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Mastering Pasta: How To Make It Perfect And Delicious, Every Single Time

Mastering Pasta: How To Make It Perfect And Delicious, Every Single Time

Boy, do I love pasta. I’m capable of eating it every day for the rest of my life. Thank you, Italians, for making my life so much better. Gourmands know how a fantastic meal changes the perspective of life. When you want to see a real passion and greatness, you should watch an Italian chef preparing the signature pasta meal. And when you see that end result…

mastering pasta - amazing meal

    Oh, my mouth is watering. I bet you’ve had moments like these; you watch the latest episode of your favorite cooking show, or see some amazing recipes on your favorite site, and you start to crave for that deliciousness. Is there a better way of experiencing it than making it at your home? Of course not.

    Why wasting any more precious moments when you can start right now? Just throw some pasta into the boiling water, prepare that sauce and ingredients, mix them all together, and you’re ready for the evening full of extravagant taste, luscious sensations, and praising experience of a perfect meal. Life is great when we have fabulous food.

    But the reality is, unfortunately, a little different. We prepare pasta for hundreds of years. Occasionally, our pasta meals turn out great. But most of the time, not so much. Everyone who loves a good pasta would agree that a failed attempt at a new gorgeous recipe is something dreadful. What are your worst pasta-making experiences? Sticky, gummy pasta, tasteless, or overcooked? Why do we fail to create a perfectly cooked, flavored and garnished pasta?

      What’s there to know and do to make it perfect every single time? We dive into this problem today. Stick around to find out how to make a perfect, delicious pasta every single time. No more failed attempts, no more disappointed guests, no more food in the dumpster. It’s time for you to master the pasta.

      Most Common Problems And How To Solve Them

      One might wonder: “How is it possible to fail in preparing pasta when it seems so simple and straightforward to create it?”

      Well, it does look like that, but the problem isn’t in the concept. Simple on paper doesn’t have to be simple in real life. After some research and careful examination, we got to the core of the problem. Here’s what affects failure in preparing pasta the most:

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      Water-related mistakes

      For a perfectly cooked pasta, you need a lot of boiling water, with a sizable amount of salt, and no oil. People tend to make mistakes in all of these three areas. Let’s break it down:

      Not enough water

        Either a small pot or a just plain ignorance are the most common reasons for this error. All gourmets around the world would curse your name if they knew that you cook your pasta without much water. Pasta needs space to move in the pot, and it cooks in the boiling water. It needs to absorb the water, and a very high temperature stimulates this effect. More water equals higher temperature, but it takes some patience. That’s one of the first steps in creating a perfect pasta.

        Adding Salt

          Here’s a mistake that people oversee often. Adding salt is imperative, simply because pasta needs it to have a flavor. It’s a common misconception that sauce is the only thing that adds a flavor to the pasta. Next, salt enhances the heat in the water, bringing it to a boil quicker, and reaching higher temperature as well. For a perfectly-cooked pasta, you need one gallon of water and three tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta.

          Adding Oil

          Many people add oils into the water alongside salt, to prevent the pasta from sticking. This is so unnecessary. There are claims that it will make your pasta softer, and help bonding with the sauce. There is some truth in here, but you need it in another place – stick with us to find out where. You don’t need any oil in your pasta while preparing or cooking. Additionally, oil will make it slippery, which will degrade the bonding when adding sauce. Please don’t add the oil into the water.

          The Process-Related Mistakes

          While the water-related mistakes tend to cover most of the stuff we do wrong, it turns out that we have some errors during the cooking itself.

          Stirring

            Some people forget about stirring, and leave the pasta to cook while they chill out, or prepare the sauce. No-No. If you don’t stir your pasta consistently, you’ll get a clumpy, sticky mess. Some of it will be edible, while all other will be stuck together in large lumps. Pasta needs to move in the pot to prevent this problem. Use the pasta utensil; those are perfectly made for this situation. Remember, the first few minutes are crucial in making pasta that won’t stick. Later during the cooking, you don’t have to stir all time – an occasional stir will be enough.

