Health 105: How To Cook

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Health 104: Ailments

Cooking isn’t complicated and always worth learning

You should enjoy the experience of cooking as a type of part-time job which pays immediately

  • To their loss, many men fail to find joy in cooking

Try out different ideas to see what works

  • Cooking is a matter of calculated trial and error
  • Many well-known recipes came from a scarcity of resources
  • Look into Great Depression Cooking to see an extreme example

You don’t need to be a professional chef to understand enough to improve your quality of life

Most people are afraid of either under-cooking or burning their food

The innermost portions of a food item are sterile upon reaching the temperature of boiling water (212°F)

After you turn off your heat source, the food will still cook from radiating heat still inside the food

Most badly made food is cooked either at the wrong temperature or for the wrong amount of time

  • Too hot – well-cooked outside but almost raw on the inside
  • Too cold – flavors don’t develop and aromas don’t fully open up
  • Too short – food isn’t thoroughly cooked and has a “raw” taste
  • Too long – dry and brittle with little moisture or flavor left in the food

There are simple tricks to resolve poor time tracking or heat management

  • Try all of the burners without anything on them and observe them as you turn up the heat
    • Don’t crank up the heat to save time, since you dramatically risk burning it
  • Use more than one burner
  • Frequently stir the food
  • Don’t walk away from the cooking area or try to multi-task
    • You can only multi-task once you’re familiar enough with cooking that you can cook without thinking about it
  • Burning food often happens after the water in the pot has evaporated, so keep checking that there’s enough water

Pay attention to your time and space limitations

Separate the cooking into batches to save time

  • Plan your meal preparation and diet a week out
  • Work assembly-line style to prepare the ingredients quickly
  • Use Supercook to find out what you can make from the food you currently have

If you have a small kitchen

  • Cook and bake ahead of time if you’re preparing for several people
  • Place all the cooking items in easily accessible locations
  • Make more space by placing a cutting board over an open drawer
  • Always keep one surface area open for any miscellaneous tasks you forget to plan for

Observe the weather

  • The worst time to start the oven is in the middle of a blisteringly hot summer day
    • Open windows if the weather is pleasant outside to allow ventilation
  • You can save on heating bills by cooking on cold days

Make cooking more comfortable with the right utensils

You don’t need all of the following, but each one has a purpose and use

Your cooking style and preferred ingredients will naturally determine the best utensils for your kitchen

Properly divide food into base components

Graters will shred into consistent smaller pieces

  • Nutmeg grater, ginger grater
  • Box grater, zest grater, microplane grater, rotary grater

Presses push food through it to make it into a new form

  • Potato ricer
  • Pasta mill
  • Food mill
  • Citrus press, garlic press
  • Nutcracker

Grinders tear apart items into smaller pieces

  • Pepper grinder
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Wheat grinder
  • Spice mill

Blades cut food in different ways

  • Clam knife, fish knife
  • Bread knife
  • Santoku knife, chef’s Knife
  • Paring knife
  • Mezzaluna
  • Meat knives – cleaver, boning knife, slicing knife
  • Cheese knives – soft cheese knife, parmesan knife
  • Scissors – kitchen shears, poultry shears

Slicers are special knives for specific situations

  • Cheese slicer
  • Egg slicer
  • Mandoline
  • Cheese plane
  • Fruit divider
  • Wheels – pastry wheel, pizza wheel

Strainers separate out food from other parts of the food

  • Handheld strainer
  • Salad spinner
  • Sifters – drum sifter, sugar shaker, sifter
  • Scoop colander, colander
  • Chinoise
  • Fat separator
  • Spider

Manipulators allow you to transform food

Openers – can opener, bottle opener, corkscrew

Spoons/spatulas

  • Spatula
  • Slotted spatula
  • Rubber spatula
  • Fish spatula
  • Turner

Pastry tools are for preparing bread products

  • Cookie cutter
  • Rolling pin
  • Pie weights
  • Pastry blender
  • Pastry bag

Whisks – balloon whisk, flat whisk

Basting – meat baster, basting bulb

Mashers – meat tenderizer, potato masher

Tongs – salad tongs, metal tongs

Containers allow the civilized storage, consumption, and manipulation of food

Food Storage – canisters, plastic containers

Bowls – batter bowl, mixing bowl, prep bowl

Scoopers and servers permit transferring food without having to touch it with your hands

Ladle

Wooden spoon

Ice cream scoop

Slotted spoon

Melon baller

Spaghetti server

Serving fork

Serving spoon

Cake server

Measurers help you follow guidelines from recipes (though measuring is much more of an art than a science)

