Food

5 Cooking Skills To Learn In 2016

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Building your confidence in the kitchen is one of the most effective ways to make solid nutrition both more affordable and easier to do. Add these 5 cooking skills to your toolbox in 2016 for a more nutritious year.

5 Cooking Skills To Learn in 2016 with stablespice.com

1.Making Broth/Stock

Most of the time, I use a high quality stock concentrate. But when you want full control over additives or you’re making every penny count, this is the perfect way to make sure that nothing goes to waste! As a working student, the vegetable broths I made from leftovers formed the base for soups that were a key part of cutting my food expenses!

All you really need for a delicious home made vegetable stock are vegetable scraps + a couple hours on the stove or in a slow cooker. I keep a gallon-sized zip-top bag in my freezer, and fill it with any raw vegetable leftovers that I would otherwise throwaway during food prep. Corn, leeks, onions, kale, carrot ends, the leafy ends of celery are all perfect candidates. You want to avoid including anything bitter, and potatoes will simply make your broth cloudy.  When you have a gallon freezer bag of vegetable bits, you’re ready to make your stock.

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On an evening when you’re staying in to clean tack, watch an awesome live stream or recover from that clinic, add your bag of vegetables to a stockpot 2/3 full of salted water. Deepen the flavor by adding a sprinkle of peppercorns or any leftover fresh herbs you happen to have (avoid woody ones like rosemary though). Bring to a boil before reducing the heat to medium low and partially covering. Let the stock simmer for 2-4 hours, tasting periodically after 2 hours to adjust the salt. Once you like the taste, strain your stock through a colander just like you would pasta (obviously retaining the liquid!) and throw away your cooked vegetables. After cooling, you can store your stock in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for 3 months.

2.De-bone A Whole Chicken

5 Cooking Skills To Learn in 2016 with stablespice.com

Whether you are up to roasting a whole chicken or opt for the grocery store rotisserie version, making the most of all that lean protein is worth a little effort. I usually remove the breasts and legs first, setting those aside since I keep them whole. Then I carefully remove the remainder of the meat using a fork and a paring knife (and my hands), shredding the meat as I go. A whole chicken will feed my family of 3 for two meals or 1 family dinner and two or three lunches.

3.Poach An Egg

5 Cooking Skills To Learn in 2016 with stablespice.com

If you like your eggs with a soft yolk but want to avoid the oil or butter involved in frying eggs, poaching is the perfect solution. Using a deep pan (I like a wok), fill it with about 4 inches of water over med hi heat until it begins to boil. Add a splash of white vinegar and break an egg into a small cup,  pouring it into the water slowly, egg white first. Allow the egg to set around the yolk. It’s done when it floats to the top.  Remove it from the water with a slotted spoon.

4.Roast Your Vegetables

Nutrition Prep School: Roasted Vegetables - get your healthy cooking basics down on stablespice.com

Vegetables are a delicious and nutritious way to keep your meals filling. Roasting is an easy and versatile way to prepare them. Check out our super simple how to and add some veggie variety to our menu.

5.Go Off-Label With Your Pasta

5 Cooking Skills To Learn in 2016 with stablespice.com

Pasta is a quick way to prepare a home cooked meal plus makes for great leftovers. But if you’ve been just following the box directions, its time to take your pasta to the next level. Instead, bring your pasta to a boil in very generously salted water. At the same time, melt 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter together in a saute pan, cooking until the butter turns a warm amber color. Toss in finely diced garlic (1-2 cloves) and half of a red onion. Once the pasta is cooked, move the pasta to your butter mixture pan using tongs instead of straining with a calendar. Add a ladle (about half a cup) of the pasta water to the pasta and butter pan. Stir the pasta until it is evenly coated with butter and season with salt and pepper. You could top your pasta some of that roasted chicken we mentioned above, a a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh parley, diced tomatoes or some finely diced green onions!

Expanding Horizons

Trying new dishes at home can be intimidating, whether its a new ingredient or a different technique. Adding skills to your kitchen toolbox is a great way to keep your menus interesting and your healthy eating goals more affordable.

Is there a dish that you’ve been wanting to try out for yourself?

 

Digital strategist Kristen Smith, author of If The Saddle Fits, offers equestrian bloggers a place to learn, grow and connect with Blogging From The Barn. She holds multiple nutrition certifications and at her day job, helps equestrian professionals and businesses to harness the power of social media at KLSmith Creative.

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