Many 2015 New Year’s resolutions revolve around ways to get healthier, save money, or learn new things. Cooking more at home and eating out less can be a step to all those goals. In one of my recent Fresh & Local newspaper columns I shared a few kitchen tips and tricks to help you cut clean up time, waste less food, and make cooking more fun.
Do you plan to do more cooking in 2015 than you did in 2014? How is that resolution going so far?
I’ve been rereading Michael Ruhlman's books lately. In Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto, the first technique he recommends you learn to be a good cook is THINK. He asks his readers to stop and think as they step into the kitchen. This is a great way to reduce the stress of meal preparation.
Run through what you want to do in your mind. Make sure you have all the ingredients for your recipe. Get your equipment out and prepare everything you’ll need for the actual cooking.
In professional kitchens, this is called “mise en place.” It’s the reason a restaurant can pump out hundreds of great meals in a few hours and why a great cook can coordinate a meal so that everything is ready at the same time.
If you don’t use the food you buy, let it spoil, and then throw it out, you won’t save money by cooking at home.
To cut food waste, take the THINK technique one more step backwards. Before you decide what to make or compile your shopping list, check your refrigerator and pantry. What do you already have on hand? What needs to be used before it becomes food waste? Do you have space in your refrigerator or freezer to store leftovers if you make a big batch of something?
I find cooking very relaxing. With a tiny kitchen, I have to do a lot of thinking and planning to get a meal together. And, the small space forces me to clean as I go so I don't have a ton of clean up at the end of a cooking session. I'm also blessed with a husband who actually says, "You cooked it, I'll clean up," after a meal.
So far, I'm doing just about as much cooking in 2015 as I did in 2014. Here's hoping you find yourself enjoying your time in the kitchen a bit more with this THINK tip and technique.
Oh, and about Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto, I highly recommend it to cooks at all levels of experience.
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Words: Penny Cherubino from her Fresh & Local Newspaper column
Photos: ©2010-2014 Penny & Ed Cherubino