Temperature measurement – candy thermometer, meat thermometer

Volume measurement – measuring cups, measuring spoons

Weight measurement – digital scale, scale

Time measurement – egg timer, kitchen timer

  • Protection allows safety and wellness with preparing food
    • Heat protection – pot holder, oven mitt
    • Cutting boards – prep cutting board, butcher block

Keep your kitchen clean and your tools in working order

Test bowls before microwaving them

  1. Place the bowl in the microwave with a mug of cold water and heat on high for 1 min
  2. Microwaving is safe if the water is hot and the container is still cool, but don’t microwave if the container is hot

Try to use the two-bowl method to manage waste and washing dishes

  1. A bowl for throwing out scraps and garbage together
  2. A container for soaking dishes to wash together

As you finish using items, clean them or reuse them to avoid a massive pile of dishes at the end of your cooking session

Don’t mistreat pots and pans

  • Research to find out how to clean each cookware surface
  • Do not clean cast-iron pans with soap and water
    • The caked-on “seasoning” is where cast-iron gets its flavor
    • To clean cast-iron, pour in oil and a handful of kosher salt, then scrub the salt into the pan with an old rag or paper towels

Keep a few staple items on hand that work for almost everything

  • Pasta is a standard base for most dishes
  • Rice is affordable and ubiquitous
  • Canned vegetables are useful when you don’t have access to fresh vegetables and need them for a recipe
  • Canned chicken and tuna are helpful for a quick meal
  • Ground beef is a necessary staple for many simple meals
  • Salsa is an excellent condiment for most meals
  • Chicken and beef bouillon are useful to make gravy or broth when you need it
  • Flour is helpful in thickening gravy, breading and for baking bread
  • Butter is an excellent addition to any meal
  • A wide variety of herbs, spices, and extracts for all occasions
  • Freeze leftover vegetable and meat food items (e.g., carrot tops, onion stems, celery ends, chicken bones, extra meat) for high-quality homemade stock

Stay safe as you cook

Be careful around heat

  • Keep the containers of oil far from the heat source
  • Try to tie down or not wear loose clothing that could get caught on the heat source
  • To keep pot lids propped open, push a thumbtack into a wood clothespin to hold it up

Use knives properly

  • Grip the handle with the three back fingers and pinch the neck of the knife with your index finger and thumb
  • Dull knives are the cause of most kitchen injuries, so keep them sharp
    • Get a sharpening steel or sharpening stone
    • Grind against the bottom of a coffee mug
    • Cut through aluminum foil
  • If you don’t want to continue honing your knives, buy a high-quality knife
  • Watch a video to learn a proper forward slice, back slice, tip-down rocking, and chopping

Don’t thaw meat at room temperature, instead use a cold-water bath changed out every half hour to avoid excess bacteria growth

Learn better ways to prepare food

Preparing anything

Get your hands cold and wet before handling sticky foods to avoid messy hands

Measure with cups still wet with hot water to make cleaning them easier

Cut herbs, thin vegetables, pizzas, bread, and wraps with scissors instead of a knife

Cut or mince veggies, meat, and cheese with a pizza slicer

Cut soft foods like cheeses and cakes with unflavored dental floss

Instead of a piping bag place your food, pastry or frosting inside a freezer bag and cut off the corner

Stab the beaters of your electric whisk through a paper plate before attaching to prevent messes

Heating anything

Rapidly boil water by running a coffee machine without coffee grounds

Microwave two bowls at the same time by placing one of them on top of a coffee mug

Place your stirring spoon inside the hole on a pot handle to avoid a mess

If water starts boiling over, pour in some olive oil to keep it from overflowing

When frying, sprinkle a little salt in the pan to keep the oil from splattering

Grains

Add oil to boiling water to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan

Add cinnamon sticks to rice, couscous or lentils for a unique flavor

Make portable bread by baking it into a tin can

When cutting bread

  • Stick the knife in hot water to get the blade hot, then wipe it quickly and slice
  • Turn loaves upside down to keep it from getting smashed

Instead of boiling rice in water, boil it in chicken or beef stock

Vegetables

Clean vegetables by sprinkling baking soda in water, soaking, then rinsing them

Add vinegar when boiling water to retain a vegetables’ colors

If you’re making more vegetables than you can eat in one sitting, slightly undercook them so they don’t get soft when reheating

