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Little tricks that help make cooking faster, easier?

I always keep a sheet of paper towel on the counter where I'm working. Indispensable for instant mop up of spills...quick wiping of knives, utensils...resting place for spoons, spatulas, whisks etc...immediate help for wet/greasy hands.

Do you have any little secrets to share?

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  1. I almost always hook a grocery store plastic bag on the handle of one of my cabinets to put trash in, so I don't have to keep going back and forth to the trash can (sort of the garbage bowl mentality). (It doesn't matter how many times I tell them I don't need a bag for my milk or my potatoes or whatever- they still manage to double wrap my meat in a bag or put that one loaf of bread in a bag! Drives me crazy, but that's a whole 'nother topic!!)

    8 Replies
      1. re: Katie Nell

        Even better -- put it on two handles in the corner -- stays wide open!

        1. re: Katie Nell

          This is exactly what I do, tho sometimes I use a bowl ala RR.

          1. re: prunefeet

            I line a bowl with a plastic grocery bag for a no-clean-up garbage bowl

            1. re: prunefeet

              I found a little contraption that slides onto the rim of a drawer that holds plastic grocery bags--kind of like what they use at the grocery store, only this has a flip-top lid! It's great because I can easily move it around the kitchen to wherever I happen to be prepping. It gets used more than my actual trash can.

            2. re: Katie Nell

              I do the exact same thing. Makes pealing veggies and dicing easier to just throw the trash into. WHen your done all you do is tie up the handles and drop in the trash... makes life easier.

              If I know I will be making dishes that require lots of chopped/diced veggies- I will do all the chopping/dicing the night before and put into zip lock bags. Then the next day when I am making my dishes all I have to do is saute and/or assemble! Takes lots of the pressure off.

              1. re: MeffaBabe

                I prep on my island. I keep my trash can right at the end, to my left. So whenever I finish chopping one item I sweep all the scraps right off my cutting board into the trash.

            3. I have a couple of biggish spoon rests I keep near the stove. They're handy for putting down the spoons, spatulas etc I'm using. I know that they're clean and keeps mess to a minimum.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheryl_h

                Along those lines, I keep decorative glazed tiles on either side of my stove to set spoons, spatulas, etc. upon, plus they also function as a trivet for a hot saucepan if I need it.

              2. Sounds simplistic, but I make sure the dishwasher is empty and the sink clean before I start. I hate having to drain pasta into a dirty sink or not be able to load the dishwasher (or get my kids to) right from the table.

                5 Replies
                1. re: susan1353

                  Me too. Especially if we're entertaining.

                  1. re: Andiereid

                    I find I can't even begin cooking until the sink and counters are clean and the dirty dishes are in the dishwasher.

                    1. re: Anya L

                      Same here! Must start with a clean kitchen.

                      I have recently read that one poster uses disposable cups for their mise en place. Wasteful, but so convenient when entertaining.

                      1. re: Foodrat

                        Jeez, we'd all starve to death if a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher were prerequisites to cooking!

                        1. re: Foodrat

                          I've been doing that for so long, I don't even consider it novel. It's a real time-saver.

                  2. I know I have mentioned it before, but now that baking season is upon us I'll bring it up again. W Sonoma and I think Sur La Table have odd sized measuring spoons and cups, 1.5 Tbs., 2/3 c. etc. I can't tell you how much these save time in repetitive measuring. In the next 2 weeks I will be making dozens of cookies for 2 different events and am so glad I have those cups and spoons.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Candy

                      I have these and LOVE them! I somehow lost my 2T measure so I'm thinking about asking for another set.

                      1. re: Jcooks

                        Yes, when you are doing a lot of cooking it is amazing how much time they save. I think in the newest King Arthur Bakers Catalog they have some, The spoons are rectangular and fit into spice jars better. The spoons have 1/8th tsp. and a 1.5 tsp. measure (half Tbs) which my set does not have. So I will be ordering some ot those. Can't have too many measuring spoons can you or cups.

                        1. re: Candy

                          Does any company sell measuring spoons or cups separately? I can't tell you how much it annoys me that I always lose the 1/4 teaspoon or 1/4 cup. I'd swear allegiance to a company that would allow me just to buy the spoons/cups I need.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Not that I know of. It looks like sets in the catalogue. I don't mind having extras. It keeps me from having to stop and clean one that I need when I am making recipes that call for liquids and dry.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I like having extras. I use them in containers. For instance, my flour canister has a 1-cup and 1/2-cup measure in there all the time. The dog food bin has a 1/3 cup measure. I keep the odd ones in a separate place and when I need another odd-valued measure, I look there.

                      2. I put newspaper on the counter and my cutting board on top. I do all the chopping at the same time and set up my mise en place. I sweep all the trash to the outside of the board and on the newspaper.

                        In the end, I remove the cutting board, and crumple the garbage and the newspapers. voila, clean counter in under a minute!

                        This trick has saved me tons of time! Oh, and sometimes when I want to watch tv, I do all my prep (same style) on my coffee table.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JoLi

                          Great idea, I'll try it. The scraps and newspaper could go into the compost, too.

                          1. I keep a collection of plain white Corningware Corelle dishes (2 bowl sizes and two plate sizes) stacked in a three-tier plate stand (within arm's reach) for microwave use, heat/reheat/warm/melt/defrost.

                            Corelle is microwave-safe glass and food safe. The rack looks good and the dishes are always within reach of the microwave.

                            I use them ALL the time. Saves my regular porcelain plates.

                            1. I'm not very good at mise en place, but if a recipe calls for several ingredients to be added at some point in a dish, I put them all in one bowl after prepping them. Just gets tricky sometimes remembering which goes in which dish ... I try to keep them segregated. This has worked well for my cooking from Mangoes & Curry Leaves.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MMRuth

                                Me too! And for that very same cookbook... I got some little orange melamine measuring bowls from Mario Batali's kitchen line that serve a dual-purpose as measuring ingredients and mise-en-place. Particularly good when you have a recipe calling for different quantities of chopped vegetables.

                                The bowls have measuring marks at the halfway point (the smallest is 1/8 and 1/4 c both, the largest 1/2c) so I "stack" ingredients that will be added at the same time on top of each other. I've been happy with the bowls so far although someone posted in another thread that they crack easily.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Me too. Now what have you both liked from Mangoes & Curry Leaves? I mostly just pore over it, have not cooked much yet.

