I enjoy being in the kitchen. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that I am a woman. I simply enjoy being in a creative environment and the best expression of my creativity is in the culinary arts :-)!
Over the past couple of years, I've learnt a few hacks as I cook and clean the kitchen and I would like to share them with you.
Most Kenyan homes fry a lot of their foods, from samosas, mandazis, bhajias to kebabs. I remember a friend reached out to me requesting that I walk her through the Kebab recipe on my website and when I asked her how they turned out, she mentioned that they were oil soggy. This mostly happens when the oil you are using isn't hot enough.
To check whether your oil is ready for use, dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and if it starts to bubble, then your oil is hot enough.
If your oil starts to remove smoke, then it is too hot and you need to allow it to cool. When the oil is too hot, the outside of the item being fried will get done faster than the inside, hence, getting food that is done on the outside and raw on the inside.
Have you seen those cakes that collapse at the centre? One of the reasons why the cakes we bake collapse is because we opened the oven too soon. Once you place your cake in the middle rack of your oven, don't open the oven until they have been in there for a minimum of 25-30 min. The smaller the cake, the shorter the time it will take to get done while the larger the cake, the more time it may take to get done.
If you open your oven and the cake wobbles when you're pulling it out, then it's not yet done. Gently return it back to the oven and close the door.
The best way to check whether a cake is done is by inserting a toothpick at the centre of the cake. If the toothpick comes out dry, then the cake is done. If it comes out wet, then it's not yet done. Ensure your toothpick can reach the bottom of the baking dish if you are using a deep bottomed dish like a bread pan.
After numerous baking experiences, I've also discovered that a cake is almost done or done when the kitchen and the house starts smelling like a bakery. This would be a good time to check whether your cake is done. If you don't have accurate smell buds, don't try this method, stick to the toothpick method.
We bake and roast a lot in our house, hence most times our oven gets really dirty and smokey! I have found a cleaning agent that has transformed how my oven looks like. I can't say it makes my oven brand new clean, but it strips it off 90% of the grease and grime after long periods of baking and grilling.
I clean my oven when it's warm, so, I plan on cleaning it after one of my baking/roasting experiences. Some people use lemon water, I honestly didn't find it effective in removing the grime but it gave the oven an nice smell.
Astonish Oven and Cookware cleaner is what I use. I got mine from Carrefour Sarit Center. The inscription says that you don't need gloves when using the detergent, but I wore gloves just to be on the safe side! This product has really changed the frequency and easy of cleaning my oven. Mind you, I did the cleaning when I was 6 months pregnant (just to demonstrate how hustle free cleaning it was) and it did a really good job.
What other hacks do you know have worked for you in your kitchen? Are there more things you'd like us to address while working in your kitchen?