Potatoes

  • Peel potatoes easily
    1. Boil until a fork can be stuck into them easily
    2. Drain the water
    3. Run them under cold water and the skin should slide off
  • Make potatoes dry and fluffy when cooling
    1. Add a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt when boiling
    2. Drain and place the potatoes on heat again for a few minutes

Cut mushrooms with an egg slicer

Separate garlic more easily

  • Microwave cloves for 15-20 seconds for them to slip right out of their skins
  • Place the cloves together in a covered container and shake well, then separate the skins

After chopping garlic, sprinkle in salt to bring out the flavor

Cut onions without tears

  • Cut off both ends of the onion and cook in the microwave for 30 seconds
  • Chew gum while cutting onions

Slice an onion effortlessly

  • Peel an onion by slicing each end off, slicing it vertically, then pulling the skin off
  • Dice an onion by cutting a half-onion in vertical strips almost through to the top, then parallel strips to the cutting board almost to the top, then chopping cross-wise

Prepare peppers more easily

  • Chop peppers by slicing off the ends, cutting toward the center, unfolding and removing the seed pod, cutting off the ribs, then chopping like normal
  • Wear a plastic bag over your hand when slicing jalapeños to avoid burning your hand with capsaicin
  • Cook stuffed peppers upright in a muffin tray

Fruits

Clean fruits more easily

  • Sprinkle baking soda in water, soak the fruit in the water, then rinse them
  • Clean large amounts of fruit all at once in the sink
    1. Fill the sink with water
    2. Add 1 cup of vinegar and stir
    3. Add all your fruit (including berries) and let it soak for 10 minutes
    4. The water will be dirty, the fruits will sparkle without any wax, and they will keep for longer
  • Clean large amounts of fruit by running them in the dishwasher without soap

Get more juice out of fruits

  • Roll them on the counter before cutting them
  • Microwave lemons and limes for 10-30 seconds before slicing
  • Squeeze your fruits with tongs to save energy

Cut your fruits more easily

  • Chop off the ends of citrus fruits, slice halfway through the middle, then unroll it
  • Slice a watermelon without a knife by making a small incision with a quarter and then karate chopping it in half
  • Cut cherry tomatoes by sandwiching them between lids or plates and then cutting through the middle with a serrated knife
  • Slice mangos by cutting around where the seed runs, scoring the fruit without breaking the skin, then spooning out

Evenly redistribute sugar in a pineapple by storing it in the fridge for half an hour before cutting it

Peel fruits like tomatoes and peaches by microwaving them for half a minute, then letting them cool for a few minutes

Dairy

Grate refrigerated butter to work with it easily

Melt margarine or butter for a minute in the microwave instead of burning it in the stove or waiting for it to soften on the counter

To test if butter is real or artificial, spread it on a piece of paper and light it on fire

  • Real butter will smell pleasant, but substitute butter will smell terrible

Meats

Slow cookers can prepare anything to the point of tenderness, even tougher meats

When scalding a chicken, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the boiling water for the feathers to come off more easily

When cooking wild game, add baking soda to the water to remove the “gamey” taste from the meat

Slide cinnamon sticks into meat before roasting for a unique flavor

Tenderize meat before cooking it

  • Soak in vinegar overnight
  • Rub vinegar on both sides and let sit 2 hours

Cook fish fillets in the microwave

  1. Dry the fish, then overlap the tails when plating
  2. Remove the fish while it’s still opaque
  3. Though it appears clear it’s still cooking, so let it cool

Hold kabobs in an upside-down colander for cooking or serving

Beans and nuts

Soak lentils and beans more quickly

  1. Add a pinch of baking soda with enough water to submerge
  2. microwave for ten minutes
  3. Let sit for 30-40 minutes

You can toast nuts in the microwave for 4-5 minutes if you stir them every minute

Start with easy recipes

Breakfast

Learn how to cook bacon

  • Make preparing bacon easier by cutting the package in half
  • Keep bacon from shrinking
    • Run it under cold water before cooking
    • Cook it with a millimeter of water at the bottom of the pan
  • Pan-frying bacon allows bacon to cook in its grease
  • Cook bacon in the microwave by wrapping them in paper towels on high for 3-5 minutes
  • The best bacon is baked open in the oven at 365°F for 10 minutes or on tinfoil at 400°F for 12 minutes
    • Baking prevents dry bacon and avoids grease splattering