                                2. In the same vein as the plastic bag on the cupboard handle, I always keep an extra empty quart-sized yogurt container in my sink. As I'm washing/trimming vegetables, cracking eggs, etc., the scraps get tossed into the container (or dropped into the sink and later scooped into the container). That way, I can dump my cooking refuse into the trash in one go, rather than making many little trips to the garbage can.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: dixieday2

                                    The place where I stand to chop and prep is right above my trash bin drawer so I can scoop stuff in as I work without taking a step. The down side is the drawer where I keep potholders is directly above the trash drawer. I was missing a potholder and could not imagine what I had done with it and the light went on when I found myself opening the trash drawer instead of the potholder drawer. I had thrown it away by accident and never noticed.

                                  2. no one suggesting a garbage bowl ala Rachel Ray....:)

                                    For me it starts with a well layed out kitchen( this was a must when I was looking for a new construction house, and knocked out many a decent house because of a poorly laid out kitchen.) , and good appliances, and tools.

                                    A hot pan, or oven, highly used items within easy reach(spices, measuring cups/spoons, etc), an organized fridge, and a clean area with enough space to do prep, etc.

                                    1. I hate papertowels. They are expensive, environmentally incorrect and not that robust. I don't even like the paper feel of papertowels in my hands.

                                      Instead of paper towels for general uses, I buy white washcloths in packages of 24 for $9.99 from Costco. I use them in the kitchen to wipe up spills and drips, dry vegetables after washing, dry dishes and my hands after rinsing, clean the refrigerator doors, wipe down the countertops, as hot pads when I hold a hot disk, etc. I always have one by the stove when I am cooking to wipe up splatters. They feel good and are very absorbent. I throw the used washclothes in the washer so they are washed with the next load of laundry. When they get discolored I put them aside to bleach them separately.

                                      I also keep a bottle of Windex under the sink to give my countertops a sparkling clean look.

                                      This is my favorite kitchen whisk. It stores almost flat in a drawer and is light enough that it doesn't knock a plastic bowl over when rested against the side. It also does not hold on to so much of your food when you are finished using it.

                                      http://www.shop.com/op/~Flat_Whisk-pr...

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: Rhee

                                        i also have a plethora of towels to use for messes-- it IS better for the environment, & not too much of a pain, but i do have plain unprinted toweling for draining grease, etc. if the environment is a concern, replace your ammonia -based windex with cheap homemade allpurpose cleaner: 4 cups water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 tsp dishwashing liquid. put it in your empty windex bottle and use it to clean everything-- nontoxic and SAFE AROUND FOOD & COOKING AREAS! :)

                                        i usually use a small container for trash for small jobs, the sink for big ones, then scoop out sink. a refinement is to also have a container or zip-bag for trimmings to be used in homemade soup stock that gets popped into the freezer until full enough for a batch, & another for compostables. when baking, you can use the paper that wraps your butter to grease pans & muffin tins quickly before you throw it out. make double batches of stuff & freeze them for later, you clean the kitchen once instead of multiple times & it's like a get out of jail free card when rushed. force yourself to develop good knife skills early on instead of relying on prechopped, subpar and pricy veggies

                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          my math in the recipe for allpurpose cleaner wrong: i usually do it in big batches so sorry: :)

                                          1 cup water
                                          1/4 cup white vinegar
                                          1/2 tsp dish soap

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            I love my old, soft, stained, abused kitchen towels. A roll of paper towels lasts months in our kitchen.

                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                              My sis bought a big set of those fluffy yellow micro fiber "cleaning cloths" from Costco and she uses them for her kitchen cleaning/wiping/sopping up water, etc. and swears by them. They are sold in the automotive area, they're for washing/drying your car. There's enough of them that she just changes them out every few days & tosses into the laundry.

                                              I think costco came out with a green colored one for all purpose cleaning. Yep, http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....

                                              They're also great for dusting.

                                              In the kitchen we use those strong black metal "butterfly" clips you use in the office to attach the towel to an oven door bar. You wrap one corner of the fabric closely around the bar and clip it to itself.

                                              I personally have small metal clothing hanger/hooks that I hang an OXO clip which has a rubberized hole. The rubber keeps the clip hanging on the hook when I'm drying my hands, but you can also easily remove it to change out the towels.http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/...

                                            2. re: Rhee

                                              I agree on the paper towels. However, bleach and Windex are not environmentally sensitive.

                                              1. re: gourmanda

                                                Yeah, I'd never use anything like 409 or Windex on my counter. Only soap and water.

                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                  you can keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water for windows

                                              2. re: Rhee

                                                But what about patting meat or chicken, etc., dry? I don't think I'd want to use a cloth for that.

                                                1. re: Anne H

                                                  I use plain floursack dishtowels for patting dry chicken and meats. Then they go right into the laundy bag after kitchen cleanup.

                                                2. re: Rhee

                                                  I can't tell you how much I love the washcloth idea. I have a lot of guilt over all the paper towels we go through.

                                                3. I have to agree with you Rhee. . . . I find paper towels to be so wasteful. The whitecloths are key. They do a much better job at drying veggies and salad. I just rinse salad in a strainer, transfer it onto the white cloth, or between two clothes, and soon enough it is dry. It would take about 10 paper towels to get the same affect.
                                                  Evenmore, they are great for drying hands!
                                                  I think every cook should have a stack of white clothes in the kitchen.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: pancake

                                                    Ditto this - I buy the bar mops at Target and keep them stacked in the utility room (right off my horrible, tiny kitchen) and use them for wiping up everything.

                                                    1. re: pancake

                                                      I have dozens of white terry towels a little bigger than washcloth size, that I use for everything. I have a separate basket inside the cellar door where I put them when soiled and they get added to the next load of jeans or towels that gets washed. I also love the big flour sack towels, especially for covering the bowl of rising bread, or drying salad greens. I buy cheap white hand towels at Sams Club for hand drying.

                                                      1. re: pancake

                                                        Why not a salad spinner? You use almost as much energy cleaning the towels in, I assume, a washer and dryer as is used with recycled paper towels.

                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                          I don't like salad spinners, and I grew up drying my greens on towels. It is not a matter of saving energy or resources. I just like cloth better than paper. If I am draining fried foods, I use newspaper with one layer of paper toweling on top.

