Tips, Tricks and Tools of the Trade

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one2one

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I thought it might be nice to share favorite tips and tricks in the kitchen. I thought this while cutting a pan of bars with my stainless steel pastry scraper and wondering if anyone else uses theirs in the same way. It's so easy to get even, straight lines and loosen the edges. Mine has a slightly beveled edge, so that probably helps.

Does anyone else have any favorite kitchen tools or tips that make things quick and easy?
 

D_A_Bunny

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One of the tips that I have learned and passed on concerns solid pieces of red meat. When making steak or a roast in the oven or on the grill, leave the meat at room temp for about 30 minutes before cooking. This will allow the center of the meat to lose its chill and help guarantee more uniform cooking. Also, use a meat thermometer to check meat and remove about five degrees below desired temp from the heat source, place on a clean surface and wrap loosely with foil for about ten 10 - 15 minutes to let it rest before cutting.

I basically add 45 minutes "prep" time to any beef dish I make using a dry method to insure a moister end result.

Also, if you are going to put powdered garlic powder on the meat, do it as soon as you put it out to warm up and it will "bloom" while on the meat which gives a fuller garlic flavor.
 

Fuzzy

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When I make chicken-fried-steak or chicken-fried-pork or chicken-fried-chicken;
I use the double-dip method. Dip both sides in the your 2 egg-1/4 cup buttermilk, then dredge in flour, both side. Then dip again both side in your egg/buttermilk, and then coat both sides in bread crumbs/panko.

By this time, your fingers are equally coated, and your cube steak is falling apart. Carefully place the steak in your hot oil (i use a canola/olive blend) so that it doesn't splash. :)
 

olwen

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My tip is for measuring salt without a teaspoon or a shaker. That divut in the center of the palm of your hand is about 1/2 a teaspoon. I good pinch is about 1/4 a teaspoon. I pour just about enough salt into that divut and grab a pinch with my other hand to add to my dishes. It's just easier to get the amount of salt right. Use more if it's fine grain salt, less if it's rock salt. For most dishes one to three pinches is enough.
 

Fuzzy

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My tip is for measuring salt without a teaspoon or a shaker. That divut in the center of the palm of your hand is about 1/2 a teaspoon. I good pinch is about 1/4 a teaspoon. I pour just about enough salt into that divut and grab a pinch with my other hand to add to my dishes. It's just easier to get the amount of salt right. Use more if it's fine grain salt, less if it's rock salt. For most dishes one to three pinches is enough.
I do this when I'm measuring salt in my waffle recipe. :)
 

MLadyJ

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This may sound strancge, and I can't remember where I heard it but...if you buy celery remove the plastic wrapper and use aluminum foil...I iot sounded crazy but that stuff'll last 2 weeks or more.
 

CastingPearls

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This may sound strancge, and I can't remember where I heard it but...if you buy celery remove the plastic wrapper and use aluminum foil...I iot sounded crazy but that stuff'll last 2 weeks or more.
I do that and it's amazing how long it lasts! I don't remember where I heard it from either but it works! It must be wrapped tightly in the foil too.
 

one2one

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I'm bumping this for a good cause ...you may have heard I have a new kitchen! :) I'm very excited about this because I lived for a long time in a place that barely had one. It had a small fridge, a sink, the smallest stove I have ever seen, two cabinets and 15 inches of counter space. I bought a microwave stand so I could have a drawer for silverware.

Even so, I did alright with it and got by with just the essentials for kitchen equipment. It's amazing what you can do with not much more than some decent knives, a good blender, a hand mixer (mine also has attachments: dough hooks, submersible blender, chopping) and a box grater. Now that I have more space and can think about getting some more kitchen toys, I'm wondering what I need. What do you have that you consider essential and can't live without?
 

Fuzzy

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This may sound strancge, and I can't remember where I heard it but...if you buy celery remove the plastic wrapper and use aluminum foil...I iot sounded crazy but that stuff'll last 2 weeks or more.
I've also heard using a brown paper sack. I tried it, but celery doesn't stay in my fridge long enough to need special storage. :D
 

Fuzzy

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I'm bumping this for a good cause ...you may have heard I have a new kitchen! :) I'm very excited about this because I lived for a long time in a place that barely had one. It had a small fridge, a sink, the smallest stove I have ever seen, two cabinets and 15 inches of counter space. I bought a microwave stand so I could have a drawer for silverware.

Even so, I did alright with it and got by with just the essentials for kitchen equipment. It's amazing what you can do with not much more than some decent knives, a good blender, a hand mixer (mine also has attachments: dough hooks, submersible blender, chopping) and a box grater. Now that I have more space and can think about getting some more kitchen toys, I'm wondering what I need. What do you have that you consider essential and can't live without?
Get a KitchenAid mixer, with the shredder/slicer and pasta roller attachments. :) I've never considered the food mill/sausage stuffer.. until now that I'm contemplating making my own sausages. :)

Don't forget your waffle iron :)
 

one2one

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Get a KitchenAid mixer, with the shredder/slicer and pasta roller attachments. :) I've never considered the food mill/sausage stuffer.. until now that I'm contemplating making my own sausages. :)

Don't forget your waffle iron :)
Thank you, Fuzzy! Those are great suggestions, and I had forgotten about the waffle iron. How could I forget that!? :)

So far I've just bought a couple wooden spoons to replace the old ones, a small silicone spatula and spoonula that are great for jars and other small things, and a flat wisk.
 

