Culinary Tips & Techniques
In our family, Moms pass culinary tips and techniques to their daughters and sons as they grow. We cook together from the toddler years. Mom taught me our family culinary secrets. Cooking helpful hints from Grandma and Mom now enable my own sons and daughters to create delicious meals with ease.
However, not all of these cooking helpful hints came from Grandma.
After the birth of our first son, I chose the vegetarian lifestyle. Many of the culinary tips and techniques work for all types of foods, but not all. Gradually, my kitchen changed from that of an omnivore to one that embraces my vegetarian preferences. In addition, new culinary secrets, ones that favor a healthy vegetarian lifestyle, emerged.
Each Generation Adds to our Family’s Culinary Secrets
To be completely honest, I credit my children with discovering some of these culinary secrets. Children of all ages often find such cooking helpful hints while seeking solutions. Unhindered by “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” kids improvise and create, resulting in new culinary tips and techniques to share.
You won’t find tips on searing steak nor grilling fish herein. Nor do I include sugary techniques, though such desserts still intrigue my inner artist. But look for new ideas to help you find your vegetarian touch. And if you find solutions not shown here, please contact us and share. We know that many families have culinary secrets of their own.
Read Our Culinary Terms
General Cooking Helpful Hints
Know your recipe.
- Read it through ahead of time. I recall one instance when a friend of mine shared her devastating experience. She neglected to read the recipe before beginning a pie, feeling confident as she had baked others before. However, partway through she realized that this was a no-bake recipe that required a pre-baked crust. The best culinary tip I had for her was to read your recipe before beginning. In addition to preventing such problems, it also gives you a chance to make sure you have all the ingredients you need.
Recipes offer you a guide
- But remember that recipes offer a guideline, not a set in stone requirement. You should feel comfortable replacing ingredients with similar ones if you choose. Adjust spices and flavors, too. Just as different artists paint the same scene with a unique design, so do different chefs. However, I recommend following the recipe closely the first time through, adjusting for ingredients you are certain you prefer. Make notes and alter it next time to your own preferences.
- When you make changes, keep notes on those changes. It’s easy to forget exactly what substitutes or additions were made. However, sometimes those little changes offer a chance for “never the same twice.” I create unique stews from whatever we have on hand at the time. The only complaint comes when one tastes so special that others ask for the recipe!
Prep ahead of time.
- Some recipes require part of the food to marinate or chill ahead of time. Even if they don’t, having your onions minced and gluten sliced saves you a bit of time at mealtime. You’ll cook like those tv chefs who have all their ingredients pre-measured into small dishes!
- Also, cut all of your vegetables and fruit and make your sauces before you start cooking.
Taste as you create!
- We vegans enjoy a great advantage here. With no animal products, concerns for raw eggs or meat don’t exist. Sample your food as you prepare it. If you find your tomatoes lack a little flavor, adjust your spices or add a bit more tomato. Love garlic? Increase to your preference. Additionally, make sure you taste the final product before serving. This allows you a last chance to adjust your flavors.
Always use sharp knives.
- Not only is it safer but it increases your work efficiency. Also, a sharp knife gives a much cleaner, neater cut.
Use parchment paper for lining pans.
- It makes all of your baked goods super easy to remove, and it makes cleanup a dream.
Shop with a list.
- Plan meals ahead of time to save time, money, and extra trips to the store, but be flexible. Look for the freshest produce. If you’ve planned to make eggplant on Tuesday but the eggplant looks aged, substitute a different meal idea. Planning ahead and being flexible allows for the best meal creations!
Put your herbs in water.
- Many herbs, including basil, last much longer if you put the stems in a glass of water. Store at room temperature.
Always buy the freshest garlic you can find.
- The fresher your garlic, the sweeter the flavor. The best garlic sports firm, tissue-like skin. Avoid bruised, sprouted, soft or shriveled, indicating older or mishandled bulbs. Discard cloves with green shoots as they add bitterness.
Prolong the lifespan of greens
- Wrap greens loosely in a damp paper town and place in a resealable plastic bag. Greens like arugula will last about four days longer than those stored in traditional store wrapping.
Clean as you go!
- Not only will you probably use your measuring cups and spoons more than once, but cleaning as you go keeps your work area neat and clean. As a bonus, your after dinner cleanup is minimized, allowing you time to enjoy family and friends.
Cook with other people who want to learn or who know how to cook.
- While some people prefer to cook alone, the benefits of cooking with others should not be ignored. Not only have our children all learned to cook by joining me in the kitchen. The camaraderie we share creates forever memories. Now I reap innumerable rewards from years of sharing the kitchen with family. Along with the memories, I have a family of teens and young adults that can each create delicious meals!
- Some of my most cherished memories of my own childhood and that of raising my own kids revolve around holiday cooking. We actually built our second kitchen to accommodate our large family all helping prepare holiday meals.
Shoes off, music on, favorite beverage in hand.
- Enjoy your time in the kitchen! My lemon-infused ice water keeps my hydrated. Music choice depends on my mood. Add whichever of my kids are available and we happily create our next meal!
- Whatever works to make your kitchen time happy, cooking should always be enjoyable.
For a look into our family’s lifestyle, read: Christmas Country Mom
Cooking Helpful Hints
We believe these cooking helpful hints will get you ready to create fantastic meals for your family and friends. Also, stop back often as we continue to add our favorites!
Now, let’s look at some culinary tips and techniques that help with the actual cooking and serving!