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Knowing simple techniques in cooking can motivate us to cook more at home and be healthier. It can also save us money.

Watching cooking shows have helped me become somewhat of a better cook.

There are simple techniques that I have learned, and science that has been explained to me that helps my dishes come out savory.

One root I never used before and which now finds its way into many of my dishes is ginger.

What I have learned:

Ginger root can be peeled with a spoon.
Then it can be grated. The grated ginger can be squeezed and this milky liquid makes a great marinade for pork and chicken.
Ginger can be sliced and boiled to make ginger tea. Just add honey and it is a spicy tea. The longer you boil the tea, the stronger it gets.

Care To Share?

What is a technique you have learned, or an ingredient you use in the kitchen that makes cooking more enjoyable....it could also be a gadget you find helps you work more effectively. Give us a brief explanation if you can

Anything kitchen goes........

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    R H 20+

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    Apr 28 2012: I stink at cooking, have realized a terrible need to learn how and be interested, and am looking for an all-in-one training course for the 'cooking illiterate' that has a heavy health slant, not necessarily 'couture'. Any suggestions?
    • Apr 28 2012: RH,
      have you seen the movie " The girl with a pearl earring " ?
      Just at the very beginning, the girl is slicing vegetables...
      What colour ! What texture !
      I love cooking for that ! :)
      But sometimes when I am not in the mood and peeling potatoes is not that enjoyable experience , I still appreciate it, for it is the time for thinking.
      Strange enough, but everybody likes what I cook :)
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        R H 20+

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        Apr 28 2012: Yes. I saw the movie. I wasn't looking at the vegetables. You see! No interest in cooking! But I must! I must be interested! I have to stop eating all the crap that's available! So I have to learn, and to learn I have ot be interested. I will watch again and this time look at the veggies instead of the g-, earring. Thnx.
        • Apr 28 2012: You don't need to be interested in cooking, but whatever you are doing it helps when you are interested in Beauty in all its forms.(vegetables included)
          This girl, in the movie, was not an artist in the usual sense, but she was a genius in the most divine sense . She saw Beauty.
          That's what i was trying to say.
          A kind of 'not-learn-how-to-cook' training course.:)
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        Apr 28 2012: Ah yes. I see your point. Life as art. Absolutely agree. But some people are poets, some musicians, some sculptors. Others, as you point out, find beauty and expression in non-artistic endeavors - as I try to do. Unfortunately, cooking hasn't been one of them for me. Not that I don't think it's beautiful or artistic or a fantastic acheivement for someone, just that particular form of expression has not interested me until this point. Now I must be interested or I believe it will affect my health - and that is very interesting to me. Thank you for responding so beautifully.
        • Apr 30 2012: Actually, trying to learn something that you know you deeply dislike will not lead you anywhere i think.
          I do like cooking (simple meals), but I really enjoy having the luxury to eat out or having my food delivered, what's wrong (ethically speaking) with that?

          The problem is that there is no big company yet that fulfills the growing need for delivery of healthy meals for a reasonable price.
          More and more people work long hours and prefer dedicating their shrinking free time to do something they like doing.
      • W T 100+

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        Apr 28 2012: Girl with a pearl earring is a great movie. How interesting that you noticed the kitchen scene. I was struck by how low the table where she had to work was when I saw the movie (and if I am remembering it right).

        The Japanese say you eat with your eyes first.........I try to also present meals first to the eyes, then to the palate.

        I love to experiment, and for me diversity is key.....find new ways to cook old favorites. I get very bored with the same thing over and over.

        Like, brussel sprouts. The other day, I cut them in half, brushed them with olive oil, and salt and put them in my toaster over for about 25 minutes on 350......they came out wonderful...I always hated to boil them, now I cook them in the oven and the tast is so much better.

        Any techniques or recipes you want to share Natasha?
        • Apr 30 2012: Marry, sorry for the delay with my response !
          I would like to share with you my recipes, but I'm afraid i don't have such. As my grandma said : you must have a kind of gut feeling what stuff to put in, in what quantity and at what precise time.
          There is no miracle in it, if you practice cooking everyday you'll inevitably develop this felling and do a lot of things almost unconsciously . A kind of kitchen jini prompts you :)
          Let me explain, every Ukrainian woman, who has a family ( with 1% of 1% exception ) is a cook The situation what you try to bring back to US, is not yet gone from Ukraine. We eat mainly home made food. It's just plain good food. Not much diversity though. Everything has its price, when you serve three/four meals per day, every day and invest heavily into the process , no time is left for anything else. I don't think it's bad, but it's not my choice. Under the circumstances, the complex, timed to perfection dishes are not an option.Usually I occupy my mind with 'far-away-from-kitchen' thoughts, but when the final test of my borsh is made ... it's delicious. The only thing i can be focused on: it's the variety of shapes and colours on my table... I've noticed it in the movie, because it's my daily experience : )
          I cook, because I love my family and want them eat healthy food, that is the main ingredient in every dish , everything you do from love is good :)
          Watch this video, hope you will love it as I do http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C_mb14Szsw
          Enjoy !
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        R H 20+

