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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tips for cooking with stainless steel cookware


Cooking with stainless steel.

For those accustomed to using Teflon, the idea of using stainless steel for much more than boiling pasta can be a bit intimidating! I know, because I was there once too.

Even though my mom has been using her stainless steel cookware for longer than I've been alive, I honestly didn't do much cooking until after I was married -- at which point I was using my husband's Wearever Teflon pots and pans.

I loved using Teflon, but studies have shown that the fumes released during high heat are just not good for us (and DuPont, the maker of Teflon has lied about this for financial gain). (Since this isn't a post about the dangers of Teflon, I'll let you do your own further research if you desire!)

When our Teflon pans wore out, I relied on my cast iron skillet more than ever (read about cooking with cast iron here!), along with a few stainless steel pans from a garage sale. Even though my stainless steel pans weren't the highest quality (far from what I now use!) they worked well enough and keeping the health benefits in mind, using the stainless steel pans was not the nightmare I had envisioned! :)

Obviously, the quality of the stainless steel cookware will determine somewhat how easy it is to use.

In a nutshell, when looking for stainless steel cookware (at thrift stores or even brand new) the best options are 18/10 stainless steel (18/8 is all right as well) and have either a thick multi-ply bottom or else multiple layers all the way through (like All-Clad or Multi-Clad), which help conduct the heat evenly. Pans that are thin just burn too easily. If you do a lot of cooking, good cookware is an investment that you'll be enjoying every day!

One of my sauce pans

Tips from my personal experience with stainless steel cookware

1. Keep the heat at medium or below (sometimes higher but never above medium-high!) and keep an eye on what you're cooking. Stir, check, and adjust the heat as you learn about your cookware and even your stove. (The electric burners on my stove are all very different from each other! Truly!)

2. Don't be afraid to add some oil (for frying) or water (for re-heating leftovers). I often refer to package instructions for the best way to cook different frozen veggies. I've learned when I prefer to use my pan lids, and when I prefer to leave the pan uncovered. Usually it's just a matter of experience and trial and error for the various foods! :)

3. Don't expect stainless steel to cook exactly like Teflon cooks. But since I do have a high-quality set of cookware, I haven't had issues with sticking food or burning things. (It is amazing how much difference the quality of the cookware makes when it comes to food sticking!!)

There is one exception though. I am still experimenting with the best way to cook scrambled eggs in stainless steel. (Cast iron seems to work better for eggs, usually.) Sometimes my eggs don't stick a bit; other times they stick a lot. I'm guessing that there is a perfect balance of pre-heating time/temp, oil, and cooking temperature (which of course is affected by the number of eggs thrown into the skillet!) and I just haven't figured out how to do it on my stove. Yet. :) (Anyone have tips for this??)

UPDATE: I tried your suggestions and now making scrambled eggs in my stainless steel cookware is easy and successfully non-stick every time!!

4. If something is stuck on stainless steel, I usually just do a soak in soapy water and it wipes clean the next day. If you're in a hurry or have a particularly annoying stuck-food issue, Bar Keeper's Friend works wonders. It's mild and effective. You could also put some water in the pan and bring it to a boil, to loosen the food.

5. While it is certainly safe to use metal utensils on stainless steel, they will leave small scratch marks on the cookware. This is mostly cosmetic, though larger scratches could increase sticking.

For these reasons, I have personally opted to use only wooden/bamboo, silicone, or nylon utensils whenever they will touch the cookware. I do still have two of my "garage sale pans" and use metal serving utensils with those. They are very scratched but still don't stick much, as long as I've followed rules #1 and 2 above! ;)

6. Bonus tip: How to make perfect fried eggs in a stainless steel skillet

Does anyone have any tips to add to my list?

Here is my review of the stainless steel cookware we own!

Originally published in April, 2009

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Homemade breadcrumbs (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
2. Keep a running grocery list (Recipes Happen)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for making darker coffee in a drip coffee maker

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Jessica at Good Cheap Eats. Head over to Good Cheap Eats to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

At home, I love making coffee with my Aero Press. But, I didn't bring it with me on this trip to my parents' house. Even though it's small enough to easily take traveling, I don't drink coffee daily and already had tons of stuff to bring for 6 people. :)

Drip coffee maker tip

Here at my mom's house, I've been using their drip coffee maker. At first, the coffee tasted watery to me. It seemed like the first coffee dripping through had hardly "brewed" at all!

