Everyone has to start cooking somewhere, and when you get off to a late start, you might be hesitant to ask the more basic questions of your more experienced peers.
Fortunately, Divine Caroline has shared twelve elementary answers to common queries at Care2, so you can bluff your way through recipe exchanges sounding like a pro (or at least someone who doesn’t mess up Ramen…been there, done that).
How do you keep pasta from clumping?
You don’t want your pasta to stick together like mob wives in an FBI investigation, so make sure you’re boiling it in plenty of salted water (4-6 quarts per pound of pasta) in a large enough pot. Don’t overcook. (Follow the cooking time on the package; pasta should be al dente, or still slightly firm). Do not rinse after boiling unless you’re using it in a cold dish. If you’re not otherwise saucing it, toss with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff).
How do you know if wine has gone bad?
If wine smells vinegary or mildewy (like wet newspaper), it’s gone bad. If wine (red or white) looks brown, it’s gone bad. If wine tastes funny, it’s gone bad. If wine came out of a box, it was probably not good to begin with.
How do you keep herbs fresh?
The dried, pale ghosts of herbs you get from a spice rack just aren’t the same as the fresh stuff. To keep leafy herbs fresher longer, treat them like cut flowers. Trim the stems, submerge stems (or roots, if the plant is still living) in an inch or two of water in a glass or jar, cover loosely with a plastic baggie, and store in the refrigerator (exception: basil should be kept at room temperature—meaning out of the fridge but not next to your stove). Change the water every few days.
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