Reducing the Grr! Factor: Garlic skin

What’s a Grr! Factor? When preparing a meal, something happens that is not bad enough to warrant a launch into your best expletives, but definitely reduces any pleasure you are having with your work … that’s the Grr! factor.

The first one up is garlic skin. When you cook real food, your hands are often wet, or sticky, and your work surface is cluttered. Introducing a garlic head into this scene can cause Grr! to occur. Garlic skin sticks to everything. It flakes, it flies. Trying to pick a garlic skin out of the chopped garlic with fingers that have garlic skin sticking to them … well, need I say more?

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Reducing the Grr! Factor: Tame your cords and loose ingredients with elastics

Real food tips controlling cords photo
A simple elastic wrapped around small appliances ends cord problems in your cupboards

I’ve mentioned before that I have a small kitchen. One of the secrets to happy work in a tiny space is keeping countertops clear, so I choose to store small appliances that I use occasionally in a cupboard. However, I hated fighting with cords when moving them in and out.

The solution turned out to be a simple elastic band.

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Building your personal cooking file

Recently I wrote about my dislike of following recipes. That doesn’t mean I am always running on my memory. That is one of my more unreliable talents, so I have learned to document what I am unlikely to remember.

Real food recipe folder image
A simple folder holds recipes from friends and outside sources, as well as successful recipes gathered from the Web.

First, when I do use a successful recipe, I save it. Recipes arrive in my kitchen scrawled on a scrap of paper, if from a friend or other source of inspiration, or printed on a page from the Web. I keep a folder in my cupboard to harbor these treasures (only if they work for me, of course). I have tried almost every recipe system available, and nothing has kept my important information in place better than a simple folder. I spend a little extra time finding what I need, because there is no order to my file, but the important thing is that it is easy to put the paper away, no matter what form it takes. When I am cleaning my kitchen, I am moving fast and on autopilot — no time for creative thinking. Any form of information storage that required intricate folding or cutting to fit, would never work.

Real food kitchen notebook
A notebook safely stores all the tips and observations from my own kitchen.

The second tool I could not do without is my notebook.

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Preparing strawberries quickly

Real food strawberry with hull removed image
Strawberry washed, with hull removed. Ready to use or prepare for storage.

If you are trying to eat local strawberries year round (see why you should), you will be preparing a lot of berries at one time. Fresh locally-grown strawberries have a VERY short shelf, so you should plan to buy only what you can prepare immediately. Preparation is really quite simple, with removing the hull the only time-consuming part of the process.

I’ve tried a few special tools for hulling strawberries, but I always come back to a simple steak knife. If you have a really good paring knife, try that. Aside: for as much cooking as I do, and as much as I cherish my good chef’s knife, I have never owned a decent paring knife.

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