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Cooking Basics
  1. Skimmers are long-handled tools that you use to remove unwanted pieces of food, soup scum, or fat from the surface of soup, stew, and so on.

  2. It's a good idea to keep a small fire extinguisher or some baking soda under the sink. In the event of a small fire, you might be able to control it quickly with one of these items. If you use a fire extinguisher, know exactly where it is and how to use it. Of course, if the fire is large or out of control, call the fire department.

  3. Dried herbs have a more intense taste than fresh ones. A general rule of thumb is to use one-third the amount of dried herbs as fresh (for example, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary). For optimum flavor, crush dried herbs slightly between your fingers before you add them in a recipe.

  4. Don't buy imitation vanilla extract. It seems cheaper, but it isn't. Its flavor has no depth, and you need twice as much of it as you need of pure extract. Even then, the recipe doesn't taste right.

  5. Never use water on a fat fire. You can easily extinguish flames from burning fat by throwing baking soda on them.

  6. If any kitchen appliance can help you make the leap from a know-nothing to a world-class cook, it's a food processor. It eliminates some of the drudgery and the boredom of getting through noncreative tasks such as chopping onions and slicing mushrooms.

  7. Tender meats are usually cooked by dry heat methods, while tougher cuts require long, slow, moist heat methods.

  8. Fresh eggs have thick whites and rounded yolks. Older eggs are thin and runny, but may be used in recipes. Discard eggs whose shells are cracked or that smell foul when you crack them.

  9. Do not use your flatware spoons and coffee cups as measuring tools; use the ones specifically designed for measuring ingredients.

  10. To prevent bacteria from growing when you cool foods at room temperature, cool them as quickly as possible. For example, put a saucepan of hot food into a bowl of ice.

  11. Certain foods are breeding grounds for bacteria and should never be cooked partially. Chicken, turkey, and other poultry fall into this category. Don't ever partially cook poultry.

  12. To reduce the salty taste in oversalted dishes, add a small amount of sugar to cover the taste or a raw potato to absorb some of the salt.

  13. on't serve red wine in the same glass as the white wine you served with a previous course. Likewise, don't serve two different whites or two different reds in the same glass.

  14. Loose specialty teas make the best-tasting tea. Make sure to use boiling water, and let the tea steep for a few minutes before you pour it.


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