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(Not So) Secret Kitchen Tips 1

Before I post any recipes, I thought I would share some basic (not so) secret tips I’ve learned while "growing up" in the kitchen. Some I’ve learned from our friends at the Food Network (Rachael, Alton Brown, Tyler Florence to name a few) and others I’ve learned from Mom or picked them up myself.

  • Kosher Salt - a MUST have! Iodized salt is good for salting your food post-cooking if you want, but Alton Brown taught me that Kosher salt is the best salt for cooking. It coats your food more effectively, works well with boiling water or other hot items and makes a nice crust if you need to encrust anything in salt. Besides, it fits nicely into a sodium cloride vessel (yes, thanks to Alton Brown I own one of these) and is very inexpensive. All of my recipes will use kosher salt unless otherwise specified.
  • Pepper Mill - fresh ground pepper - nothing better. ’nuff said!
  • EVOO - extra virgin olive oil. This is a Rachael-ism! EVOO is a cornerstone of my cooking. It is one of the "better for you" oils and it doesn’t take much when you are cooking. It is best for lower temperature cooking, however. For frying, peanut oil is a great choice!
  • Cast Iron - a definite must have if you are a meat-eater like me! I have a cast iron skillet and a cast iron stove-top grill/griddle. For a great steak, or for cooking bacon, cast iron allows you to bring out the best. Bacon gets nice and crispy, you get great color on a steak (and excellent flavor if you use the kosher salt!).
  • Fresh herbs and garlic - a must! Here in Nebraska, it is not always easy to find good fresh herbs. Some people grow their own (me, I have a black thumb versus a green thumb, which means instant death for any live plant that comes near me!), but I search grocery stores finding the herbs I like. You should always have some flat-leaf parsley on hand, if you can find it (also known as Italian parsley). It freshens up most anything! I had the opportunity to use fresh sage in my turkey dressing this year - what an amazing difference in flavor! Fresh garlic just makes sense - plus I get to "pop" the garlic with my Wustof knife! Violence in the kitchen - sounds like a great book!
  • A great meat place. We go to "Just Good Meat" here locally - a butcher that carries most anything. Regular store-bought stuff is okay, but you should try a butcher just once - you’ll be hooked if they are good like my butcher. I love the smell of their place (my husband wants them to bottle and sell the scent…better than the most expensive purfume he says…hehehe) and there’s nothing better than freshly smoked/cured bacon or ham!

These are just a few (not so) secret tips I’ve picked up along the way. These are very basic, I know, but some were eye-opening to me as I "grew up" in my kitchen.

Enjoy!

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