Eggs are a very versatile breakfast item

  • Test an egg’s age by adding a pinch of salt to cool water and submerging it
    • If it’s fresh, it’ll sink to the bottom and lay on its side
    • If it’s a week old, it’ll fall to the bottom and tilt partially upward
    • If it’s two or three weeks old, it’ll drop  to the bottom and balance on the pointed end
    • If it’s rotten, it will float
  • Get everything out of the egg by scraping the inside of it with a spatula or your finger
    • Wet your hands to pull out shell pieces
  • Separate eggs with a water bottle
    1. Crack the egg into a shallow bowl
    2. Squeeze some of the air out of a water bottle
    3. Place the bottle’s mouth on the yolk, then slowly release your grip to push the yolk into the bottle
    4. Squeeze the yolk out of the bottle into another container
  • Scrambled eggs are the easiest to make
    • Swirl eggs around in a frying pan with your favorite ingredients
    • Make scrambled eggs in the microwave instead
      1. Beat them in a mug and mix in salt, cheese, and herbs
      2. Microwave for 3 minutes
    • You can put any leftovers from the previous night into scrambled eggs
    • You can crumble overcooked bacon and add it to scrambled eggs
  • Omelets are like scrambled eggs, but with more form
    • The conventional way
      1. Whisk together eggs and other ingredients
      2. Pour into a frying pan that has butter in it
      3. Add cheese on top of it and fold over, if desired
    • With a coffee mug in the microwave
      1. Mix two eggs, cheese, add-ins, salt, and pepper in a coffee mug
      2. Microwave for 30-60 seconds, stir, then microwave for another 30-60 seconds
  • Fried eggs are cracked over a greased frying pan and cooked on both sides
    • Sunnyside up is the same as a fried egg, but only cooked on one side
      • Make fun designs by cracking eggs into cookie cutters
    • Make eggs in a basket
      1. Cut out the inner part of a bread slice
      2. Crack an egg inside the bread in a frying pan
      3. Add sandwich meat and cheese
      4. Place the cut-out piece on top and let it finish cooking
    • Make eggs in a nest
      1. Cut a hole in the middle of a slice of bread or press a square object into it
      2. Butter the bread in the center
      3. Place the bread onto a greased frying pan
      4. Crack an egg in the middle, then add seasonings if you want
    • Make bell pepper eggs by placing horizontal pepper slices on a frying pan and cracking eggs inside them
    • Make an egg burger
      1. Cut out a circle in the middle of hamburger meat with a cup
      2. Set the hamburger meat in a frying pan
      3. Crack an egg open in the middle of the hamburger
  • Over easy makes an egg stiffer
    • Fry an egg, but cover it with butter or oil
  • Poached eggs keep the egg’s form and have a layer of white over the yolk
    • Crack an egg into boiling water
    • Make poached eggs in the microwave
      • Crack eggs and place in a microwave-safe bowl filled with water and a pinch of vinegar
      • Stick toothpicks in the egg yolks, then wrap the container with plastic wrap
      • Cook for 30 seconds, turn and cook for 20 more seconds
  • Hard-boiled eggs go into numerous recipes
    • Boiled eggs in water with the shell still on
    • The easiest way to peel a hard-boiled egg is to move the egg immediately from boiling water to ice water before cracking it
      • Add a pinch of baking soda to make shells slide off after cooling
    • Keep boiling eggs from breaking by adding two tablespoons of vinegar or a pinch of salt to the water
    • Boil cracked eggs by adding a little vinegar to the water to keep anything from boiling out
    • Test a hard-boiled egg by spinning it
      • It will keep rotating if it’s hard-boiled but will wobble if it’s uncooked
  • Bake a dozen eggs for English muffins in a muffin tray for 15-20 minutes at 350°F
    • Make breakfast bites by mixing them with bacon or ham

Make pancakes

  • Mix batter and pour over a flat hot surface, then flip it when it shows holes
  • Make oatmeal pancakes by mixing and pouring a quarter cup of instant oatmeal, two egg whites, and half of a mashed banana into a pan
  • Make flourless pancakes by mixing and pouring a banana and two eggs into a pan
  • Make perfect circle pancakes by squirting onto the pan with a meat baster
  • Mix new ingredients into pancakes
    • Make bacon pancakes by dunking bacon in pancake batter or pouring it over bacon
    • Make apple or pineapple pancakes by cutting and dipping apple or pineapple rings into pancakes

Lunch

Potatoes can bake in the microwave

Corn

  • Cook and shuck corn by putting unhusked corn in the microwave for 2-5 minutes, cutting on one side, and sliding the cob out of the husk
  • When boiling cob corn, add a pinch of sugar to bring out the corn’s natural sweetness

