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TIPS, TRICKS & GENERAL KITCHEN WISDOM

There must be a ton of neat things you all have picked up along the way that makes life a littlier easier in the kitchen. Please share with us.

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  1. Date a woman who loves to cook and does it well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: beevod

      Your mamma done brought you up right....& your priorities are certainly in order!!

    2. I think the best general wisdom I can share is that you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Since I found that out, my egg cookery is much improved.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        My dear Harters, you need to stay close to this post....I am sure there will be many other tips that will enlighten you...I know I certainly have learned a lot since I have been looking around here & there on Chowhound..

        1. re: cstout

          I can assure you, Harters MORE than knows his way around his (or anyone else's) kitchen. ;-)

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Dear LindaWhit....my comment was ment to be all in fun, I deeply apologize if you or him took it any other way...I certainly am the one who needs all your suggestions & I deeply appreciate any & all comments, as I am sure the others do too.

            1. re: cstout

              No apology necessary. Since you don't seem to have been around on CH for any great length of time, I wasn't sure whether you were serious or not with your post to Harters, and it read "serious" to me.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Actually Linda, that is my problem...I do not have a serious bone in my body & that is not a good thing sometimes...some people don't like to be recipient of humor & I do respect that...what's most important is that we are friends. I shall leave you in peace.

              2. re: cstout

                No apologising needed by anyone.

                I live my life by trying not to be serious. Unfortunately, I fail too often for my own liking.

                More general wisdom - cabbage, chickpeas and jerusalem artichokes all make you fart. Don't cook them too early in a relationship with someone new or ever before an important job interview.

                And asparagus can make your wee smell of asparagus. This is a good or bad thing depending on whether you like the smell of asparagus.

                If you're going to make a white sauce from a packet mix, check carefully if it is a sweet or savoury mix (Christmas dinner 1972 refers and is still periodically mentioned at Harters

                1. re: Harters

                  Can you imagine eating all three of those farting veggies at the same time...surely something to remember before any important event....

                  1. re: Harters

                    I prefer the smell of asparagus to the smell of urine!

                    1. re: Joebob

                      There is much wisdom in that post, Joebob.

                      It should be a lesson for us all.

                    2. re: Harters

                      TJ's has huge [like the largest] artichokes on earth and I bought 4, why, no idea buying 4, but anyway...........
                      I made them last night for dinner and although really delicious.................................uh......................

            2. Buy and use kitchen twine.
              You can't have enough tongs, whisks, pots, pans, parchment paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, storage containers or paper towels.
              Understand anchovy paste.
              A pressure cooker should be your best friend.
              When in doubt make breakfast for dinner.
              Master roasting a whole chicken.
              Alcohol and a good radio are the only kitchen companions you will ever need.
              Cast iron is king.
              Create and bake your own bread.
              Be able to create a simple vinaigrette with the proper ratio.
              Always have sherry vinegar on hand.
              Fresh picked berries become a great dessert with only the addition of sweetened cream.
              A great baguette and the best butter help sustain you while you cook.
              The end cut, the Pope's nose, chicken oysters, the last frying, the warmest cookie and a snifter of good Cognac are all reserved for the chef. Dishes are to be done by the diners.

              21 Replies
              1. re: CDouglas

                Now come on & fess up...you copied this from somewhere didn't you....doesn't matter though...but I do have questions. You opened up a can of worms here, I can tell.

                KITCHEN TWINE - what do I use it for??...I must go out & buy some just as soon as you tell me what to do with it.

                ANCHOVY PASTE - can't say as I have ever used it...again, please refer to the above statement....gosh this is going to be some grocery list for the week. Got my pencil sharpened though, so let me trudge on...I think I am going to flunk this whole thing.

                MASTER ROASTING A WHOLE CHICKEN - you got me on this one because I don't really know if I am doing it right or not...in case there are others in doubt too, please give us the details.

                ALCOHOL & A GOOD RADIO....please allow me to correct you on that one.....should be GOOD ALCOHOL & A RADIO..I speak from experience on that one.

                CAST IRON IS KING - you betcha.

                CREATE & BAKE YOUR OWN BREAD - what is your favorite bread recipe??

                SIMPLE VINAIGRETTE - well, again, please share.

                SHERRY VINEGAR - what foods do you use it in?

                FRESH PICKED BERRIES - now that was an easy one...I know how to do that.

                GREAT BAGUETTE - ah yes, it is all coming together now...good alcohol...some soft jazzy music, a fresh baked baguette (baked from your recipe you are going to share with us), homemade butter...I don't think I can finish this quiz...was looking ahead at the next set of items...have no idea what the Pope's nose is...I just hate those trick questions...& I don't even want to think about chicken oysters...some things are best left to the imagination. OK, I told you I would flunk. Thanks for a wonderful list...I shall go now & have another baguette & glass of wine & think about how I can use kitchen twine.

