When you're fat-frying (deep or shallow - it doesn't work well just
for pan-frying), and you don't have a thermometer to check the heat of
the cooking oil, drop a little cube of white bread into the cooking oil.
If it just lays there, it's still too cool. If it blackens at the edges
quickly, it's too hot. If it sizzles nicely, the temperature is about
This is superior to the, "drops of water," test because it doesn't
spatter hot oil all over, and the bread can be removed easily once the
It's also a good way to get rid of white bread.
When you buy dry foods (grain, flower, beans, etc.) from the store's
bulk bins, seal it tightly in its final storage container, put that
container into a plastic bag (to prevent the container from picking up
freezer funk) then put it into the freezer overnight to ease the tiny
livestock that (probably) infest the stuff on to the next plane of
Eight hours at well below freezing should do the trick!
When deglazing a pan, do not pour the liquid into the hot pan IN THE
MIDDLE! Pour it in from the EDGE of the pan!
This will prevent thermal shock to the pan, stretching the metal of the
bottom of the pan, forming a bulge in the pan that makes it impossible
to get it to lay flat on a burner, ever again!
This was a particularly painfully and hard-won lesson I hope you never
have to repeat.
When making a traditional American, "French toast," two big pinches
of sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract for every two eggs will make
people say, "Damn! This is good!! What did you DO to it?!?!?"
If you are reduced to using table salt when you pan sear meat (we ALL
know that we should use KOSHER
SALT for this, right?) salt the PAN instead of the MEAT, so you know
exactly how much salt you have per square inch.
If you're using a bright stainless steel pan instead of cast iron or
Teflon coated, the table salt will be nearly invisible, anyhow, so
you're on your own
Rinse and stack your dirty dishes in the basin of the sink CLOSEST to
the dish drainer, leaving the one FURTHER from the dish drainer empty.
When the sink basin is full of dirty dishes, and you have to wash some
drippy meat, or wash your dirty hands, the likelihood of splashing
contaminates onto your clean-dish area is much smaller, since there's
more space between the clean-dish area and the washing.
Wash your dish drainer occasionally! It can get pretty funky!!
If you can, walk outside to use cooking spray release! Over-spray of
that stuff can be RIDICULOUSLY hard to clean off of floors, walls,
windows, cupboards, countertops and stovetops.
When broiling, keep the oven or broiler door open a crack. This will
prevent the buildup of flammable vapors and heat (when you broil, there's
no [or RARELY] a temperature cutoff).
Allowing the buildup of flammable vapors, and allowing the temperature to
rise above their smoke point in an environment that has little oxygen
(like the inside of a closed oven), then allowing the influx of a large
gust of outside air (like: OPENING the over) can be an unfortunate
Unless the food that a terrible cook sets before you is actually
DANGEROUS or TOXIC in nature, say, "what a nice dinner," then buy them a
copy of, "The Joy of Cooking." Tell them, "You did such a nice job last
time that I thought you might enjoy reading this."
Encouraging a bad cook is the only way to get them to cook more, and
cooking more is the only way they'll get better!
I'm reminded of we kids making bear claws out of Mamma's left-over pie
After dinner Pappa [and frequently Uncle John] got one or two of them
for desert beside the piece of Mamma's (and later Rick's [sister's])
They were usually gray from being dropped on the floor too many times,
and frequently fuzzy from other things you'll find on the floor of a
home with a dog.
Pappa would make a face, and Uncle John would whisper, "Albert: They've
been cooked - at least they're sterile!" They would then eat them (eyes
tightly closed and washed down with lots of milk or coffee) and praise
whoever it was that made them.
Our family has LOTS of good cooks in it!