Cooking is one of the finest skills to study on your own. Cooking well can improve your health, save you money and be fun. Better yet, cooking is a skill you can always improve. Even the greatest kitchen veterans can learn a little something new. Here are a few handy tips for getting better results out of your kitchen:

If you are cooking pasta and are tired of the same taste, you can add a hint of lemon. Lemon will give it the extra taste that you desire, and this additive is also a very powerful antioxidant. Adding spices and different flavors can help improve the quality of your meals.

Purchase a quality loaf of bread that you can use as a side piece to a variety of meals. Bread goes great with any dish that has sauce or cheese, as you can dip it in a variety of different toppings. Cooking zucchini a loaf of Italian or French bread with your next meal.

If you have ever questioned the freshness of the eggs you bought and you don't know whether the eggs in your fridge are still useable or not, you can break them individually into a cup to see if they are good or not. If you need to test several eggs, put them in a pan of cool, salted water. Use the ones floating on top and throw away the ones that sink to the bottom of the pan.

For fluffier pancakes, allow the batter to sit for about five minutes before you start pouring it into the pan. This will allow the flour to absorb more of the moisture in the mix, making for much lighter pancakes that will rise more when you cook them and give them that great restaurant flavor!

To get professional-looking results when dipping candy in melted chocolate, use a toothpick to dip the soft candy. Push the toothpick into the candy piece about halfway, ensuring not to go all the way through the candy. Dip the candy, drop it on waxed paper to cool, and quickly drop a tiny bit of the melted chocolate over the hole created by the toothpick. The toothpick hole is now cleverly filled with chocolate.

When a recipe calls for vegetable shortening, coconut oil is a healthy alternative that should be used. Coconut oil can be difficult to find in the typical grocery stores so you may need to look in a healthfood store to find it. It is important to read the label to make sure it is true coconut oil.

If you wish to eat more protein, try one of the many varieties of beans or tofu available. Both beans and tofu are readily available in most grocery stores. Pan fried tofu, lightly sprinkled with your favorite seasonings, is a delicious substitute to meat. You can boil the beans with a bit of herbs to give the protein more flavor.

When applying seasoning to meat and fish, always remember to season evenly and thoroughly. Shake or grind the shaker as if the seasoning is snow falling from the sky. Doing so will allow the meat to be evenly coated with spices and seasoning and prevent clumps or over seasoning.

Don't store your spices above the stove. While many traditional kitchens place the spice rack above the stove for convenience, this practice can actually reduce the flavor and shelf life of your herbs. Humidity, heat, and light can all cause spices to lose their flavor, and above the stove ensures they are exposed to all three.

Hopefully, some of these ideas will prove useful to you. Not only is cooking a field in which there is always something new to learn, it is a very personal skill set. You retain full control of what you learn and how you apply it. Keep your eyes peeled for more tips that you can use to cook the way you want to.

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