6 months ago
11 Cooking Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier
Quick, easy and tasty (and dollops of parenting around food).
My wife and mom are both great mothers. They're super-efficient planners. They soak and ferment food. My 104-year-old grandfather loved fermented foods.
When I'm hungry and need something fast, I waffle to the pantry. Like most people, I like to improvise. I wish I knew these 11 hacks sooner.
1. The world's best pasta sauce only has 3 ingredients.
You watch recipe videos with prepped ingredients. In reality, prepping and washing take time. The food's taste isn't guaranteed. The raw truth at a sublime level is not talked about often.
Sometimes a radical recipe comes along that's so easy and tasty, you're dumbfounded. The Classic Italian Cook Book has a pasta recipe.
One 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, one medium peeled onion, and 5 tablespoons of butter. And salt to taste.
Combine everything in a single pot and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Toss the onion halves after 45 minutes and pour the sauce over pasta. Finish!
This simple recipe fights our deepest fears.
Salt to taste! Customized to perfection, no frills.
2. Reheating rice with ice. Magical.
Most of the world eats rice. I was raised in south India. My grandfather farmed rice in the Cauvery river delta.
The problem with rice With growing kids, you can't cook just enough. Leftovers are a norm. Microwaves help most people. Ice cubes are the frosting.
Before reheating rice in the microwave, add an ice cube. The ice will steam the rice, making it fluffy and delicious again.
3. Pineapple leaf
if it comes off easy, it is ripe enough to cut. No rethinking.
My daughter loves pineapples like her dad. One daddy task is cutting them. Sharing immediate results is therapeutic.
Timing the cut has been the most annoying part over the years. The pineapple leaf tip reveals the fruitiness inside. Always loved it.
4. Magic knife words (rolling and curling)
Cutting hand: Roll the blade's back, not its tip, to cut.
Other hand: If you can’t see your finger tips, you can’t cut them. So curl your fingers.
I dislike that schools don't teach financial literacy or cutting skills.
My wife and I used scissors differently for 25 years. We both used the thumb. My index finger, her middle. We googled the difference when I noticed it and laughed. She's right.
This video teaches knifing skills:
5. Best advice about heat
If it's done in the pan, it's overdone on the plate.
This simple advice stands out when we worry about ingredients and proportions.
6. The truth about pasta water
Pasta water should be sea-salty.
Properly seasoning food separates good from great. Salt depends is a good line.
Want delicious pasta? Well, then kind of a lot, to be perfectly honest.
7. Clean as you go
Clean blender as you go by blending water and dish soap.
I find clean as you go easier than clean afterwords. This easy tip is gold.
8. Clean as you go (bis)
Microwave a bowl of water, vinegar, and a toothpick for 5 minutes.
2 cups water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and a toothpick to prevent overflow.
5-minute microwave. Let the steam work for another 2 minutes. Sponge-off dirt and food. Simple.
9 and 10. Tools,tools, tools
Immersion blender and pressure cooker save time and money.
Narrative: I experienced fatherly pride. My middle-schooler loves science. We discussed boiling. I spoke. Water doesn't need 100°C to boil. She looked confused. 100 degrees assume something. The world around the water is a normal room. Changing water pressure affects its boiling point. This saves energy. Pressure cooker magic.
I captivated her. She's into science and sustainable living.
Whistling is a subliminal form of self-expression when done right. Pressure cookers remind me of simple pleasures.
Your handiness depends on your home tools. Immersion blenders are great for pre- and post-cooking. It eliminates chopping and washing. Second to the dishwasher, in my opinion.
11. One pepper is plenty
A story I share with my daughters.
Once, everyone thought about spice (not spicy). More valuable than silk. One of the three mighty oceans was named after a source country. Columbus sailed the wrong way and found America. The explorer called the natives after reaching his spice destination.
It was pre-internet days. His Google wasn't working.
My younger daughter listens in awe. Strong roots. Image cast. She can contextualize one of the ocean names.
I struggle with spices in daily life. Combinations are mind-boggling. I have more spices than Columbus. Flavor explosion has repercussions. You must closely follow the recipe without guarantees. Best aha. Double down on one spice and move on. If you like it, it's great.
I naturally gravitate towards cumin soups, fennel dishes, mint rice, oregano pasta, basil thai curry and cardamom pudding.
Variety enhances life. Each of my dishes is unique.
To each their own comfort food and nostalgic memories.