Friday, June 15, 2007

John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment#170: Kitchen Tips

"Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head."

-Ambrose Bierce

Weekend Assignment #170: Share a useful tip for the kitchen. It can be about anything from cooking to cleaning, as long as it involves something in the kitchen (which, for the purposes of this assignment, includes the pantry and the table you eat at).

Extra Credit: You're ten and allowed to cook a meal. What do you cook?

-John Scalzi (By The Way)

I like this Weekend Assignment John, as I am always looking for new ways to get things done, especially in the kitchen. I spend a lot of time cooking. I love it, but it can be kind of time consuming if you aren't prepared before you begin. I have learned over the years, that sometimes you simply have to invest time, to save time. So, here are a few of my ideas for making things run more smoothly in the kitchen.

The Ziploc Bag Is Your Friend :)

1. The Ziploc bag is your friend. :) When I buy the extra large containers of side dish products, such as Stove Top stuffing, I measure out into Ziploc bags what would constitute the correct servings for Alan and myself, and place the filled Ziploc bags back into the Stove Top container until ready to use. It also helps when I am busy, and Alan helps me out, if all he has to do is grab the pre-measured bag, and toss it in the boiling water for me. At Thanksgiving, it saves me a couple steps, and it also eliminates one more dirty thing in the sink to wash up, because my measuring cup doesn't get dirty. :) I like having one less thing to wash. :)

2. The Ziploc bag is your friend again! When I take meat or chicken out of the original packages for cooking, I always use small Ziploc bags on my hands to pick up the raw meat. That way I don't get bacteria on my hands. Then I fold and place the used package, and the smaller bags, inside a large Ziploc bag, before throwing it away. It is more sanitary then simply putting the package in the garbage, and it eliminates that yucky odor that sometimes comes up the next day, before you can take the garbage out. :)

3. When I purchase large quantities of frozen products, like say, a package of 24 frozen corn dogs, I take them out of the large box which takes up too much room in the freezer, and put maybe 4 or so into qt or gallon Ziploc bags. They stack easier, and all I have to do is cut the instructions off the box and place it inside one of the packages for referring back to when I go to cook.

None of my kitchen tips are anything new, and they probably aren't all the clever either, but they work us. :)

Extra Credit: Ok, I am 10 years old, and I am allowed to cook a meal. Hmmm. Well, with it being very nearly summer, I think I would probably prepare something cool and summery, like a delicious dinner salad.I like my veggies, but it doesn't have to be made with just vegetables. A really delicious dinner salad can be made with leftover steak cut into strips, or with cooked chicken or even ground beef. Taco Salads are yummy, and they are really easy to make. Also yummy, stuffed tomatoes with tuna/chicken or egg salad.

On the other hand, if you want a hot dinner, which isn't too fussy, how about Stuffed Peppers? Vegetable Lasagna, or maybe Chicken Pot Pie. All those sound much more complicated then they really are. Simple choice of meat and rice or risotto for the peppers, cheeses, veggies and a jar of Alfredo sauce for the Lasagna. The Pot Pie can be made really quick with some cut up chicken, a couple cans of cooking soup like cheddar cheese, cream of chicken, or cream of mushroom soup, a small bag of frozen veggies (can't forget the veggies) and a frozen two layer pie crust. :) My nephew asked me to teach him to cook when he was about 8, and I started him with those dishes. He did very well with them. I assisted him with the oven, but heck, who doesn't need help with that from time to time? :)

For dessert, can't forget dessert, chocolate dipped strawberries. All you have to do is melt the chocolate in the container and dip away. Chocolate strawberries are just yummy every single day, and they're fun to make. :)

PS Don't forget to check out the YouTube retromercial above. Stove Top Stuffing, circa 1985. :)


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