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Food Wisdom

My grandmother taught me, among other things, to pick out the sweetest peaches by following the bees and never to buy meat from a butcher shop that puts its prices in the window.

What pieces of food wisdom have you gleaned over the years?

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  1. Don't boil really fresh eggs. They will crack for sure. Can be upsetting at Eastertime.

    3 Replies
    1. re: givemecarbs

      I've heard something similar about poaching -- that poaching works best with eggs that are on the older end of the spectrum.

      1. re: SmallGoodThings

        Nope, opposite. Fresh eggs are for poaching, older eggs are for hard-boiling. Fresh ones'll never come out of the shell whole, old ones won't hold together in the poaching water.

        1. re: LauraGrace

          Oh, right! I always get them confused...Thanks!

    2. "Good restaurants may have bad bread, but bad restaurants will not have good bread" -- Bob W.

      1. And here's another, that my father swears by: "The quality of a restaurant is inversely related to the size of the peppermill."

        1 Reply
        1. 1. Greasy pork chops are a vital source.
          2. Inside every nutritionist is a pastry chef screaming to get out.

          1. To pick out a honeydew, drag your fingers over the surface not ripe- the skin is smooth, almostick, ripe your fingers drag and skin is slightly sticky.

            1 Reply
            1. re: wekick

              Good one. Thanks, wekick. With cantaloupes, I smell the 'bellybutton'. If it smells like melon, it's ripe enough to eat. If it doesn't, it'll have to sit and ripen a few days.

            2. Don't cook with wine you wouldn't drink.

              1. Sometimes there's a reason something is cheaper. And conversely, price isn't necessarily correlated with quality.

                for me personally, double the vanilla.

                aside from some precise baking recipes, recipes are a list of suggested steps and ingredients. don't be afraid to veer.

                (as i watch others cook, including my mother...) anxiety level does not correlate with outcome.

                Salt isn't salt. Cocoa Powder isn't cocoa powder. Butter isn't butter.

                if you like to cook, find friends that like to eat.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Emme

                  Agree, I hardly ever follow a recipe but conversely if I want a specific result I try to follow exactly even to specific brand of ingredients. I have written out requested recipes with very specific instructions sometimes for friends and they don't follow half of it and then complain it didn't come out. There is a poem about that.

                  1. re: wekick

                    Agree too about veering from recipes, my only exception would be don't improvise when you're just learning to cook. Find trusted recipes and follow them to the letter.

                    You can veer when you understand what things do to each other and how to treat different ingredients.

                  2. re: Emme

                    My daughter swears she will have "Always double the vanilla" engraved on my tombstone because I say it so often.

                  3. Room temp foods are a whole 'nother experience.
                    Your taste buds change as you age.
                    Visit ethnic markets like a new traveler.

                    1. My Italian grandfather-
                      "You eat good, you sh*t good".

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BubblyOne

                        And there is nothing in the world like a good sh*t! LOL. Bless your nonno.

                      2. From Shirley Corriher: heat the skillet before adding the fat, and the eggs are less likely to stick. Corollary to that: get the skillet blazing hot before you drop the meat in. It will stick, but when it's ready to turn over it'll unstick. Handle biscuit dough as little and lightly as possible (I knew that) and pack them into a pan with sides instead of out on a cookie sheet to make them rise taller (I didn't know that).

                        1. My mother always told me to wipe the top of the can before you open it. I only ever remember when i open a can and the lid sinks in and there's some spec of something going in with it...

                          I really like Michael Pollan's "eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

                          1. From my father (a true chowhound): Never order the ravioli.

                            1. Not so much wisdom, but a saying I never forgot from my father...

                              "Knock his horns wipe his ass and put him on the plate"

                              Yes, I do eat my steaks blue to rare...med rare is too done for me ;)

                              1. My German grandmother, Bertha, in speaking of breads, kuchens, and strudels, always said: "It's not bad for you! It's only sugar, flour, butter, and eggs!"

                                1. From the original Alice's Restaurant Cookbook re: international cooking:

                                  Tarragon makes it French;
                                  Oregano makes it Italian;
                                  Basil & feta make it Greek;
                                  Sour cream makes it Russian;
                                  Paprika makes it Hungarian;
                                  Garlic makes it good.

                                  1. Even though you think you might not like a certain food, try it again, especially if someone else makes it. It might be the cook and not the ingredient.

                                    1. Smell the apple before buying it. If it has no discernible scent, it won't be mealy. If it has a strong scent, it is likely to be mealy. Anything in between, it could go either way.

                                      1. Double the garlic
                                        Almost ANY piece of meat can be cooked well low and slow in a crockpot (ok, not so much for a fillet mignon but any sort of pork/poultry)
                                        Cream of whatever soup is NOT cheating