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            Timing

            The first mistake to mention here is putting pasta in the water before it boils. Combined with the small-amount-of-water mistake, this one almost guarantees for a sticky pasta that feels like gum. Wait for the full, rapid boil, which won’t get lowered when you add the pasta. This will prevent lumps, as the surface of the pasta contains starch which reacts to boiling water the best. When you add the pasta to the water, starch absorbs a lot of heat, lowering the temperature. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a lot of water and to be patient for the full rolling oil. Also, breaking the pasta won’t make it cook faster or better. Don’t do that, please.

            mastering pasta - timing

              Next, we must speak about the actual timing of the cooking. Pasta needs to spend several minutes in boiling water to be cooked well. There are three variations of cooked pasta that you need to consider:

              • Al Dente
              • Soft
              • Firm

              The taste of each is different, and it’s required for a different type of meals. Soft and firm are self-explanatory, while al dente (“To the tooth” in Italian) is the stage of cooking when you have the softness of the pasta, but some tasty structure inside as well. To reach this stage, you need to observe the packaging of your pasta, boil it for the 2/3’s of the recommended time, and then turn the heat off and let it stay for the remaining 1/3rd. Add a cup of cold water when the timer ticks zero to prevent further boiling. (Yeah, it’s a very good thing to have a timer.)

              Hitting the perfect al dente pasta requires precise timing and immediate action. The best way to know if you’ve hit al dente is to try the pasta yourself. This is one of the first rules of cooking. Try the food you’re preparing.

              Draining the pasta

                When you’ve reached that perfect texture, drain your pasta from water. People tend to do this while washing the pasta with cold water. A terrible mistake. By doing this, your pasta will lose the warmth and texture a lot and turn gummy and tasteless. Don’t do this. Instead, just drain the pasta from the cooking water, and get ready to mix it with the sauce.

                Sauce-related mistakes

                Making sauce is a very important part of pasta. Many problems might occur while making a sauce, and we’re here to demystify them so you can avoid mistakes.

                Making a sauce

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                  When making a sauce to match your pasta, you need to have several factors in mind:

                  • Not every sauce mixes well with every type of pasta
                  • Timing
                  • Ingredients
                  • The process

                  Since there is a lot of different kinds of pasta, you need to know which sauce goes well with the type you’re preparing. Spaghetti, for example, are going well with meatballs, or with sauces with ground meat inside, like bolognese. Each type of pasta has the perfect sauce, and each type of pasta has the worst sauce to blend with. The experience will guide you through the decision-making process, as you can experiment with the different types of pasta and sauces. Don’t be afraid to fail.

                  When talking about timing, you need to know that sauce usually takes a bit more time than pasta, so if you’re not a skilled chef, make your sauce first and then start to cook the pasta. This is important especially when you’re preparing thicker, more difficult sauces that require more practice and knowledge. Like Alfredo sauce, for example. Alfredo fettuccine is one of my favorite pasta meals. And to master the Alfredo sauce, you need to know the bits of cooking that you can learn by reading and practicing.

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                    Ingredients are important at both sides of the meal – pasta and sauce. When making a sauce, always go for fresh ingredients that will bond with each other perfectly as well as bond with the pasta itself. Don’t compromise on ingredients – even one bad ingredient can make a mess out of your perfect meal.

                    The process of making the sauce also needs to be perfect. You have to develop the best way of preparing it, both in effectiveness, timing, and the final outcome. Your sauce has to be perfect in taste, and texture, all according to the recipe you are using. Honestly, this comes with the experience. Your first-time sauce won’t be as perfect as one you see on the TV, and this is a fact. Still, it doesn’t have to frighten you; practice makes perfect, this goes for everything in life.

