Probably the biggest mistake beginners make in cooking vegetables is in cooking time. Over cooking or under cooking seems to be a problem for many. And then, it has a lot to do with personal preference. Just like people prefer their steak rare, medium or well done, people also have a preference for their veggies. Some prefer crisp and crunchy, some prefer soft and tender. If you are cooking for someone that you do not know their preference, it is usually best to under cook vegetables. If needed you can always toss them back in the pan for a few more moments.

Vegetable Cooking Tips

* Start cooking larger cuts of vegetables first since they will take longer to cook.

* Cook dense veggies first (Carrots, broccoli and celery), then softer veggies (peppers, onions and garlic last).

* Remember garlic burns easily and imparts a bitter taste when burnt.

* Chop and mince all vegetables before you begin, then you will be able to devote full attention to cooking.

* Invest in a quality vegetable peeler. It has many uses and is invaluable in the kitchen.

* For boiled corn on the cob that literally explodes in your mouth, bring a pot of water to a boil; put the corn in the pot and wait for the water to return to a boil. Boil 3 minutes. No longer. Remove and enjoy real corn flavor.

* Try the Southern style of cooking green beans. Cook until beans lose all green color and turn an olive drab color and are very tender.

* Did you know that tomatoes are technically a fruit, not a vegetable?

* Purchase a quality knife set for chopping all those vegetables and keep them sharp. More cuts are due to a dull knife than a sharp one.

* Use day old cooked rice for making real Chinese style fried rice.

* Avoid cooking acidic foods (tomatoes, vinegar) in reactive cookware. This can discolor the food and impart an off-flavor. Reactive cookware is aluminum, copper and cast iron. Non-stick surfaces on this cookware helps to eliminate the problem. Non-reactive cookware includes clay, enamel, glass, plastic, or stainless steel.

* Storage of fresh cucumbers may be prolonged by peeling, slicing and storing in the refrigerator in a sealed container filled with 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt. Sounds a little like pickles, huh?

An easy way to seed cucumbers is to slice the cuke in half lengthways. Then use a knife to make a cut like a trench on each side of the seeds down the length of the cucumber. Finally, using a spoon rake out the seeds. They will come out clean and easy.

* While onions and garlic will keep quite a while without refrigeration they will lasts longer and you can prevent them from sprouting if you store them in the frig.

* To make lighter and fluffier mashed potatoes, add a pinch or two of baking powder to the potatoes before whipping.

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