21 cooking tips and tricks
1. Broth is so easy to make and cheap too.
Don't buy it. Follow this recipe and cook your broth in the slow cooker while you sleep. Make it a weekly habit.
Broth is extra flavour to your meals, great as a brekky option with a poached egg, the base of all my soups and curries. Broth is always stored in my freezer in small containers ready to go.
2. Yes a slow cooker is a great investment.
They cost under $100 (some are under $50).
Throw your ingredients in the pot in the morning before work and let your dinner cook while you're out of the house.
You can cook broth, soup, curries, stew, casserole, braised meats, porridge and so much more.
3. When you cook grains or rice or beans, don't just cook your standard 1 cup.
Cook enough for the month, portion into single serves in snap lock bags and freeze.
When you want to eat that type of grain, remove from the freezer in the morning and by lunch you have a perfectly chilled ready-to-eat filler.
Remember to date your bags before freezing and use within 3 months.
4. Get to know your spice cabinet and experiment.
Spices are your ticket to Flavour Town.
Invest in an array and get to creating with them. Some good ones to start with are: cinnamon, fennel, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, turmeric.
If you don't like buying spices, invest in good quality therapeutic grade essential oils. 1 drop will flavour a whole dish.
5. Cook 2 meals at once in the oven and save one for the next night's dinner.
You will save an hour or more in the kitchen and save on electricity too. The following night all you'll need to do is reheat in the oven for 20 minutes (or so), depending what you're cooking.
6. Roasting any vegetable and blending with some olive oil, sesame seeds, salt, pepper and garlic (optional), to make the most delicious dip.
Yes it's really easy to make your own dips, if you're short or cash and like dips. Do yourself a favour and make your own. Dips can make a boring soup amazing, they can transform a salad. Or even be an acceptable complete meal with some veggie sticks, home-made crackers and an egg - my favourite type of meal.
7. Make the most delicious 'chips' by slicing up some wraps.
Heat the oven to 180 degrees C and make a quick paste with oil, garlic and herbs. Lightly drizzle the paste over the the wrap slices and bake for 10 minutes (or so) until crunchy.
8. There is nothing a good slice of haloumi cannot fix.
And I mean nothing. Bad moods, bad hair day, boring salads and cravings.
* haloumi may or may not be able to improve your bad hair day, but its worth a shot.
9. Learn to make your own ghee, it's made from butter and it’s easy to make.
Ghee is clarified butter. Which means it has the milk solids removed from it.
Technically it’s OK for the majority to eat. But if you have dairy issues I suggest you investigate this further.
Ghee has a long shelf life and adds the nuttiest most interesting flavour to roasted veggies. You can make a batch for around $5, or buy a jar from $20 up. Making it is the cheaper option by far. Also it's the cooking oil/fat of choice in most Indian cuisine.
10. Roasting a whole chicken is quite possibly the most impressive meal in the world.
Big call, I know. All you need to do is add some flavour and throw it in the oven.
CAN IT GET ANY EASIER??
Jazz your roast chicken up by alternating your cooking oil - try coconut oil and scattering a few spices like cinnamon, cumin, coriander and fennel over the top.
11. Leftover bones from your roast?
Throw them in a zip lock bag in the freezer to use for your next stock/broth.
Can’t remember why we make stock/broth? Read point #1.
12. Blend your herbs in some oil and freeze in the ice cube container.
Once frozen, place in a zip lock bag in the freezer. Anytime you need herbs for a dish, just grab an ice cube or 2 and you're ready to rock.
13. Make a salad dressing every Sunday.
This is a delicious ritual that has the ability to change how you cook in the kitchen forever. I’m serious here.
If you award yourself the delight of a dressing that is super delicious you want to eat it everyday - you’ll find what you lather it on doesn’t matter as much (although not the total point, it can help when trying to increase veggie intake).
Store in a 500mL jar and use throughout the week.
14. Roasted veggies are always a good idea.
Roast 2-3 trays on a Sunday to use throughout the week when you're unsure what to add to your meal. Or make that dip I was talking about in point #6.
15. Soft boiling an egg takes 6 minutes.
Drop into rapid boiling water and put the timer on! If you're having trouble peeling your eggs, let them cool completely first or peel them while submerged in water.
16. Make your citrus extra juicy, use the palm of your hand and roll on the bench.
Apply a bit of pressure and you will feel the flesh inside loosen up as you roll. You. are. welcome.
17. Make your salad dressing creamy by blending in 1-2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds.
Your dressings can be creamy just by adding a few tablespoons of nuts. So many of clients think a dressing needs to be oily liquid, runny and clear. Adding nuts can give the impression of a mayonnaise style dressing or a ranch dressing - but so much better and dairy free too.
18. Pasta sauce is made by cooking some onions in a pan for 10 minutes, adding garlic, herbs and fresh tomatoes. Don't bother with that bottled stuff.
Let that simmer for another 15-20 minutes and you have yourself a sauce. Simmer with the lid on for a thinner sauce, or simmer with the lid off for a thicker style sauce.
The longer you simmer, the less liquid you have, the closer you are to tomato sauce - like what you lather on your sausage rolls. You could also use this sauce, thick or thin, to add to your home-made pizza.
19. Learning to cook is one of the most important life skills anyone can learn.
Male or female. Young or old. Get involved. Take back control of your health in the kitchen.
It’s not a chore. It’s as basic as breathing and sleeping. It get’s complicated when you overthink the recipe, start too far down the line (with say, a duck something or other) and ignore the possibilities of the simplest ingredients and flavour combinations.
Learn how to make your own pizza dough.
Discover the world of salads and how to build the most delicious unforgettable bowls of freshness. After all, a salad is so much more than leaves in a bowl.
Nail a curry paste and different curries.
Keep it simple! Eat with the seasons. Steer clear of diet labels, food guilt and silly rules.
Embrace how your food makes you feel. Pay close attention to this, it gets easier over time.
Learn some new skills. Pass your skills onto the next generation and share the lesson and importance of self care through food and cooking.
Have some fun. Make delicious things. Invite your friends and family over. Have a food party. Make an awesome cake and eat it too.
20. Cooking at home is a great way to start losing weight.
You'll know exactly what's in your food.
You'll be in charge of the portion sizes.
You'll feel like you've accomplished something.
You'll be happy your meal cost $2 instead of $25.
Most takeaways contains a lot of sugar, weird hydrogenated oil and bad vibes. Have you ever checked out who is actually cooking your food in the kitchen? Or how healthy/happy they look? Whether you believe it or not, you are getting their vibes in your food.
21. Cooking is (one of) the greatest acts of love, generosity and creativity that you can share with your nearest and dearest.
It builds community, sparks creativity and connects us with nature, feeds, fuels and nourishes.
It adds colour to our day, is made by the sun and dances on our tastebuds like no manufactured product ever could.