*This post was sponsored by ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda, an ingredient and tool I use daily. The story and images are my own.
There are many secrets of the kitchen that are often not taught. Techniques and tricks that become inherently a part of those who work and live in the kitchen. We glide across our limited kitchen space employing numerous short cuts and skills that have been collected along the way like memories.
Lately I’ve been trying to become more aware of those subconscious tricks that I use in order to run my very small home kitchen more efficiently. In doing so I hope to do a better job of passing along such tricks.
Much of what I know about effective kitchen management I learned while working in a restaurant where pushing out over 250 desserts a night was not out of the ordinary. In order to perform such a task everything must be impeccably organized and everyone must follow the same plan. Every movement is calculated and every action is scrupulously examined to ensure that it is performed in the most efficient way possible.
But it’s the moments in which I recall a trick I picked up from my grandmothers or my mom that remind me of the real power of the kitchen. In those moments I feel a great sense of honor and duty in continuing the tradition and passing along skills in the kitchen to my children. I can’t help but think of how the future wives of my boys will thank me for showing my son’s how to finesse flakes out of a simple pie dough. And how my daughter’s husband will benefit from her lack of fear in the kitchen just as my husband has.
In the kitchen of my childhood I could only reach the front burner but I didn’t let that stop me from “helping” with dinner. At the cusp of learning how to multi-task and just beginning to hone my skills in having the kitchen run like a well oiled machine, I neglected to stir the pot and directed my attention elsewhere. By the time I returned to the pan a deep layer had crusted to the bottom and the evidence of burnt on food was in the air. My mother noticed what was happening at the same time but rather than scolding my negligence she reached for the golden box with the muscular arm while at the same time teaching me one of those invaluable kitchen secrets.
She proceeded to boil the pot with a heavy dose of baking soda and by the end of the evening the pot contained no evidence of what was to be the first of many (many) kitchen mistakes.
Years later, while working in a high end restaurant, a similarly burnt food-crusted pan appeared on our station. Rather than whisk the pan away and let the dishwashers deal with the mess, I passed along the baking soda trick to my pastry chef and felt swollen with pride while doing so.
The ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda box represents many of those tricks I learned at a young age. Imagine my delight when I was able to return the favor to my mom and share with her one of my favorite uses for this iconic ingredient. She was unfamiliar with the idea of adding a touch of baking soda instead of sugar, to tomato sauce for the purpose of reducing the acidity. I thought for a moment what that pan-burning little girl would think knowing that decades later she would have something to share with the woman who taught her how to move in the kitchen. She would be proud, I’m quite certain. Just don’t tell that little girl how many more pans she’ll burn in her kitchen career.
What are some of your favorite uses for baking soda in your kitchen? Share your tricks on beyondthebake.com for a chance to win.