Make a giant pita sandwich

  1. Cut out the inside of a bread bowl and add any ingredients you want
  2. Put the top back on and flatten it with a weight
  3. Cut it into slices

Make orange marmalade

  1. Grate three orange rinds
  2. Simmer two cups of orange juice in a pan
  3. Blend the rinds with five unseeded oranges into a pulp, then add it to the pan
  4. Let the mixture simmer for a few hours
  5. Let it cool, then place it into jars
  6. It will keep for three months in the refrigerator

Make a sandwich roll

  1. Flatten bread with a roller, add slices of cheese, and roll up tightly
  2. Set it on medium heat with butter in a pan
  3. Press and turn the roll to brown it and keep it together

Make a spaghetti sandwich by placing cooked spaghetti inside slices of bread, adding garlic, and baking inside a sandwich maker

Dinner

Make mashed potatoes

  1. Bake whole potatoes on a bed of salt on a baking sheet until you can easily poke holes in the skins
  2. Peel the skins and set them aside
  3. Fry the skin in butter for a few minutes, then add a half cup of milk to the frying pan
  4. Strain the milk through a strainer, then add it to the cooked potatoes
  5. Add salt and pepper, then whip or mash to your desired consistency

Cook chicken

  1. Season both the outside and the inside of the chicken before you cook it
  2. Bake or broil the chicken
  3. Turn off the heat when you see clear liquid from slicing it

Roast vegetables

  1. Partly boil root vegetables like carrots and potatoes
  2. Drizzle them with oil, then finish cooking them in the oven

Roast potatoes

  1. Cut potatoes almost all the way through
  2. Drizzle olive oil, butter, sea salt, and pepper on top
  3. Bake at 425°F for 40 minutes

Make a French baguette

  1. Mix 1 cup of warm water, two teaspoons of active dry yeast, a tablespoon of salt, and two tablespoons of sugar into a bowl
  2. Let it stand for five minutes in a warm place for the yeast to activate
  3. Add six or seven cups of flour to a bowl and create a well in the center
  4. Pour in the yeast mixture and blend to make a firm dough
  5. Cover the dough with a wet cloth and place under the sun
  6. In a separate container, toast two tablespoons each of sesame seeds and poppy seeds in two tablespoons of olive oil
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and punch it down, then let it rest for several more minutes
  8. Place the dough on a baking tray and make three or four balls from it
  9. Elongate the dough balls into ovals, then make deep diagonal cuts
  10. Bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes

Invent your cooking style with new spices and unconventional seasonings

Adding fat, salt, and sugar to your food makes it easier to succeed at taste at the cost of it becoming less healthy

  • If you ever over-salt the food while it’s still cooking, drop in a peeled potato

Learn what herbs and spices work with which cooking mediums, flavors, and oils

  • When cooking over an open flame, use fresh herbs instead of marinades or rubs

Cook with the correct oils for the recipe

  • Each oil has a unique purpose
  • Some oils are flavorful while others are bland

Make seasonings from scratch

Big Mac secret sauce

  1. Stir the following ingredients together in a small container
    • A quarter cup of salad dressing (like Miracle Whip)
    • A quarter cup of mayonnaise
    • Three tablespoons of French Salad dressing
    • Half a tablespoon of sweet pickle relish
    • A teaspoon of sugar
    • A teaspoon of dried minced onion
    • A teaspoon of white vinegar
    • A teaspoon of ketchup
    • A pinch of salt
  2. Microwave on high for 25 seconds and stir again
  3. Cover and refrigerate an hour before serving

Make Doritos seasoning by pouring crushed Doritos into a dispenser

Italian seasoning

  1. Use a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind three tablespoons each of dried sage, dried marjoram, dried basil, dried oregano, and dried parsley
  2. Grind and add in a tablespoon of garlic powder
  3. Grind and add in a teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried rosemary, black pepper and white pepper
  4. The seasoning will keep for six months

Curry powder

  1. Mix the following in a pan:
    • Ten tablespoons of coriander seeds
    • Eight tablespoons of cumin seeds
    • Two tablespoons of mustard seeds
  2. Let them thoroughly brown, then thoroughly mix in:
    • Five tablespoons of ground cinnamon
    • Ten tablespoons of pepper
    • Two tablespoons of ground nutmeg
    • Two tablespoons of cloves
    • A tablespoon of ground cardamom seeds
    • Three tablespoons of turmeric
    • Two tablespoons of ground ginger
    • Two tablespoons of chili powder
  3. Let it cool, then grind to a fine powder in a coffee grinder