                                                          1. re: sheiladeedee

                                                            I have this great old fashioned sald spinner that belonged to my gramma. Its a collapsible metal basket that when you fill up and close the handles togther forms this sort of lid, then you go out on your front porch or deck and spin your arm in circles really, really fast. I used to love to spin the salad when I was a kid and still use the darn thing now. My neighbors think I'm kinda crazy but...its just a fun way to dry your greens.

                                                            1. re: bolivianita

                                                              YES!! I grew up with one of these. My mother still has it. I covet it. It's also good to hang over your sink and put freshly washed produce in...the excess water drains right into the sink.

                                                              1. re: prunefeet

                                                                I use a bleached pillow case when I have a bunch to dry. It works great unless it's raining ;).

                                                              2. re: bolivianita

                                                                oh boy am i laughing. i spent my teenage years swinging that basket around before dinner!!

                                                        2. When we had our kitchen redone, my husband had the idea to put an extra piece of wood under the bottom of the pull-out trash drawer. So when your hands are full, you can just pull out the trash drawer with your toe/foot and don't have to touch anything.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: kiwijen

                                                            You're married to a genius! Brilliant!

                                                          2. Love that idea! You've made a convert out of me.

                                                            1. I bake a lot, so I keep 1/2 cup and 1 cup plastic measurers right in the flour and sugar canisters. These don't get used for anything else and are always where I need them.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: susan1353

                                                                I do this too - replaced the usual scoops with measuring cups, actually half-cups. Makes measuring a whole lot faster.

                                                              2. I have gotten into the habit of making stock whenever I'm cooking meat or poultry - just throw the meat trimmings, skin, fat, bones/cartilage in a boiling pot of salted water with onion, and add scraps from the vegies I'm cooking too. Pour into bowl when good and done, take fat off top when cooled, and then separate into one cup plastic containers and freeze. Label what type of stock it is. Very handy and better than storebought.

                                                                Also, whenever cutting up and trimming poultry, I move a catnip-sprinkled scratching post into the bedroom for my two curious kitties, and close the door!

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: Seldomsated

                                                                  I so wish I had the freezer room to do that! Someday...

                                                                  1. re: MuppetGrrl

                                                                    i never take up valuable freezer space w stock. instead, i cook it down ALOT- maybe 1/8 of its original volume. then chill (it will be like rubber or jello because of all the gelatin from the bones).
                                                                    then i cut it into 2-3" cubes, freeze, separated, on something flat. when solid frozen, wrap cubes in saran or put in ziploc bag. keep in freezer and reconstitute to taste. sure saves ALOT of space!

                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                      I pour the concentrated broth into ice cube trays. Then the frozen cubes go into ziplock bags.

                                                                  2. re: Seldomsated

                                                                    I always have a gallon of homemade chicken stock in the fridge. It's amazing how fast I go through that stuff. I use it all the time.

                                                                    1. re: Seldomsated

                                                                      good cat tip.

                                                                      i also make homemade stock as a constant process-- i keep some odd trimmings frozen until i have enough too. one nice thing about making your own vegetarian stock (no salt)-- if you ever get too much of it on hand, you can dilute it with a little water & use it to water your houseplants. Ditto with stale leftover beer! they will love you for it! (p.s. if you don't dilute it it may cause mold to grow on the surface of the soil-- yech!)

                                                                    2. Great tips so far. I love my flexable cutting boards. Have lots and in a variety of colors, so I can use same ones each time for fish, meat, poultry,etc. Love how you can just slide chopped ingredients into skillets, plus they are so easy to clean. I've also found them great for using to roll out dough for pies and even to raise sticky bread dough on. They are inexpensive and are dishwasher safe.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jackie de

                                                                        I like these, too, jackie de, but they seem to curl a lot at the corners. Have you found a way to prevent that? Maybe I just have an off-brand?

                                                                        1. re: juster

                                                                          I have 4 of those, I have the ones from BB&B that come in a package of 2 and love them for all of the above. I have not had trouble with curling. I wash them up right in the dishwasher and the are stored standing on end with the rest of my cutting boards.

                                                                          1. re: juster

                                                                            I have several of these and the older ones do curl a bit. The ones that are colored which I bought at Crate and Barel or like type stores seem to not curl at all. I save the curled ones,peel vegies and such on them, then just slide all the cuttings into the garbage, no paper towels or cloths needed. I do store them flat with the rest of my cuttings boards as Candy does . I think that helps.

                                                                        2. I have a boyfriend who's a fanatic about making an efficient kitchen. My two favorite time-savers: the pegboard, and a thin sheet of plywood he laid over the counter and garbage can. I don't need a garbage bowl, because I can just sweep everything off of the cutting board into the garbage hole.

                                                                          See here:

                                                                          http://beanersprout.com/apttour/image...

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: MuppetGrrl

                                                                            Julia had a pegboard too, so you're with good company!

                                                                              1. re: MuppetGrrl

                                                                                That IS Brilliant!! Can you tell me if you guys built it yourselves or can I buy it somewhere? Maybe you should patent it ;)

                                                                                1. re: JoLi

                                                                                  What, the garbage hole or the pegboard? The pegboard you can do yourself. I painted mine pretty. :)

                                                                                  The garbage hole was also a way to expand counter space in our galley kitchen. Our counter ended about two feet from the wall, in the space where we keep the garbage can, and we wanted to use all of that space.

                                                                                  My SO just bought a big piece of plywood ($10), cut it to the proper size/shape, stained and sealed it. Then just used one of those fun drill-saw-things (I am NOT a handy person) and cut out the garbage hole.

                                                                                  It's divine! My cutting board's right next to it, so I can sweep right into the hole. It's pretty obvious from the picture--it's a simple setup, and would probably only work in some kitchens.

                                                                                  1. re: MuppetGrrl

                                                                                    Thanks for the info, now if only my SO was as handy :)

                                                                              2. We don't have a pegboard but we love our magnetic strip for knives...got so tired of looking for a knife or cutting myself while searching. The strip is very handy.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  Those are SO fantastic. I love mine.

                                                                                  And the pegboard idea was all Julia's. :)

                                                                                2. Haven't made fondue in years, but my old fondue forks get almost daily use -- testing doneness and fishing things out of pots or from the toaster oven.

