Category: Culinary Tips

Culinary Tips from Teachers

Shared by Monna McDiarmid and Damien Pitter

Fruits and vegetables
When I was attending Carleton University in Ottawa, I lived in residence for one year.  We had a meal plan and ate in a big cafeteria three meals a day, every day.  One day, at lunch, my friend Erinn told us that she was sure that she had contracted scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C.  We assured her that she did not have scurvy but, from that day forward, we all made sure that we were eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

Breakfast every day
Many of you have probably heard your parents say, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  It will continue to be important at university as well!  The difference is that the “hours” you keep may change from your current high school routine…  you may tend to stay up later and get up later.  The temptation when you have slept late may be to skip breakfast.  Don’t!  Many of my friends had small fridges in their dorm rooms so that they could have a bowl of cereal, yoghurt, juice or fresh fruit in the morning before class. You can also keep granola bars in your room so that you can grab a granola bar for your run to class.

A great set of pots and pans
This is something that I wish I had learned while I was still in university.  Because no student ever has enough money while going to college, most of my friends and I were using old pots and pans handed down from other students and great-aunts.  Now that I am working and don’t see kitchen implements as a silly way to spend my money, I have invested in a couple of really good pots – a large pot and a frying pan. The frying pan is made by Cuisinart and my eggs just slide across the surface.  I never burn what I am cooking because food doesn’t stick to the pans.  Perhaps a couple of stainless steel or Teflon coated pans could be a lovely going away gift (you know, besides the cost of your education) from your parents.

The easy way to peel garlic
Put the clove of garlic on your cutting board. Take a big knife and lay the FLAT side of the blade on top of the garlic clove.  Make a fist and hammer down on the FLAT side of the knife. (When you don’t have much practice, this may result in sending the garlic clove sailing across the kitchen a few times, but you’ll get the hang of it.) The smashed clove of garlic will essentially fall out of its skin, saving you’re a great deal of time and energy. The more finely you chop garlic, the stronger the flavour will be.

Miscellaneous Tips:

  • Invest in a few pieces of Tupperware (different shapes and sizes) for storing leftovers. That way you won’t have to waste tin foil or plastic wrap.
  • Don’t refrigerate bananas as they go black.
  • After you have opened a block of cheese, use a Ziploc bag to keep the cheese in the fridge. In order to keep your cheese good longer, handle the corners of the bag only.  If you touch the cheese itself, this is the first place that you will get mold.
  • After you have washed your dishes, hang up the washcloth (you can drape it over your tap or across your drying rack) in such a way that the cloth is not all scrunched up.  It will dry faster and not get all funky and smelly.
  • If you are cooking, cook a lot and freeze your leftovers in individual sized portions.
  • Don’t microwave in plastic (releases carcinogenic chemicals even if it claims to be OK for microwave).  Use glass microwave-safe containers.
  • Don’t microwave stuff in tin foil. Sparks will fly.
  • Clean counters & cutting boards with a bit of bleach diluted in a lot of hot water every once in a while so you don’t give yourself salmonella.
  • Use scissors to cut up fresh herbs like parsley or even green onions.  It’s easier than chopping them, and you can do it right over the bowl you’re using for ingredients.
  • If you use any kind of nuts (in salads, pine nuts on pasta) toast them first.  It makes them far more flavorful.  You can do it in two minutes by putting the nuts in a frying pan & shaking it around.  Be careful – they burn fast.
  • Two online databases of recipes (searchable by ingredient, course, cooking method, length of time it takes to cook, and more) are:

Easy Three-Spice Combinations

Shared by Damien Pitter

#1:  Seasoning Salt, Black Pepper and Garlic.  You can cook just about anything with these three spices and have it taste great.  Chicken and pork are great.  Even something like a salmon steak can be grilled with these spices and it will be yummy.  Sometimes, (especially with the salmon), using an olive oil base with a bit of lemon juice helps as a medium to spread the flavor of the spice combination.

#2:  My Grandfather was Chinese, and he was an amazing cook.  My mother passed this on to me.  Soya sauce, Hoisin Sauce, and Oyster sauce (usually oyster flavored sauce).  They are usually in the same section of the grocery store and are pretty common.  Hoisin sauce is essentially Chinese barbecue sauce and you can use it on its own or in combination with the other sauces.  Oyster sauce is very strong stuff, so only use a little.  My Grandfather used to like to put a few drops on his fried eggs.  Basically, you need to know that Soya sauce is kind of salty, Hoisin sauce is kind of sweet.  Oyster sauce is just oyster sauce, but by changing the proportions of the three you mix together, you get different flavors.  A LOT of Chinese food recipes use these sauces in different proportions.  Experiment and see what you like.  They are all pretty yummy, so it’s hard to go wrong.  Garlic and ginger go really well with these, and also a pinch of sugar.