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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.

                                            2. I "try" to go by these rules:

                                              Rule #1- Never cook when you're enebriated.

                                              Rule #2- Never fry bacon in the nude.

                                              Rule #3- Always pull the power cord on the food processer before you put your fingers in it.

                                              Rule #4- Don't talk and cook at the same time. Neither will turn out very well.

                                              Rule #5- Always think ahead, have your ingredients and prep-work done before cooking.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: arktos

                                                Rule #4....how true that is...I get plumb crazy trying to carry on a conversation & cooking...how in the world do people do that when others are milling around the kitchen & chit chatting...sorry, but I am not a social type cooker....please leave me alone in the kitchen...I can listen, but cannot reply. The other rules are somewhat easy to follow.

                                                1. re: cstout

                                                  and I'm the opposite -- somehow my friends and guests always install themselves in my kitchen, but I don't skip a beat. (one of my friends comes in specifically to watch, saying that watching me add a little of this, a little of that without consulting anything other than the recipe posted in my head is a bit like watching a wizard creating a magical potion)

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    sunshine842, you are definately one of those multitaskers mentioned earlier...there are some people I admire in this world & you are definately one of them...this is truely a gift, your guests are so fortunate...they can come into your kitchen & be with you....mine know better than to get too chatty...they will not have a good meal if they talk to much....oh dear, can I come to your house & be with you in the kitchen??

                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                      if you can find room -- I have a nice big kitchen, but somehow it ends up being pretty cosy!

                                                2. re: arktos

                                                  Rule #3 is very important.

                                                  It is very difficult and tiring to type these posts with my toes.

                                                  1. re: arktos

                                                    Re 4 - You want my friend's recipe for Chernobyl Crisp?

                                                    1. re: arktos

                                                      Frying bacon in the nude guarantees perfectly cooked bacon...and you only need to do it once.

                                                      1. re: arktos

                                                        I violate all five of these on a weekly basis.

                                                      2. Cook what you love, and love what you cook.

                                                        1. If you wonder if the dish, pan or whatever, is too hot to carry without a potholder, it probably is. I used to have restaurant hands and could pick up lots of hot stuff with no ill effect, but now not so much.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              I knew there was another thread. And I knew your Google-fu would suss it out. ;-)

                                                            2. CDouglas and others are on to a great list. Here's a few other pearls of wisdom I've picked up.

                                                              - Taste your food as you cook it and season it. So obvious, but so many people fail to do so.

                                                              - Don't try to season the food entirely on the first shot. Do it in stages or "layers," if the dish lends itself to it.

                                                              - Use Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

                                                              - Don't be afraid of high heat.

                                                              - Keep your knives sharp.

                                                              - Have all of your serving dishes ready before the food is finished.

                                                              - Clean up as you cook, even if someone else will do the dishes for you.

                                                              - Tell everyone that dinner will be ready ten minutes before it will really be ready.

                                                              - A few pieces of quality cookware are far superior to a lot of pieces of garbage.

                                                              - A good home cook has about twenty years of being "in the zone," and they start to decline after that. Use those years wisely.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                Regarding that final one, I'll strongly disagree. Some of my Chow-heros have 50+ years "in the zone." They just keep getting better.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  Don't get me wrong: a person can be a wonderful cook over a lifetime. But really, is the person at his peak for more than 20 or so years? It's sort of like an athlete, who has a prime of his career. Not that he can't be very good at sports before and after that prime period.

                                                                  1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                    Ah, but you are referencing the physical decline of the professional athlete. All those sport-event "beatings" will surely take their toll. And age creeps on us all.

                                                                    But:

                                                                    After more than 30 years in the business, I am a far better cook than I was at the twenty year mark. I chalk some of it up to openmindedness, some of it to continuing education, and some of it to more patience. Sure; working a hot line is physically tough. I think that I'd have a difficult time doing it now, on any sustained basis. But the food? You might get it a little more slowly today, but I assure you, that food would be as good as anything I cooked many years ago, and in all honesty, probably better.

                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                      I agree with you mamachef..."slower but better" has been my motto in the kitchen. I attribute the internet & wonderful sites like chowhound to open up a wealth of knowledge that I never add access to years ago. Keep on cookin' girl!!

                                                              2. Marry someone who's an adventurous diner and appreciates your cooking.

                                                                Other misc...

