The idea of writing this post, came to my mind all of a sudden, when I started cooking a stew, and I was about to start washing the pile of dishes in the sink, when I thought “wait, it will be faster as soon as I start simmering the meat, and then do washing“. Immediately I remembered the technological process of preparing scrambled eggs by my partner and I got an idea – this could be a blog post! Maybe what is ordinary and obvious to me, can be a small revolution in the kitchen for someone else.
I will tell you how the process of preparing scrambled eggs made by my partner looks like. It will be a good example of how you can prepare such a simple meal as scrambled eggs in different ways: first, break eggs, season and whip, then set the pan on flame (always on high heat, because it’s faster) and put butter, pour the eggs – stir and stir. Scrambled eggs ready. Now time for bread bread – slice, spread with butter. And the scrambled eggs are waiting cooling down … It’s worse if butter is straight from the fridge and you have to wait until it softens … Finally, take the plates… etc.
OK, now the way I make scrambled eggs. Butter is usually removed from the fridge before bedtime and in the morning it is soft (or just after waking up, so it will get soften before breakfast). Place the pan on the stove, on low heat, put some butter and when it melts slowly, whip eggs with salt. Slice some bread. Pour the eggs into the pan, before they start to set, I spread the butter on few slices of bread. Do some stirring on the pan. Spread the butter on rest of the bread. Stir the eggs again. Prepare the plates, place the bread. Finish with putting hot scrambled eggs. Enjoy 🙂
Even though at first it might seem complicated, in my point of view it’s hell much easier.
As soon as I realized that this “technological process” is not identical for everyone, I began to think about what tips could be useful to improve and simplify cooking. Below you’ve go ten ideas from my own kitchen experience, that may prove to be helpful in your cooking process.
10 QUICK WAYS HOW TO MAKE YOUR KITCHEN LIFE EASIER
Before you start cooking, check if you have all ingredients you need to make a dish. If you’ll need to run to the shop to get eggs, flour or whatever else, it will get you out of the cooking flow. You need to leave something you’ve already started (in the middle of cooking or baking process) and run to the shop (it’s OK if you live nearby one, but if you need to drive or walk couple of minutes…). In the worst case scenario you’ll need to ask the neighbour (great if you have good neighbours) or find some kind of substitute (which happens to me more often that I would wanted).
So it’s better to go trough your fridge and pantry before you start preparing something and check if there’s everything you want.
Pace on the kitchen counter all your ingredients and items you’ll need to prepare food. So you have everything you need on hand. For me it works especially when I’m baking. In the heat of baking or cooking it’s easy to forget to add something, so if you have everything in front of you, it’s rather doubtful you’ll forget something important. By the way, you will not earn extra work with cleaning, e.g. opening a cupboard / fridge with dirty hands in search of flour / eggs.
Make a plan – think first what actions you’ll need to make to prepare certain dish. Try to imagine how much time and attention each of these activities will consume, and try to arrange them in some kind of order, so that they run smoothly. So that you don’t have to sit back and wait for something, and then do ten things at a time. For example, if you are preparing a meat stew with vegetables, start by preparing the meat, which will take a long time to cook. While the meat is on, simmering slowly on the stove, you will be able to prepare vegetables – peel, wash, cut. If you take care of vegetables first and then start preparing meat, peeled and chopped vegetables will lie down losing freshness and waiting for their turn, and you will lose the time in which the meat could slowly get done. Initially, it may take some time to think over and plan all the activities, but it will be easier each time, and with time this planning will happen automatically.