FatAndProud

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I have an insane amount of kitchen knives because I love cutting things/people/organs/raw meat :| lol

But in all honesty, my knives HAVE to be sharp. It's imperative to HANG a good set of knives and use your hone and stones correctly to guarantee the longevity of your knives. I use my hone before every item I will cut to ensure that I will have the most even, smooth, easy cut. You can actually dull your knives if you don't hone at a downward ~45 degree angle. I only hone 4 times - two times on each side of the blade..
 

Dr. Feelgood

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Do you have a steamer? I mean one of those small, collapsible metal baskets that fit inside a big pot or Dutch oven so you can keep your food out of the water and cook it in the steam when the water boils. It's inexpensive, low-tech, and highly efficient, especially for delicate veggies like asparagus and baby (2" or less) okra that get mushy when boiled. It just might be the most useful cooking equipment I have.
 

CastingPearls

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I have an insane amount of kitchen knives because I love cutting things/people/organs/raw meat :| lol

But in all honesty, my knives HAVE to be sharp. It's imperative to HANG a good set of knives and use your hone and stones correctly to guarantee the longevity of your knives. I use my hone before every item I will cut to ensure that I will have the most even, smooth, easy cut. You can actually dull your knives if you don't hone at a downward ~45 degree angle. I only hone 4 times - two times on each side of the blade..
I'm nuts about having sharp knives. I know I got that from my mother. She'd be cooking dinner and ask me to get a knife and I'd hand it to her and she'd return it to me and say, no, another, and sometimes do that many times. When I helped cook (prep work, onions, celery, etc.) I realized the value of a sharp knife although I never understood why she didn't herself use a knife sharpener or one of my gran's nifty sharpening stones she brought with her from Europe that made everything razor sharp.

It was my dad who taught me to hone a knife because his family owned a chain of butcher shops.

I cut myself today while dicing onions and shook my head that I had the knife I wanted but underestimated its sharpness. lol
 

one2one

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It's imperative to HANG a good set of knives and use your hone and stones correctly to guarantee the longevity of your knives. I use my hone before every item I will cut to ensure that I will have the most even, smooth, easy cut. You can actually dull your knives if you don't hone at a downward ~45 degree angle. I only hone 4 times - two times on each side of the blade..
I really could use a good hone! I have a small travel one but that's it. Do you prefer a whetstone or the wand type ones? I have decent knives (almost entirely Henkles), but have never hung them. Is it that sliding them into a knife block dulls the blade?

Do you have a steamer?
Yup. Love it! I steamed beets this weekend.

I also finally found a replacement for the best wooden spoon ever. It has a squared edge for corners and a hole in the middle to create more motion. William-Sonoma has one in their open kitchen line called an angled slotted spoon. My other 'must have' for utensils is a coil whisk. The one shaped like a cone.

And Fuzzy, I checked prices on the KitchenAid and while I really want one, I may have to save a bit before I can get one. They're much more expensive than the last time I looked! I could buy furniture (OK, a chair) for that price. The yellow one is very tempting though.
 

supersoup

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Years ago when I bought my Mama her Kitchenaid, I put it on layaway! It was the only way I could afford it.

Nowadays, my must haves in the kitchen are my crock pot, several cutting boards for different purposes, and I have one of those handheld mesh metal strainers I use ALL the time. Once I bought it, I couldn't figure out how I lived without it, haha. I cook just for two, so I'm always using it to drain cans, rinse things, wash a little produce, etc. I also bought 3 sets of measuring cups and spoons at the dollar store, because I always seem to need them for wet or dry once I've used them for the opposite when cooking and baking.
 

Yakatori

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"I use my hone before... I only hone 4 times - two times on each side of..."
In New York, we literally say the word "sharpen." We call the thing that's made out of an actual stone, a "stone" or "whet-stone." The thing that looks like wand-shaped piece of steel, we call a "steel." "Hone" is not something we talk about in mixed-company.

"...and shook my head that I had the knife I wanted but underestimated its sharpness..."
Whenever I see someone cut themselves, I always, right-away, say something like "A dull-knife is more dangerous than a sharp one!" People love-it when you do that.

As for equipment, space-unlimited, I would like to have a pretty decent sized cast-iron skillet. Then, when I cook breakfast, I'll say something like "If-you-didn't-live-it, you couldn't feel-it. So, kill-it skillet!" Good for Cajun stuff as well.

A salad spinner is good to have as well. Makes it easier to thoroughly wash & dry things like fresh herbs or sandy-vegetables and what-have-you.

For cutting boards, the best thing is to have a few smaller & thin ones of a variety of colors (green for vegetables, yellow for raw-poultry, red for cooked-meats, etc..). Much easier to fit into a dishwasher then.
 
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