The following section is a compilation of points which I had learned all through my cooking and from my elders and friends. These will definitely help you to enhance your kitchen experience. As Thomas Alwa Edison said,” I have not failed 10000 times, but I have found 10000 ways that won’t work”.
I will be sharing my tips then and there in this page.The below set of points are either learnings from my mistakes or guidelines from kith and kin and are absolutely my personal opinion or suggestion. There is no intention to hurt any individual.Do not copy/reproduce any part of this. The images in this page have been randomly chosen from the internet for mere representation.
Making Baby Food:
- Always sterilise sippers, tumblers, bowls and spoons before use.
- Avoid adding sugar and salt till one years of age
- Always cool the foods before you provide your baby.
- Do not store any baby food for more than 3 hours.
- Do not use baking soda in aapam.
- Avoid using any ready-made ingredients as such in your baby food
- Do not practice any instant/packed food to your baby.
Choosing,treating & Cooking Vegetables:
We are in era of buying everything that is instant.There are cut vegetables,scrapped coconut and what not.This space will be useful to all those who still pick vegetables from shop by themselves.Myself and my sister used to go to grocery shop since we were 5 and we were constantly educated on how to handle money and how to pick vegetables. Later by reading books and browsing I found few points.I am sharing those tactics below.
♥ Beans and Broad beans-The fibre has to be easily removable
♥ Beet root& Carrot- The better the colour the better is the quality.
♥ Bitter gourd- Should be dark green in colour and prefer those which are small and resist your press.
♥ Bottle gourd- Should be heavy when you lift. The lighter the veggie the lesser is the water content.
♥ Brinjal-The stem shouldn’t have changed brown in colour.
♥ Cabbage- Should be heavy and tight
♥ Cauli flower and Broccoli- It shouldn’t have got buds.
♥ Cluster beans-If you try to break,it has to get broken and not bent.
♥ Coconut-The eyes shouldn’t get pierced when you press them. You should feel the presence of water if you shake it.
♥ Drumstick-Twist it and it has get bent.
♥ Elephant yam-Shouldn’t be reddish in colour. Must be in yellow tint.
♥ Green chilly-It shouldn’t be clumsy
♥ Ladies Finger- When you break the tip,it has to get broken.
♥ Leafy greens- The stem has to be breakable. No appearance of flowers
♥ Onion- Shouldn’t be dark. Pale pinkish onion is desirable.
♥ Plantain flower_ Should be heavy , tight and the inner flowers have to be tender.
♥ Plantain Pith-It has be to shining white.
♥ Potatoes- You shouldn’t be able to press them. It shouldn’t have roots emanating.
♥ Radish- Roots shouldn’t have appeared.
- With increased usage of pesticides every fruit/vegetable has so many chemicals attached to it. To reduce the ill effects always soak fruits and vegetables in a mixture of tamarind extract and vinegar for 15 minutes before usage.
- Soak apple, grapes in lukewarm water for 1 hour and wash it in running water before usage.
- Always wash/clean vegetables and fruits before chopping/peeling their skin. This will help in retaining the nutritional value. Few exceptional cases are cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower.
- Fruits can be soaked in a bowl of water with a spoon of rock salt & turmeric powder/1 spoon of baking soda/few drops of vinegar.This removes pesticides. After soaking for 20 minutes in any of the above mentioned mixtures you can wash in flowing water.
- To clean greens (keerai,spinach) remove the unwanted stock in the bundle and wash it in running water first. Then soak it in a bowl of water and use it after draining the water.
- To cook green leafy vegetables, add them to boiling water. Cook until it becomes soft by closing it with a lid. Switch off the stove and add few drops of lemon juice. This helps in absorption of the entire iron content.
- Wash vegetables like beans, ladies finger, broad beans, and cluster beans at least 3 times before chopping.
- To peel the skin of shallots easily, soak them in water for 5 minutes before peeling.
- To peel the skin of garlic easily, sauté garlic clove in 3 drops of oil for 2 minutes. Cool them and peel the skin easily.
- When you chop vegetables like plantain pith and plantain flower, rub few drops of oil to your palms before chopping. This will not stain your hands much.
