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12 Seemingly Obvious Yet Deceptively Subtle Cooking Hacks To Improve Your Culinary Experience

12 Seemingly Obvious Yet Deceptively Subtle Cooking Hacks To Improve Your Culinary Experience

I am a foodie. I take that as a prized trait. Additionally, I am a self-taught and enthusiastic home cook. Cooking great-tasting food and serving it among family and guests is my passion.

I often experiment with different cooking styles in the kitchen in order to hasten the cooking time up and create new and exciting tastes. Often, I fail as a result of using the wrong combinations of condiments and the end results are certainly not prize-winning.

With my elementary knowledge of the science and magic of cooking, I present to you 12 seemingly obvious yet deceptively subtle cooking hacks to improve your culinary experience.

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1. Wet your hands before removing stray eggshell pieces.

Be it cooking a crispy omelette or a healthy egg salad sandwich, eggs are a prime ingredient. But stray shell bits floating in the scrambling bowl interfere with the taste and texture of the dish being cooked. Additionally, picking them out and throwing them away is somewhat nasty as we need to face the sliminess and gooeyness of the eggs. As a solution, I came up with this simple hack: wet your hand before cracking the egg. The water attracts any stray pieces of cracked shell to your hand and voila, your mixture remains shell-free.

2. Avoid brown bananas and avocados.

Banana and avocado are my favorite fruits, and banana muffins and dark chocolate avocado cookies are my best fruity products. But an avocado browns pretty quickly after cutting, while storing bananas leads to a brownish hue real quick. The reason behind the browning is the ethylene gas released from the stem. Storing the cut half of the avocado in an airtight container with freshly cut onion pieces solves the avocado problem, while wrapping up the stem of the banana with polythene is a cure for brown bananas.

3. Go green.

Should you have an attachment to greens like I do, spinach is the perfect ingredient. Freshly chopped spinach or the whole leaf ground in your mixture can add a greenish finish to any pale-looking mushroom soup or dead-beat chutney. The spinach mix has little-to-no effect on flavor or texture. This also works well with smoothies, sauces, and other soups.

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4. Put a lime in the cavity.

Chicken is one of the most popular meats in the world, yet it is a bit tricky to cook it well. Chicken can be tough, leathery, and dry if you don’t bother to tenderize it prior to cooking. Before roasting a whole chicken, inserting a lime wedge in the cavity will steam the meat from the inside out to make it more succulent.

5. Put a lid on it.

Water in various temperatures — hot, lukewarm, to cool— is required in the kitchen. Try using a lid to boil a pan of water quicker. It seems trivial, but it’s something we often forget. This technique can mean food is cooked 5 to 6 minutes earlier, so it’s the best tip for winning a rapid-fire cooking competition.

6. Spice up your boring sauce.

Homemade or store-bought sauces can be made silkier and smoother by adding really cold butter. Only cold butter will do as it will melt down slowly, allowing it to mix intimately with the sauce without separation. Also, a sautéed vegetable mix with minced meat cooked in assorted spices like thyme, oregano, basil, or even a small pinch of red pepper flakes will beautify your home sauce-making craft.

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7. Salt can be sweet.

Salt is not just a taste to be abhorred by those with heart conditions. It can also be a flavour extractor. If you ever try a low-sodium diet, you’ll quickly realize that salt is hidden in almost everything we go to eat. That said, adding a pinch of salt to sweet food can help to bring out hidden flavours. Try it in caramel — you won’t regret it.

8. Ninja technique for cutting tomatoes.

Need to cut a large amount of tomatoes in a small amount of time? Doing one at a time can take way too long. The squirting of tomato juice is one thing to contend with, while the danger of cutting of your finger is another. A safer and quicker technique includes taking two identically shaped plates and placing the tomatoes on one of them. Next, take the other plate, turn it upside down, and place it on the top. Then, hold the knife and run it in between the gap between the plates with one hand while the other hand is placed on the covering plate. Take the plate off and you’ll have your cut tomatoes.

9. Clean and clear pan flipping.

We’ve all seen cooks who effortlessly flip or toss their frying pan contents with a flick of the wrist. This technique requires some hand finesse. Before tossing the contents, you’ll need to make sure the food is cooked thoroughly on the underside by ensuring that it slides smoothly on the pan. Then, you need to push the pan away from you and flick it with your wrist so that the food slides on the back of the pan and over. A word of caution — there should be little or no oil in the pan as you don’t want it to splash out and burn you!

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10. Blend it up.

You should really learn to master the skill of blending. Though it may seem to not carry too much importance, food processing plays a big part in cooking. Learn the small details behind the use of blenders, mixers, and food processors. Using them for specific purposes helps to highlight culinary subtleties.

11. Quicken ripening.

Putting your fruit in a loosely closed paper bag traps the ethylene gas inside and accelerates ripening. However, you’ll need to make sure that the bag is not too tightly sealed. Using a plastic bag can also be an alternative to paper bags, however if you trap too much moisture, mold may grow. If you really want to ripen things in a hurry, put an apple in the bag with your other fruit. Apples produce a lot of ethylene gas and will lead to ripened fruit in no time.

12. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

As trivial it may sound, not having a clean kitchen is one of the biggest mistakes a chef can make when it comes to cooking food. Your cooking area should be neat and clean before starting and after finishing. Little the litter, and the more organized you appear.

Bon appétit!

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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