My solution?

Use two coffee filters instead of one. The coffee filters more slowly and is much darker and stronger.

Does anyone else use two coffee filters instead of one? :)

Drip coffee maker tip
Costco coffee I brought with me as a gift, and Starbucks coffee from my sister

 

For more kitchen tips or to add yours, visit Good Cheap Eats!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Emptying soup base jars

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Amy at Amy's Finer Things. Head over to Amy's Finer Things to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

Here's an easy way to completely empty a jar of soup base.

Empty soup base jar

When the jar of soup base is finished, scoop some hot broth out of your pot of soup and add it to the soup base jar. Swish the broth in the jar to melt any bits of soup base that were left, and then add back into your soup.

Empty soup base jar

I'm still on vacation for another week. Having internet access limited to just 30 minutes per week is rather... limiting for blogging purposes. ;) It's good for other things though... like:

Channah and my mom

Channah (9 months) and my mom :)

For more kitchen tips or to add yours, visit Amy's Finer Things!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Tip for baking with home-cooked pumpkin

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Heather at Feel Good About Dinner. Head over to Feel Good About Dinner to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

If you're cooking fresh pumpkins this month, don't forget to drain it well before pureeing for your favorite baking recipes. :)

This year my brother (who lives in Eastern Washington) brought us a huge box full of pie pumpkins from their garden! They are so flavorful and less watery than the big pumpkins I've often been given. I did still drain a bit of water out of them after cooking.

Draining cooked pumpkin

Just place the cooked pumpkin in a strainer in a clean sink or big bowl and allow to drain for a few minutes.

Tip: This year I have an immersion/hand blender and it makes it super easy to puree the cooked pumpkin right in a big bowl. Other years, I just mash the pumpkin with a potato masher and that works sufficiently well for everything I've tried.

Some of our favorite pumpkin recipes are showcased here.

I love baking with pumpkin... probably even more than apples. :) I'll be making my signature pumpkin dinner rolls for Thanksgiving next week and I can't wait! :)

For more kitchen tips or to add yours, visit Feel Good About Dinner! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Lunchbox tips and more

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays is being hosted by Bonnie at Recipes Happen. Head over to Recipes Happen to read her kitchen tip and share yours there!

The kids and I left Seattle last week and flew to Ohio to visit my parents and siblings there. We're having a lovely visit and my mom is making some of her wonderful food for us.

Even though I have many of my mom's recipes, there are a few of her signature creations that I rarely make -- like tapioca pudding (Yehoshua's favorite), energy bars (the kids' favorite breakfast), and beef chop suey (one of my favorites!).

Like last time, my parents (still) don't have internet access at their house. We drove to the local library this evening so I could post this kitchen tip! :)

Lunchbox Storage

Just like my husband has, my dad has always taken a packed lunch to work. I learned a couple helpful hints about lunchbox storage from my mom.

Tip #1: Have an easy-to-access storage spot for the lunchbox(es) when they are not in use. My mom uses the top of her fridge for any lunchboxes that are at home.

When more of my siblings lived at home, the top of her fridge was home to numerous lunchboxes. Having a dedicated storage location kept the lunchboxes from cluttering the counters.

Lunchboxes stored overnight

Tip #2: Store lunchboxes with the lids open so they can air out. This keeps the lunchbox smelling fresher. If the lunchbox is washable or has a removable/washable insert, wash it at the end of the work week.

Alternately, wipe the inside of the lunch box with a soapy dishcloth after emptying it of dirty containers and then store open to dry/air out.

Bonus tip #1: Keep yogurt cold for on-the-go without using an ice pack

I discovered that it works beautifully to put homemade yogurt or Greek yogurt into a serving-size container and then stir in some frozen berries or other bite-size chunks of frozen fruit.

