In an effort to do this “right”, I thought it would be a good idea to lend advice about cooking from the beginning– the grocery store! I realized in the middle of starting this that it’s going to be way too long for a single post, so I’ll break it up into smaller posts. I owe a lot of my knowledge to Cook+Smarts. There, Jess Dang has a lot of great resources, like how to store fresh herbs so they last longest. Personally, I don’t use a lot of fresh herbs because I’m terrible with plants. I always forget about them, don’t use them, don’t tend to them/maintain them like I should. I’ve had so many basil plants die that I just felt bad for the poor things and stopped buying new plants. But that’s neither here nor there…onward!
A lot of young people don’t appreciate fresh fruits and vegetables like they should. Seriously, they’re awesome: better for your health, cheaper than snack foods, and some of it even travels better than a bag of chips (ahem, apples). In general, a good rule of thumb is to get stuff with skin that’s homogenous/uniform in color with a smooth surface. Just because your recipe calls for green squash (aka zuchinni), don’t buy it if the stuff at the grocery store is covered in brown spots and cuts. The glory of cooking is that you can always substitute with something similar or something you like better. Buy some yellow squash instead or do away with it all together and get some bell peppers. Who’s going to know? But don’t assume that the green squash at that grocery store is always gross. It changes! Check back next week! Super easy and delicious baked green squash entry is coming soon (remind me if I don’t post something by Jan 2013).
ONION AND GARLIC
I always make sure that I have onion and garlic in my house. I just stick ’em in a bowl on my counter and they last forever, so I don’t have to worry about it going bad BUT I use it all the time so none of it has the chance to go bad in the first place. These two will add a savory flavor to your food. I use either or both almost every time I’m cooking. You can always get alternative forms, like onion and garlic powder, but you’ll have to use more to get the same flavor. I also like the idea of fresh vegetables in my food and the texture it lends.
If you hate the way garlic makes your fingers smell, I have two helpful solutions:
1) You may not know that garlic comes chopped or minced in jars of oil or water so you can spoon it out. It’s soo convenient but it’s also milder in flavor so keep that in mind. I prefer the water variety since (I heard) it’s healthier and allows more control over what goes in my food. But to each her own, do what you want!
2) People swear that stainless steel is the way to get rid of that onion and garlic smell on your hands. It’s even made in a handy soap shape.