Cooking often proves to be a labor of love. Whether you’re slaving away in the kitchen out of love for your family, love for delicious dishes, or simply love for the act itself, for many people, cooking is a passion – and a time-consuming one at that. I don’t enjoy cooking, but I do love to eat and to entertain, so when I find myself in the kitchen, I don’t want to be there for hours. That’s why I’m always scouring the internet and picking the brains of my mom and friends for tips to expedite the process. Here are a few of my favorite time-saving tips that will help get you out of the kitchen and at the table much more quickly.
I love garlic, but I used to find myself avoiding using it due to the peeling process. It’s just so messy and I always ended up with bits of garlic skin stuck to my fingers. That is, until I found these two methods:
The Bowl Method
The crush-and-peel method is fine if you only have a clove or two, but sometimes a recipe calls for a whole head of garlic, which can take forever to wriggle out of its skin. So, what you do: crush the head with a knife. Then, place the head in a bowl and put another bowl on top of that one, making an enclosure. Shake the two bowls vigorously for 10-20 seconds. When you remove the top bowl, you should find that the head of garlic has completely shed its skin.
Click here for a video demonstration (it’ll blow your mind once you see it.)
With particularly stubborn cloves and heads, the microwave comes in handy. Zap the garlic for 15-20 seconds, remove, and the cloves should slip right out of their skins. Don’t worry — this small amount of nuking will not zap any flavor from the garlic.
Another interesting tip when working with garlic: once you’re finished, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel kitchen sink before actually washing them. This helps remove the odor.
I try to eat eggs daily, since they’re high in protein and fill me up. Some days I eat hard-boiled eggs, while on others I make an egg-white omelet. Either way, I find myself either burning my fingers peeling hot hard-boiled eggs (because I don’t have the patience to let them cool) or I make a mess trying to separate yolks and whites – that is, until I discovered these tricks.
The Water Bottle Trick
Crack an egg into a bowl. Then, with a plastic water bottle, suck the yolk up, removing it from the white. Because I can’t really explain it any more simply than that, use this video for further clarification.
Peeling Boiled Eggs
The first thing I learned while scouring for tips was that I needed to be patient – at least patient enough to allow the eggs to cool. Apparently this is the only way to avoid burning my fingers. So, cook your eggs and let them cool. That’s important. While they cool, fill another clean bowl with room-temperature water. Once cool, submerge the eggs, one at a time, in the water, using the edge of the bowl to crack them. Once your egg is cracked, the water will help gently peel away the membrane and the shell from the white – leaving you with perfect eggs and unburned fingertips.
Other Miscellaneous Tips
Here are a few other random tips that help to preserve my time and sanity while in the kitchen.
- An Italian friend of mine once told me, after getting over the shock and horror that I don’t make my own pasta, that if I must use pre-packaged pasta, to cook it 1 minute less than instructed. Then, finish cooking it in a pan with sauce.
- I enjoy making my own salad dressing; this way I can control what’s in them and make them substantially healthier. However, sometimes I’m just in the mood for rich and creamy dressing which is obviously high in fat. However, I read that substituting half the mayo with Greek-style yogurt helps dressing maintain its richness while cutting the fat content. Best part, I can’t even tell taste-wise!
- Back to pasta, never use oil in the water when boiling the noodles; it will keep the sauce from sticking.
- When you buy fresh, locally-sourced ingredients from farmers’ markets, the food really takes care of itself.
- And lastly, one I’ve learned the hard way, never try out a new recipe on someone important – like your boss, a date, or even your mother!