When you're ready to eat your yogurt a few hours later, the fruit will be thawed and the yogurt will still be cold. (This may not work in super hot climates -- but worked great in our Washington summers.)

Bonus tip #2: Pack your lunch ahead from the freezer

Before I left last week, I cooked and froze serving-size containers of pinto beans for Joshua's lunches at work. He told me it's worked great for him to pack his lunch the night before by pulling a container from the freezer and putting it in his lunch box. It's thawed by lunch time (and then he heats it in the microwave at work).

More of my lunchbox tips are in this post.

For more kitchen tips or to add your own, visit Recipes Happen!

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 4-minute celery sticks (Cutting celery sticks quickly)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

This week's Kitchen Tip Tuesdays link-up is being hosted by Katy at Purposely Frugal. Head over to her blog to read her tips for making homemade corn tortillas and submit your own kitchen tips!

I've lost 36 pounds in the past 7 months... and I've eaten a ton of celery.

I don't love celery, but it's not too bad and it's cheaper than cucumbers and a nice change of pace from lettuce and carrots. :) When I need a mess-free take-along snack, I often go for celery sticks.

One day this summer, we ended up taking a long walk to a park that didn't have a drinking fountain to refill our water bottles. The HUGE bag of celery sticks I had brought quenched my thirst. Celery is 95% water, after all.

With all this celery munching, I had to come up with a quick way to cut celery sticks. Here's what's been working for me:

Wash celery without separating stalks from the head

Wash celery without separating the stalks from the head. I run water inside and all over the celery until it looks clean.

Cut off tops

Without separating the stalks from the head, cut off the brown tops of the celery.

Cut off bottom

Turn celery around and cut off the bottom of the head of celery. Put the tops and bottoms in your compost, garbage disposal, or trash.

Cut off leaves

This is what you should have now: A bunch of long celery sticks, some with leaves.

Cut off leaves

Cut the leaves off. I don't like leaves on my celery sticks, but they are perfect to add to soups or tuna salad sandwiches later.

Almost finished: celery sticks

Now that the leaves are trimmed, all you need to do is cut into smaller sticks for snacking.

Finished celery sticks

Two cuts and you're finished! Beautiful, perfect celery sticks... and this whole process takes about 4 minutes. :)

The main "tip" to remember is: Save time by trimming celery tops and bottoms first, instead of separating stalks and trimming each stalk individually.

Now, head over to Purposely Frugal to read more kitchen tips and leave your own! :)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Condiment bottles in fridge (Plus: Cookbook giveaway winner announced!)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

The winner of Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook Giveaway is:

leatha.arant@

Thanks, everyone, for your enthusiasm over Jessica's new book! :)

This week's kitchen tip is one I learned from Joshua's grandma. I noticed that the condiment bottles in her fridge all had dates written on them: The date each item was opened.

What a brilliant idea! How many times have I opened a carton of cream that says "Use within 10 days of opening" and I can never remember how long it's been open?! Having the date written on it is a great reminder to use it before it expires!

For salad dressings, writing the dates on them when you open them would allow you to easily see which bottles your family is using regularly and which ones take years to empty.

Hint: If something's been in your fridge for a year and it's only barely used, you could probably skip buying it next time it's on sale... ;)

More condiment tips:

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. 8 ways to save money on beverages + leftover beverages tip (Cooking Up a Sale)
2. Condensed milk substitute -- dairy-free (Whole New Mom)
3. Pie crust tip (Recipes Happen)
4. Flavoring pasta (Moms Frugal)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Natural peanut butter mixing tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Joshua went to the linen closet/pantry to retrieve something and proclaimed, "You're a genius!"

While this trick hardly makes me a genius, it is worth sharing for those of you who use natural peanut butter which separates in storage. :)

I buy the big jars of Adams peanut butter from Costco, and getting a new jar "ready to serve" used to require some serious stirring power. The jars are also filled quite full so I usually ended up with sore hands, an oily drippy jar, and maybe even a bent metal spoon by the time it was finally mixed!

Now, I know some people have a special peanut-butter-stirring device, but I don't normally go for single-purpose items. (Plus, I don't think those stirrers come with a variable lid size, and my jars have huge lids.)

