Why is it that cooking on TV always seems so easy compared to cooking in your own kitchen? Somehow the host of the show manages to keep the perfect hairdo, never smear their makeup, tell a wonderful story; perhaps even a joke, all while they make they most amazing looking dish you have set your eyes on. Maybe it’s just the glare on the TV set, but I’m fairly sure that they didn’t even break a sweat.
Well today I’d like to share with you a few cooking secrets from the pros that will get the rest of us home cooks a little closer to our TV counterparts.
Tuck a dish towel into your waistband or pocket
Tucking a dish towel or even a paper towel into your waste band is known as a “side towel” since it’s on your side. If you pay attention you’ll see many chefs in professional kitchens making use of the side towel.
Some great uses of the side towel are:
- To wipe your hands. I find this especially useful after washing or handing damp vegetables. No more running to the towel hanging on the dishwasher or oven.
- To put under the pestle to muffle the noise as well provide some padding to your beautiful counter tops.
- To use as pot holders to keep your hands from burning when handling those hot lids and handles.
- To use as a grip when mixing things in a bowl.
- To use as a trivet.
Keep measuring equipment close to the things being measured
Most of us keep our dried goods, like rice, in a pantry cupboard and the measuring spoons and cups in another cupboard. What this means is that we’re running around our kitchen every time we want to cook or bake. To save your feet some extra steps, keep a measuring cup in the pantry. Keep a measuring spoon in the spice drawer. Keep another measuring cup near your oils. Pay attention to how you use your tools and food – place these as close together as possible.
To take this idea to the next level, I’ve even started storing my garlic press in the same basket as my garlic.
How many times have you written up a grocery list on a piece of paper at home only to discover that you always shop on your way home from work? Instead of writing on paper that is hard to keep with you, use technology that you always carry, like your phone, to maintain the list. Some great apps that I’ve used are the iPhone notes and the Whole Foods app.
Are you wasting time trying to find that recipe you saw that one time.. somewhere? Can’t remember if it was on a website or in a cookbook or maybe an email? Get organized by using tools like Velvet Aroma where you can put all your recipes into cookbooks that make sense to you. Velvet Aroma even auto imports recipes from some websites and always shows the recipes side by side with the source so you can refer to the original website if needed.
Keep your knives sharp
It’s seems quite obvious: A sharp knife can cut your finger and a dull knife takes a lot of effort to cut your finger. So what’s the problem with that? Sounds safer to always have a dull knife doesn’t it? NOT!
Basically when you cut with a dull knife, you have to exert more force. When you exert more force, you tend to not have as much fine control. Which means – your knife could travel to places to you didn’t intend and hurt things that shouldn’t be hurt. A sharp knife, on the other hand, cuts easily which means you are in complete control and can cut exactly what you want to cut.
So sharpen those knives and be in control – accidents happen when you lose control.
Use a bowl or plastic bags to put garbage into
Use an extra mixing bowl or those thing veggie plastic bags you get in the grocery store on your counter to collect the waste while you cook. It saves time. You no longer have to keep walking over to the garbage can with your scraps. Also you no longer have to worry about cleaning the floor with the scraps that fell off on your trip to the trash can.
And one EXTRA tip just cuz I’m feeling so enthusiastic.
Warm up your plates
It’s the worst feeling when I slave over the stove, serving up wonderful dinner, only to find out that the food is gone cold by the time everyone makes it to the table. The solution? Warm up your dishes. The two easiest ways I’ve found is to microwave the empty dishes for 10 – 30 seconds or to fill the plate with hot water from the sink – draining and wiping it off just before filling up the plate. Wiping off the dish is another great use of the side towel by the way.