Monday, 15 September 2014

5 kitchen hacks I use too much

So I cook a lot, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen - which I really love. Honestly my husband's heart is in his stomach, I've never met anyone who can eat so  much but not put any weight on. Our old housemate used to properly get pissed off when she saw how much he ate and how little he did, cuz she was like really into fitness and healthy eating. But yeah before I got married I didn't know how to cook and couldn't cut a vegetable straight it was ridiculous, but my husband and is super patient and super understand, plus he will eat anything (the other day his colleague dared him to eat a bunch of peppercorns... he did. He stank like peppercorns for like 2 days, I wanted to kill his colleague) so I had lots of time to learn and get it wrong/right. There are a few things I do to make life a little easier or make preparation a little quicker or just I like doing so here they are...

1) Fruit
I love fruit, like just about all fruit I love but the problem I have is that I buy loads and then I'm like unable to eat it all at once so like the other day I got a load of strawberries and I could see they were going a little soft and were on their way out so I sorted them, took the stalks out, cut them up and froze them. They keep for ages in the freezer, I've been using them as icecream topping and a quick frozen snack just a couple everytime I got to the fridge and they taste so damn good. I do it with grapes, raspberries, pretty much anything but do your self a favour and cut whatever you are freezing into small peices before hand otherwise it's a little harder to eat like you have to wait until it's defrosted a little. They do well as ice cubes too! Also I love tinned fruit idk why but I do so the juice or syrup it's kept in is usually super yummy and is good as a cordial like addition to sparkling drinks :)

2) Timing
If you are as lazy as me when it comes to cooking for yourself then the chances are you will eat warmed up leftovers or just the simplest thing to make - my major tip to making food quick is to chop whatever you are cooking to roughly the same size, I find it cooks at similar times that way. If I am just cooking for me everything is the same size and goes in all at once and when the thing that typically takes the longest to cook is done then I'm gunna eat it cuz I don't particularly care. I rarely put as much effort into my own meals as I do when cooking for others.

3) Soup
I live off of soup, like during the week I have soup at least 3 times, with bread smothered in spreadable butter but I find tinned soup is sometimes a little bit of a let down - so far my favourite soup is by Asda, not the usual Heinz or whatever but I like to vary it up a little otherwise you just get bored so I tend to make a little sauce to add to the soup for example with cream of mushroom soap I will melt a (read 2-3) table spoon of butter add a mushroom or two that is chopped roughly but small and a little pepper and cook that until the mushrooms are soft, then I just add it to a bowl and pour the soup on top and heat it in the microwave. Tomato based soups are even easier just add finely chopped fresh/dried herb - whichever you enjoy to the bowl chopped before heating. A table spoon of frozen peas or sweetcorn adds texture, even just a stock cube to can make it taste so much better!

4) Planning
Honestly this is probably the best one. I know what I'm cooking way in advance because I have a bunch of meals that I alternate between because I'm good at them , my hubby loves them and if you space them out right you don't feel like you are constantly eating the same thing over and over. When I do the monthly shop, I think about what I need down to the herbs - that way I'm not faffing around in a shop with a list every day, it's already there in the cupboard waiting for me. When I'm about to start cooking I get everything I need out and sorted into where they need to be, so veg goes on the chopping board,  all washed and ready; oils and spices go next to the hob with the pan and spoon and once I've used it and no longer need it I put it back straight away because then at the end after I have finished cooking it's not loads of stuff that needs tidying cuz I've been doing it as I go along. Something that my Maa taught me was to have like a little bowl ( I use an old mushroom container) for all the bits and bobs that need to go in the bin, so peelings and such whilst you are cooking all go into this little bowl and then at the end you can just throw it in the bin all at once, it saves  you running to the bin after every different veg and means you aren't in danger of dropping it all and making a big mess (which I used to do a lot before I heeded my Maa's advice). The more time you spend in the kitchen the more comfortable you get and the quicker you get, I know it's hard finding the time and having the energy but believe me, you feel better for it - when you have a bowl or plate of something that you made in a short amount of time that tastes pretty damn good you can't help but smile. One thing I do love as well is looking at recipes online and finding ways to make them your own way (read: lazy/easy), you don't have to add all the things on the list and do it exactly the way they have said it's okay to alter it a bit.

5) Leftovers
Left overs are your best friend, my lazy darling. Seriously you don't know the joy of  a toastie filled with last nights kebab, cheese and nandos sauce - it takes no less than five minutes to make but tastes like heaven. Made too much pasta sauce? Pizza toast - toast bread, smother one side with pasta sauce, top with slices of cheese and put under the grill - SO DAMN GOOD. Left over meat from a curry? I had this problem a lot, cuz I've only just learnt to eat meat I would have meat left over but the sauce and veg were all gone so I  would shred the meat and add it to stuff, like chicken goes in salad or with veg and cous cous; meat goes in little pastry parcels as a snack or in a wrap with chunky cut peppers and salsa like a weird burrito, fish is always game for a fish pie. It cuts cooking time cuz it's already half done and you don't have to chuck it away and feel guilty! Win, win. Some of my hubby's favourite snacks started off as things I made cuz I had leftovers, he's happy cuz it tastes good and he hates wasting (energy, food, anything - he just finds it really annoying) and I'm happy cuz he's like "OMG this is awesome" and I barely lifted a finger! Utilize what you have to the fullest!

Now after writing about soup I want some :)


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