Dry herbs yourself

  1. Microwave them in a cup for 2-4 minutes
  2. Crumple the herbs onto paper towels

Find substitutions to make the food healthier or cheaper

Many substitutions will change cooking times

  • Generally, more moisture increases cooking time while less moisture decreases it

Breads & Flours

Breadcrumbs (1 cup dry)

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of crushed bran cereal
  • 1 cup of cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup of chia seeds

Cake flour (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of flour minus two tablespoons

Cracker crumbs (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of dry breadcrumbs

Flour (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 of oats ground in a blender
  • A heaping cup of quinoa ground in a blender
  • 1/4 cup of nut flour mixed with a 3/4 cup of wheat flour (for cookies, sweetbreads, and cakes)
  • 1 cup of nut flour mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of a rising agent like yeast (for cookies, sweetbreads, and cakes)
  • 1 cup of pureed black beans (for brownies)
  • 1/3 cup of coconut flour, an extra egg per ounce of coconut flour, and a dash of extra water (for pancakes, cookies, and cakes)
    • Using more than 1/2 cup at a time could bring out the coconut flour’s bitterness
    • You may need to reduce baking time

Self-rising flour (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of flour mixed with a teaspoon of baking powder, a 1/2 teaspoon salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

Rice (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of quinoa

Dairy and fats

Butter (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (for brownies and cookies)
  • 1 cup of pureed avocados (for brownies and chocolate cookies)
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce mixed with a 1/2 cup of butter, but more if you can’t tell the taste difference (for any sweetbreads or muffins)
  • 3/4 cup of prunes blended with 1/4 cup of boiling water (for dark baked goods like brownies, chocolate cookies, and cakes)
  • Three tablespoons of flax meal mixed with a tablespoon of water and left to sit for 5-10 minutes (for anything with a strong nutty flavor)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed with 1 cup of water and left to sit for about 15 minutes (for muffins, cakes, and breads)

Buttermilk (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1 cup of milk mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar
  • 1 cup of milk mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice

Cream or half & half (1 cup)

  • A tablespoon of melted butter mixed with 1 cup of whole milk

Heavy cream (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of evaporated skim milk

Margarine (1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup of applesauce
  • 1/2 cup of pureed prunes

Milk (1 cup whole)

  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk mixed with 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 cup of water mixed with 1/3 cup of nonfat dry milk powder

Oil (1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup of applesauce mixed with 1/2 cup oil, but more if you can’t tell the taste difference (for any sweetbreads or muffins)
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (for brownies and cookies)

Shortening (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of coconut oil

Sour cream (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt

Condiments & Seasonings

Cajun seasoning (1 teaspoon)

  • Mix 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon of dried basil, and a clove of minced garlic

Marinades (oil-based)

  • Wine, as needed
  • Balsamic vinaigrette, as needed
  • Fruit juice, as needed
  • Fat-free broth, as needed

Mustard (1 tablespoon)

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard
  • Two teaspoons of vinegar

Poultry seasoning (1 teaspoon)

  • 3/4 teaspoon of rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme

Chocolate & Sweets

Chocolate, semi-sweet (1-ounce square)

  • Three tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate and a tablespoon of sugar

Chocolate (1-ounce square)

  • Three tablespoons of baking cocoa and a tablespoon of shortening
  • Three tablespoons of baking cocoa and a tablespoon of vegetable oil

Chocolate chips (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of cacao nibs

Frosting (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of marshmallow whip
  • 1 cup of meringue

Honey (1 cup)

  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar mixed into 1/4 cup of water

Molasses (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of honey

Oreo cookie (1 cup crushed)

  • 1 cup of crushed graham crackers (for any pie)

Rice Krispies (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of brown rice cereal mixed with two tablespoons of flax meal (for Rice Krispies Treats or baked chicken coating)

Sugar (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups of sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
    • Reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup per cup of applesauce
  • Four teaspoons of pure vanilla extract (for cookies, cakes, sweetbreads, and brownies)
  • A teaspoon of liquid Stevia
  • Two tablespoons of Stevia powder

Other miscellaneous substitutions

Baking powder (1 teaspoon)

  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch

Cornstarch (1 tablespoon)

  • Two tablespoons of flour (as a thickening agent)

Corn syrup, dark (1 cup)

  • 3/4 cup of light corn syrup mixed with 1/4 cup of molasses

Corn syrup, light (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of sugar mixed with 1/4 cup of water

