You may wonder what to do with this lovely skill. Well, here’s a list to get your started.
Hard-cook an egg: Place eggs in one layer in a pan and add water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil. Set off heat. Cover pan, and let sit 15 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. You’ve got perfect hard-cooked eggs.
Cook pasta: For every 4 ounces of pasta you want to cook, bring 1 quart of water to a boil. (So if you’re boiling a pound of pasta, you’ll need 4 quarts water and 4 teaspoons salt.) Add pasta and 1 teaspoon salt per quart of water; stir. Stir again occasionally to make sure the pasta pieces don’t stick together. Test for doneness after 6 minutes, then periodically as needed until al dente, which is Italian for “to the tooth” and means the pasta should be firm but not crunchy.
Cook rice: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of long-grain white rice (2 1/4 cups for 1 cup brown rice) you want to cook (which will yield 3 cups cooked rice). Bring water and rice to boil with and 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste) for each cup rice, and stir once or twice. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes for white rice, 40 minutes for brown. The rice is done when all the water is absorbed. A heavy-bottom pan will yield best results.
Cook beans: Measure one cup dry beans. Add three cups of water and let it sit for about eight hours. You can keep the beans in water for over night. After it get soaked well, drain and rinse it properly. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until tender. They’re done to perfection when you can easily smoosh one between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
Make oatmeal: Well, you could make instant oatmeal (at a much higher cost), quick oatmeal or old-fashioned oatmeal. There are also steel-cut oats, but we won’t go there. For old-fashioned oats, follow the directions on the package or, if you buy in bulk, bring 2 cups of water to a boil for every 1 cup of oats. When the water is boiling, add oats and a pinch of salt (that’s less than 1/8 teaspoon) and stir. Return to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Set off heat and let sit 5 minutes more. Stir and eat. I like it with raisins plus a spot of brown sugar and milk.
Blanch, steam or boil vegetables: Blanching = dropping clean and trimmed vegetables (which can be cut up, too, if you like) into boiling water for a couple of minutes to kill bacteria and avert spoilage before freezing. For instance, if you have fresh green beans you want to freeze, you’d drop them in boiling water and boil them 3 minutes. For complete blanching and freezing directions see the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s page on the topic. Steaming = setting vegetables or other food in a steamer basket (some kind of contraption with holes that allow the steam to pass) to over boiling water to cook. (You can blanch by steam, too; go to the preservation web site for more info about that.) Boiling vegetables is like blanching them until they’re tender. Length of time varies widely, but you can use the times on Culinary Review as a guide.
Make tea or coffee: Many people are very particular about how to make tea or coffee. Make it your way. Or make tea as the Culinary Review says. Or coffee following the suggestions at How to Brew Coffee.
Poach fish: Poaching (simmering, really) is an easy, tasty and healthful way to prepare fish. Cooking for Engineers has a good guide.
See there? You do know how to cook. You could have a complete meal (let’s say poached fish with steamed broccoli and white rice) and a cup of tea) just by knowing how to boil water. Cool, huh?
What else do you do with boiling water?