January 2002: Handy hints for the kitchen
by Elizabeth Menon
Handy hints for the kitchen
• Old newspapers come handy- spread the paper on your work surface, place your chopping board on the paper and go wild with your peeling/scaling/scraping, while the paper guards your work surface; the paper, then can be thrown with all the waste into your compost heap and your work surface needs no cleaning; just a quick wipe, perhaps!
• Don’t throw away the plastic containers that come with the packed vegetables or fruit- these can be used to keep your chopped vegetables/ garlic/onion/chillies, meat/ fish/ tomatoes during the food preparation- they can be washed in the top shelf of your dishwasher and last a long time.
• When you are left with egg whites after you make custard or pastry dough, don’t despair: the egg whites can be frozen for future use, in small bags with specific labels, date and number of egg whites; only remember to thaw it at room temperature, before making meringues/ batter for fritters!
• No time to prepare lunch? You can have jacket potato in just five minutes in the microwave oven: just wrap it in a tea towel/kitchen paper- you could rub the potato with olive oil and add a few rosemary leaves, before putting it in the oven for five minutes on high power; you may need to keep it for another minute or so in some microwave ovens You have softest and tastiest jacket potato, ready to be filled with anything you fancy, tuna/ ham/ cottage cheese/ sour cream and chives…. list is endless!
• Burned your favourite pot while cooking? Half fill the pot with water and add 2tsp of baking powder/bicarbonate of soda and boil for a few minutes; Scrub the pan and it’s almost new! You may need to repeat the process if it was badly burned.
• Your delicate salmon/ king fish steaks get damaged during storage in the freezer: don’t throw away the plastic bags from the cereal boxes; cut away the sealed end and make a rectangular sheet; store it as a roll, using the round tube that comes with the kitchen paper towel; wrap the fish pieces in these sheets, separately or 3-4 pieces rolled into one sheet. These sheets can be used, to separate home made burgers/ pancakes/chapathis, before they go into the freezer.
• Quick way to make ‘puri’: make your dough as usual and divide into grapefruit size balls; roll them very thin on a wide work surface and cut into rounds, using a lid from an old jar; repeat the process till you finish all the dough; these rounds may be kept on grease-proof paper, till you make the puris. You have great looking puris, all in the same shape and size, in no time!
• Feel like ‘some payasam’ and you don’t have the time to go through the elaborate process! Look in your fridge and all you have is a bit of rice: take a cup of cooked rice, add 2-3 knobs of butter and sugar (white or muscovada sugar, whether you wish for white or brown payasam.) and keep on a gentle flame and stir till the rice is fully glazed and you get this wonderful aroma that reminds you of ‘Ambalappuzha paalpayasam’! Add cream or milk and keep stirring till you get the consistency to your liking; you may add powdered cardamom/ vanilla extract (the real stuff, of course!) you got to trust me on this: it’s shear bliss!