I’ve decided to periodically write tips or tricks that I’ve learned along the way.
toothpick for testing
If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, the best way to test if a baked good is fully cooked is to use a toothpick. Poke the toothpick into the bread/cake/muffin in question. If it comes out wet with batter, keep baking. If it comes out dry, you’d better take that baby out and put it on a cooling rack!
popcorn for hot oil
If you’re not sure how to judge when your vegetable oil is hot enough to fry on the stovetop, try putting a popcorn kernel into the oil. It will (usually!) pop when it reaches nearly 400°F. (Though I don’t recommend you fry anything in olive oil, as its smoke point is 410°F. Olive oil is best left for sautéeing, not pan-frying. Use a vegetable-based oil for that. Also, sometimes, as anyone who has ever eaten popcorn will know, kernels are duds, and won’t pop, so this method is not fool-proof.) (thank you Alton Brown)
gloves with chicken
Try buying a box of disposable, powder-free latex gloves (or the non-allergic version if you need that) to use for cooking, as opposed to in a doctor’s office. These are excellent for doing messy jobs like cleaning a chicken, or handling other raw things you’re not supposed to ingest. It also makes kneading/mixing things by hand a little less gross. Best part is, when you’re done handling the chicken, throw the gloves away, and don’t worry about contaminating any of your spice jars or bottles when you go to season the chicken you’re not going to touch anymore. (my mother’s brilliant idea)
handy-vac for counter-flour
Get yourself a handy-vac to keep in the kitchen for non-dirt related vacuuming. I use this for things like cleaning up excess flour or salt off the counter after I’m done with a messier job (like kneading bread, when I on-purpose poured a ton of flour onto my counter that I now have to clean up.) The vacuum can get most of the huge stuff, leaving you free to use a simple sponge or wet-wipe to clean the counter, instead of dealing with piles of flour or salt that dissolve in contact with water. (another one from Mom)
More tips later!