Your Momma Don’t Cook (But You Can Learn): Peeling Garlic

My mother was a successful, professional woman and a great role-model for her daughters. But while she was out bringing in the bacon, she wasn’t spending much time teaching me how to cook the bacon. Welcome to the feature where we learn how to do the things in the kitchen we know we should know, but never quite learned.

Almost every meal I cook now starts with chopping onions and garlic.  The health benefits of garlic include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol
  • Reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Contains vitamin C, B6, Manganese, and Selenium
  • Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory, Antibacterial and Antiviral 
  • Reduces the risk of common cancers
  • Promotes weight control

Now, you can certainly buy pre-peeled, pre-chopped garlic at most grocery stores these days, but studies have shown that fresh, just crushed and peeled garlic is more flavorful and provides significantly more health benefits than packaged garlic.

To prepare garlic:

  1. Separate cloves from the bulb by pulling the off the outer layer of paper and then pulling off individual cloves.
  2. Lay cloves on a clean cutting board.
  3. Place a wide knife on top of the clove with the blade facing away from you and bring the heel of your palm down on the flat side of the knife. This “crushing” or bruising releases the beneficial compounds in the garlic and separates the papery layer from the clove, making peeling easy.
  4. Peel off the outer layer and slice off the brown, woody stem if one remains and discolorations. Your cloves are now ready to crush, dice, or slice.
  5. Let garlic sit for 10 minutes before cooking or eating – this releases garlic’s beneficial compounds.

Note: If the garlic clove has started to sprout and has a green stem in the middle, you will want to remove this shoot – they are difficult to digest and can become bitter when cooked.

Have a basic cooking question? Ask The Starter Kitchen by e-mail or in the comments section.


How To: Host the Perfect Easter Brunch

So you’re on your own for your first Easter Sunday, but you want something a little more complicated than cheerios.

Host a perfect make-ahead Easter Brunch! The whole meal will cost less than $50, serves up to seven, and most of it can be prepared the night before in less than an hour! Sunday morning, wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee while your oven does the rest!


Three-cheese egg basil and tomato casserole
Baked pecan and blueberry french toast

Two cookie sheets
Aluminum foil 
2 glass casserole pans ($11.99 at Shaws)
Frying pan

Already in Your Starter Kitchen: 
Cooking spray
11 eggs
Orange juice
Vanilla extract
Baking Powder

Your Shopping List:
1 loaf french bread
1/2 cup pecans
1 pound jack cheese
4 oz cream cheese
1 pound cottage cheese
Frozen hash-browns (pre-shredded in the potato section of your frozen foods isle)
2 ripe tomatoes

The Night Before:

French toast

  1. Break four eggs into a mixing bowl. Add 2/3 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 vanilla extract, and whip together using a whisk or fork.
  2. Slice french bread into 1 inch thick slices.
  3. Place slices of bread in a single layer – don’t worry about keeping the slices seperate; put as many in as you can fit.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Turn the bread with a spatula once before you hit the sack.

Continue reading