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Kitchen Tips

Well, the cooking and baking season is among us!  I love fall and all the yummy goodness it brings to our tables.  I've been working on organizing my kitchen and getting rid of things that I just don't use.  A simple kitchen is an efficient kitchen.

Several years back, I attended a cooking class at The Viking Cooking School in Atlanta.  I learned more in that one day than I did my entire first year of marriage!  Now, we're in our eighth year of marriage and there are a few more tricks I've learned along the way.  I am no Julia Child, but I'm learning and I thought I would share a few of my favorite kitchen tips with you today. 

1.  Mise en place which essentially means having all your ingredients and tools ready before you begin a recipe.  I find this especially helpful when I'm baking or when I'm cooking with children. 

This photo was taken when I was making my Monkey Bread.  Of course, my oldest son wanted to help with this recipe so I prepared all the ingredients while he was playing and then called him over to help pour, mix and stir.  Mise en place is a little work on the front end but I promise you it will make your cooking experience much easier in the long run.  If you're baking, you reduce the risk of measuring incorrectly or starting a recipe only to discover half way through that you don't have any eggs.

2.  Place a kitchen towel under your cutting board to keep the board from sliding and spinning around while your chopping. 

3.  Invest in a good quality, multipurpose knife and keep it sharp.  I bought this Wustof Santoku knife after my cooking class at Viking seven years ago.  I can honestly say that I use it every single day at almost every meal.  I use it to slice English muffins, cut crusts of of PB & J and chop produce for dinner. 

A lot of people think that using a large knife will increase their chances of cutting themselves but that could not be further from the truth.  A larger knife, used on a proper size cutting board, will give you more control and is less likely to slip around like smaller knives.

4. Keep a "garbage bowl" close by to quickly toss your trash and scraps in while you cook.  I'm pretty sure Rachel Ray made this tip famous but it's one that I use all the time. Although, I have two trash cans strategically located in my kitchen, having this little bowl (or even a plastic grocery sack) within arms reach saves time and makes clean up a lot faster.

5.  These mini flour & sugar mason jars come in handy when I'm preparing a recipe that may call for a small amount of these kitchen staples that usually are sold by the pound!  There's nothing worse than having to pull out a five pound bag of flour when you only need two measly tablespoons.  I keep these little jars with my other common spices so they're always nearby. 

So, there you go!  A few basic kitchen tips from my sweet, southern kitchen.  I know they're pretty elementary but perhaps there are a few new cooks out there that will find them useful or inspiring. Do you have any kitchen tips you'd like to share?  Feel free to post your favorites in a comment below!

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