By Kat Wojtylak
Most equestrians will do anything to save precious minutes on the clock, especially when daylight is so valuable. Ordering out becomes the “norm” and we forget what a fresh meal tastes like. In order to give you back a few moments, I’ve decided to compile my favorite shortcuts in the kitchen to help you prepare meals, or enhancements on staples to put cash back in your pocket and quick meals on the table.
Veggies: For vegetables that go into sushi rolls or matchsticks for your salad, use a mandolin to help streamline the process. Start by slicing your vegetables. Then using a sharp knife, cut slices into matchsticks. Store in cool water until ready to use to keep vegetables crisp.
Lemons: If you’re in a “pinch”, use a pair of tongs to juice your citrus. Simply place the lemon between the two handles (further up from the pincers) and squeeze over a fine mesh sieve to catch the seeds. You can also use the tips of your tongs to really get in there and get all that citrusy goodness out (for those pulp lovers out there). Lemon juice works great for homemade salad dressings, but also for a burst of brightness in many dishes. If you have extra, freeze it ice cube trays and then store in a ziplock bag- fresh citrus will never be far from hand!
Ice Cube Trays: Citrus juices work amazingly well in ice cube trays, but have you thought about freezing those leftover herbs in oil so those extra quantities you can’t use all at once don’t go to waste? Leftover coffee in those trays also helps get you closer to that frozen capuchin, just don’t mix herbs and coffee. By utilizing this trick, little in your house goes to waste and you have extra inspiration and ingredients all year long.
Fruit: Freeze extra fruit and use in lieu of ice cubes to add some extra flavor to your drinks without watering them down. Use strawberries in champagne, grapes in wine, frozen citrus in water. This also helps impress last minute guests when you haven’t had time to plan.
Meat: Cutting meat into similar sizes, or even scaling it down to cook faster can be a hassle. For a less mess version and ease of cutting, throw your meat into the freezer (not literally), and allow to chill for about a half hour or longer (in the time it takes you to shower). It’ll make cutting so much simpler!
Garlic: It’s a staple used in so many dishes, but peeling it is a huge pain in the butt! To peel garlic with ease, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds (up to twenty). The small amount of steam will release the papery husk and leave your garlic ready to use. If you have frustrations you need to get out, you could forego the microwave and place the cloves into a bowl placing a similar sized one on top. Then shake vigorously and the husks will be removed.
Butter: Softening butter when you forgot to leave it out on the counter can usually create some distress as it’s hard to achieve that in a microwave. Instead, grab a cold stick and use your cheese shredder. By the time you’re done shredding your desired amount, the butter is usually room temperature. You can also use this trick with a frozen stick of butter to help incorporate it more easily into pie crusts and biscuits.
Salt: While it may not necessarily save you time, it will save you the headache of some of the most common cooking mishaps that leave your dish feeling drab instead of fab! If you’re boiling or blanching green vegetables, add a pinch of salt to your water and ice bath. It’ll stop the chlorophyll from leaching out, aka keep them bright green. Tired of rubbery scrambled eggs? A 1/8 teaspoon of salt per two eggs can actually dissolve the protein in your eggs leaving you with beautifully tender eggs. Also, adding a pinch of salt to your coffee grinds before brewing will remove the bitter edge.
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To full plates and eating your tarte out.
About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.