Cooking Tips

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This page is intended for the beginner cook, but even an experienced cook might find something new. Feel free to jump in with a comment or suggestion.

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  1. Here’s my basic, best beginner tip. How do you know when food is cooked? Well you can’t, unless you know what it’s like when it’s raw. Acquaint yourself with your food. Cooking is a very sensory experience, so use all the senses at your disposal. For example, when you pick up a raw potato, what does it look like? Taste like? Smell like? Feel like? What does it sound like when you cut it? Then cook it, even if you just boil it through, and repeat the sense tests. Over time, this becomes second nature, and you won’t need to think about it. But using all your senses when you cook is a big part of cooking well.
  2. Do not put wet ingredients into hot oil. It will splash and sputter and can burn you.
  3. To check if oil is hot enough, add a little cumin seed, onion, or mustard seed to the oil. Or any other dry ingredient. When it starts to sputter and bubble, the oil is hot. Unless you need the oil to be boiling hot, I usually turn it down to medium at this point so my food doesn’t burn.
  4. If you burn methi seeds (fenugreek seeds) or garlic, they smell so bad you’d be better off throwing it all out and starting again.
  5. Use a microwave for steaming vegetables. It’s fast and doesn’t take up room on the stovetop.
  6. Hard anodized is better than Teflon. You can also use steel cooking spoons with a hard anodized cooking pot.
  7. Keep your knives sharp. You are more likely to cut yourself on a dull knife. When cutting vegetables, try to hold them so your nails face the knife. That way, if the knife slips, it will come down on the flat of your nails rather than go through your finger.
  8. When cooking pasta, add a little bit of oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking.