roll butter and homemade bread

Five Easy Ways to Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

What are some of the secrets to praise-worthy cooking?

They aren’t as tricky or time-consuming as you might think. You don’t have to take expensive cooking classes or invest in fancy gadgets.

In fact, anyone can easily follow the five suggestions below, and immediately taste the difference.

The only hurdle you’ll have to overcome, if you’re like me, is the urge to economize.  I have always been one to buy the less expensive item, or the giant-sized container that gives you more for less.

Except, what you are getting “more” of isn’t always the best.

Try to adjust your thinking in this way: Do I really need more (whatever the food item), or would I be better off with less, and make it as good as possible?

For example, if you are looking at steaks, do you really need to serve twelve ounces to each person? Maybe choosing a better cut of grass-fed beef, and serving eight ounce portions would be a better choice.  It would certainly be better for you!

Should you buy those tortilla chips at $3.99 a bag, or the mangoes on sale 3 for $5.00?

I think you get the point.  Take your food budget and think about how to reallocate to get the best bang for your buck.

Here are a few changes we’ve made over the years that have made a big difference in our cooking and enjoyment of our food.  You can start using them right now!

Use Fresh Citrus Juices

Don’t buy bottled lemon or lime juices.  They never taste as good as fresh, and reaming a lemon or lime takes about ten seconds.  Buy a small reamer, and keep it in your utensil drawer.  Use fresh juices in cocktails, salads, on veggies, in soups and sauces, and in marinades.  Everything will taste better, I guarantee it!

Lemon half and reamer
Fresh lemon juice is unbeatable.


Shop Multiple Times A Week

If you grew up in the era of convenience (i.e., processed) foods, iceberg lettuce, enriched white bread, and canned soup, your parents probably shopped once a week, and you do the same.

That was my habit, for a long, long time. Then, I read an article in Martha Stewart magazine, suggesting that food shopping should happen every few days. What?!

Abandoning processed foods, (which, in and of itself, will improve your cooking a hundred times over) requires more frequent trips to the market.  Buy less, buy fresh, and enjoy the best. It makes a big difference in food’s taste and nutritional value.

vegetables for ratatouille
vegetables for ratatouille


Buy the Freshest, Organic, Cage-free Eggs You Can Find

They taste better, look better, make the best puddings and sauces.  That’s about all I have to say on the egg topic.

four brown eggs
Fresh, organic, cage-free eggs rule the roost for breakfast bowls.

Invest In Flaked Sea Salt

This is a fairly new addition to our cooking routine. I’ve been using sea salt for decades, but didn’t know the flaked variety existed. When my father-in-law told me about it, I was skeptical that it would make a difference.  I’m glad I tried it, because he was right.

I was using a mortar and pestle to powder the coarse sea salt, thereby increasing its surface area contact with food.  By purchasing flaked salt, you accomplish the same, and get a burst in your mouth as you consume the flakes.

Adding flaked salt isn’t going to make a lot of difference to foods that will be undergoing prolonged cooking, like soups and stews. Save this fancy (and pricey) stuff for seasoning just prior to serving.  We like it on veggies and grilled meats.

flaked sea salt in a mason jar
Store flaked sea salt in a moisture-proof container.

Choose Locally Sourced, Minimally Processed Dairy Products

I can’t say enough good things about the roll butter that our market started stocking.  It’s produced at a farm nearby, and tastes completely different from the stick butter shipped in from hundreds of miles away.

It is a much deeper yellow color than regular butter, due to the diet of the cows, It also has a lower melting point, due to the increased amount of solids.

If you can’t get your hands on something like this, organic butter is the next best thing.

As for milk and cream, organic versions taste SO MUCH better.  Whether you believe the popular jargon that organic foods are healthier, or you don’t, there’s no denying that organic dairy products will improve your cooking, and your enjoyment of the food you serve.

roll butter and homemade bread
Locally produced dairy products are worth the extra cost.

Ready to try some, or all, of these tasty ways to improve your cooking?  Let us know how it goes!



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