                                                                                  1. When I'm doing a lot of cooking, I use muffin cups and coffee filters for the drier items in my mise en place, like chopped onion, herbs, spices, etc. It lessens the amount of dishes to wash and they're readily available and cheap too.

                                                                                    1. I have a pegboard for my pots and pans, it was essential when we bought a house without enough kitchen space, but I really love it and would want one even if I had more cupboards. So much easier than nesting pans and searching for lids, everything is there at a glance. For the same reason, I have a series of wire racks out of sight through the door to the basement, and they hold all my cans and noodles, rice, almost all the food that might be in cupboards, and I can see at a glance what I have and what I don't.

                                                                                      Also, this is not quite making cooking easier, but making putting stuff away easier-- I went to a big Asian market and bought in bulk the quart and half quart "tupperware" that food comes in when you get it to go-- the sturdy ones, not the flimsy stuff. For about $15, I got 50 half quarts, and 25 quarts. So if something goes bad in the bottom of the fridge, it just goes into the trash, I don't worry about the cost of the container. If DH or I take food for lunch to work, we can throw the container out if we want. Ditto if we take food to friends, no worry about getting the container back. All the lids are the same size, so no searching for the right lid. We call it Chinese tupperware, and I just love it.

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Anne H

                                                                                        I've always wanted to do this, but haven't found a place that sells them. Do you live in the NYC area? if so, which asian market did you find "chinese tupperware" in?

                                                                                        1. re: missmasala

                                                                                          Look for a restaurant supply store. They have them in volume and normally with a good selection. Many are open to the public. On the west coast there is a retail chain that sells that type of service container. The store name is Best and Final. If you have this store or something similar in NYC that would be the place to find the containers. Good hunting!

                                                                                          1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                                                                            Look for micro-lite deli containers, they stand up to hot food (and supposedly the microwave).

                                                                                            1. re: missmasala

                                                                                              I'm in Chicago and found them at the big Asian market in the shopping plaza on Broadway south of Argyle and north of Lawrence, can't remember its name. Very big grocery in a neighborhood with lots of small Asian restaurants.

                                                                                            2. re: Anne H

                                                                                              I make a habit of always buying the same brand of plastic storage containers so I'm not always trying to match up lids and bottoms.

                                                                                            3. ~ Since my back porch is off my kitchen, I converted the recessed area meant for coats and shoes into a shelved pantry. To make it "pretty" I put up a spring rod with a striped curtain. To make the curtain functional, I put tie-backs on either side (open when cooking, closed when guests come).

                                                                                              ~ I buy in bulk but break down the contents into mason jars to make them more manageable while baking. The jars are labelled and grouped together (all sugars are together, all nuts are together, etc.) to make things easier to find.

                                                                                              ~ When I cook or bake, I set all my ingredients out on the counter (not mise-en-place just the mason jar) so I never have to wander off to find something or worse, find out I don't have something when I'm already halfway done. If something requires eggs, they're broken and slightly beaten in a small bowl at the start of the recipe.

                                                                                              ~ I clean my kitchen last thing at night and set the dishwasher to run while we sleep. When I get up in the morning, I undo the dishwasher first thing. When I'm ready to cook, everything is ready for me.

                                                                                              ~ Only frequently used appliances get counterspace.

                                                                                              ~ I keep a jar of small spoons on the counter for tasting (saves having to dig them out from the utensil drawer).

                                                                                              ~ I have two tall stools in the kitchen that function as portable surface space; the rungs also function as a place to dry wet towels before they get tossed in the laundry.

                                                                                              ~ My kitchen is zoned (stop laughing!) according to use (cooking, baking, prep) and the necessary implements are located in that section.

                                                                                              ~ One shelf of the fridge is "leftovers" or items that have only partially been used. When looking for a snack, this is the first stop. It also helps us plan menus to use up that half can of pumpkin/olives/artichoke hearts.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: librarian

                                                                                                I'm going to start a thread on refrigerator organization. I hope folks will chime in, I need some help!

                                                                                                1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                  Dairy on the top shelf, leftovers on the next shelf with opened jars/containers, water on the bottom shelf. Bread in the right hand top bin, salad beneath that, left hand top bin celery, peppers, carrots, scallions, left bottom, all other vegetables.

                                                                                                  Now about keeping the kitchen up! My Auntie Hilda was a tyrant for cleaning up the kitchen before she sat down to dinner. She was like a hurricane; my Mom always complained about her keeping everyone waiting at the table BUT she had a clean kitchen when she got up with just the dinner dishes to do. I have perfected her tyranical ways and have trained myself to keep the kitchen clear as I go along. I have two dishwashers and one is always empty. Its just like any other exercise - do it a few times and it becomes habit - I didn't like waiting for Auntie Hilds either but I did learn something from her.

                                                                                                2. re: librarian

                                                                                                  i am not laughing.
                                                                                                  i am learning-- thanks! :)

                                                                                                3. With the holidays well underway, and baking a big part of it for many here are a few ways to make it easy and fast from prep to clean-up (primarily for the cookie-makers amoungst us):

                                                                                                  1. Weigh your dry ingredients like flour. Purchase a simple digital food scale at your favourite cookery store. Sur la Table has several from which to choose (one with metric and English measures is best just in case you have a fantastic recipe from a European or Asian friend). Once you have your dry measure in weight you will always have a consistent measure - fast and mess-free. Professional bakers use this process.

                                                                                                  2. Drop cookie scoop. A small (sorbet-sized scoop) ice cream scoop with a handle or thumb release is great for creating consistent-sized drop cookies (e.g. the one I use makes a consistent 4 dozen cookies from the classic Tollhouse cookie recipe). It's fast and efficient, and I know my yield ahead of time. Great for planning, particularly when making cookies for gift giving.

                                                                                                  3. Parchment paper. I buy a case at a time (1000 full sheet-pan size) and share it with other cooking friends...far more cost effective than the tiny rolls sold in grocery and cooking stores. I use it for so many things, including baking, icing and en papillote preparations. I also use it for lining the counter for messy, volume projects, as well as covering a stock while simmering. So many uses and food friendly! No newsprint to worry about getting on food or on your counter or cookware. For baking, I also use silicon mats. No spray or oil required for baking, and no scrubbing mess to deal with at the end.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                                                                                    Have you seen the new cookie scoop which has a rubber base to the scoop? It is flexible and to release the dough you just depress the back of the spoon/scoop. I got mine and several as gifts at BB&B

                                                                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                                                                      I will have to look for that. Thanks for the note!

