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By Rebecca Fending
Cooking and baking can be a chore for the majority of us. Whether you hate having to cook or you hate the dishes that come with it, there’s hope for you. From mess ups to saving yourself time to preserving ingredients, kitchen tricks can bring your skills from zero to hero in no time. Here’s your guide to easy and life-saving kitchen tricks.
Be a Better Baker
Baking can be intimidating simply because it seems to have a scientific aspect to it (does anyone not measure out the baking soda or powder to a T?). Baking isn’t like cooking where you can add extra butter or garlic and it always turns out just fine. Adding too much flour to your cookies can make them dense and flavorless. So, what are some kitchen tricks you can use to make the most of your time baking?
- Get the Shell Out: Every one of us has managed to crack an egg so poorly that fragments of the shell are now swimming in the bowl. But fishing the shards out? Nearly impossible; the shell bits always seem to swim away from your fingers before you can complete the rescue mission. So, here’s what you do: run your fingers under the tap and get them wet before diving. The water creates a membrane that repels the gooey egg white, making it easy for you to save your brownies.
- A Better (and Simpler) Buttermilk: It’s no secret that adding buttermilk to your cakes is one of the kitchen tricks that can create that soft and moist texture that you normally only get from a professional bakery. However, keeping buttermilk on hand is pretty uncommon for most people. Instead, you can use watered down Greek yogurt in its place. Whisk together 3/4 cup yogurt with 1/4 cup of water to create an equivalent 1 cup buttermilk for your recipe.
- Bag It Up: Are you looking to experiment with cake decorating? Piping icing can not only be difficult when filling up the bag, but all the tips and necessary attachments can cost you a small fortune. One of the most useful kitchen tricks to add to your arsenal is to use a resealable bag and snip one of the lower corners for piping. To fill the bag, place it in a bowl or glass that is tall enough for the bag to be extended. Pull the open top of the bag over the edges of the bowl or glass and pour or spoon the icing into the bag. Viola!
Kiss the Cook
With cooking, there’s a bit more leeway in terms of measurements and techniques. Are you a garlic lover? Add another clove! Trying to cut back on sodium? Add more spices to offset the missing salt. Whether you’re wanting to find quicker solutions to creating delicious dinners or you’re looking to make your time in the kitchen easier, these kitchen tips are for you:
- Freeze, Herbs!: An easy way to pre-measure your herbs and oil for any dish is by freezing them together in an ice cube tray. Chop or tear your herb(s) and sprinkle your designated amount into the bottom of the cube departments. Pour your oil (olive oil typically works best) into the cubes and place the tray into your freezer. Consider covering your tray to ensure that the cubes don’t contract freezer burn. Not only does this “hack” make cooking and seasoning a breeze, but it also allows for the herbs to diffuse into the olive oil the longer it sits.
- Make Flaky Fish Easy: Do you struggle with cooking or grilling fish? Maybe the fillets stick to your pan or grill and end up shredding, or you can’t balance the flavors right. Both of these common fish issues (“fish-ues”, if you will) can be solved by placing lemon slices under the fish piece as it you fry it, bake it, or grill it. The lemon helps keep the fillet moist with light citrus zest, as well as eliminates the risk of shredding the fish once it’s finished cooking.
- Raise Your Bread from the Dead: We’ve all had a run-in with prematurely stale bread; you go to cut yourself a slice and discover that someone’s replaced your crusty Italian loaf with a styrofoam block. Here’s the easy fix: first, heat your oven to 350 degrees. Next, run your loaf under running water until just damp- do not soak it. Place the damp loaf on a baking sheet and “bake” for about 10 minutes, give or take depending on your loaf size. Viola! “Fresh” bread.
With these new kitchen tips for baking and cooking, you’re sure to dazzle your dinner guests and save yourself a whole lot of hassle. Start making your time in the kitchen easier this spring and say goodbye to wrestling with your kitchen foes and woes. Good luck and good cooking!