Food is a deeply personal subject, one that seems to cause great passion even in those who claim to not give a whit about it. So… agree or disagree, this just works for me. And these things change the more I research or experience things, so there you go.
– Kosher salt or sea salt, never ever table salt. I learned that from Alton Brown. I learned a lot from Alton Brown, really. I watched Good Eats from the get go, and it changed how I viewed cooking forever.
– I make my own vanilla extract, because it actually ends up cheaper. Have you ever looked at how much vanilla extract costs per ounce? Crazy! Take one vanilla bean, split down the middle, shove into a jar. Add 1/2 cup of vodka or dark rum (not Myer’s dark rum, but the golden varieties,) shake it around. Place it on the counter, shake it every day for two weeks. Voila, vanilla extract. (I now have read another recipe, but it involves four times the amount of vanilla beans, so I have not yet done it. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen, so I’m sure it is perfection. It’s also four times the vanilla beans.)
– Yes, I buy organic or local whenever I can. Sometimes people can not afford it, and that is absolutely understandable. I feel incredibly grateful that I usually can, so I do. We all have to live on this planet, so I try to be cognizant of how my choices have larger effects. When I lived in Brooklyn and would visit home in Wisconsin, I used to fly with cheese from Wisconsin to New York just because this cheese was from a local dairy and still stands as the best damned cheddar I have ever had.
– Boxed food usually makes me leery. I only say “usually” because I have a deep love for Amy’s Mac and Cheese, which can be found (surprise) in your organic aisle. Boxed cake should only be used for spackling compound.
– Beans are better when they are cooked from dried. Yes, it takes more time, but you can get a better flavor and texture than you can with anything out of a can. You can make a bunch at once and then freeze them. It’s glorious. (An even neater trick? 1 cup dried beans, 3 cups water, a quartered small onion or strip of kombu if you want, throw it in the crockpot and let ‘er rip on low for 6-10 hours, dependent on bean.)
– Patience is a virtue with cooking. No one has time to spend hours a day cooking dinner, that’s sort of how it is, but it really is not hard and can be quite fast to whip out a salad, a quick soup, a simple pasta. Step away from the Big Mac…
– No baked potatoes in the microwave. Ever. The texture is all wrong. You can justify speed, you can try and tell yourself it’s the same, but it’s really not. Did I mention patience?
– Gluten-free. Sigh. I feel fortunate that I do not have a gluten intolerance. I have friends who have had genuine, allergy-tested gluten intolerances, and even those who have had celiac disease, where their bodies can genuinely not process wheat gluten. For those people, I am glad the gluten free revolution is helping more things become available to you. To those who are not… I believe it to be a fad diet like any other. Most people I have talked to who went “gluten free” also increased their intake of vegetables and decreased their processed food intake at the same time. And said they felt better. Huh.