My 6 Favorite Basic Kitchen Hacks for Cooking and Baking

spices

Cooking Tips

1. Vegetable Broth is a Gravy-Maker and Bomb De-Glazer

This, for me, is a CRITICAL kitchen hack in most of my meals. I typically sauté vegetables and it leaves those nice charred bits on the bottom of the pan. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about those pieces, but I don’t want them to go to waste.

Vegetable Better Than Bouillon is my go-to vegetable “broth.” It lasts much longer and adds a ton of flavor!

Adding about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to the pan makes the yummiest, easiest sauce for your dish! It’ll deglaze the pan, and if you add a bit more broth, the sauce will turn into a savory gravy you can save to top off your meal.

2. Toast! Your! Spices!!!

Toasting your spices is something I wish everyone did. Before adding any amount of liquid to your pan, pour in your spices and let them get a little bit toasty. It brings out the flavor of the spices, making for a more flavor-packed dish.

Sprinkle these on the pan with your garlic and onion, and you’ll be rewarded with a nicely concentrated, seasoned meal.

If you add a liquid, like broth or (vegan) cream, before putting in your main seasonings, you’ll lose a ton of the flavor. It essentially waters down the flavor you’re going for, and no one wants that. I’d have to say this is my favorite kitchen hack to date.

3. Science Says Wooden Utensils Cook Better Meals (Not Really but You Should Do It)

I haven’t done any extensive research on this, but I feel like the meals I cook using wooden utensils come out 10 times better than when I use any other kind. My theory is that the wood absorbs ton of flavor from previous dishes, so when you cook with it again, it adds a little more oomph thanks to whatever you cooked before.

Look at these! They just look like they’re holding on to past flavors just for your new dish. They’re like the cast iron skillets of utensils.

Not to mention, using wooden utensils on my pans helps them last way longer. No scratches, no harsh breakdown of the material of the pan (I like ceramic), extra tasty food! Double kitchen hack for the price of one.

Baking Tips

1. Butter Your Own Milk: Instant Buttermilk

Sometimes, recipes call for buttermilk. And when you’re vegan, you obviously don’t consume buttermilk. I’ve done the vinegar in non-dairy milk thing, but I just can’t stand the smell, which then makes me think my dish tastes a little bit like vinegar. I know it’s mostly psychological, but if I can avoid that feeling altogether, why not?

With these two simple ingredients, you get the consistency of buttermilk without any semblance of vinegar.

Squeezing just a couple teaspoons of lemon juice into my soy milk curdles it just enough to resemble actual buttermilk. And I don’t have to worry about any vinegar smells. It’s a kitchen hack win-win!

2. Cheap and Easy Egg Replacer

This isn’t to be confused with scrambled or fried egg replacers. I’m talking about the 5 eggs that your cake recipe calls for. I’ve played around with chia eggs, but I could never find a decent affordable option for a larger sized bag.

My favorite faux egg! It’s even more neutral to me than ground chia (which is already pretty neutral), and it just takes on its role of egg imitator quite well.

Instead of ground chia seeds, for roughly $8, I can buy a large bag of ground flax seed. This stuff lasts a LONG time for me, which says a lot considering how often I bake. It has a neutral flavor, forms a nice eggy consistency, and it’s something I find more easily in stores.

3. Evaporate or Condense Your Milk at Home

I didn’t run across the problem of needing evaporated milk for a vegan recipe until I made my Vegan Conchas. At the time I first made them, I lived in L.A. and couldn’t justify spending $6 for a small can of vegan evaporated milk. I grabbed a small pot, some soy milk, and got to work.

I had some evaporated milk from my conchas recipe, so I just wanted to show the difference in color from any standard plant-based milk.

All this kitchen hack takes is simmering your plant-based milk of choice for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the amount of liquid is reduced to about half. Super easy! And to make condensed milk, take that plant-based milk, pour it in a pot, add 1/2 cup or more of sugar depending on the amount of liquid, and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Voila!

. . .

None of these are entirely mind-blowing, but that was why I wanted to write this! I think it’s important to cover the basics, since that’s where you can make tons of improvements. I hope at least one of these helps, and can’t wait to hear of any cool vegan kitchen hacks you might have!

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