I’ve been cooking for over 55 years. Through research, trial and error, I’ve picked up some useful cooking tips. And, today I wish to share them with you in hopes of making life a little less hectic.

I love cooking with garlic. Garlic has many health benefits, and I love it’s taste. The problem with fresh garlic is peeling it. It can be a tedious and time consuming task. Some people like to take the flat surface of a knife and crush the individual clove, then peel. I’ve found a faster and easier way. Separate the cloves, place on a microwave safe plate, in a single layer, zap for 10-15 seconds. Let the cloves cool, once cooled the shell or covering comes off very easily. The zapping in the microwave will not damage the garlic in anyway.

The art of peeling and slicing onions. Slicing onions can feel like an all out assault on our eyes causing a deluge of tears. The solution, put the onions in ice cold water for 10 minutes before cutting to prevent watery eyes. I sometimes peel my onions while still in the water, then take them out and slice. This method works quite well doing either a small or large amount of onions. Give this method a try, you will not be disappointed.

Rinse your rice before cooking. Most types of rice have a layer of starch outside of each piece. If you don’t rinse it, the rice might not absorb water properly. Some of the starches can also make the rice taste bitter. You can also drop a teaspoon of coconut oil into your boiling pot of water before cooking your rice. Researchers from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka say that the rice will have 10 times the resistant starch (a good thing, it slows down rapid digestion) and stays this way even as a leftover.

Add salt and oil to boiling pasta water. The salt will season the pasta, while the oil will keep them from sticking together.

When you salt is as important as how much you salt. Season chicken, pork, and turkey up to eight hours before cooking. The salt will penetrate the meat fully and yield juicier, more fully seasoned results. But, with burgers, season seconds before cooking otherwise, the salt will break down the protein strands and create tougher patties. Too much salt? Use a splash of vinegar to provide a counterbalancing punch of acid.

Always slice your meat against the grain, this will keep your meat flavorful and tender, not chewy.

Do not slice into meat right after it finishes cooking, precious juices will escape. Wait five minutes before biting into burgers or grilled chicken, seven minutes before cutting into steaks, and 15 minutes before carving a large roast. This will ensure the majority of the juices and flavor will remain intact.

Steaks need to warm up before cooking. If you’ve invested the dollars to buy a beautifully marbled steak you want to cook it so it turns out to be a masterpiece. So, never send it straight to the grill from the fridge. You need to let it warm up before you grill it. Let all steaks, chickens, and pork chops rest at room temperature at lease 15 minutes before putting them on a grill or skillet. This warm-up period will help the muscles relax so the steak cooks more evenly. When you’ve finished with the grill, remove the meat and put it on a plate to rest once again. the resting period will help juices and liquid fat in the meat stop moving so you can cut into it without all the good stuff oozing out.

Have you ever had a problem with your produce wilting? If so, drop your aging produce into ice water before cooking. Plants wilt due to water loss, ice water penetrates  their cells to restore crispness.

Zap lemons, oranges, or limes for 15 seconds in the microwave before squeezing them. The fruit will yield twice as much juice.

Sprinkle flour on your bacon to reduce grease splatters. It’ll also make your bacon extra crispy.

Have you ever wanted to rescue tough stale cookies, but didn’t know how? Simply place the cookies in a container with a fresh piece of soft bread. The cookies will soak up the bread’s moisture in no time.

Avocado turns brown wickedly fast once cut. Is there anyway we can slow down the oxidation process (browning)? Once cut, leave the avocado pit in place, wrap it in plastic, and slip it in the fridge. When you’re ready to use it, remove the fruit from the fridge, let it come to room temperature, and then remove the pit. The pit can stop some oxygen from reaching the flesh of the fruit, which will slow browning.

Cooking can be quick, but when it requires time, you need to let it happen. Let pans heat up properly before you add oil. Let oil heat up properly before you add food. Let food sit and brown evenly before you flip. You won’t regret the time it takes when you see that delicious brown crust or charred bits, but you can’t recreate it once you’ve rushed the process.

I hope these tidbits can help you in your quest to create some memorable moments in the kitchen. Why not make it a family affair to remember for years to come? This is one way to really strengthen the family bonds. I look forward to talking again soon, stay safe and well.

Dave