- Before chopping plantain pith and plantain flower have a mixture of buttermilk and water. Soak the chopped vegetables to this mixture to avoid oxidation(browning)
- Always place cut potatoes and raw banana in water to avoid oxidation(browning)
- Do not store any cut vegetables in refrigerator.
- To avoid the stickiness of chopped ladies finger while making any dish, sun dry the chopped ladies finger for an hour before cooking.
- Never consume radish without cooking.
- To avoid itching while chopping yam varieties apply few drops of oil in palm before chopping.
- Soak chopped yam varieties in a diluted tamarind extract. This will enhance the taste and also help you avoid itching.
- Cooking yam & potatoes in pressure cooker is advisable.
- All the other vegetables can be steam cooked and boiled by closing. This retains the nutrients.
Responsible resource usage:
- Switch on your gas stove/induction only when you have done all pre-cooking procedures.
- Use broad bottomed pans/vessels so that the flame spreads all over the vessel/pan.
- Use steamer with separators to cook more than one thing at a time.
- Usage of pressure cooker reduces energy consumption.
- Soak pulses and rice at least for 20 minutes before cooking.
- Chop vegetables into smaller pieces.
- Scrub the bottom of the cooking pan/vessel well since the residues consume more energy.
- Once your dish starts boiling reduce the flame and cook it by closing it with a lid.
- There is no use in flame visible in corners. So either reduce the flame or use apt sized vessels which cover entire flame.
- Use only the exact amount of water required.
- While using frozen/refrigerated foods always bring them to room temperature before cooking. This saves time and energy.
- Soak used vessels in water for at least 20 minutes before washing. This will help in removing the dirt easily.
I had an opportunity to be guided by a health expert by the time I commenced self-cooking. My cooking and food habits would always follow his guidelines to the max. I am sharing this with you to help you avoid health problems.
I prefer Column A to Column B. I try to avoid including Column B items to the maximum unless it is essential.
|Column A||Column B|
|Homemade/ Fresh /hand made||Ready-made , Instant, Stored, Frozen , Packed|
|Multi grain porridge||Milk, tea, coffee|
|Fresh juices||Carbonated drinks|
|Samba Wheat/Whole Wheat||Atta/Maida|
|Jaggery/Palm sugar/Plam jaggery||White sugar|
|Gingelly oil/Coconut oil||Any other oil variety|
|Rock Salt/Pink Salt||Table salt|
|Kudam Puli/Country Tomato||Tamarind|
|Brown bread||White bread|
I am not against any of the items in Column B. Kindly don’t misinterpret.I just try to keep their usage as minimal as possible.
- It is always better not to use plastic containers for any storage. Use ever silver, copper,wooden or steel containers. When it comes to plastic there is nothing called “GOOD plastic”. Be it plastic bag or plastic container or pet bottles or air tight storage items, nothing is safe to use. There are high chances that plastics might react with food materials on a long run and have significant effect.
- Buy only what is essential. Do over buy and tremble with the burden of storing.
- Add a piece of Vasambu /Acorus calamus/bach or red chilly in containers of rice and pulses to avoid bugs & ants.
- Store tamarind in wooden/porcelain containers to prevent it from getting soggy.
- Store vegetables in refrigerator by placing it in cloth bags. Do not store for more than a week.
- When it comes to greens/leafy vegetables store it after removing the mud. It is advisable to use by the next day.
- Store green chillies after removing the stem.
- Yams, potatoes and fruits don’t need refrigeration if the atmospheric temperature is moderate
- When you store idly/dosa batter , separate them in different vessels such that the quantity in each vessel will suffice one time cooking. If you have left over batter ,transfer it to another vessel. Do not store batter with ladle. Do not store for more than 4 days.
- Don’t store any precooked food in refrigerator for more than 24 hours and reuse. Cook only the amount of food required in a day. Though many advise usage of batter for 5 days to 2 weeks I personally wouldn’t recommend it because of the hazardous reactions that might happen in refrigeration.
- Always close the items which you store in refrigerator.
- Never leave spoon in pickle/jam bottles stored in refrigerator.
- Always cool hot items before storing in refrigerator.