                                                                                                  2. Wow, this is a great thread! You guys are so organized! So many good ideas.

                                                                                                    1. I've seen a few people mention tupperware, which is my nemesis! We have a tiny galley kitchen without much storage space, and the tupperware is relegated to a small area under the sink. Has ANYONE found a good way to organize and store this stuff? I swear Satan invented it. It's great for storage, but the lids and stuff just get everywhere when they're not in use.

                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                                        Lids in a separate drawer, lots of containers in the same size that can be stacked and have interchangeable lids. Extra-large containers that aren't used very often can be stored outside the kitchen. If you don't have a separate drawer for lids, you can put them in a bag hung on the inside of the door of your under-sink area.

                                                                                                        1. re: Pia

                                                                                                          I'm thinking maybe I need to ditch the ecclectic hodge-podge of sizes we have and get a consistent brand of containers so that they WILL stack. Right now, most of them won't. We have square, we have round, we have oval, we have rectangular... it's just a mess.

                                                                                                          1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                                            I was tormented by this same problem until I switched to the Chinese carryout containers for tupperware. They nest, and all of the lids are exactly the same, for the half quart and the quart containers. Plus, it's so cheap that when one of the containers gets yucky I can just toss it. I keep them all in one drawer, which also has several other things in it, and even my DH can put them away properly nested ;-)

                                                                                                            1. re: Anne H

                                                                                                              Yes, I use these too, and they are marvelous. Don't take up much room and the interchangable lids--that was a stroke of genious!

                                                                                                              1. re: Anne H

                                                                                                                If you can't find the "Chinese tupperware," you can buy regular plastic containers in bulk at stores like BJs or Costco, or they might have them at your local supermarket. We bought a big Rubbermaid set, but it all fits in one drawer because there are only three main sizes of containers.

                                                                                                                1. re: Pia

                                                                                                                  i also really like the glass food storage containers-- they are available $$$$ from williams sonoma etc. but are $ at ikea-- they stack when not in use and in the fridge, come in handy sizes, share lids, go straight from fridge to microwave or oven & back, no warping, staining or toxin leaching from hot liquids, & you can see what's in there. they are super durable, & when you invest in a good set you can get rid of all those squirrely little sour cream containers etc. it may sound stupid, but when a guest comes over and looks in your fridge, you score automatic points when your leftovers or pre-chops are in these containers instead of saran wrapped bowls (be kind, i entertain chefs frequently & think about this)

                                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                    I would think the leftovers might get eaten more frequently too, since you can actually see what's in them.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                                                      I had the "brilliant" idea to start keeping cottage cheese and sour cream containers for leftovers, and even my uber-frugal husband won't look inside them.

                                                                                                                    2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                      Glass containers with colored lids from the 50's are
                                                                                                                      available on Ebay or shopgoodwill.com from time to time.
                                                                                                                      Much better than any plastic and microwavable too.

                                                                                                            2. re: Andiereid

                                                                                                              We keep the lids in a loaf pan, upright. Sorta corrals them and not too hard to find the righ one.

                                                                                                            3. I'm a little embarrassed to write this but Trader Joe's chocolate-covered almond containers are great for organizing pull-out drawers. They're tall, fairly narrow containers with squared off sides and see through lids. They fit together really well in the drawer and you can find what you need at a glance. I use them for pinenuts, peanuts, chocolate chips (more chocolate!) cornmeal, falafel mix, etc. So, yes, we've eaten a lot of chocolate-covered almonds in this house.

                                                                                                              1. I've been laughed at because my spices are arranged alphabetically but everyone else does that, right?

                                                                                                                17 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                  No, but I do group mine by "type". Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger all go together, dried herbs are all together and chili powder, cumin, coriander, etc. are together. Based on the spices I typically use for certain typs of dishes.

                                                                                                                  And it BUGS me when people put them in the "wrong" place. LOL

                                                                                                                  1. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                    Yes, I certainly do. My mom was a librarian.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                      Ha! *lol* Mine, too, and I do :) The main ones alphabetically, anyway, but then a section for ... flavor additives like sea salts, MSG, citric acid, mushroom powder, and a section for seasoning blends.

                                                                                                                    2. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                      I do too! I have them all together on a huge door rack/wire organizer that hangs on the back of my pantry door. I love that I can just open the door and see exactly where they are.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                        Of course they're alphabetically arranged. And they're on their sides in a shallow drawer with angled racks in it so I can see what I'm after.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                          They think that's laughable?! I have a chart on the back of my cabinet door, illustrating what spice is where! :-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                            Hahaha. That's awesome. I wish I were that organized. I started with sort of alphabetical spices. Savory on the top wheel, sweet on the bottom wheel. But as the spice collection started expanding, that went to hell in a handbasket.

                                                                                                                            Anyway you can post of picture of the wheel? Not that I could ever get it together, but a bug can dream...

                                                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                              I'll try to post a picture! I'm actually in the midst of emptying out one of those cheapy spice spin racks with the crappy spices and replacing them with Penzey's spices that I actually use, and then I'm going to make my own round labels to go on the tops of the containers. (I only am organized in my delusional world; the rest of my world is chaos!! ;-)

                                                                                                                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                                                I'm kind of doing the same thing. However, instead of throwing the old spices away, I've been buying minute amounts from Whole Foods in the bulk food section. I buy these small servings (I buy no more than 1 T at a time unless the recipe calls for more) are placed in those little plastic baggies. I have started writing on the bag itself so it takes the guess work out. But, the baggies are then thrown into the cabinet. For some reason, it is beyone me to empty out the old jars and to put the new herbs/spices in its place. I've also been meaning to buy the empty spice/herb jars to have a uniform look. Maybe this thread will inspire me to organize *all* my spices.

                                                                                                                          2. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                            Of course! Floor-to-ceiling 18-inch-wide wire rack. Almost exclusively herbs and spices in alpha order.

                                                                                                                            The only time my housekeeper ever saw me really pissed off was when she cleaned the spice jars and put everything back helter-skelter. She got firm instructions never to touch them again!