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        May 1 2012: To Violet: You hit so close to home with your comment that I laughed out loud. But my problem is the same as yours - eating out my whole life and now paying the price. Eating as a hobby or a sport is not good for me. Food is a most intimate partner, and I need to move on to a new relationship. Thnx.
        • May 1 2012: RH, I'd been notified of a response to my comment and it brought me back to the page. Reading your and Violet posts makes me to realize , that i don't like cooking ! I do it out of necessity that's why I distract my thoughts out of it and need the aesthetic element to be involved to make the time I spend in the kitchen pleasant. But still I do it because I care about my family or out of love that's why what i cook is really tasty.
          If I were single , most likely I wouldn't cook ! :)
          cheers!
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      Apr 28 2012: Hi RH,

      Here is a link to every day foods. I have actually learned quite a few techniques watching the episodes, the site has all the recipes they have aired:

      http://www.pbs.org/everydayfood/recipes/

      I find that to cook, you don't have to have alot of ingredients.

      Look, one of my favorite meals:

      -----1 tomato....sliced and drizzled with olive oil, lemon, salt (salad)

      -----Handful of asparagus.....heat a skillet on medium and put a pat of butter in it. Once melted put in the asparagus, you can chop it if you prefer. Drizzle some lemon juice and salt......move the pan around until the asparagus heats through......deeeelicious

      ----Boneless, skinless breast of chicken.......salt and pepper to taste and drop in a pan with heated up olive oil. Usually 7 minutes on both sides....depending on thickness. Not too complicated. You can drizzle with lemon when it's done.

      (Variation: You can cut up the breast and throw in onions, peppers and soy sauce if you prefer oriental flavors)

      Asparagus hint I learned......grab the stalk with both hands and bend it.....it will break where the tough part ends......you can discard the tough part or use it in a stock.

      Chicken hint.......it you want for the breast to cook evenly put it in seran wrap and pound it down so it gets all one thickness......I use anything around for pouding....even a skillet....

      Hope I've helped. Feel free to ask me questions, I love to cook. PBS has great cooking shows. Two of my favorites are Jacque Pepin and America's test kitchen. You can access some on line I think

      Happy cooking!!!!
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        R H 20+

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        May 1 2012: Thanks Mary. I'll check it out.
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      Apr 28 2012: Learn how to brown vegetables with or without meat. Learn how to add liquids to the the result to make a stew or soup or sauce. Learn to make a white sauce or bechamel sauce. Once you can do those things, and they're not difficult, you can follow just about any recipe. Seriously, it's that simple.

      For equipment, a couple of mixing bowls, a decent knife, a couple of saucepans, a peeler, a couple of wooden spoons, a chopping board, a measuring jug, that should be enough to start with. A food processor or blender and an electric whisk are useful.

      Acquire a recipe book aimed at students or busy people - the recipes will be simple to follow. Once you get confident with a few recipes, start experimenting with different vegetables and herbs and spices.

      If you want to get into the baking side for cakes, bread, pizza, learn to cream butter and sugar and eggs, knead dough, rub fat into flour. Those techniques will allow you to follow most recipes.

      As you experiment, keep a note of what you like and dislike, what works and what doesn't work. And if you're entertaining, use recipes that you know you can make successfully.

      Also, have a look at recipes for salads - all you have to do is chop a few vegetables and mix a dressing.
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        Apr 28 2012: I once heard on America's test kitchen what the reason for browning meat is.

        Most people will answer..........."to lock in the juices"........well, that is not so.

        The reason to brown meat is to develop complex flavors.......so this is what I have learned to do when doing chicken frecasee or beef stew......

        First, heat stainless steel pan, then pour oil (hot pan, cold oil, food won't stick.....it's another great tip I learned)

        I always cook on medium heat....NEVER on high. You will see the pan is hot enough because the oil wil float on top......and move around on it's own....regardless of the amount of oil you use, which doesn't have to be too much.

        Then, you have to drop the pieces of meat in so that it browns. Not too many pieces because too much steam will be created, and the result won't be the same. Turn until all sides are brown, then I take them out and put in the veggies (onions, carrots, celery).....then put the meat back in...salt and pepper....cover......and if I want to later on I'll add cut up potato pieces.

        You can also add all kinds of herbs such as thyme, or rosemary or oregano....BUT be careful dry herbs are potent, so use a little little bit.......fresh herbs pack less pow.....
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      Apr 30 2012: Hay RH, It's great you want to learn how to cook. For real beginners try How To Cook by Delia Smith (She's the UK's Grand Dame of TV cookery) Amazon link

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Delias-Complete-How-Cook-collection/dp/0563539070/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335779175&sr=1-2

      This is the UK amazon site, but I'm sure you can get it on the US verson. Originally the TV series was shot in three series and thus three books - but this link is for the complete 3 books in one volume version. You'll learn all you need to know about ingredients, techniques and equipment - Good luck!

      P.S. Other great TV cooks are Nigel Slater and Jamie Oliver.
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        R H 20+

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        May 1 2012: That's great. Thanks Heather.

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