Cooking 101: The Basics
Making your meals at home has many advantages. Firstly, you can eat what you want, however you want, and it will often turn out better (and cheaper) than if you had ordered elsewhere. Cooking is a skill that grows over time, so the more you do it the better your food will become. For many, cooking is viewed as more of a hobby than a chore, but everyone has to start somewhere!
For those who might be new in the kitchen, the basics are valuable to the success of your culinary adventures – follow them closely!
Following recipes can make or break the success of your efforts in the kitchen. To follow a recipe without issue, be sure you understand and are ready for the tasks at hand. This involves reading the whole recipe twice to be sure you didn’t miss anything the first time around. During your first read-through, make a checklist of the ingredients and how much of them you are going to need. Assess whether you have what you need for the recipe, or take note of what you’ll need to head to your local Best Market for. 😉
Be sure you have the available time it takes to complete the recipe and allow some extra time for prepping. Recipes will either specify the “prep time” “cook time” and sometimes “inactive time”, or put the whole amount of time it takes as the cook time. Never rush a recipe. Food has many reasons for turning out as good or bad as it does and something as little as cold or hot water being used could make or break it. While you might not respect separating your wet and dry ingredients before mixing it all together, that recipe might. So stick to the recipes specifics and order of things.
All-in-all, give yourself plenty of time at first so you’re kitchen exploration is relaxed and fun.
To boil your water means you are exposing it to enough heat to raise its temperature to 212º F. Water at this temperature is hot enough to cook the food within it. First, see how much water is required for what you need to do. E.A. more water for more pasta, less water for vegetables. You will then need to use a measuring cup or device to put that much water in a boiling device.
For most cooking you will need a pot. The pot you use to boil your water should be 4+ inches deep or larger depending on the quantity of food you will be boiling in it. As long as the pot can accommodate the amount of water you need for the recipe with 1-2 inches of space to the top, you should be safe.
Once your pot is filled with water, place it on the stove, cover with lid and turn the burner to the highest setting. Depending on your stove and how much water you are boiling, a full boil should take anywhere from 2-6 minutes. You know the water is boiled when bubbles are rapidly breaking the surface.
Boiling Pasta – a common misconception is that salt makes water boil faster. The truth behind adding salt to boiling water for pasta is it raises the boiling point of water from 212º F to 216º F. This means the water will take longer to boil BUT the higher temperature of the water cooks your pasta faster and adds some flavor.
What Knife To Use
Having the right tool for the task at hand is important for your safety and convenience. While there are many MANY different types of knives designed for different jobs in the kitchen, these must-haves are handy in multiple instances. Check the chart below to know which knives are best for what jobs!
Knife safety is crucial at this point in the same! The right technique means the difference between a culinary success or trip to the emergency room, so follow these tips if you are new to knives.
Food & Kitchen Safety
Amongst the excitement of getting in the kitchen there are many factors to be aware of and responsible for. Certain foods need to be kept in specific environments, surfaces need to be cleaned before being reused and core temperatures need to be reached before food is safe to be consumed. Keeping the kitchen environment clutter free is key to avoiding mishaps & accidents. Follow these steps for a fool-proof cooking environment to make your culinary ventures the best they can be!
In The Kitchen
- Work in an open, dry kitchen to avoid falls.
- Be sure workspace is clean and clutter free.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing and jewelry. Keep long hair tied back.
- Have your potholders handy.
- Keep materials away from stove.
- Turn pot handles away from front of stove to keep out of reach of little hands and out of the way of passerby’s.
- Have a safe, secure place for any knives or tools being used.
- Know where the nearest fire extinguisher is in your home/cooking environment
- Be sure you have the equipment required for a recipe before you start it.
- Wash your hands before and after handling food.
- Wash foods before cooking. Inspect for dirt or rot.
- Don’t let temperature sensitive foods sit out in the kitchen. Raw meat, fish, poultry & certain dairy products spoil quickly – keep refrigerated until you need them.
- Avoid the cross-contamination of bacteria from raw meat and poultry by keeping separated from other foods. This means cleaning tools that have come in contact with the food, including your hands, knives & cutting boards.
January 10, 2017