A-photo-of-Chuck-MalloryWe should all have a grandma who taught us a bunch of stuff about cooking. In times gone by, that was a given. But today folks have to rely on any elderly cook they can find. There is no substitute for years of experience at the stove.

Thus, here is an array of valuable tidbits that you are not likely to know unless you are already a very experienced cook with a variety of types of food. I’ve modernized a few of them (my grandmother never used a microwave or pastry brush, for instance) but they are still basic, solid, home-cooking tips.

Grandma at the tableAlways make mashed potatoes with a ricer or mashing by hand. Machines, even an electric mixer, can deteriorate the starch in potatoes enough that they won’t come out fluffy.

Rest plain cooked rice in the pan for 15-30 min. after it has finished steaming. Leave the lid ajar. This will help the grains stay intact and help the grains firm up to a good texture.

Salad secret: if making a dressed salad with green leafy vegetables and are using a vinaigrette or other acidic-based dressing (such as lemon or fresh tomato), dress the salad right before serving. Acidic foods make green vegetables look dull and feel limp quickly.

If serving boiled vegetables and you don’t want the wrinkly look or shrinking some boiled vegetables (such as corn, carrots, green beans or asparagus) can have, drain vegetables after boiling and immediately use a pastry brush to coat them with oil or butter. This helps them trap moisture inside.

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6/15/2012 1:56:01 AM

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melissa riley
1/6/2012 8:13:46 PM

And like your wise Grandma, I will NEVER USE A MICROWAVE ! Google dangers of microwave ovens for more info.

1/4/2012 2:28:57 PM

Thank you for the inside info, but I've been a follower of Clara for a long time! I was impressed by her "Dandelion Greens" video. My own kinfolk had dandelion greens, but from the pristine woods of rural north Missouri. She just grabbed them out of her backyard, in NJ!

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