                1. re: cstout

                  I don;t know what gender CDouglas and you are - but a man should always have twine. I believe it is enshrined in international law somewhere.

                  I have different sorts - kitchen, parcel and garden (although where I am we call it string , not twine, usually). You can't have too much twine or, indeed, string.

                  1. re: cstout

                    Kitchen twine is to be used for trussing poultry, securing veal shank cuts for Osso Buco, tying crown roast of pork, securing roasts into uniform cylinders, tying off rolled, stuffed roasts to secure the contents etc...

                    Anchovy paste is a great depth of flavor enhancer to stews, an essential if not official ingredient in Caesar dressing and a great "umami bomb" ingredient to add a savory tang to many dishes.

                    I am more of a Kafka/Zuni chicken roaster than the lower temp versions. Minimum oven temp should be 475 degrees. I use Empire kosher birds rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and fresh pepper right before roasting. I dry the bird overnight on a rack in the refrigerator to help get crispy skin. I set it in a roasting pan on top of cut celery, carrots and onions and roast until 160-165 internal measured by my Polder. Roast chicken is a simple, cheap, elegant and delicious foundation for a great dinner.

                    I will agree with you on the good alcohol quip. I hate fuzzy, static spewing radios though so I will go with good for both.

                    I make the "Almost no knead bread" recipe often and love it. I have made muffaletta bread, hearth bread and various French and Italian loaves from the King Arthur flour website but I am now experimenting with sourdough breads. No good recipe yet as I am very much a work in progress but I am dedicated to mastering this.

                    Vinaigrette is a 3-1 ratio of oil to acid. I like olive oil, sherry vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper. La Tienda has a great variety of sherry vinegars. Look for vinegars from Jerez that use the Solera process.

                    Sherry vinegar goes in gazpacho, ajo blanco, vinaigrette and can be used as a marinade for meat and fish and is great to spike up sauces, cream soups and in the liquid used to steam shellfish, especially clams.

                    Pope's nose is the triangular tail tip on a turkey or chicken at the bottom of the cavity. When roasted it fries up quite nicely and is concentrated chicken goodness. It is not for everyone.

                    Chicken oysters are two small morsels of supremely tender and chickeny meat located on the bird's back about where "love handles" would be found. Unbelievably tender and delicious. I made the mistake of informing my children of their existence and thus have not had one myself in many years.

                    1. re: CDouglas

                      CDouglas..I bow down to you...this was a treasure trove of wonderful tips...somehow I think you are a chef..it amazes me how many talented folks there are in the cooking world...thanks for sharing. I want to climb up there & hob knob with the Big Bobs, such as you & others on this site, but since I just recently graduated from the ol "Campbell's Soup Supper Recipes"...these tips clearly remind me that there is a huge expanse of learning to get from here to where you all are. I have seen the light, but it is in the distance. I am jotting down every tibit & I will start with making that Vinaigrette right now. Thanks again.

                      1. re: CDouglas

                        Never, NEVER, tell someone else about the chicken oysters. I made the same mistake with my husband and now only get one.

                        Now that we have a child, it will be the first lie I tell him: "Oh, no, honey, those are gross. Here, let mommy eat those parts..."

                        1. re: CDouglas

                          Lol on the chicken oysters. Same thing here. Shared with my husband then one day he shared with kids...rookie

                          1. re: CDouglas

                            best food name ever -- the French call the oysters "sot l'y laisse" -- literally, "what the idiot leaves"

                        2. re: CDouglas

                          "Dishes are to be done by the diners."

                          Well put!

                          Also:
                          Avoid most unitaskers.
                          Knifes should be kept well-sharpened for safety/good results.
                          It is possible to turn leftovers into fabulous meals if you have a little creativity.

                          I'm sure I'll think of more.

                          1. re: melpy

                            Very good wisdom...I think I am a unitasker though...oh well, somebody has to do it.

                            1. re: cstout

                              Actually, for most common kitchen fires (think buring oil) sodium bicarbonate works as a fire extinguisher and is a multitasker. And, as a unitasker, a corkscrew is a must.

                              1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                But I do have a small fire extinguisher near the stove. Glad I've not had to use it. And a lid slapped onto the pot will deprive a fire of needed oxygen.

                            2. re: melpy

                              By "unitasker" I believe melpy is channeling Alton Brown in that you should not have any kitchen gadgets that are limited to only one use. Think garlic press or knife sharpener.

                              The only one Maha Alton has in his kitchen is a fire extinguisher.

                              1. re: CDouglas

                                Well, I still think I am a unitasker though...please leave me be.

                                1. re: CDouglas

                                  You only use the knife sharpener for one thing, but you use the knife constantly. Since the underlying principle is getting the most function/time saving/pleasure out of each square inch of kitchen storage space, the knife sharpener should count as a multitasker.

