Cooking tips

Stir Frying Techniques

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Compared to your preparation, stir frying occurs in flash. Place the wok on a high heat, and when it is hot, add peanut, corn, or canola oil. After a few moments test the oil with a bit of the aromatics, ginger or garlic; if it sizzles the oil is ready. Then, add the aromatics. In less than a minute they will begin to release their flavor and aroma, and you can begin to add the vegetables and meat in the order of their cooking times; those that take the longest are added first. Stiri, lift, and toss the ingredients until they are evenly cooked without scorching. Ingredients may be removed once they are cooked and returned before finishing. Then add the liquid ingredients and seasoning. For thinly sliced or shredded dishes, turn down the heat for a few minutes while the flavors combine, adjust the seasoning, and serve. For dishes with tougher or larger ingredients, place a lid over the wok and adjust the temperature to maintain a simmer so that the food steams until it has absorbed a portion or all of the liquid. Then return any ingredients that were removed, adjust the seasoning, stir quickly, and serve.

Splenda

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Splenda® has been available in Canada for several years and is now available in the United States. Splenda® (sucralose) is chemically inert and does not break down as it passes through the body. It can be used more or less measure for measure like sugar. In other words, 1 teaspoon of Splenda® tastes like 1 teaspoon of sugar.
1 teaspoon (5 mL or 0.5 grams) of Splenda contains 2 calories (8 kJ); 0.5 grams carbohydrate; 6 mg sucralose; 0 g fat; 0 g protein

Stir Fry Preparation

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Preparation is usually more time consuming in stir frying than in sauteing or panfrying. In stir frying high heat is used to cook meat and vegetables quickly in a small amount of oil. The largest part of preparation is fine chopping aromatics such as garlic, green onion, ginger, or chili, and cutting meat and vegetables into uniform pieces, usually thin slices, shreds, or a medium dice, for quick and uniform cooking. It is not necessary to have Asian cooking utensils, such as a seasoned wok, a long handled spatula, and a long handled scoop, but they will make the task easier. A wok is made to concentrate the heat in the center of the pan, with the edges acting as a warm resting area. The long spatula and scoop are used to keep the food in motion, by stirring, lifting and tossing, to insure that each piece gets evenly exposed to the heat without scorching and to seal in the flavor. They also keep your hands away from the heat. Once you begin, the cooking occurs very rapidly, and so it is important to have everything ready and near the stove before you turn on the heat.

How to Cut Winter Squash

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Recipes for winter squash usually begin with the instruction, 'Cut the squash in half.' However, squash vary tremendously in size, shape, and skin toughness - compare hubbards, spaghettis, turbans, and delicatas - and cutting them can be a perplexing and dangerous task. Luckily, heat can soften a squash and alleviate some of the difficulty. Using a pairing knife or metal skewer, pierce the skin in three or four places, and cook the squash in a microwave set on high, then proceed with recipe. It will take 5 to 15 minutes to soften depending on the squash’s size and hardness. After cooling, remove the stem and lay the squash on its most stable side. Holding it with one hand, pierce the center with a medium or large knife. Then pull through and down the squash until one half is cut through cleanly. Turn the squash and repeat the process on the uncut half. The squash can then be seeded and cooked further. Squash too large for the microwave can be baked in the oven until their skin softens. No two squash are the same, soft or hard, and attempting to cut even a small squash in half with one stroke can be dangerous. Remember, safety first.

How to Cook Stock

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Preheat oven to about 400 degrees F. Put cleaned beef, chicken or fish into a large baking pot. Add any fresh vegetables you care to, including carrot tops, if desired. Carrots, celery, and bell peppers are good to use. Onions do not need to be peeled. Place in the oven and brown for about 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Place roasted meat and vegetables in a stockpot. Add spices, as desired, such as garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, parsley, bay leaf, thyme and/or rosemary. Don't add salt, as you normally add this to the dish you are preparing which uses the stock. Cover the meat and vegetables with double their volume in water. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Leave the pot uncovered so that some liquid evaporates and intensifies the taste.
Seafood stocks need only 1 hour to develop maximum flavor, but beef and chicken should simmer at least several hours. Cook the stock until about one-third of the original liquid remains. Straini it, let it cool, and degrease it. The stock can be frozen in ice cube trays and cubes used as needed.
For vegetable stock, simply omit the meat, chicken or fish from the above instructions.

Smoking

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You can smoke food without a smoker and even without a covered grill. To smoke without a cover, place wet wood chips in an aluminum foil package; punch small holes in the package with a fork, and place directly on the charcoal.

Soups - How to Remove Extra Salt

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Place a raw potato in salty soup. The potato will absorb the extra salt

Skewers - How to Use

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Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using them so they won't burn during cooking.
If you prefer metal skewers, which have a long life, use square or twisted types, which will hold the food better than round ones.
To keep food from slipping off during cooking and turning, use two parallel skewers rather than a single skewer.
If you're using a wooden skewer, as you thread the food move the pieces close together, with no space showing.
If the skewer is metal, you can leave small spaces between the pieces.
When using foods with different cooking times (such as shrimp and beef), don't combine them on the same skewer. Instead, make skewers of just shrimp or just beef, start cooking the beef first, and then combine them on a serving platter.

Sourdough Starter - How to Revive

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1) Using 1 tablespoon of starter (discard unused portion or save a little in the 'frige in case of an emergency), 1 cup 75 degree water, and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour, proof for exactly 24 hours at 72 to 77 degrees. It's very important to maintain these precise temperatures and to proof for exactly 24 hours.
2) Examine the starter to determine what stage it's at, i.e. assuming you didn't overheat it, it should be 'flat', 'barely living', or 'healthy'. Remember the clues to identifying non-healthy starter: low number of bubbles, early hooch, gelatinous consistency, no froth on top, or any 2 or more of these symptoms. If 'healthy' you're done.
3) If not healthy yet, stir it well and refrigerate it for no lessthan 12 hours.
4) Remove the starter from the refrigerator and go to step 1. This iterative process needs to be repeated a few times...usually around 4 or 5 times or so unless you were lucky. A lot of the home-dried starters revive much quicker than this.

Soups - How To Remove Some Fat

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Remove some of the fat in soups by adding a lettuce leaf to the pot. Remove the leaf after fat removal.