                                                                                                                            It's the one thing I hate, hate, hate about cooking in other people's homes: having to go through every jar in the cabinet to find what I'm looking for.

                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                              Dull knives trump unorganized spices every time. . .Mom.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                JoanN, can you tell me where you got this rack?? This is just what I need. Not sure where I would hang it but...

                                                                                                                                1. re: prunefeet

                                                                                                                                  I bought mine many years ago at a little neighborhood "everything" store that no longer exists. One of those harware/kitchen supplies/chachka stores that used to be all over NYC before the rents forced them out. I've spent about ten minutes Googling trying to find something similar, but the closest I've come is this:

                                                                                                                                  http://www.containerstore.com/browse/...

                                                                                                                                  Actually, this is probably a better setup than mine since mine doesn't have adjustable shelves, which would be nice. In fact, now that I write that, I wonder if it might not be time to replace mine. I really like the flexibility of this one.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                                  I am comforted in this string as I see I am not alone in the pursuit of being/staying organised. I sort and alphabetize by savory or sweet application (basically two different groups). And yes, it bothers me when things are not returned to the correct location. What happened to kindergarten rules? I like to think they apply to the kitchen as well. ;-) I have the reputation amoungst family and friends for organising a kitchen before I cook in it - theirs included. I'm glad I'm not alone in the endeavour to be organised!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sharonanne

                                                                                                                                    Yes. Makes it easier for people unfamiliar with cooking (or your kitchen) to help.

                                                                                                                                  2. Use a scale instead of measuring cups and spoons. MUCH faster, and more accurate, especially if you have a digital one with a tare function. I bought mine at Williams Sonoma, and I know the King Arthur Flour Co. carries them as well. They're so worth the small investment.

                                                                                                                                    Also, practice mise en place, I think it's called, or prep, in simple terms! Before you start cooking, have everything stoveside. Before you start baking, get out all ingredients and necessary pans and utensils.

                                                                                                                                    It may be self evident, but if you're following a new recipe, read it through before starting, thinking whether you have all the the equipment as well as ingredients. Saves time, and makes for a more enjoyable new food experience!

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                                      My digital scale got swiped for the office for shipping. It works well for that, too, but I think I need to ask for an additional one for Christmas to put BACK in my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                    2. I usually keep a sinkful of hot soapy water to drop dirty implements into. If you don't have two sinks you can use a plastic bin. It makes for quicker clean up and you can just pull out and rinse a utensil or bowl if you need it again.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: coconutz

                                                                                                                                        I like this idea... Wish I had 2 sinks.

                                                                                                                                      2. I use Mason jars for everything. I've ditched all plastic due to concerns about chemical leakage, especially hormone mimicking, and environmental concern when it comes to disposal. These things will stay in landfill for thousands of years before even beginning to break down and quite frankly, that scares me. Mason jars go into the dish washer and are then stored until needed again.

                                                                                                                                        I keep my spices in them, I use them in the freezer for soups and stocks and for everything else that needs storing.

                                                                                                                                        Bowls. I've got about a dozen of bowls, stainless steel and enameled, in various sizes. The small ones I use for prep work, a large one becomes a garbage bowl, a really large one will be used for straining stock. I have no idea how people cook without adequate bowlage.

                                                                                                                                        A vinegar/water mixture in a spray bottle for quick clean-up jobs. I do use paper towels (recycled only) for prep surfaces, simply because I don't trust fabric to stay clean - maybe this is something I should look into. For everything else I have a stack of fabric towels that have been washed so often they're super soft and absorbent.

                                                                                                                                        Proper prepping. Everything gets prepared before I start cooking.

                                                                                                                                        The kitchen gets cleaned after every meal, the dishwasher loaded.

                                                                                                                                        Sharp knives. I know this is a given, but I try and keep my knives honed and ready for use.

                                                                                                                                        Good music.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: andreas

                                                                                                                                          Another vote for glass instead of plastic. I use a lot of pint and quart glass jars for pasta, stored fat, stock, rice and grains, syrups, and so on, and I am replacing my leftover storage with the pyrex bowls with plastic covers. The jars are free, the bowls last longer than the plastic storage containers, and I am a little happier about using glass because of the ability to clean it thoroughly. Also, the little bottles in which the Starbucks Frappucino drinks are sold are perfect for storing syrups, drippings, small amounts of juice or sauce, and so on.

                                                                                                                                          And adequate bowlage, yes! I have a wonderful collection of ceramic mixing bowls, some of them antiques, but I am replacing them with lightweight stainless steel in various sizes. I like the wide shallow bowls especially; I just got a nice big one which serves as a garbage bowl for only compostable stuff; it sits on newspaper when I am working so non-compost stuff goes on the paper for easy disposal.

                                                                                                                                          As for using fabric towels, the secret is having a lot of them, so you can toss them in the washer frequently and still have a stack on hand. When they get older and stained, they go for dirtier jobs like scrubbing, but since they are washed and bleached regularly I know they're clean even if they look kind of ratty. I use terry hand towels in the kitchen only for drying my hands, and they live on a towel rack.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sheiladeedee

                                                                                                                                            I cut up all discarded tee shirts in my household into the most available size vis-a-vis the garment, wash them in bleach-and-hot, and use them for kitchen rags. Very useful.

                                                                                                                                            I think these "rags" actually get to the wash more regularly than the "(reasonably decorative) hand towel" hanging by the sink. They're not pretty, but they get the job done. And very little waste, if that's your mindset as well.

                                                                                                                                            Jars and bowls! Yes! All our spices are in jars saved from something else, and filled at our co-op. No plastic hoo-haw, no buying amounts you don't need, and re-use to-boot. As for bowls: the poster hit the nail on the head. Lots of bowls in various sizes are a big time saver in the kitchen, especially if you are making more complicated or many-step dishes. Sure, it shouldn't be a problem to wash the bowls between steps either - but, but, but...it always is. Have a few more bowls then you think you need. Many of these you can use for serving, cutting down on time/effort on the back end.

                                                                                                                                        2. I bought a glass olive oil pourer with a jigger(?) top (a stainless steel thingy with a rubber base that fits into the glass bottle with a relatively small pour spout). I figured out that a 1001-1002-1003 count is one tablespoon so I never measure olive oil using spoon measurers any more. I just count! This has saved me lots of time, dirty measuring spoons and effort cleaning.

