I think maybe I need to make this a regular series, “Things I should already know by now but somehow I’m just discovering and thinking about what an idiot I am for not knowing them a long time ago….. in the kitchen.”
Let’s see, what have I learned lately…
*Oh! A meat thermometer is a WONDERFUL invention! We’ve had one for years, we probably got it almost 6 years ago for our wedding, but for some reason I thought it was broken. Probably because I stuck it in something for .2 seconds and the needle didn’t go flying around so I thought it didn’t work. Previous to the meat thermometer, I have had bad experiences with cooking roasts or chickens or something that needs to cook for a long time to a certain doneness. I would stick it in for awhile, pull it out and cut into it to see how done it was, cook it for awhile longer, cut again…. it was a doomed process that resulted in the meat being practically shredded by the time it was done. (which was always way longer than I thought it would be.) So then I thought I’d try the meat thermometer again… so I’d pull the meat out and stick the thermometer in, take it out and put the meat back in the oven. Over and over. Then one day I saw something somewhere about meat thermometers that you could put in a roast while it’s in the oven, thereby only having to peek at the temperature every so often to see when it’s exactly as done as you want it to be. I thought, “Hmm…. that sure looks like the one I have. Wouldn’t that be amazing if it worked?” Oh, heavenly day!!! My roast-cooking experience has been transformed! And all this time, my thermometer has been neglected in my drawer… so sad.
*I’ve learned how to use a knife. One of those big ones… is it called a chef’s knife? I really just started paying attention to how people chopped stuff when I was watching the Food Network, and I realized that I had been doing it all wrong. Instead of using a small knife and just pushing down from top to bottom, a bigger knife is much easier, and when I cut high on the blade it slices through effortlessly. I figured-out how to do that rocking/sliding motion, and it has made ALL the difference in the world! I mean, I’m not fast like those people who you’re afraid they’re going to chop their fingers off, but I can tear into a carrot ten times faster than I could before! I actually kind of enjoy chopping vegetables now, isn’t that weird?
*This one is more of a safety lesson…. If you’re pan frying something in oil, don’t put your face down near the pan to smell it. The oil WILL pop and splatter your face, leaving burn marks. Oh yes, I am THAT dumb. I was frying something, maybe chicken, in coconut oil a couple of months ago and bent down to smell it (as I was also tilting the pan), and a few drops splattered my face. It was a little sting, but thankfully it didn’t hurt very badly. I did have several red burn marks for a few days, they kinda looked like tears trailing down my cheek. I was afraid I would always have some kind of mark, but they’ve almost completely disappeared by now. But yeah… hot oil is not a good thing to get near your face….or any other body part.
*Fruit flies are impossible to get rid of. I hate to say it, but three months later, and they’re still here. Fewer in number, but still here. When Evelyne sees one she says, “Bang the bug! I banged the bug!” while hitting her hand in the air. She even designated one of her toys as the “bug banger.” It’s kinda sad that fruit flies are such a regular part of her life!
*When I regularly wash dishes and load them into the dishwasher as I use them instead of letting them pile-up and then doing all of the cleaning at once, my kitchen stays cleaner and more pleasant to be in. Hm, who knew?!
*Paper towels and paper napkins are completely optional and unnecessary! In the past few weeks I’ve gone totally paperless and am using cloth napkins and washcloths for everything, and it’s been completely painless. Every once in awhile I’m a little paralyzed as I try to figure-out what I should use in a situation where I would have normally used a paper towel, but I have a big stock of washcloths and cloth napkins, so it hasn’t been hard. When I’m finished with one, I go toss it in a small trashcan I have sitting by the back door in the garage. When that gets full or I run-out in the kitchen, I wash them. By the time they’re ready to be washed, I usually have plenty of other whites that I wash in hot water, so I just throw them in together to make a full load, that way it’s really not that much extra laundry at all, just a few extra things to fold and put away. (and it really only takes about 1 extra minute.) For some reason Evelyne loves folding washcloths and gets really excited when they’re all clean and ready to be folded!
I kinda accidentally fell into using cloth in the kitchen because we had been using washcloths to clean Harris after he eats for awhile… and I always got so frustrated at the rate we went through expensive paper towels. (and the cheap ones never work very well!) So it made sense to start using some of those washcloths to wipe down the counter and floor. We rarely use napkins anyway, and I already had a set of 12 cloth ones in the closet that I never used, so I just pulled them out and when we need a napkin, we just grab one of those. I like that we’re saving a little bit of money, but mentally there’s something satisfying about the idea that I’m not wasting anything… that everything will get reused and there’s no need to go out and buy something that I’ll only use once.
So, any new kitchen lessons you’ve learned lately??? Anything else I should be clued-in on??