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Tips from the chef

As she teaches cooking classes, Laura Stec offers a cornucopia of lively tips and quips. Here's a sampling:

• "The fresher the food, the more alive it is."

• Buy from the bin to avoid unnecessary packaging.

• "Grains sleeping in a bulk bin need to be woken up" before they're cooked. (Stec said this after rinsing grains and giving them a shake.)

• "Vegetables stay happy when you keep the cutting board clean," so keep a bowl next to the board for scraps, which you can compost.

• "Keep water as far away from vegetables as possible." Vegetables are best when cooked with high, dry heat.

• Let meat sit a while before you slice it, so the juices don't run out.

• Switch to kosher salt (for better flavor).

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