If you are particularly stressed or do not feel confident while preparing a dish or cake, cross out or tick the ingredients you added – in stress or in a hurry you can overlook something and just a small detail can spoil the whole dish e.g. cake is already in the oven in the oven, and you suddenly realized that you didn’t add baking powder – that’s a disaster, huh? 😉
Things you can do in the meantime – I don’t like cooking if a pile of dirty dishes is piled up in the sink, that’s why I always try to wash before preparing a meal. However, there is not always time for this, so you can do it in the meantime. And here we return to our stew – you have a mess in the kitchen, and it will take 2-3 hours to prepare the stew. Put the meat first, and when it simmers, start washing the dishes. Having empty sink also has a purely practical aspect – when we wash vegetables for our stew, maneuvering celery between a dirty glass and greasy pan is not really convenient. In your free time, between different activities, you can also wash up what gets dirty while preparing a meal. This way, you will avoid mountains of dirty dishes in the sink and on the kitchen counter. Well, unless you have a dishwasher – it basically makes things easier 🙂 Here is another example of making scrambled eggs – in the meantime, you can do some small tasks that do not require much attention and time, e.g. slice bread and spread the butter.
Seasoning in stages – you have no practice in salting? You don’t know how much pepper, salt or other spice will make your dish taste good? – do it in small steps. It’s better to add pinch of salt five times than to add once, and then worry about the soup too salty (oh, I’m absolutely guilty of that!). Of course, there are such cases, for example, cakes that you cannot always try earlier. Sometimes all you can do is to stick to the recipe and, for example reduce the amount of sugar next time, if the cake turned out to be too sweet for you.
This one is a little bit in opposite to the previous ones, but it’s good if you already have some experience in the kitchen. Listen to your gut and do not stick to the recipe 100% – try what you cook and if you feel it’s necessary to modify the recipe during cooking / baking, do it! Even the best recipe does not guarantee that the dish will be 100% successful and will like it. Remember, each oven is different, everyone cooks in different pots, on different stoves and at different temperatures depending on the size of the flame (if they are cooking on a gas stove). If you feel that ½ tsp of chili flakes is too much for you, add a pinch or not at all. If the recipe says to simmer meat for 2 hours, and you try after 1½ hour and you find that is just right, do not wait for the prescribed 2 hours. If the recipe tells you to bake a cake for 60 minutes, and you say after 50 that it is enough, then maybe it is worth turning off the oven at this time? It’s just a recipe – follow your intuition and your own taste 🙂
If you invite guests and have several different dishes to prepare, do not hesitate if you can prepare something the day before – soup, sauce, cake. You will avoid getting up at dawn to get everything ready, before guests arrive and run panicking around the kitchen trying to do ten things at once (multitasking is great, but to some extent). In a hurry, it’s very easy to make a mistake that will spoil your mood, unnecessarily. In addition, for example, if you prepare the cake the previous evening, and it turns out that it went wrong, you will still have time to try to save it somehow or come up with something else (e.g. the next morning, run to the pastry shop and buy ready made). Try to plan several dishes for a given hour, prepare one dish – which requires the longest preparation, which dish must be prepared just before the arrival of guests, so that it is fresh and nicely presented, and which will have to be prepared or finished when guests will be there. A good plan is half the battle 🙂
That’s a small detail, but makes your work in the kitchen easier and faster – if you bake something, turn on the oven while preparing the dish. This requires some observation at the beginning, of how much time the oven needs to heat up to a given temperature, but after a few times you will already know when to turn it on. For example, you make pizza – your topping are ready, pizza dough spread on a baking sheet. Turn on the oven. The time needed to arrange the toppings on pizza should be long enough, to heat the oven to the right temperature. The same with boiling water for pasta, rice etc.
Try to anticipate – if you fry, bake or cook something, try to keep your thoughts one step ahead, sometimes just one minute (I know something about it) can spoil the whole meal. Something will burn, fell, overcook. You will literally leave the kitchen for a moment, and when you return you may have an unpleasant surprise. Personally, I like to keep an eye on my pots and watch it fry, turn it over here, stir it there … But if you do not like it (or you do not have enough time) try to give the maximum possible attention while cooking. Pop in to the kitchen, have a look, inpect, have a try. Think and remember that a cutlet on hot fat will not wait until you finish talking on the phone / reading emails / writing a blog post 😉
If you have any other ideas and tips write about them in the comments, I will be more than happy to learn something more. What do you do to make your kitchen life easier?