Pop quiz: what ingredient do you use most often?  Onions?  Pasta?  Salt?  I have a feeling it’s probably oil; olive, peanut, take your pick.  There is rarely a recipe in one’s repertoire that doesn’t pair heat with oil (I suppose baking is the most notable excepting with butter taking the crown).  Oh, oil, how we love you.

Working with cooking oil isn’t a particularly complex area of the cooking process.  Sautéing, roasting; it’s all just lubrication with a subtle touch of taste.  I do feel a little constrained at times when I want to do something with finer control.  Ever see those purtty photographs of soup with the broken circle of oil on top?  Or maybe you just want to throw some veggies on a baking pan, coat them a little and roast.  I have a difficult time getting an even spread with the bottle it comes in (especially if it’s a large one), so I moved my olive oil to a squeeze bottle.  The smaller spout and squeeze-ness (technical term, for reals) allows me much more control.

I used a frosting bottle leftover from a Drop In & Decorate event I hosted, but any kind would work; one of those condiment bottles you’d find at most restaurants, for example.  Just be sure there’s a tight seal or you’ll find yourself with an oily mess.  Of course, there’s also dressing bottles, but I prefer to use that just for my really good olive oil.

One that really drives up the Edwin-Annoyance factor in the kitchen is when my cutting board won’t hold still. Not only is it annoying (return to me!), but it’s also unsafe. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to this. If you find your cutting board slipping, simply put a damp towel under it. This can be a paper towel or a regular cloth dish towel you most likely have in the kitchen. This will ensure you a more satisfying and safe cutting experience.

Prevent Your Cutting Board From Slipping

Kitchen Tips – Save Those Burnt Cookies!

It’s that time of year again: the holidays!  Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, BAKE-A-THON….  The smell of baked goods is in the air!  Few things suck more than taking a fresh batch of cookies out of the oven only to discover, *gasp*, the cookies are burnt!  (funny story, my mom use to always burn the biscuits ever so slightly so we called it her Trademark.  she did not appreciate that as much as the rest of the family)

The artistic side of burning sadness.

The artistic side of burning sadness.

Fear not, loyal readers, DinnerCakes is here for you with today’s Kitchen Tip.  All you need to remedy this terrible tragedy is a microplane grater and faith.  For cookies that are only slightly burnt or simply over browned you can gently grate away all that bad stuff.  This works best with your non-chunky cookies (like sugar), but is always worth a shot.

Ok, these probably can't be saved

Ok, these probably can't be saved

There, you are now ready for the all that the holidays can throw at you (ha!).  Go forth and bake!

Kitchen Tips – No More Peeling Potatoes!

So this video is a little silly, but the tip within it is a fantastic time-saver. I was shown this video over the Thanksgiving holiday (yep, after I’d peeled all those potatoes). I haven’t had a chance to try it myself yet, but I am looking forward to it. Have any of you tried this before?

Kitchen Tips – Preventing That Garlic From Sticking

Garlic can be a bit annoying to work with at times when trying to mince it.  The darn stuff just sticks to everything, regardless of the kind of knife you have.  One nice trick that I’ve come across to help against this is to add a drop or two of oil to the cloves to coat it.  This will keep it from sticking to both your hands and your knife.

Kitchen Tips – Prevent Waste Through Stocks

A couple weeks ago I talked about making your own stock as a cheaper and more flavorful alternative to buying it.  Hänni made a great comment I failed to touch on in that post: using scraps or older vegetables as stock ingredients.  When you’re cutting your carrots or your onion or whatever you usually trim stuff off and those trimmings usually end up in the trash.  Older vegetables past their prime often end up in the same destination.  Such waste!  It’s sad, you say, but cannot be avoided.

I’m here to tell you that there are many ways to reduce your waste and one of of my most cherished methods is through making stock.  Carrots don’t need to be crisp, potatoes don’t have to be firm without sprouts; because all you’re really doing is sucking all the precious flavor you can out of them and tossing them out!  Clearly, you have judge what is suitable for stock and what is beyond saving and Barbara of over at Tigers and Strawberries has a great post on this with guidelines to follow (be sure to check out her other articles on food preservation as well).

So next time you’re about throw that vegetable away, ask yourself if would make a tasty addition to a well made stock.