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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 February 18, 2019

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

Why is this so critically important to you?

The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

  • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
  • The man facing the judge.
  • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
  • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
  • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
  • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

2. Accept Your Fear

Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

And here’s what can be done.

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3. Get Some Perspective

I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

  • Are you really at risk?
  • Will this kill you?
  • Which leads us on to..
  • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

4. Hold a Hand

As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

Ask yourself:

  • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
  • Could that really happen?
  • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
  • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

8. Assume the Worse

If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

  • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
  • Think about how they feel about champagne?
  • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

11. Go with Fear

When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

13. Own Your Fear

Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

More Resources About Fighting Fear

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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