04/6 2011

Don’t Dump It All At Once (When Cooking)

I hope you enjoy Starting from Scratch, my second book, published each week online, one chapter at a time. Before the book’s final publication, I hope to sprinkle readers’ thoughts, opinions and advice throughout. After all, you each have helpful systems and solutions in the kitchen worth sharing. By making a contribution, your comments will be printed, crediting you and/or your blog, and you’ll get free copies of the book. In addition, for each section, I’m consulting an expert blogger – for this excerpt, it’s Shaina Olmanson, home cook and author of Food For My Family.

 Mr. Bubble

My son has a dump disease since birth. It all started with J&J baby wash sitting by the tub. If I left him alone for a brief moment, the entire bottle and its contents would be swimming with him. Same story with Mr. Bubble a year later. Then when he was old enough to shower, the gallon size container of shampoo we accidentally left sitting on the floor was quickly emptied. He goes through toothpaste in no time, too, not because he actually likes to brush his teeth, but because the contents end up on the counter, in the sink, and in his hair.

As you might imagine, if I happen to be cooking with Luke, I’m reluctant to leave bottle of olive oil or a carton of eggs sitting on the counter. A container of sugar can be a complete disaster. Especially if we’re baking cookies together, I’m quick to tell him:

Don’t dump everything at once.

More than once, Luke has been all too anxious to dump that cup of flour into the bowl and turn the mixer on high. I’m sure you can visualize the cloud of flour that quickly appears in the kitchen sky (and all over our faces and clothes). Adding it gradually, despite the high mixer speed, can alleviate or even eliminate this problem.

Even if a mixer is not involved, the anti-dump rule may apply.

Shaina suggests: “When making a vinaigrette, you slowly drizzle the oil while whisking into the vinegar so that it properly emulsifies and binds together.

In the same way, some recipes ask you to add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. This allows the eggs to properly bond with your other ingredients rather than remaining separate from them.”

Another time to apply the “rule” is if you are preparing a sauce on the stove. If you reduce wine to concentrate its flavor and add an ingredient, such as broth, too quickly, often the sauce will wildly hiss at you. It is much safer to take your time and pour the next ingredient slowly and carefully.

Likewise, when cooking with oils, it’s important to be slow and deliberate when you add other ingredients to a skillet. Otherwise, drops of potentially dangerous and deeply staining grease are likely to fall upon you. Not to mention, some oils, if hot enough, can smoke and erupt into flames.

Whether or not a child (or stove!) is involved, the dump lesson can be a valuable one to learn. Be safe, not sorry. Pour slowly. Be careful. Dumping is a minor detail with major implications if not carried out carefully. Soon you’ll learn what might decorate your kitchen, explode or stain your clothes. Permanently.

About Shaina Olmanson

Shaina Olmanson is a freelance writer and photographer and also the home cook behind Food for My Family and the food channel editor at Lifetime Moms.  She fell in love with the art of cooking while spending countless hours hanging on her grandmother’s apron strings, and as a native Minnesotan, growing up surrounded by farms served as a daily reminder of the importance of local and seasonal food.  Raising her four young children with her husband, she strives to teach them the importance of growing, preparing and eating and enjoying real food.

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