Top Five Things I’ve Learned About Cooking that I Never Knew (in the past four years)

1. Mis en place—let me tell you, getting all your ingredients measured and ready BEFORE you cook is the key to successful cooking (at least in my book). I cannot tell you how many times I’ve scrambled to measure ingredients as I go and have successfully managed to ruin a dish. Take my advice, it’s all about mis en place.

2. Freeze an onion to prevent yourself from crying. This is something I’m ashamed to admit I did not learn until recently. I was always the one to be chopping an onion and end up completely bawling by the time I was finished chopping it. (Note to self: wear waterproof mascara JUST in case).

3. Smack the sides of the lid with a knife to open a jar. This is honestly one of the most useful tricks I’ve learned. Have you ever purchased a jar of something, let’s say jam, and the lid is literally hermetically sealed? It’s the absolute worst and you’re left struggling for what seems like hours straining your muscles trying to open the jar. Well here’s a trick of the trade that’s pretty reliable. Just hit the sides of the lid with a regular dinner knife and viola! your hermetically sealed jar should open. No more need to work on your upper body at the gym.

4. ALWAYS use a serrated knife for tomatoes, always. I learned this trick from my mother and thankfully I did. Before this extraordinary bit of knowledge, I was using a regular knife to cut tomatoes, a regular knife. When you use a regular knife, the juice oozes out from inside the tomato, leaving the surface you’re cutting on slimy and gross. The tomato at this point is practically squished; looking like you deliberately smashed it to oblivion. A serrated knife will leave the tomato looking round with nice smooth edges. Never again will I use a regular knife when cutting a tomato.

5. Add a slice of bread to your cookie container to keep your cookies fresh for longer. I never knew why my mom insisted on putting a piece of bread at the bottom of the cookie container, it just seemed weird. Bread and cookies didn’t seem to mix. And now I do. The bread keeps the cookies moist and will keep them fresh for days; so all your hard work baking will pay off. Whenever I bake and store cookies, I make sure to add that slice of bread to the bottom of the container.

Now you know some essential tricks of the trade. Until next time, keep eating!