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For the Harassed Cook

by: Celebrity Recipes
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Pressed for time when preparing meals? Don't fret. Here are some tried and tested tips to help make cooking a breeze.

Think convenience and quality. Not all convenience food is of poor quality. Some of them, like salads-in-a-bag and pre-chopped onions are actually well made and will save you time in preparing meals. Pre-chopped onions, for instance, will eliminate teary eyes because you won't have to slice onions.

Canned products, including broth (or stock), tomato pastes, sauces and mixes, are also a boon for quick-fix meals. However, do take the time to read the ingredients on the labels to make sure you are not compromising your health.

Prepare in advance and use the freezer. Chances are you have a freezer at home that is underutilized. This is because most Filipino households still make it a point to buy fresh produce as often as possible. However, if you are juggling home and business/career, it's wise to make a food plan, cook meals in bulk and freeze them for future use.

If you are freezing cooked meals, it's smart to recycle clean jars and plastic containers. They can be used for storing left-over ingredients and meals as well. Plus, you'll be helping clean the environment.

Invest in cook-and-serve pots and pans. Washing dishes is not exactly a popular pastime. Thankfully we can now buy pots and pans that can be used for cooking and serving food. This means less items to wash and avoiding dishpan hands.

Invest in a microwave oven. At one time, people were wary of using microwave ovens because of its supposed radiation effects and cost of electricity for operating this appliance. However, the newer brands are safe, electricity-efficient and also very inexpensive --- proof that microwave technology has developed by leaps and bounds. Anyway, nothing beats the microwave in heating food in a few minutes or even seconds. Be sure to invest in microwave-friendly dishes.

Oven-friendly guide:

  • There's a place for everything. Baking a cake? Roasting a chicken? Don't just plunk it inside the oven. Most baked goodies (e.g. pastries, some cakes, pudding) should be placed in the center of the oven, while roasts should be placed at the lower rack. Also, don't crowd an oven because the heat should be able to circulate for even cooking/baking. Allow an inch of space between the pan and the oven walls.

  • Sticky racks. Racks that don't readily slide are more harmful than you think, as a sticky rack could easily jar delicate cakes and souffl├ęs. How to make them run smoothly? Regular lubrication is needed. Use petroleum jelly to lubricate sticky racks.

  • Preheating an oven. Why should you preheat the oven? Well, some recipes need preheated ovens to make baked goodies fluffier. How? Allow 15 to 20 minutes for the oven to reach the right temperature and you can never go wrong.

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September 19, 2017

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