                                                                -Make enough to freeze so you the chef can enjoy delicious food on your "off work" day.
                                                                -Use lots of fresh herbs, makes everything taste better.
                                                                -Use rice flour to coat fish before pan frying, and season the fish not the flour.
                                                                -Brine your Thanksgiving turkey with herbs and citrus.
                                                                -Keep lots of heavy duty foil on hand.
                                                                -Grow your own heirloom tomatoes and herbs, and lots of them!
                                                                -Don't be afraid of fat, most fats are a cooks best friend.
                                                                -Save your applewood smoked bacon fat and deglaze the pan & save the 'au jus' for soups.
                                                                -Only have your small children help you in the kitchen if you plan to spend twice as long.
                                                                -Roast veggies well to caramelize flavors, even kids will devour them.
                                                                -Keep your wood cutting boards in great condition with Boos oil.
                                                                -Buy and care for vintage and seasoned cast iron pans.
                                                                -Spend time researching/studying recipes before cooking: akin to measure twice & cut once.
                                                                -Cook with wine often
                                                                -Drink wine while cooking because you might miss all the wine by the time you sit down.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                  Funwithfood, these tips are excellent....you have spent a lot of time & thought & on this & we do appreciate it. I have never used rice flour or seen it in my grocery, but I will certainly try to locate it somewhere. I have copied & pasted your hints....worth remembering every one of them.

                                                                    1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                      "-Cook with wine often"

                                                                      W.C. Fields: "I cook with wine- sometimes I even add it to the food."

                                                                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                        Ol W.C. & I could do very well in the kitchen...only trouble is, somebody needs to be a delagated cook.

                                                                    2. Every cookbook can teach you something new. When I'm in a cooking slump, I'll go to Goodwill and pick up the first one that catches my eye.
                                                                      Use the best spices and freshest herbs you can find.
                                                                      How your ingredients were raised and handled before you got them matters just as much as how you handle them. This is true for vegetables as well as meat and eggs.

                                                                      1. This is very similar to the "One Simple Tip" thread from about a year ago (http://bit.ly/lnz23h). But it's always fun, so what the heck. Just a few thoughts, some of which have already been noted by others.

                                                                        1. Be generous with fresh herbs. Grow 'em if you can, and grow enough that you can snip away regularly (in this vein, if space is limited grow loads of a couple things rather than a little bit of many things). If you lack a green thumb, at least grow chives. They're freaking indestructible, regrow quickly, and offer up chive blossoms for soups and salads in the spring.
                                                                        2. Make vinaigrette in bulk and date it (but not too far ahead, especially if it contains garlic, shallots, herbs, etc.). You'll save money, it'll be worlds better than store-bought, and you'll find yourself eating more salad.
                                                                        3. Speaking of dating things, a small whiteboard or chalkboard with a fridge inventory isn't the worst idea in the world. Helps prevent waste and engenders creativity.
                                                                        4. Label and date everything that goes in the freezer.
                                                                        5. Master a few flexible techniques that suit your way in the kitchen and at the table. There's nothing more liberating---cooking-wise---than being able to stop at the corner store on the way home from work and shop for dinner without an ingredient list.
                                                                        6. Keep flavor boosters on hand: alcohols (port, sherry, etc.); anchovy paste; tomato paste; flavorful fats, from real lard to infused olive oils; dried porcini and other mushrooms; even a bouillon cube for real emergencies.
                                                                        7. Make ahead and refrigerate/freeze not only soups and appropriate entrees, but also some of those special things that can elevate a weeknight meal: caramelized onions, roasted garlic, roasted bell pepper puree, etc.
                                                                        8. Pork! Slab bacon, ham hocks, pancetta. But happy pork, please.
                                                                        9. Save your fat. One of those happy occurrences where the most frugal is also the most delicious.

                                                                        That is all for now. And nothing, I see on review, terribly original.

                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                        1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                          Yes to all, an esp. #4. Just this morning I was packaging up one cup of chicken stock (used the other half last night) and one cup of Batali's basic tomato sauce. I was tempted not to bother. But took the few seconds to do and now they're not mystery packages.

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            Yeah, especially because for me I'll just toss something too mysterious, rather than risk wasting time and money building a meal around a tub of beans or hunk of beef that might have given up the ghost.

                                                                            I just use masking tape and a Sharpie. You?

                                                                            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                              For the Costco plastic, snap-lid containers I just use a Sharpie and write on the lid. It scrubs off just fine. A tip I pick up here. Big surprise.

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                Since I discovered that the Sharpie was fine all by itself marking is so much easier so I usually do it!

                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                  I've recently started using a china pencil (wax pencil) on plastic baby bottles and tupperware - cleans off easy but actually stays on the plastic better than the sharpie I found (odd as that seems).

                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                  Yep. And if it's ever stubborn, rubbing alcohol takes it off in a flash.

                                                                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                    Hey, thanks for that. There have been a few times.

                                                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                                                    My problem is not taking the time to label before refrigerating. Once the container is cold, whether I'm trying to write onto tape or the plastic lid, the ink won't work.

                                                                              2. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                I don't shop without a list...I will buy EVERYTHING that looks good.

                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                  Ha! We tend to go the store daily, so I'm just figuring out what ingredients I need for dinner, plus maybe grabbing some fruit for the next day.

