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             23 May, 2022

Category:  Articles » Food & Drinks » Cooking Tips


Before You Cook Anything

         Views: 1851
2008-06-03 05:39:40     
Article by Linda Spradlin

Okay, first things first, take a good long look around your kitchen. Go ahead, put the book down and look around the room. Is it a fun place to be? If it's not, then it isn't set up properly. So, before we begin cooking go find something that makes you smile, or better yet, laugh, and put it in your kitchen... Are ya done?

See, it's not such a scary place now, is it?

If my daddy taught me one thing well, it's to 'Have no fear' in the kitchen. It should be a fun place. "All you need to do is be prepared for those little oh-oh's" he told me. And yes, everyone has those little oh-oh's. He put a $20 bill under my silverware tray. As soon as he was done, he said "Okay, now you're ready, go create something." I asked him why he did that and his response was, "Now if you screw something up you can always call for delivery!"

One of my favorite lessons is, never just leave it alone. Keep tweaking a recipe until YOU think it's right.

Another is to plan your menu before you shop. For instance, Let's say there's a ten pound ham on sale at your favorite store and you buy it. With a family of four I can get at least six different meals from that one ham. Here's how;

1. Bake a glazed ham, slice it and serve it hot.

2. After dinner, cut a few ¼ inch slices from what's left. Put it in a baking pan and pour a can of pineapple, with the juice, over the ham and put it in the refrigerator. You almost have dinner ready for another night. See the Hawaiian Ham recipe.

3. Get some smaller pieces from it for Ham Tostados, Ham & Cheese pockets, or Pineapple Ham Crescents.

4. Cut some larger chunks for Ham Kabobs.

5. Use smaller pieces for a Ham and Potato Casserole or mix some in macaroni and cheese for an awesome main dish.

6. Use the tiniest pieces to sprinkle on top of a tossed salad, or make ham salad (follow tuna salad directions).

7. Save the fat to season string beans and the bone to season soup or stew.

The same idea works with a pork or beef roast. You can serve it on the first night with potatoes straight out of the crockpot. On the second night serve it sliced with mashed potatoes and gravy from the night before by adding milk and butter to the potatoes you made in the crockpot, and use the broth to make the gravy by adding a little flour and cook to thicken. Then take the rest of the leftover meat and shred it with a fork, mix it with barbecue sauce, throw it back in the crockpot to heat through to serve as barbecue sandwiches with slaw on buns. Now how cost effective is that?

Just a few more tips and you'll be armed with everything you need to know to tackle your kitchen.

• You'll consume less salt if you salt at the table instead of the stove.

• Always keep a can of milk, or box of powdered milk in the kitchen. There's nothing worse than getting halfway through a recipe that calls for milk and having none.

• Freeze all those little bits of leftover vegetables in baggies or plastic containers. Next time you make soup or a stew, pull them out to thaw, and add them to the crock pot.

• Crumble up the last of the bread, even the heel, and store it in a baggie in the freezer. The next time you make something that calls for bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or sometimes even flour, pull out the bread crumbs and use them instead. If you have an abundance of leftover bread crumbs, throw together some homemade stuffing to use them up.

• Okay, everyone's favorite; cutting up vegetables. Let's say for instance you are slicing onions for a submarine sandwich on Monday, right now, while you have the knife in your hand and the chopping block on the counter, go ahead and chop onions for the tuna salad you planned to have on Wednesday. You'll save yourself a ton of time and effort.

Well, I think you're ready to go into the kitchen and try some of what you've learned. Once you try a few things you'll get the hang of it. The main thing to remember is to have fun! Besides, you've always got that $20 under the silverware tray, don't you?

My name is Linda Spradlin, I'm a mother of five and grandmother to three. I have spent many years in the kitchen, and I've created many child pleasing recipes. I give cooking classes in my home to new cooks in the Richmond, VA area. Thanks to my dad I love to cook and nothing pleases me more than to hear compliments on my creations.

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