There are some tasks in the kitchen I don't enjoy: grating cheese, shucking corn, and peeling and chopping garlic among them. The kids can take over some of those tasks, and they should, because — just like my mother told me, over and over — while they live in my house, they have to live by my rules. She also observed that when I had my own house, I could make my own rules. She was right. This totally came true! I make rules all the time! Even though they get broken. This can be frustrating, so I try to avoid additional frustration when I can. And I have figured out how to avoid chopping garlic.
There I am, cooking an easy weeknight meal, deciding what to throw in the pan, sipping a glass of wine and seasoning as I go. The first thing I usually want is chopped garlic. If I have to peel it and chop it right then, after already pouring a glass of wine, it'll take a few minutes. My wine will get warm and my fingers will be smelly, so the bouquet of my wine will be overpowered by the garlic on my fingers. This is not what I want to happen at the end of a long day.
One of my favorite local markets occasionally sells bags of peeled, fresh garlic. I take a bag home, with a song in my heart, and dump all the garlic into my mini food processor. My mini food processor is not a precision machine, so the garlic is half pureed, half-chopped, which is just fine. I scrape it into an old jam jar, add oil, and stash it in the refrigerator. Voilà! I won't be peeling or chopping garlic for a few days. It's a cheaper, additive-free version of the chopped garlic for sale in jars in most grocery stores and it takes me five minutes.
Botulism alert! Never store garlic in oil like this at room temperature; it should always go in the fridge. To be on the safest possible side of things, use refrigerated garlic in oil within three days, or freeze it; it is safe for much longer when frozen. For more facts on garlic, oil, and botulism, see this factsheet:
→ Flavored Vinegars and Oils at Colorado State University Extension
Sometimes, it's the little things that make me smile in the kitchen: a new batch of chicken stock in the freezer, a full fruit bowl, a new case of wine, or a full bag of homemade breadcrumbs in the freezer. That jar of garlic and oil means less hassle for me, so seeing it in the fridge makes me smile.
What cooking tasks do you dread? How do you make things easier for yourself in the kitchen?
(Images: Anne Postic)