                                                                                                                                          I'm also a big fan of weighing ingredients as much as possible. It reduces the number of dirty dishes, an important consideration given we don't have a dishwasher.

                                                                                                                                          1. My diminutive kitchen means organization is key. I too do the plastic bag on the counter trick for garbage and scraps. We have only 3 ft. of counter-space between the sink and stove (this is the only useable counter-space for prepping). There is a shelf right at eye level above it, and when I have a "keeper" recip, I copy it onto index cards for my file (I usually adapt them to my taste anyways). Ingredients on one card, instructions on another. Then when cooking, I prop both cards right at eye level... easy to see, frees up the space the book would take, no flipping back and forth to check amounts once a recipe is started, and no more food gunk all over my favourite books. This would also work with a peg-board, magnetic strip, etc.

                                                                                                                                            1. You guys are really inspiring me to be more environmentally conscious in the kitchen. Seriously, I'm going to put some of these ideas into practice.

                                                                                                                                              1. when doing a lot of cooking/baking (solstice cookies this past weekend, for example) i xerox the recipes. that way i have disposable copies that i don't have to worry about soiling, they don't take up much room, and i don't spend a lot of time flipping between pages/books.

                                                                                                                                                1. 2 words to easier cooking: Zip lock
                                                                                                                                                  I marinate meats in them for a no-clean solution
                                                                                                                                                  I let yeast dough rise in them for the same purpose (and they stack if yer freezing the dough)

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sixelagogo

                                                                                                                                                    Which is exactly what I was talking about above: You might have a no clean solution, but the environment will be one used bag (a time) more polluted. I rather give a stainless steel bowl a rinse.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I now get most my recipes from the internet. I use a magnet to stick the printed recipe on my refrigerator which is close to my stove and my counter.

                                                                                                                                                    1. they say it's a no-no, but to speed the boiling process up, i always start with hot water from the faucet rather than cold when boiling water. i never seem to have any problems and who wants to wait any longer than they have to for water to boil?

                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jenniebnyc

                                                                                                                                                        I know I've mentioned this before--many times--but the smartest kitchen buy of the past few years was an electric kettle. I NEVER boil water on the top of the stove any more. I measure what I'm going to need and pour it into the kettle and have boiling water in less than a minute. I can't add up the hours it's already saved me.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                          great idea
                                                                                                                                                          i wish i had room for one more gadget in my 7'x 6' nyc kitchen

                                                                                                                                                          although i must admit i am contemplating getting a Food Saver which would take up my entire counter, but i think would be worth the counterspace sacrifice

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jenniebnyc

                                                                                                                                                            My nyc kitchen is about the same size. I found a beautifully designed, oval-shaped kettle by Bodum that slipped right in between my Cuisinart and microwave. I can't recommend it too highly. It's really made a difference in the ease and speed of doing nearly everything from making drip coffee to boiling water for rice and pasta.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jenniebnyc

                                                                                                                                                          jen, don't forget to put a lid on your water so it will come to a boil faster.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jenniebnyc

                                                                                                                                                            Hot water is a no-no because when it's hot it can more easily leach stuff from your pipes. In old plumbing we're talking about lead & other nastiness. it really doesn't take any longer if you cover your pot & start with cold tap, spring or filtered water :)

                                                                                                                                                          2. maybe it's because i am a food professional, but i always cook or bake in quantity. which means lots of things go in the freezer for future easy meals. i am very conservation/re-use oriented and i use clear plastic round 'deli'containers in
                                                                                                                                                            1 c., 1 pint, 1 qt and 2 qts. sizes.so here is the system i use for freezing soups, sauces, stews:

                                                                                                                                                            I line a container w/ enough saran that it's hanging over the sides enough to be able to fold back over the top. Fill with soup etc. Fold saran over top.Put on the lids. Put all your filled containers on a cookie sheet or baking pan or cake board or whatever, and freeze.

                                                                                                                                                            When frozen solid, remove the saran packages from the containers by turning the containers upside down and pushing on the bottoms. (if it won't release, run the bottom under hot water for a second, then press down to release the saran package. stack these saran pkgs in a plastic bag, label, twist-tie close and store in freezer. this technique frees up your plastic containers for other uses.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 1. I tend to use a lot of diced onion in my cooking, but as I am usually just cooking for two people, I never need an entire onion for one dish. I usually go ahead and dice the entire onion (if I'm feeling really frisky, I dice up two!) and keep what I don't use in a tightly sealed tupperware box in the fridge. Makes the rest of my week's cooking a lot easier and faster.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Boiled chicken! As unappetizing as it sounds, boiled chicken is extremely tasty and versatile, and much healthier and easier (no picking over carcasses) than buying a rotisserie chicken from the grocery. At the beginning of the week, I boil a potful of boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs (you can use one or the other, but I like the combination.) Be careful not to overboil, as the chicken will most likely be re-cooked for its true purpose, and you don't want to end up with dry meat. After boiling, I cool the meat quickly by refilling the pot with cold water. Then I shred the meat w/ my fingers and keep it in a tupperware box in the fridge.
                                                                                                                                                              My favorite uses:
                                                                                                                                                              1. Sandwiches! Heat up a little olive oil in a pan and toss in a handful or two of shredded chicken. Cook til brown and slightly crisped on the outside, and proceed to make a tasty, toasty chicken sandwich! WAY better than cold cuts, that's for sure.
                                                                                                                                                              2. Tacos! Saute minced garlic and diced onion in olive oil, add enough chicken for two people's worth of tacos, cook until it begins to brown, add juice of 1 lime, a capful or two of white vinegar, a dash of Splenda (sugar, if you'd rather), stir until everything is combined, cook for a minute or two until the 'sauce' has reduced away. Serve in soft corn tortilas with your favorite garnishes (sour cream, guacamole, salsa, black beans, diced fresh onions, cilantro....)
                                                                                                                                                              3. Enchiladas! Simmer the chicken in your favorite enchilada sauce for about 5 minutes or so - longer if you'd like - before filling your enchiladas with it.
                                                                                                                                                              4. Pizza Topping! No beef or pork in this house, but the man of the house needs his protein, and chicken is his pizza topping of choice. Saute it with a little olive oil and italian herbs of choice (oregano, basil, thyme is my favorite combo) and some minced garlic if you really want to give it a kick.
                                                                                                                                                              5. Quesadilla Filling! I think this one's pretty self-explanatory...we especially like it when I've first cooked the chicken a la my previously mentioned taco recipe.