                                                                                  1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                    I wish I had the patience to go everyday but sadly it takes me 30-60 minutes no matter how short my list is. I go once a week with a list with all the menu items for the week planned out. I cook 4 dinners and eat 5 lunches that I pack plus breakfast (but that's usually cereal and fruit).

                                                                              3. if you don't have a lid for a saucepan or a skillet or fry pan, do you have another pot or pan that is that size, turn it upside down and use is as the lid

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                  Oh yes. This tends to come in very handy when cooking a big meal gets a little harried and the right lid is in the sink under 12 other dishes.

                                                                                  1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                    been there too " where is that spoon I had 3 minutes ago?"

                                                                                  2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                    I've used a plate too for a lid...hee hee!

                                                                                    1. re: Val

                                                                                      I'm disorganized in many ways but my cookware is put away with pots and lids together. The only thing I've done occasionally is for a large skillet that doesn't have a lid. I've covered them with a lid for something else or even a baking sheet if I don't need a tight fit. So not an issue for me.

                                                                                  3. I don't think I've seen this yet: a good, heavy, stone mortar and pestle is worth whatever you have to pay for it. Home-made curry pastes taste 10X better than canned.

                                                                                    28 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Joebob

                                                                                      Can you rec one? Like on a website for me to order?

                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                        Regretably, I can't. Mine is granite and was inherited from my wife's Swedish mother.

                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                          I think mine came from Thaicuisine.com but it was a gift so not 100% sure. I highly recommend it though.

                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                            Go into any good kitchen store and you should be able to find one. They're not cheap, however.

                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              I just remembered where you can get cheap, good M&Ps: Edmonds Scientific. Ceramic, $6, flint glass,$18!

                                                                                              1. re: Joebob

                                                                                                Joebob...I wish I read your post a few days ago when this idea started about M&Ps....thought bigger was better so I went online & found one....well, I cannot imagine sizes, so I picked out one that looked pretty substantial...well, the darn thing weighed 18 lbs & is so heavy I cannot move it around hardly at all. My first try was to break down some peppercorns. This resulted in them disappearing somewhere down there in the bottom of the thing. Yes, I tried grinding rice in the darn thing first, but most of that that disappeared too. I feel so embarrased about this, because I am stuck with this monster....maybe I could put a plant in it. Before I do that, can anybody suggest something to at least get the bottom cured of those craters that just gobble up whatever you put in. Oh yes, I crushed some garlic in there & it disappeared instantly. Postage is too high to return the monster.

                                                                                                1. re: cstout

                                                                                                  18 pounds? Yikes. You could try cutting your losses on your local craigslist board. My beloved molcajete, fyi, measures about 6 inches across. Can be a little tight for large amounts of homemade curry paste or pesto, but is pretty perfect for daily spice grinding and whatnot. Came from Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma or some such.

                                                                                                  1. re: cstout

                                                                                                    Did you perhaps accidentally buy a molcajete? We did the same thing - when we registered for our wedding, we wanted a mortar and pestle. We saw one online at Crate & Barrel but didn't read carefully, and we received it. But it's made of volcanic rock (hence the craters) and meant for making guacamole. It's useless for grinding herbs and such. You'll need one that's made of glass, marble, wood, granite...something smooth. They're smaller and more expensive. The molcajete is lovely for guac and presentation thereof, but pretty useless otherwise.

                                                                                                    1. re: thursday

                                                                                                      Yes thursday....I definately need one made of something smooth. I found out from a previous poster that what I ordered is probably used to grind corn. Mine is definately volcanic rock....hope you got one you could use....what did you get after that mistake? I think I will get marble..anything but that rock stuff for me. Thanks for your post.

                                                                                                      1. re: cstout

                                                                                                        We never did get a M&P - it's been on our list for years now. When it's absolutely necessary to use one, we use the bottom of a glass. pathetic...

                                                                                                        1. re: thursday

                                                                                                          I use the flat side of an iron meat tenderizer thingy..I just whack away at the pod of garlic or whatever & hope the stuff doesn't fly too far away...I am even more pathetic. Don't do this on a ceramic counter top though...may break a tile. Use a wooden board or something strong.

                                                                                                          1. re: cstout

                                                                                                            Hey y'all. Look at my post of 06/03/2011 above.

                                                                                                  2. re: Joebob

                                                                                                    Thanks Joebob..I am off to find their website. Glad you remembered that. You people on this forum are totally wrecking my budget....since I joined you all, I have given away my rice cooker, regretted that & went & bought another one, ordered a portable grill, bought several new cookbooks, got a chef's knife, looking for a waffle iron to wafflize, bought a round slow cooker 'cause mine is oval & everybody else's is round, got a baking stone to get starting in no knead bread making & I don't know what else...now everybody be quite for awhile while I try to salvage my budget. I swear I am not going to read another post until next payday....well, maybe just a few, but if anybody mentions something else to buy, I swear I am going to commit hari kari, or something like that!!!!

