Over the last few weeks, my brain has been filling up with little tips and tricks for my customers. Here are many of them, which inevitably will be followed by many more coming to mind right after I post this:
*Wash your vegetables and fruits. No exceptions, it doesn’t matter if you have bagged salad greens that have been rinsed in ammonia 18 times. Wash. Everything.
*Vegetables get droopy if you leave them in the fridge, sometimes after just a couple of days. If that’s the case, a bowl of ice water will almost always perk them back up. It’ll work even faster if you chop them up first. I’ve done this myself with kale, chard and carrots. It actually works.
*You can sub in pretty much any grain or bean for another. It maybe won’t turn out quite the same, but your kitchen will not have a nuclear meltdown if you’re out of quinoa and use rice instead. Promise.
*Improvising is encouraged and if you want to use chicken in place of a grain or tofu or whatever, go right ahead.
*Once more with feeling: same goes with spices. Don’t like thyme? Out of rosemary? Use something else. I usually season by smell: take a sniff of what you’re cooking, then get a whiff of the spice you’re thinking of adding. If it’s a bad idea, you’ll probably know. If it’s not, start with a teeny tiny bit and taste to add more as you go. Warning: you cannot salt by smell.
*Put mushrooms into a paper or mesh bag ASAP and keep in as cool and dark a place as you have (like a cupboard or pantry rather than the fridge). They tend to mold really fast when they’re in plastic.
*Dried beans are ridiculously cheap (and don’t come in BPA lined cans), but they do take a while to soak and cook (in the range of 2-3 hours). Plan ahead if you’re using them. Easiest solution: submerge dry beans under a couple inches of water in the morning, then boil them until tender when you’re ready to use them. Generally, the smaller the bean, the quicker they’ll cook.
*Pretty much any odds and ends you have in the fridge can be made into soup, or heated and thrown over risotto (easy, but time consuming) or polenta (quick and easy). Or into frittata or onto a pizza (super easy if you use a tortilla for the crust).
*Dressing salads sensibly is a no-brainer if you have olive oil and a yummy vinegar on hand. If you put them into pump-style oil misters, you don’t even need steady hands to get the perfect amount and distribution. I always salt and pepper salads too. It’s amazing: those four ingredients make a delicious salad on their own, then you can relax and add whatever else sounds good to you.
*Speaking of yummy vinegar, make your own herbed vinegar. Get a bottle of red wine, rice or white balsamic vinegar (doesn’t need to be fancy) and add a couple of herbs (I like rosemary and oregano). Leave the bottle with the herbs in a cupboard for about two weeks then remove the herbs. Ta da! Then fill up your mister with your homemade delicious herbed vinegar.