really sick of making dinner every night, I remember to sharpen my knives and suddenly it’s not so bad. I use an electric sharpener that has a coarse and fine wheel and keep my chopping and bread knives ultra sharp. I cut myself a lot, but I also make dinner really fast.
- grating cheese
I abhor grating cheese but I eat a lot of it. If you have a salad shooter just cut the cheese into wedges that will fit inside the chute and grind away – you can grate a pound in minutes with no pain (though I still make my teenager do it most of the time). Alternatively you can often use a grating attachment on many food processors, I just like the salad shooter because it’s much smaller so there’s less to wash afterward.
- parchment paper
Instead of wax paper, spray butter or aluminum foil, use parchment paper. Nothing seems to stick to it including bread dough, cookies, fish skin – it withstands very high temperatures and is compostable when you’re done. I particularly like it for bread as you can let your boule rise on the paper and easily transfer it to a baking sheet and the oven.
- the garlic trick
It’s hard to believe anyone doesn’t know the garlic trick, but a lot of people don’t (read: men under 25). If you don’t already know, it’s a shortcut to peeling garlic that leaves out the sticky, papery fingers. Simply cut the hard edge off of the garlic – the dried piece that attached the clove to the heart, then lay the clove on a hard surface and press the flat side of a large knife against it. Hit the other flat side with the ball of your hand, smashing the clove. It pops the paper loose which can then be easily slipped off before dicing.
- the onion trick
Another favorite of mine – put your onions in the freezer about 10 to 15 minutes before you’re ready to chop them and you won’t tear-up while chopping. Just don’t forget them in there because they’ll turn translucent and inedible after fully freezing.
- the Oprah trick
I saw this trick when it was mocked on “The Soup” one time but I use it often now. To get more juice out of a slice of lemon or lime, bite on the slice while leaning over the bowl to squeeze out more juice. Sounds gross but you’re only biting the rind so you’re not putting your mouth on anything that will go into the food, unless you drool.
- brown sugar kept soft
Add a few marshmallows to the canister where you keep your brown sugar and it will never dry out again! The only use for marshmallows that I’ve found.
- tomato paste
The smallest can of tomato paste is usually still too large. Instead of wasting a little every time I need some, I buy a large can and use what I need, then take a spoonful at a time and add it to a ziplock bag. You can fit several spoonfuls in, just make sure they’re not touching and then store them in the freezer. You can pop out one at a time (at about a tablespoon each) as needed. I suppose you could use ice cube trays but it seems unsanitary.
- soak dried beans in advance
Instead of always forgetting to soak dried beans the night before you need them, soak them, rinse them once and then freeze them. They take far less time to thaw than they would to soak. This works for barley, lentils and other dried legumes as well.
- the perfect boiled egg
Eggs yolks should not be a whitish or mustard colored, they should be bright yellow and just cooked. The best way to avoid overcooking is to put the eggs in a pot and add water until covered. Heat the water and as soon as it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and place a lid on the pot. After 9 minutes remove the eggs to cold water. No more chalky tasting yolks.
- store celery
My celery always goes limp within a week; wrap it in aluminum foil and keep it in the crisper and it will stay fresh for weeks (keep the same piece of foil on hand for this use). If you have limp celery, carrots or radishes you can also put them in a bowl of ice water and they’ll usually crisp back up.
- separating egg whites
If you have trouble with the fancy method of separating the whites from the yolks by cracking the egg and switching the yolk from half shell to half shell, try simply using a funnel. The whites will spill through, the yolk won’t.
- cutting herbs
Rather than trying to dice or chop herbs like chives, parsley and cilantro, try cutting them with kitchen scissors. They won’t mash and bruise this way and it’s much quicker.
- use leftover coffee
Dilute leftover coffee (not your cuppa with milk and sugar – the stuff in the pot) by equal parts water and water your houseplants for a cheap Nitrogen boost.
The only food that never goes bad. If it has crystallized, heat it in a microwave or hot pot of water until it’s flowing again. It seriously boggles my mind that honey never goes bad.