Real food flavor in a rush

Real food spices faster photo

How many times does a recipe, or food idea seem like a great idea … until you read the final entry: Place in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Groan! I can’t solve every instance of this mood-killing statement, but I can help when you are working with blending dehydrated spices or herbs into your meal.

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Spice control for real cooking

Real food spices in a market

Real food spices in a marketYou can’t make real food without spices. Period! Real food ingredients come in a naked state. That’s what makes them perfect. A blank canvas to paint your next meal, reflect your mood and custom-tease your senses. But you need a good method to store and use spices to unlock the full potential of spices in your cooking.

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Roasted peppers are worth the work

Roasted red pepper in a sandwich image
Roasted red peppers add substance and exciting taste to a simple sandwich with cream cheese, zucchini slices and shredded Swiss cheese.

Warning! This is not one of my simple tips. Making roasted peppers takes time. It’s fiddly. It’s also worth it. I’ve tried bottled roasted red pepper, and while I don’t know exactly how they make them, I taste a chemical undertone every time. The version you can buy at an olive bar in an upscale supermarket is often great, but very, very costly.

Once in a while, when I find a really good price on red pepper, I will buy a few and commit the time to roasting and freezing a supply.

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Keep fresh herbs fresh

Fresh herbs stored in water in the fridge
Fresh herbs stored in water can last for weeks in the fridge.Click the image to see the glass container.

Hands up if you have bought fresh herbs, used them once or twice, and had them turn brown, or even to mush before you get used to having this treat available. I thought so. It doesn’t have to be so.

Fresh herbs that have stalks, which is most if you are buying commercially, can be kept fresh for far longer if you store them upright in water in your fridge.

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Creating real food sides on the fly

Real food fast: Cucumber salad photo
This crisp, cool salad can be made in the few minutes just before you serve dinner. Perfect with spicy food.

The difference between a good meal and a great meal is often the little sides or condiments you add to the main dish. This little cucumber salad is perfect to prepare as you wait for the meal to cook.

Don’t think of this idea as a recipe, more like a concept. My sides are often inspired as I gather the ingredients for the meal.

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Keep an avocado fresh for real food additions

Real food avocado storage
Cut just what you need at one time from an avocado.

Everyone loves guacamole. But avocados, with their creamy texture, gentle, but distinct flavor, and healthy fat can add a great touch to sandwiches, salads, main dishes and soup. Trouble is, an avocado is not forgiving once it is cut. Here’s a tip to let you use an avocado, one slice at a time.

Cut only what you need from the whole avocado. Here I have cut a wedge that is less than a quarter of the entire fruit.

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Keep it simple: drying peppers, no tools required

If I started cooking today, I don’t know how I would find my way through the marketing, the cooking shows, each calling for specific tools to “succeed.” It’s no wonder that people throw their hands up and buy frozen dinners. I was cooking a lot, even as a student, when I was moving every few months, by bus and cab. You don’t need much to be successful in the kitchen.

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