Grandma just knows how to make food taste better. From scratch-made pies to Sunday roasts, no one holds a candle to her cooking. However, spend enough time with her in the kitchen and you may just glean a secret or two. Here are a few cooking tips and tricks for making your food taste as homemade as Grandma’s.
1. Save the bacon grease
Bacon grease might as well be gold in Grandma’s kitchen. It’s prized for the signature smoky flavor it gives to anything that’s worthy enough to be cooked in it. Bacon grease is great for sautéing veggies, working into cornbread, or whisking into warm bacon vinaigrette (it’s delicious over salad or roasted green beans!).
2. Cook it in cast iron
Everything tastes better cooked in a cast iron skillet (okay, almost everything.) Cast iron skillets are a favorite in Grandma’s kitchen because of their ability to brown and sear meats like no other and to go from stovetop to oven. Not to mention they’re pretty indestructible—just don’t stick them in the dishwasher or leave them soaking in the sink.
3. Just a spoonful of sugar …
Not only helps make the medicine go down, but can also help boost flavor in savory dishes. Add a pinch or two of white granulated sugar to your favorite spaghetti sauce to help balance the acidity of the tomatoes and give it a more pleasing taste. Or stir in a tablespoon or two of brown sugar to your favorite meat marinade. The sugar caramelizes in high heat, making for a delicious crust!
4. Love leftovers
Grandma was raised in a different era with the mentality of “waste not, want not.” Instead of tossing out perfectly good leftovers or odds and ends, show them a little TLC. The lonely carrot and slightly wilted celery in the produce drawer can become part of vegetable soup or go into a batch of vegetable stock. Use leftover rotisserie chicken in a casserole or chicken salad. Leftover rice from dinner is perfect for a quick stir-fry the next night!
5. Keep your pantry stocked with the basics
Good food doesn’t have to be complicated. Keeping your pantry stocked with the essentials means you can whip up a homemade meal without having to make a trip to the store. A few ingredients to always have on hand: chicken and beef bouillon cubes or stock, canned tomatoes (diced, stewed, whole, etc), self-rising flour, sugar, butter crackers (to make a quick breading!), and the list goes on …
6. Go 50-50 with homemade and store-bought ingredients
Even Grandma takes shortcuts in the kitchen—how do you think she gets everything else done? Refrigerated pie dough can be a serious time saver if you’re making a chicken pot pie for dinner or apple pie for dessert. No time to turn garden tomatoes into spaghetti sauce? Grab a jar of good quality sauce at the store, add a few of your own seasonings, brown some ground beef, and you’ve got homemade dinner in a jiffy.