Freeze column: Cooking tips I’ve picked up over the years

  • Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2013 11:51 p.m.

I have really enjoyed reading “Someone’s In the Kitchen with Sarah” so far.

It seems like I need a good bit of help too. Accused for years of having a boring diet, I’m one of those people who just like the kinds of food that I do. Foods for me provide a service. They provide the fuel to do lots of things in the quickest way possible. With that philosophy, it is of little surprise that certain foods provide that quick pop to fuel our muscles with glycogen, the fuel that provides energy for endurance exercise or long lasting activities. I just eat those things over and over. Bananas, bagels, yogurt, power bars, veggies, and so on.

From this point on, I am going to mention just a few steps that make my cooking go well, such as it is.

Over the years, I have been very fortunate to know lots of good cooks, mostly women. There have been many of these good women, even quite a few if you leave out all the ex-wives and girlfriends. I was reminded the other day about how one of them used to be really good at using tofu to enhance pasta and meatless dishes. I do like to eat, but I have no idea how to do such things.

Really I know next to nothing about how to cook, except how to take a few things out of the freezer or refrigerator and hit some buttons on the microwave. So, Sarah’s column might help me some.

Speaking of ex-wives and girlfriends, I have more to thank them for. There is a huge assortment of pots, pans, utensils and Tupperware here in case I ever learn what to do with them. Probably a few less pots and definitely less knives because both were used in various repair projects around the farm. Much of what is left; I don’t know how to use either in the kitchen or on the farm. Picture the right size pot catching some fluid dripping out of a tractor. No, I don’t put them back in the cabinet afterwards. At least I hardly ever do.

Know which fast food places to visit and the tips about how to make the most out of the time and the money spent.

I’m a huge fan of Subway stores, especially the China Grove store that my niece manages and the new one on Jake Alexander Boulevard. I’ve developed a fairly regular habit of stopping in at the Jake Alexander store on Sundays after my morning run and before church. Jackie is fantastic every time, because she knows how to make sure I get the best deal. I always leave with the best egg and cheese sandwich in town, prepared the right way, and loaded with good veggies. Plus, by filling out the store survey, there is always a free cookie. If you get your breakfast as soon as they open, chances are really good that those cookies will be warm and very inviting.

Experimentation is important. Just the other day, there was a bag of oatmeal cookies left over from a 5K class that I was teaching. Never one to throw out food, I tried a few of them. They were the very hard ones that come in the Essentials brand from Food Lion. Being an expert at bringing day or even 2 day old bagels back to life, I tried some of the same things on the cookies. One of the ex-wives told me how to use a brown paper bag and a microwave to soften up bagels that were hard. Just put one in a bag, hit 20-25 seconds and that bagel will come out tasting nearly new. Surely the same would work for those cookies. I tried three of them in the bag and found that only a small portion of the cookie would soften up.

Being persistent, I then went to the next step. I made sure that part of the bag was damp with water and tried it again. No improvement.

Next step was to wet a napkin and put it in a dry bag under the cookies. Not a good step! The napkin stuck to the cookies, but I was making progress. Finally, I put the wet napkin beside the cookies in the dry bag and it worked. Those hard cookies tasted almost as good as fresh baked ones.

I told Sarah the other day that if she was to come to my kitchen for tips, I wouldn’t have much to offer.

Now, even though these tips won’t qualify as real cooking, some of the above are at least worth considering and maybe worth smiling over.

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