Eggs (1 egg)

  • 1/4 cup of egg substitute
  • Two egg whites
  • Two egg yolks
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup of canned squash
  • 1/4 cup of pureed prunes
  • Two tablespoons of potato starch
  • A tablespoon of chia seeds mixed into 1 cup of water and left to sit for about 15 minutes
  • A tablespoon of flax meal mixed into three tablespoons of water and left to sit for 5-10 minutes (for muffins, cakes, and cookies)

Lemon juice (1 teaspoon)

  • 1/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

Lemon peel (1 teaspoon)

  • 1/2 lemon extract

Peanut butter (1 cup)

  • 1 cup of almond butter

Soups (as a thickening agent)

  • Mashed potato flakes, as needed
  • Potatoes, as needed
  • Tofu, as needed

Tomato sauce (2 cups)

  • 3/4 cup of tomato paste mixed into 1 cup of water

Food can only keep for a certain amount of time

Learn the shelf life of food

Many foods indicate that they’re close to spoiling

  • They taste strange
  • They’ve changed color
  • The ingredients aren’t as stiff, crisp or potent

Cold or dry climates give longer shelf lives while warm or wet climates make food spoil faster

Listen to your common sense

  • Throw it away if it smells or tastes odd
  • Eating spoiled food can be a tremendous risk to your health

Most food’s expiration date will indicate a “sell by” date, not when it is best by

  • Food past code is often still acceptable for recipes, especially as a secondary ingredient

Don’t bother refrigerating foods that don’t need it, since many of them suffer from refrigeration

  • Basil
  • Butter
  • Cake
  • Coffee
  • Eggs (if they haven’t been refrigerated yet)
  • Honey
  • Hot sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce
  • Ketchup and mustard
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes

Close any open food containers to prevent them from going stale

Improvise a chip clip out of a pants hanger or a bobby pin

Make bags airtight with water bottle tops

  1. Cut off a water bottle top
  2. Unscrew the lid and run the bag through the bottle through the top
  3. Close the bottle cap over the bag’s plastic

Store food in airtight containers and mason jars whenever possible

Use tricks to keep meal preparation base ingredients longer

Breads

  • Wrap bread in the bag it came in, a cloth napkin or a towel
  • Store pasta in Pringles containers
  • Store pancake batter in a ketchup bottle in the fridge
  • Make stale or hardened cookies soft again by placing a piece of bread with them overnight
  • Keep cake moist
    • Put a piece of bread on top of it overnight
    • Hold up slices of bread with toothpicks against the cut part of a cake

Meats & Cheeses

  • Protect cheese from mold
    • Wrap in a vinegar-soaked cloth
    • Rub the cut edge of cheese with butter
  • Cut a pack of bacon in half to store it more easily

Fruits

  • Any fruits that release ethylene gas will force other fruits to ripen quickly
    • Apricots
    • Avocados
    • Bananas
    • Cantaloupes
    • Honeydew melons
    • Kiwis
    • Mangoes
    • Nectarines
    • Papayas
    • Peaches
    • Pears
    • Plums
    • Tomatoes
  • Apples and watermelons are especially sensitive to ethylene gas
  • Make bananas last 4-5 days longer by wrapping their tops near the stem with plastic wrap

Vegetables

  • Some vegetables are especially sensitive to ethylene gas from fruits
    • Asparagus
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Cucumbers
    • Eggplants
    • Green beans
    • Lettuce and other greens
    • Potatoes
    • Summer squash
  • Keep produce fresh for longer
    1. Fill a large bowl with hot water
    2. Submerge the produce for 3-6 minutes
    3. Dry by setting on paper towels
  • Keep potatoes from budding by putting an apple with the potatoes
  • Keep vegetables fresh for an extra day or two by placing a piece of stale bread in the crisper drawer
  • Wrap herbs and delicate greens in moist paper towels and store in zip-type plastic bags
  • Keep celery for weeks by wrapping in aluminum foil and refrigerating

Condiments

  • Microwave crystallized honey with the top off for 2 minutes
  • Restore spices’ aroma by microwaving for fifteen seconds
  • If sugar ever solidifies, place a cracker or slice of bread in with the sugar
  • Keep brown sugar soft
    • Put marshmallows in the container
    • Place a slice of apple in the container
  • Keep spices waterproof by placing in empty pill bottles or Tic-Tac containers

Quickly cool and store cooked food properly to guarantee the most extended shelf life

