Helpful tips for January 2014

The Essential Kitchen Skills No One Taught (but Everyone Should Know) Most of us never get a crash course in how to cook or find our way around the kitchen. We learn from others: friends, parents, cooking shows, or cookbooks. That means it’s easy for there to be gaps in our knowledge, like things we really should know, have been doing wrong, or just never had to learn. Let’s take a look at some of them. Even if you do know your way around a kitchen, odds are you’ve come across a problem or two that you just didn’t know how to tackle, or you had no idea what the right way was, so you got along the best you could. There’s nothing wrong with that-it’s how we all learn. I’ve been cooking for years, and only recently did I really pick up on the best way to dispose of frying oil, and I was scolded on my garbage disposal use by a plumber who came to replace the one in my apartment. Don’t make the same mistakes I have. Here are some tips to keep you in the clear in your kitchen. 1. How to Peel Peaches, Nectarines, or Tomatoes Stone fruit like peaches, tomatoes, or any fruit with thin skin and delicate flesh can be tricky to peel. The flesh bruises easily if you just take a knife to it. Instead, try blanching them to loosen the skin and make it easy to remove. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, then take a small knife and cut an X in the bottom of each peach or tomato. Lower it into the boiling water, and let it sit there for about 30 seconds to two minutes. Then remove the fruit and immediately drop them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. When they’re cooled and easy to handle, take your paring knife again and pull the skin away from the flesh. Visit the link at the beginning of this article to watch a video demonstrating the process. Granted, not too many recipes call for peeled peaches or tomatoes, but when you stumble into one, you’ll be glad you know how to do it. 2. How to Properly Dispose of Frying or Cooking Oil Frying can produce a lot of leftover oil. If you’re frying something particularly flavorful, like bacon, that oil can come in handy later. Just wait for it to cool, pour it off into a container, and save it to pop popcorn, cook eggs, or use anywhere else bacony goodness is called for. However, if you’re cooking something that just leaves oil you don’t want, don’t pour it down the sink. It can harden and clog your pipes, do serious damage to your plumbing and the surrounding water system, and depending on where you live, it’s even illegal. Instead, grab a couple of plastic bags, put one inside the other, and pour the (cooled!) leftover oil into the interior bag. Tie them both shut, and toss them in the trash. It’s a lot of waste, but it’s the easiest and safest way to get rid of it if it has no further use. We suggest you try to get as much use from it as possible. 3. How to Properly Clean (and Care for) a Garbage Disposal If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, you know it’s a lifesaver. However, depending on the model and its horsepower, it can handle some things and not others. There are some basics that apply to every disposal though. First, when you run the disposal, run it with cold water (Hot water may seem like a better idea because it dissolves fats, but it’ll push them down the drain, where they’ll solidify into clogs). To clean, grab a few ice cubes and put them into the disposal while you’re rinsing it. As the disposal chops up the ice and the water rinses it away, it’ll grab any bits of leftover food or debris and flush it down the drain. We’ve shown you this method before, although the folks at CHOW suggested you put some kosher salt down along with the ice for a little added abrasiveness. When you’re finished, cut a lemon up into quarters (or smaller), and put those down the drain as well while rinsing with cold water. It doesn’t actually clean the disposal, but it will make it-and your kitchen-smell fresher. Beyond that, it’s important to remember what you should and shouldn’t put down your disposal. Read the manual if you have one, and if you don’t, just remember not to treat it like some kind of magic eating machine that can handle everything you shove down it. The last plumber that replaced my garbage disposal and snaked my backed-up kitchen sink explained that coffee grounds, eggshells, and peels-things you would assume are safe-can actually do more damage over the long term. We could debate the specifics all day, but the rule is usually “If it can go in the trash, put it in the trash, then the rest goes down the disposal.” 4. How to Clean Your Washer, Dryer, and Dishwasher Most people don’t think about cleaning their washer, dryer, or dishwasher, because they use them to clean other things. We assume that because we put soap and water in them, they clean themselves. That’s only partially true (after all, does your bathtub clean itself?). You can certainly run your dishwasher or washing machine empty, but that’ll only do so much. Instead, do this: . For your dishwasher: Regular use should keep your dishwasher pretty clean, but with age it may wind up collecting water at the bottom, get hard water stains or scale, or other mildew buildup. Remove the racks and go at it with a brush or sponge to remove all of that. Then, run the dishwasher empty, on a hot water cycle. Sprinkle some baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher, and leave a cup of vinegar on the top rack. A packet of Kool-Aid or another generic, acidic drink mix will get the job done too. Some people swear by this method, although according to most appliance service-people, it’s really the vinegar that does the job; by the time it hits the baking soda, it’s all waterlogged and ready to drain anyway. Spot cleaning is important too, and make sure you’re not using too much soap-most people do. There are many more kitchen tips and videos at the link below. _________________________ Tech tips With a huge bouquet of thanks to Dan Thompson at SIRI AND IOS7 Listed below are some common commands which can be used with Siri in iOS 7: by AnonyMouse on 18 September, 2013 Article Source: ]]>

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