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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 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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