                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                    engh - if the reference was to a wet stone, then you are right, but something tells me the reference towards those big, bulky, ceramic tools. A proper knife wielder should have a honing steel to tru edges. Since I only sharpen my knives once every nine to twelve months, I send my knives away. I will be exploring a wet stone next round...

                              2. re: CDouglas

                                Bravo! Love this list!

                                I'll skip the Pope's nose, but I live in fear that my family will ever discover the existence of the oysters...they've never had a bird that had them intact, as they're Cook's Treat.

                                (and I have to work on the dishes to be be done by the diners part)

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Maybe I should delve deeper into this chicken oyster thing...I have some chickens, but have never ate one of them....gosh no. The store bought ones don't have any oysters that I know of...is this one of those things like "mountain oysters" ? If so, I shall go my way & forgo the oysters to someone else.

                                  1. re: cstout

                                    no, no, no -- the oyster is a small muscle that lies on the back of a chicken, just below the wing and at the top of the thigh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyster_%... has a diagram and a photo). It's an oyster-sized morsel that is tender and juicy and packs an amazing amount of flavor into such a little nugget of meat (on a 3-4 pound bird you should get an oyster about the size of a walnut

                                    )

                                    (my poultry lady sells turkey oysters in bulk, so I'm thinking how to make those into an amazing dish...it makes me laugh that in French, the oysters are called sot-l'y-laisse, which translates roughly to "what the fool leaves behind")

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Love that "fool" phrase. My maternal grandmother always ate the back (she was about the size of a little bird) and we felt sorry for her. Til we discovered the oysters.

                                    2. re: cstout

                                      re: ".is this one of those things like 'mountain oysters' ?"

                                      Reminds me of the old joke- a woman, after having had matzo ball soup several times, finally asks, "Isn't there some other part of the matzo you can make soup from?"

                                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                        eclecticsynergy, definately something to think about there....thanks for the joke.

                                2. Many years ago, Martha Stewart was a very good sport to take part in NPR's Car Talk radio program. She was invited to participate to answer questions about cooking food under the hood while driving. Martha believes aluminum foil is toxic so she insists on a layer of parchment paper between food and foil. The brothers Magliozzi were clearly unfamiliar with parchment, and thought it sounded hard to find. She assured them that it wasn't (although back then it wasn't common in most home kitchens). Their comment later was that "everybody needs parchment, they just don't know it". They were joking, but they spoke the truth! I found struggling with curling parchment from a roll sufficiently annoying that I bought a box of large sheets - more than I'll ever need. Consequently, I use it liberally, and it certainly makes cooking and clean-up a lot easier.

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    Did you purchase the large sheets of parchment online or at your local store...? Those large sheets sure would be nice to have...yes, I need parchment too.

                                    1. re: cstout

                                      I found them at a store that sells both party goods and wholesale restaurant paper items. This was probably 10 yrs ago - 1000 sheets (17"x34"?) for about $40. I've given some to all my friends who cook and still have plenty.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        I always disliked the rolled up parchment paper; finally found some and ordered from King Arthur Flour -- love it flat and it fits perfectly in my half sheet pan -- those are essential, too.

                                        My advice: practice making a recipe until you do it well -- practice makes perfect.

                                        Try doing a whole turkey (about 15 lb) on the barbecue grill -- delicious. You can google for recipe.

                                        1. re: walker

                                          I desperately need to master the making a recipe until I do it well. I'm such a once and done gal. Usually first time it works and second time bombs so I give up.

                                    2. re: greygarious

                                      There's a book about cooking on the engine called "Manifold Destiny."

                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        I have no idea what that book is about, my daddy always tried to teach me about cars so I would'nt get stranded on the highway, but I just never wanted any part of that. Bless his heart, I think he may have written that book & dedicated it to me....got to go find it right now...he told me I would regret not learning those things...I am afraid he was right....daddy, please forgive me...I will get it immediately....well maybe only if I can find it used.

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          Re: escondido123
                                          That was brilliant - I joined this site just so I could compliment you - too funny

                                          1. re: LaCole

                                            Thank you but there really is such a book. A friend of mine wrote it and included one of my recipes. There were on The Today Show and made a book tour. http://www.amazon.com/Manifold-Destin...

                                            1. re: LaCole

                                              Lacole, thanks for joining us.

                                          2. re: greygarious

                                            Parchment was one of the discoveries I made when we moved to France. I will never understand how I ever lived without it.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I discovered the joys of parchment about five years ago and like you, sunshine, cannot understand how I lived without it. And also why no one had ever clued me in earlier!

                                          3. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
                                            (with regards to ingredients, techniques, and tools).

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: raytamsgv

                                              That has been my main objective the last few months...I tend to make a mountain out of a molehill when all it takes is just to stop & think about what you are doing & why you are doing it.