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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.