Others recommend dumping the whole jar of peanut butter into a big bowl and using the mixer to stir it, then returning to the jar. I don't mind dishes but that still sounds like a lot of bother to me!

Store natural peanut butter upside down for easy mixing when ready to use

My solution -- recommended by a reader, if I recall -- is: Store natural peanut butter in the jars upside down. When ready to open and use, it will be much easier to stir because all the oil will have separated to the bottom instead of the top! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. 7 Ways to Save Money on Produce (Cooking Up a Sale)
2. Prep ahead (Recipes Happen)
3. Favorite wheat flour (Western Warmth)
4. Freezer tip (One Daily $$$ Tip)
5. Bread baking doneness tip (Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: No-Puff Powdered Sugar Tip

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Powdered sugar is one of those messy pantry ingredients, at least in my house. A couple years ago I tried making my own powdered sugar which was a disaster. (Now that we own a Vitamix blender, I'm pretty sure it would work.)

So, I usually buy a bag of powdered sugar at Costco which lasts us something like 2 years. And Joshua did this handy storage trick to keep it from puffing everywhere when I rummage through my Lazy Susan looking for other stuff.

Two twisters = no puffing powdered sugar bag in the pantry

Look! Two twisters! This bag can be picked up or shoved around without puffing powdered sugar everywhere!

And then we stuck it in this plastic canister I had laying around and wasn't using. My Lazy Susan is looking much more organized. (But I think that should be a whole separate post... how to tame the Lazy Susan which is so handy to just throw/push/squeeze/squish everything inside!)

Apple Brownies recipe
Apple Brownies recipe -- super easy and a delightful Fall treat!

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Gluten-free enchilada substitution tip (Western Warmth)
2. Fruit fly trap (Whole New Mom)
3. Reducing tomato sauce (A Dusty Frame)
4. Tomato sauce tip (Trial and Error Home Ec)
5. Freezing bananas (Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)
6. Evenly dusting sugar or spices without a shaker (Sabby Ink)
7. Secret to crispy fried potatoes (A Proverbs 31 Wife)
8. Old socks become cleaning rags (Recipes Happen)

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: The low-down on dicing onions!

 
How to dice an onion

Originally published in 2006

Okay, so you have a nice big onion and your recipe wants it diced.

Have you ever wondered if there's a best way to dice an onion?

I used to have all sorts of problems dicing onions nicely, until my uncle (who is practically a gourmet chef!) showed me how he did it. I've done it the same way ever since, and now dicing onions is a snap... even if I'm making a triple batch of salsa... when I need 18 cups of diced onions.

If you would like to watch the video tutorial, click here! This is a 6 MB WMV file and you can either right-click to save to your desktop, or just click and it will stream.

Here is the photo tutorial of what I think is the easiest way to dice an onion!

How to dice an onion

1. Start with a freshly-peeled onion. I always rinse the onion after I have peeled it, so it doesn't make me cry. (If you wear contact lenses, this won't be a problem for you, though!) Set the onion, root-side-down, on your cutting board.

Step 2!

2. Cut your onion in half.

Next...

Dicing an onion

3. Lay each half, cut side down, on your cutting board.

How to dice an onion

4. Slice one half of your onion as shown.

The best way to dice an onion!

Slice thinly for minced onion, or thickly for coarsely-diced onion, or anywhere in-between as desired!

How to dice an onion

To get every last bit of your onion sliced, use one hand to hold the onion in shape and make the final slice or two.

Dicing onions

5. Now, turn your sliced onion ninety-degrees to either the right or left, and...

The best way to dice an onion

6. Start slicing again, angling towards the middle of your onion. Make your slices thin for minced onions and thick for coarsely chopped onion.

Dicing Onions

7. Repeat steps for the other half of your onion.

Dicing an onion

And then you're done!

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link in a comment here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please! We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Menu plan make-ahead strategies (Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Time-saving recipe bases (Davette Brown)
3. Split chicken breast tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Oil vs. butter tips (Sunny Side Homestead)
5.