                    Mixing the sauce with pasta & serving

                    This is the phase of the preparation where you need to be careful, quick, and savvy. You have to be prepared and ready; this means having the sauce ready and warm, and al dente pasta ready for drying with a cup of water where pasta was cooked saved. (Yes, this is a pro tip – save one cup of that water)

                    This process is straightforward, and it goes like this:

                    1. Drain the pasta from water – (never rinse it)
                    2. Have the pan with sauce simmering and ready (your pasta shouldn’t wait for sauce to be cooked, it has to be synchronized)

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                      3. Put the pasta into the sauce pan – not the other way around
                      4. Add a bit of olive oil (or regular oil) and the saved cooking water to the mix
                      5. Stir the mass to coat the pasta completely (do this for full two minutes on high heat, this will allow the pasta and sauce to bond better)
                      6. Serve the pasta with tongs and garnish

                        All of the steps shouldn’t take longer than two minutes each. Remember to have the elements ready before the assembling begins; with everything prepared, you’ll streamline the process which will make no room for error.

                        Enhancing your pasta

                        We don’t have the ability to cook like professional chefs. But we all have an opportunity to learn and use the knowledge. Enhancing your meals with simple tricks and practices will bring them (and your cooking) to another level. When you use these tricks, prepare for some loud praises when you serve your pasta to your guests.

                        • If you want al dente, pull the pasta out of the water before it reaches this state. Your pasta must simmer with sauce on a high heat for two minutes; that’s when you want it to hit al dente level.
                        • Make your sauce a bit more oily than it should be. Pasta will absorb the oil, and it will add the richness to the taste. To achieve this rich taste, many add butter or olive oil at the end, which is also advisable, but the former way is much more efficient because you’ll simmer only for two minutes; adding cold butter or olive oil won’t enhance the bonding like hot oil already in the sauce.
                        • Salty water from cooking is good, but just in some sauces. Keeping a cup of cooking water is really important and good advice. But if you’re making salty sauces, you don’t need that water, especially if you use the previous tip.
                        • If possible, try to get homemade pasta. Bear in mind that this type of pasta cooks for a shorter time than regular one. Still, the difference in taste and quality is enormous.
                        • Add some spices in the pasta while you cook it. When adding pasta to boiling water, stir in some spices and cook the pasta regularly. It will enhance the taste of the pasta significantly.
                        • Garnishing adds the final (very significant) touch. A small, yet important touch will make your pasta taste and look amazing. Be sure to add it on top, depending on the recipe.

                        Having a perfectly made pasta is an out-of-this-world experience.

                        And with the tips learned from this article, you can make it at your home, every single time. It won’t take you long to start making incredible meals with pasta, and everybody you serve will notice that.

                        One last advice: Prepare to be called “The Pasta Master.”

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                        Dejan Kvrgic

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                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                        Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                        Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                        I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                        You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                        Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                        When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                        I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                        Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                        Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                        Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                        1. The Inner Critic

                        This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                        • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                        • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                        • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                        • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                        He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                        Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                        2. The Worrier

                        This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                        He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                        Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                        3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                        He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                        He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                        He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                        4. The Sleep Depriver

                        This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                        His motivation can be:

                        • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                        • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                        • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                        • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                        How can you control these squatters?

                        How to Master Your Mind

                        You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                        Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                        There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                        • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                        • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                        This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                        The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                        Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                        For the Inner Critic

                        When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                        You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                        For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                        You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                        “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                        If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                        • He riles up the Worrier.
                        • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                        • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                        • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                        • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                        Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                        Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                        For the Worrier

                        Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                        Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                        You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                        • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                        • Muscles tense

                        Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                        If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                        Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                        “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                        Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                        If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                        Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                        Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                        For example:

                        If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                        “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                        Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                        “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                        Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                        For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                        Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                        The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                        • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                        • Muscles tension

                        I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                        Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                        Breathe in through your nose:

                        • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                        • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                        • Focus on your belly rising.

                        Breathe out through your nose:

                        • Feel your lungs emptying.
                        • Focus on your belly falling.
                        • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                        Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                        Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                        One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                        Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                        For the Sleep Depriver

                        (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                        I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                        Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                        1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                        2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                        When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                        From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                        For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                        If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                        You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                        • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                        • Shut down your thinking.
                        • Calm your feelings.
                        • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                        Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                        Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                        You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                        Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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