A few cooking thoughts

-I used to find garlic very difficult to peel, the peel would stuck to the cloves and I had to scratch it out sometimes. Now, I cut each end of the clove and the peel comes right out. Have I changed my technique or has garlic changed in the last decade?
-I find that Martinis Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which I buy at Trader Joe’s for about $9 for the 1 liter bottle, is the best cheap olive oil around. It actually has a pleasant (if not too strong) flavor, without the bitterness I find in other cheap oil. I don’t know if it’s not adulterated with other oils, as cheap olive oils are said to be, but it works well enough for me.
-Isn’t it so much more convenient when you was your kitchen utensils as you use them? Why don’t I do it more often (other than having a full dish rack)?
-The conventional wisdom is that you should throw out your dried herbs and spices every year. However, herbs and spices are expensive and it’s often much cheaper to buy them in larger quantities (specially at Santos Indian Spices in San Leandro, so I keep them for much longer. I, personally, haven’t encountered a significant degrading of the spices. And even if they lost some of their potency, isn’t it just a matter of tasting and adding some more if necessary?
-The conventional wisdom is also that you shouldn’t cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink. However, I’ve found there is no difference in the finished product between nicer wines (those in the $7 range) and cheaper wines, in particular two-buck chuck. I personally think it’s a great cooking wine, both in its red and white varieties.
-My palate may also not be very educated, but I notice little difference in the finished product vis a vis the varietal of wine I use – so I always use whatever I have open or I have a cheap bottle of. I do usually use red wine when a recipe calls for red, and white when it calls for white.
-Pudding from a box is disgusting. It’s very easy to make your own custard. But the former is much cheaper and hubby likes it just as much.
-Whipping cream and lemons cost twice as much at the supermarket than at Trader Joe’s.
-No matter what I make, I need at least 1 hour to cook from scratch.
-I always underestimate how long it’ll take me to cook something by at least half an hour.
-I love Better than Bouillon stock bases. But they are expensive if you are actually using them to make soup.
-I no longer bother making stock (with a base) before putting it into a recipe. Now I add water to the food I’m cooking and add the base when it starts to boil.
-Chef knives are useless. I finally got one a year or two ago and I hate it. I find a serrated bread knife much more efficient for chopping onions (the onion halves stay together as you slice them), which is the kitchen task I most abhor.

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