Use containers that transfer heat quickly such as metal

Place the food on shallow portion-sized dishes

Add ice cubes to soups or stews

Once cooled enough, immediately put anything in the refrigerator with water in it to get it below 41°F

  • Avoid overfilling your refrigerator to allow air to circulate properly
  • Place a Lazy Susan in the fridge to make more room

Store whatever you can in the freezer

Make large amounts of food to cut down on your cooking time

Freeze items flat to defrost them more quickly

Wrap thoroughly or store in sealed containers

Label items as cooked or uncooked and the date they were frozen

Refreezing defrosted food can cause massive bacterial growth

Watch for things you can’t freeze like eggs and soft herbs

Freeze red and white wine in ice cube trays for casseroles or sauces later

Make easy herb add-ins

  1. Fill an ice cube tray with chopped herbs, minced garlic, and olive oil
    • Alternately, use two or three chopped herbs covered with olive oil or melted butter
  2. Store in the freezer until frozen, then transfer to zip-type bags

Pre-cook rice, sauces, legumes, and mashed potatoes, then freeze them for recipes later

Seal raw meat for convenience

  1. Place the meat in a plastic bag and press flat
  2. Press down with a thin utensil in a grid pattern
  3. After it’s frozen, break off the pieces you need later

Make large batches of oatmeal or porridge and freeze in a cupcake tin for portions later

Pack smoothie ingredients in individual bags and freeze for blending later

You can restore most prepared food to its original quality

Thoroughly reheat the food to prevent further decomposing

  • Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F
  • Make a circle in the center of the food when reheating in the microwave to heat them evenly
  • Cover foods while reheating to ensure they retain their moisture and stay hot throughout the food

Frozen foods 5 lbs or less should thaw within 24 hours in the fridge

Warm plates with a toaster oven instead of a conventional oven

  • Standard ovens have a typical minimum heat setting of 200° F
  • Toaster ovens heat at lower temperatures than most standard ovens

Breads & Starches

Reuse stale bread as croutons

  1. Cube stale bread and mix it with olive oil, herbs, and spices
  2. Spread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven on a low temperature until golden brown
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a month

You can remove staleness from bread by adding moisture

  • Wrap the slices with a damp kitchen towel and microwave for 10 seconds at a time
  • Put a small amount of water in a glass and microwave with the bread to keep it from getting chewy
  • Put it into a damp paper bag and bake at 300°F for 3 minutes
  • Heat crackers, cereals, and chips staleness in the microwave for about thirty seconds
  • Make potato chips crispy again by microwaving them on paper towels for a few seconds
  • Make tortilla chips fresh again by baking them in the oven at 375° for 10 minutes

Wrap frozen sandwiches and baked goods in a dry paper towel when microwaving to ensure they won’t get soggy

Reheat muffins in the oven covered at 350°F for 15 minutes and then uncovered for 3 minutes

Reheat pasta on a hot plate with a little oil and water added

Reheat pizza in a nonstick frying pan for 3-4 minutes at mid-low heat

Meat & Nuts

Reheat casseroles by cutting vents into wax paper and covering the dish in a microwave

Reheat seafood over a long time on a low temperature in an oven

Test a lobster’s freshness by pulling back the tail

  • It’s fresh if it snaps back, but it was kept for a few days if it goes back slowly

Reheat steak and chicken by slicing the meat into small pieces and placing in a skillet

Reheat stir fries in a microwave, stir regularly and let it stand afterward

Restore flavor to nuts and seeds by microwaving them for 15 seconds

Vegetables

Reheat boiled vegetables in a microwave spread out and covered with a damp paper towel

Make lettuce crispy again

  1. Squeeze half a lemon into a bowl of cold water
  2. Put the lettuce in and let sit in the fridge for an hour

Perk up limp greens

  1. Place them in a large bowl
  2. Fill them with ice water to cover it
    • Optionally, add a tablespoon of vinegar
  3. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then drain and spin in a salad spinner

Reheat roasted vegetables in an oven drizzled with a little oil for flavor

Reheat soups on the stove with 1/4 cup of water added to prevent scorching

Dairy

If you drop a live frog into milk, its skin secretion will keep it from spoiling

If milk is sour but hasn’t curdled, you can use it for a few recipes or in a milk bath

Make cooking a memorable experience

After about 30 consistent meals, you will know your way around the kitchen

Find new ways to improve your cooking experience

  • Reach out to friends and family for ideas
  • Read recipe books for new cooking challenges

You’ll eventually accumulate food products you had a recipe for but didn’t end up making

Next: Health 106: Weight Management