There are a lot of kitchen basics I learned before I was married! Yes, I learned much in my mom’s kitchen. Then once I had my own family, I had to develop my own sense of timing, style, order, and a recipe repertoire. I’m thankful I learned these basics that saved me time, money, and prevent logistical headaches.
If you are anything like me, you are in the kitchen – a lot – preparing good things for your family.
But if you avoid the kitchen, maybe you need these tips so it will function better for you!
Genius For Your Kitchen From Mom
Keep from crying chopping onions: Just poke your tongue out a little between your teeth when chopping onions – sounds crazy, but the molecules of onions seems to hit the first wet spot – so yes, this works! Goes to your tongue and not the eyes!
Store mushrooms properly to extend life! The #1 BEST WAY is to wrap mushrooms together in a paper towel, inside a perforated plastic bag.
Add a dash of soy sauce to mushrooms and you’ll have the mushroomiest-tasting mushrooms you’ve ever tasted!
For scoopable ice cream and unbent spoons, place your ice cream tub in a freezer bag. It will keep the cold air from freezing it rock hard. Push as much air out as possible before freezing.
Extend veggie freshness by lining the bottom of your refrigerator’s crisper drawer (or a gallon ziplock) with paper towels. Excess moisture causes veggies to rot.
Eggs don’t stick to your pan – ever! A good cast-iron skillet is a valuable kitchen ally. It offers a non-toxic, even heat-distributing cooking surface and is a breeze to clean. My Cast Iron Skillet Frittata Recipe – Quick and Easy
Never cook tomato sauce or foods with lemon juice or vinegar in cast iron. Acid causes the seasoning on a cast-iron pan to break down.
Protect your spices: Store in a cool, dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heat causes loss of flavor rather quickly.
Get high quality knives you will love to use use. Resist the temptation to get a cheap butcher block set (which are notoriously poor quality steel). Consider:
- Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Knives for high quality, lower cost which will likely last half a lifetime
- or consider more expensive Cutco knives which WILL last a lifetime and maintain their edge (these make excellent wedding gifts)
Basil stays fresher and actually puts on little roots if you keep the water fresh.
Make buttermilk for baking in 30 seconds: My mom loved to do this. Adding a good squeeze of lemon juice (or 1/2 tsp. AC vinegar) to 1/2-3/4 c. milk sours it slightly, mimicking buttermilk, often used in biscuits and scones.
Invest in parchment paper for lining pans and trays. Different than waxed paper and way healthier than aluminum foil! Mom showed me how it makes cleanup a dream, and keeps food off of your aluminum bake surfaces.
Mom taught me to season fish simply. The flavor of the fish is what you want. When it comes off the grill or out of the oven or pan, finish with a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Always. There is just something about lemon and fish that is heavenly. Cod pairs so well with dill and Old Bay seasoning.
“How do you boil an egg?” Find out the TIMEs for your chosen egg doneness and easy peeling!
Freeze excess ripe tomatoes whole in a ziplock like marbles and add to soups this winter. Mom’s soups were something we all loved!
Mayo trick: For rich, creamy dressings made healthier, substitute half or more of the mayo with plain cultured yogurt.
Don’t let cheese dry out: always cover cheese with shrink wrap or do as my grandmother did – spread open edges with a thin layer of butter.
My immersion blender is invaluable: easier to clean (and used more) than my VitaMix or food processor. Get rid of lumps in a sauce, purée soups directly in the pot, or make mayo in under 5 minutes.
Don’t overcrowd the pan when you’re sauteing — it’ll steam your veggies and make them mushy.
Save your lungs. Use non-toxic, 2 ingredient, non-scratch scouring powder Bon Ami 1886 Formula. For showers, sinks, stainless steel.
Get PURE water. Reject bottled or fluoridated tap water. Consider a Berkey Water Filter and never worry again about losing electricity and your drinking water supply.
Discover my relaxed slow turkey roasting method where WE decide when we are ready to eat, NOT the turkey!
Tomatoes last longer placed stem side down. They store better at room temp than in the fridge.
3 Ingredient DIY Fruit & Veggie Wash: Fill a small spray bottle with 1 c. water, 3 TBSP lemon juice (or white vinegar) and 1 TBSP baking soda. I add 3 drops Thieves blend. Shake gently (it will bubble and fizz a bit).
Preserve your herbs in olive oil to preserve full flavor: Freeze flat in ziplock and cut off chunks when ready to season with them.
Homemade vinaigrettes have fewer, healthier ingredients and taste better than bottled ones. I just put all the ingredients in this glass Salad Dressing Mixer Bottle and shake.
My go-to house Honey Mustard dressing is 1/2 cup organic brown Dijon mustard, just under 1/2 cup raw honey, 1/3 cup EVOO, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Use shaker bottle. So simple!
Mom taught me a dash of apple cider vinegar can liven a soup or stew from heavy and boring to fresh and flavorful.
Scrub your cast iron pans with salt instead of dish soap. The salt acts an abrasive cleaner without removing the seasoning.
Prevent your Pot from boiling over: Simply place a wooden spoon across the top of your pot. It has to be wooden.
Brighten your Stainless Steel sink. Mix vinegar and water together, spray the solution on your surfaces and wipe it down.
Stretch a whole chicken out for 3 meals: The first day use the breasts in a meal (chicken salad, teriyaki chicken or chicken stir fry); the second day, the rest of the meat in a casserole. Finally, make quantities of bone broth with the whole chicken frame for soups or for cooking rice or quinoa.
Keep fruit from getting brown once cut: Stir 1 tsp. of vitamin C into cut fruit or coating them with an acidic juice such as lemon, orange or pineapple juice.
Herbs stay put when chopping: When mincing herbs, toss a little salt onto your cutting board; it will keep them from flying around.
Remove garlic odor from hands: After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on a stainless spoon for 20 seconds before washing them.
Want just a little lemon juice but not cut up the whole fruit? Roll the lemon on a countertop until pliable and poke a hole in one end with a toothpick. Squeeze for juice, then stick the toothpick back in the hole and refrigerate the lemon.
A squeeze of lemon juice in your sautéed vegetables will brighten them up.
Revolutionary idea: My mom demanded I actually read my recipe through before I began. It does save mistakes and time in the kitchen.
Taste as you go: I’m amazed that people will follow a recipe but not taste the dish before serving to see if it needs more salt, pepper or spices.
Cooking cauliflower: adding a bit of milk to the water with salt keeps the cauliflower bright white.
Chopping onions: Hold a piece of bread in your mouth! Or freeze your onion for 15 minutes before chopping. Chefs tell us that once you are an onion chopping pro, your eyes adjust.
Remove eggshell fragments: Use a half of the eggshell to scoop up the other pieces. It attracts them like a magnet.
When you grill, pull your steaks or hamburgers out of the refrigerator one hour ahead of time so they can come to room temperature.
Always measure when baking. No shortcuts in pastry: It’s a science.
Clean as you go. (Sounds dorky, sure, but it really helps!) My mom taught me, so I taught our children! It is all so much easier that way!
“Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” ~Michael Pollan