Cooking Hints & Tips From "The Enthusiastic Amateur"

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I am an enthusiastic amateur home cook and do all the cooking in our household. My wife does the housework.

Basically that means she cleans up my mess.

At 58 years young I have been doing this for a very long time and I absolutely love it. I would hate to do this as a job because I wouldn't be able to express my individuality in the kitchen.

I have learnt a whole bunch of stuff over the years, and I guess some of it would make the professionals turn over in their graves.

The purpose of this series is to give the not so experienced home cook some tips that I have found that will make your life a lot easier.

It is not designed for the professional chef, they know it all already. Just ask them and they will tell you

Y0u will find some recipes that call for you to add "Zest to the recipe. This doesn't mean that you have to run around the kitchen naked doing the Macarana. What it actually means is to add some of the skin from citrus fruit. That is the colourful part, not the white pithy bits on the inside. This "zest" contains the aromatic citrus oils and gives a hint of citrus tang to the recipe. Up-market and poncey home-wares shops will sell you fancy gadgets. You don't need them. Just use the fine side of your grater.

For God's sake EXPERIMENT. I absolutely never, ever, never follow a recipe as though it was written in stone and sent down from on high. Use your recipes as guidelines. What is the worst thing that could happen? You could screw it up and have to feed the remains to the dog and have eggs on toast instead. It is not the end of the world as we know it. But always remember less is best. You can always add but you can't take away. Oh, and by the way make a note on your recipe of what you did.

Why do you have kitchen scissors in your drawer? You only ever use them for opening packages and bags of stuff. That's what most people do. Get with the program people. Your kitchen scissors are one of your most valuable tools. Professionals use them all the time for such things as trimming fat from roasts, opening pita breads, cutting chicken into strips or bite size pieces. The mind boggles at what you can use them for. A word of caution, if you use your scissors for these jobs, designate them for those jobs and no others and keep them scrupulously clean. Don't do stupid things like use them on red meat and then chicken without washing them properly.

One final tip for this article. KEEP YOUR RECIPES ORGANIZED. Sorry to yell at you but there is nothing more annoying and frustrating than to decide to invite friends for dinner. You know that you want to cook something really top notch, and you dam well can't find the recipe. I use a folder with plastic sleeves in it so if I spill something on it it doesn' damage the paperwork. Also I can have 2 recipes per page. That's one on the front and one on the back.

Keep your eyes open for more hints and tips from "The Enthusiastic Amateur"

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