                                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                                      but make sure you have a genuine Japanese hari-kari knife -- the really good ones have a bamboo handle and are specially ground to make a cleaner cut.

                                                                                                      I saw one listed on eBay -- only used once, so probably a good deal.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        Is it wrong to laugh so hard at this I splattered my screen?

                                                                                                        1. re: miss louella

                                                                                                          Miss louella, please wipe your screen off & try to be more careful in the future. As Martha Stewart says, "this is not a good thing". In fact, splattered screens might be listed in the Chowhound Etiquette section. What is really bad is when you sneeze with a mouth full of food while at the computer.....talking about a mess...

                                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                          Sunshine842, do you mean I have to buy ANOTHER object...that did it..thank you very much, but I will make do with what I have in the kitchen to commit hari-kari , unless it is one of those multi taskers that you all were talking about, then maybe I might consider getting one.

                                                                                                      2. re: Joebob

                                                                                                        Joebob, do you have the creamic or the flint glass? Which do you think would be best just in case you don't have either one? Thanks.

                                                                                                  3. re: Joebob

                                                                                                    Is your mortar & pestle granite or some other stone?? Please share your homemade curry paste recipe.

                                                                                                    1. re: cstout

                                                                                                      Going to bed now, but I will in a new post to you. My understanding is that marble is OK too. You might search pharmacy suppliers. Just a thought...

                                                                                                    2. re: Joebob

                                                                                                      Love my M & P :)

                                                                                                      I use it for my whole spices constantly. I don't make curry but I use fennel and coriander, and garlic cloves.

                                                                                                      1. re: Joebob

                                                                                                        +1. I use it almost daily for grinding whole spices.

                                                                                                        1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                                          I have 2 M&P's. one large wooden with wooden pestle
                                                                                                          the other one smaller and marble with marb pes
                                                                                                          haven't used marble one yet, hope surface of bowl has a tooth

                                                                                                        2. re: Joebob

                                                                                                          Well, just to be ornery, I never use mine. I like the idea of it, but a little coffee grinder is so much easier and gives more uniform results.

                                                                                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                                                                                            Ha! I find the exact opposite---that an M&P is far easier to use and clean and provides much more uniform results (and much more precise control over those results). To each his or her own, I suppose.

                                                                                                            Although...I will say that I have tried those small marble or porcelain ones with the wooden pestle at friends' houses and found them terribly frustrating and inefficient. A large molcajete or one of the Asian varieties is a different thing altogether.

                                                                                                            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                                              Mine is the Asian variety and fabulous. Very easy to clean unlike the grinders.

                                                                                                              1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                                                                I do not clean the grinder :-) if I'm grinding something really incompatible with the dust in the grinder, I grind up some rice in there and then throw it away. But, generally, I'm just not a purist. I've been drinking slightly garam masala flavored coffee for months now, and I like it!

                                                                                                            2. It may sound a little nerdy, but I like to keep a notebook. I like to try the same dish in different time/temp combos, so I need to write it down to remember what I liked best.

                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: BigE

                                                                                                                I do the same, although with a Word file. Convenient because recipes for most things I like to make are in there by now, so I can plop it down on a remote server for access while traveling, cooking at a friend's place, etc. Also, there are times when photos can be invaluable for remembering things like the right consistency for sauces, batters, pastes, etc.

                                                                                                                1. re: BigE

                                                                                                                  I write down notes about every recipe I try (and every cheese I try as well) in Evernote. I can then access those notes anytime I want, whether on my local machine or via an internet connection.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                    I guess I'm behind the times. I write in my cookbooks GASP!

                                                                                                                    Definitely take notes. I try so many recipes that I do take pictures when I can. I also took the habit of writing the date I first made something and our initial reaction from my mother.
                                                                                                                    Just a small rating scale: Excellent, Very Good, Good. Ok, Fair, Poor, Very Poor

                                                                                                                    At my house only Excellent and Very Good get a second shot.

                                                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                      I used to do that, Melpy, but kept running out of room in the margins. Last straw was when one of my cookbooks became so tattered that I had to replace it---transcribing note after note was such a pain!

                                                                                                                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                                                                        List-making/note-taking app with photo functionality. Can by synced across platforms so it's always up-to-date on your tower/laptop/smartphone/tablet.

                                                                                                                        I'm sure someone can provide a better answer (I have it but don't use it), but those are the basics in case no one else gets back to you.

                                                                                                                  2. Never take a hot pan out of the oven with a wet -- or even damp -- towel or hotpad.

                                                                                                                    (No, I didn't...but I almost did that tonight.)

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                      I get little jolts because of doing that. I have tons of kitchen towels so it's unusual and never a full-on hit.