Basic Kitchen Tips
Whether you're getting started in the kitchen for the first time, or deciding to get more serious about your meal prepping or recipe experimentation, here are a few helpful things we think every healthy, happy cook should know.
1. Use a sharp knife. Properly. It can feel like an annoyance to invest in one or two great kitchen knives, practice cutting with them efficiently and safely, and learn how to sharpen them yourself. So maybe this isn't entirely necessary if you're a super casual cook - the most important part is that you're just eating some veggies, after all - but if you want to take your kitchen skills to new heights, this is a highly rewarding basic. Emma uses a hand-forged Japanese Santoku knife which cashed in at just over $100 - an investment that paid for itself within its first perfectly clean slice of carrot.
Practice safe knifeman ship by: always cutting with your knuckles closer to the blade than your fingers, always cutting on a flat edge (as in: slice round things like apples in half first, then rest them on the flat side to continue cutting), washing and drying your knife immediately after using (don't hide it in the sink or dishwasher for someone else to cut their hand on), and storing it in a knife box or on a knife magnet (just not in your kitchen drawer).
2. Wash your cutting boards really well. Or, have separate ones for vegetables and fruit. Just do whatever it takes to avoid chopping that onion smell into your fresh strawberries.
We also recommend using treated wooden boards rather than plastic, as it's healthier for you and better for the environment (hurray!).
3. Have a counter-top compost container. There's nothing more annoying than having to walk over to the garbage or under-the-counter compost container every 2 minutes to discard your scraps while you're chopping produce. And conversely, nothing screams "messy cook" like a pile of rubbish on the edge of the cutting board, over-flowing onto the floor. We avoid these scary scenarios simply by grabbing a small bowl to have on the counter as we're meal-prepping. Peel carrots or potatoes into it, throw in the tops from tomatoes, the pits from avocado, the skins from bananas and oranges, stray rotten blueberries, or anything else you don't want in your cooking. Empty it into your waste bin or compost when you're done, wash it, and put it away for next time. You can also find small, slick looking bins with lids on them to live permanently on your counter, if you're graced with lots of space.
4. Tidy as you go. It's exponentially more enjoyable to reach the end of a cooking adventure with a relatively organized kitchen, verses a post-apocalyptic disaster that will take forever to clean up. This might seem like an annoying habit at first, but once it's stuck into you there'll be no going back. Stack the dirty dishes neatly and wash them (or load them into the washer) at intervals as you go, rather than saving them all until the end. Keep scraps contained in the right place (see number 3). Have a clean, damp washcloth on hand to wipe the counter, appliances, and your hands. Put ingredients away immediately after you're done using them (this can be helpful for recipe organization as well). Thank us later.
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