Recently, Jordan and I baked a cake together (for more on that, tune in to my Snapchat @MCMScott). It was kind of a hysterical experience. But the thing I loved most about it was hearing Jordan say, "Wow - you really do know what you're doing." He's never in the kitchen when I cook or bake, so he was pleasantly surprised that I do, indeed, have a basic knowledge of how things work in a kitchen.
Mmhmm. Men. Amirite, ladies?
I have a few friends who are professional chefs and pastry chefs, so I hope they'll just close their browser at this point because I'm inevitably going to say something wrong and/or dumb. BUT, in the spirit of sharing, here are some things that make my life easier in the kitchen:
1. Counter garbage.
"Ew, you put garbage on the counter??" Well...kinda.
Back in our first house in Birmingham, our kitchen had very limited storage space. I'm talking about we had ONE DRAWER. Yep. You read that right.
That being the case, I decided that I wanted to try to conserve as much space as possible while I cooked. Thus, "counter garbage" was born. This is the most unattractive tip on the list, but I love it. I take a grocery bag, put it on the counter, and use it for all my food-related waste: the ends of vegetables, the outside of onions, little plastic wrappers on bottles or cans - anything. Then, when I'm done, all my garbage is in one place. All I have to do is tie it off and chuck it. It saves me time while cooking to not have to constantly carry a cutting board or a handful of food trimmings to the garbage can.
There are lots of cute little counter garbages you can buy offline, or you can be like me and stick a bag on your counter. Because, I'm classy.
2. Mise en place.
This one is in French, so I hope it's clear that I didn't invent it.
"Mise en place" means "everything in its place." The idea is that, before cooking a meal, you pre-set all the equipment and all the ingredients you'll need. Although this seems like a lot of work on the front end (and may not be necessary for recipes you know by heart), this takes A LOT of guesswork out of making a new recipe. Once you get started, you can just add the ingredients - BAM! No measuring, no stopping to double-check - just dump it right in.
One of the best part of employing this technique is that successfully doing it requires you to read the recipe carefully. The number of times I've ruined a dish because I didn't read the recipe through first are...well, too many to name.
And of course, it makes for a beautiful, organized workspace - that always helps to yield a more delicious recipe, right?
3. Crack an egg on a flat surface.
I'm sure half of you are like, "Yeah. Duh." But I recently heard someone say this and it changed the game. I have two eggs every single morning for breakfast, so this actually made a pretty big difference in my kitchen.
Never. Crack an egg. On the side. Of a bowl. It's that simple. Why? Doing that cracks the shell into the egg, making it more likely that you'll end up with bits of shell in your final product. Instead, crack the egg on a flat surface, like your counter or a cutting board, and the crack will distribute more evenly across more surface area. That way, you can just pull the egg apart.
In the meantime, we'll all be working up to this:
4. Oven bacon.
This one was taught to me a couple of years ago by a fellow dentist wife (shoutout to Tara Hulgan!) and I have never looked back.
Instead of frying bacon in your cast iron skillet, put your bacon on a piece of foil (make sure the foil comes up and over the sides of the pan), stick it on a cookie sheet, and pop that sheet into a COLD oven. Once it's in, preheat your oven to about 425 degrees.
Here's the important step: the first few times you do this, you'll need to really babysit your bacon to see how your oven is going to behave. Once the temperature hits 425, if your bacon isn't done, you'll want to increase the time the bacon is cooking, not increase the heat (otherwise, your oven just gets hotter and hotter until your bacon burns). Instead, hang out by the oven door and pay attention to how long you waited. Next time, once the oven preheats, you'll be able to set your kitchen timer for exactly that long and when it goes off, TA DA! Perfectly, evenly cooked, mess-free bacon. And you can still save the fat.
(Also, buy your bacon from the butcher and not from an airtight package in the deli. Because #cancer.)
5. Microwave corn to de-silk and shuck.
This one sounds a bit weird, but I'm telling you - you will NEVER be covered in those weird, sticky corn silks again. And who likes that? (Not me, just so I'm clear. I do not like that.) Shoutout to my grandmother, Nonnie, for sharing this one.
I actually found a video of a chef doing this! It's SO effective every single time. Trust.
What are your cooking or kitchen hacks?? Tell me! I want to keep impressing my husband with my endless knowledge on this subject.