                                                                                                                                                              The recipes may have gotten a bit off topic, but the bottom line is that having the chicken pre-boiled and ready to go makes ALL of those recipes and any others in which I use the chicken a lot easier and faster, which is crucial during the week!

                                                                                                                                                              Any other ideas for quick and yummy boiled chicken use?

                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Aloo0628

                                                                                                                                                                In the summer, I do the same thing with boneless, skinless breasts, except that I grill them. I buy a large pack, salt and pepper them and drizzle with a little olive oil, throw them on the grill, and then cool and save. They're good for salads, sandwiches - just about anything. My husband loves finding grilled chicken in the fridge for his lunch.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Aloo0628

                                                                                                                                                                  Do you add anything to the water for boiling? Does the fat render off thighs when cooked this way, so you can just throw them in without defatting them? I love chicken thighs, but they are so fat and so fussy to defat, I rarely use them. And lastly, how many days would you keep this boiled chicken before it would spoil? Have you frozen it? I want to try this, it sounds perfect for quick dinners. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Anne H

                                                                                                                                                                    1. I just add some salt in an attempt to flavor the chicken a bit, but that's it. I do all of the actual flavor adding when I 'recook' the chicken for its true use.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I use boneless skinless thighs and breasts, so the fat is fairly minimal. If there are any noticeable gobs, I just pull them out while I'm shredding (another plus to doing the shredding by hand!)

                                                                                                                                                                    3. We've always used up all of our chicken before it had a chance to spoil, but my guess would be somewhere around 2 weeks? I try not to boil more than I'll need for a week at a time, because it's better when it's fresher.

                                                                                                                                                                    4. Haven't tried freezing it either (although the boyfriend turned the fridge temp a little too low last week and some of the chicken ended up freezing :-P I cooked it up and put it in a sammich and it tasted fine). Again, I only do as much as I'll need for the week; it's such an easy process that I'd rather have new, fresh batches each week than find out what happens if I let the chicken get older than 1 week :-)

                                                                                                                                                                    Another recipe idea: cut into strips (or bite sized chunks if you prefer), simmer for 5 min or so in favorite pasta sauce, toss with pasta. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Aloo0628

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, I'm heading to the kitchen right this minute to try this.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Just thought of something else, as I reached for it innumberable times in the past few days: I keep and 18-inch metal ruler always within reach on my pegboard. Measuring the diameter of pastry and pizza dough; cutting pasta to size or making even strips; slicing something however many inches thick. I'm just not very good at eyeballing that kind of thing.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. I have a drawer where I keep my baking supplies - including rolling pin and ruler, and it is located right under the surface where I roll dough. That's handy.

                                                                                                                                                                    I also keep a plastic cup full of regular table spoons (not teaspoon size - more like soup spoon size) by the stove for quick stirs, dollops, or taste testing. If your silverware drawer is near your stove, of course, you wouldn't need to do this.

                                                                                                                                                                    I have also found that having duplicates of things (colanders, measuring implements, etc.) is helpful - but not everyone will have room for doubles.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. MINIMIZE CLUTTER - KEEP THINGS SIMPLE

                                                                                                                                                                      For those with compact kitchens (mine is a city dweller's galley-style) something I've learned is to have classic basic tools and learn to use them for a variety of applications/uses. I learned from a safari camp cook how little one needs to make incredible meals. He didn't have a food processor, microwave, or electricity, for that matter. Yet, he baked fabulous yeast breads daily, and made the most memorable birthday cake - all in an "oven" fashioned from rocks heated with wood coals.

                                                                                                                                                                      While I have a few items like a Kitchen Aid mixer and a versatile mandoline, I don't use a microwave or food processor. I use a set of very sharp knives and rely on my knife skills for cutting, chopping and slicing. Besides, a lot of cuts done for Asian cuisines cannot be done in a food processor.

                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SanseiDesigns

                                                                                                                                                                        I do use my food processor mostly for grinding nuts and such, but I have never had a microwave. My non-cooking friends are always HORRIFIED. "Andie, where's your microwave? You don't HAVE ONE??? How do you survive??? How do you heat up leftovers? How do you boil water?" I've never once missed having one.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                                                                                                          If I had to give up one kitchen appliance, it'd be a no-brainer -- the microwave would be GONE! There's nothing the microwave does that can't be done by some other kitchen appliance.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Anne H

                                                                                                                                                                              You don't need a microwave to make popcorn.
                                                                                                                                                                              I have never owned one and will never own one. There's something about micowaves that goes against everything I like about cooking. I hate the expression 'nooking something' for starters.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I keep frozen chicken stock, rendered fats from duck and bacon, portions of soups and chili, and aliquots of tomato-basil sauce that I made this fall. I use the frozen tomato sauce for pizza, pasta, eggplant, seafood, chicken, etc.... I use the duck fat for potatoes, and the stock for sauces and soups. I wrap celery with aluminum foil, it keeps great (I learned this on Chowhound).

                                                                                                                                                                        I'll buy a whole chicken rather than pieces, bone it into quarters, and immediately make a stock with the rest. I often roast the 4 quarters 4 ways and have a nice variety of meals for the week (I am single). I have a fleet of those plastic coloured chopping blocks which is very helpful for cooking many things at once.

                                                                                                                                                                        In the winter I put oil in a small cast iron pan and keep it on the stove for deep frying. I roast lots of stuff in a metal bread pan, just add oil, toss around the veggies etc... and roast. I keep corn starch into a flour shaker, this is very convenient when making chinese sauces. I make up a bunch of terriaki sauce and keep it in the fridge, it doesn't go bad - dilute for for chicken and seafood.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. This is super simple, but thought I'd share. I make my husband lunch every morning. When I make the sandwich, I lay down a paper towel and make it on top of it (instead of a cutting board or plate). When I'm done, I wrap the sandwich up in the paper towel and then slide it into a ziplock baggie. That way, he has his napkin ready to go for lunch, and the only think I need to clean is a knife.