How do you add flavor with minimal effort and get the most bang for your buck?

Use fresh garlic. This aromatic and intense flavor binds the diversity of ethnic cuisine types and brings a warm familiarity that can best be described as comfort. In my kitchen, not only is fresh garlic comfortable but it is a staple.

How to pick: Choose large, firm bulbs. Avoid garlic that has any soft spot, which means that one or more of the garlic cloves have shriveled or potentially has mold.

How to store: Store in a cool dry place with light. I like to place several bulbs in its own bowl on the countertop or sometimes on the counter alone.

How to peel: Chop off both ends of the garlic and peel back the garlic skin. An alternative is to crush the garlic clove on the side of a chef's knife.

If you prefer to have peeled garlic on hand all the time, you may consider peeling a bulb at a time to store in the refrigerator. Simply soak the garlic bulb in cold water for half an hour, taking care to break apart the bulb along the way. The garlic skins will absorb the moisture like paper and peel off effortlessly.

Dry the peeled cloves, and store in a container that is lined with a fresh paper towel. Place in the refrigerator and replace the paper towel every week ... if you still have any around.

How to prepare: Crushed, minced or sliced, the smaller you cut it, the stronger the flavors.