kitchen

All posts tagged kitchen

My Culinary Obsession

Published July 26, 2015 by lynn k scott

I have a culinary obsession.   I have to place blame with my old neighbor for starting it.   He was moving and had a garage sale.   Seems harmless,  right?

Little did I know,  the three pieces of bakeware I bought for $20, included two Le Creuset pieces.

If you are unfamiliar with these multicolor pieces, they are quality non-porous stoneware,  glazed interior (for easy clean-up), heavy and can give some “sticker shock” when they check the price tag.

I currently only afford to add to my Le Creuset collection by saving a little and taking advantage of clearance sales.

Yesterday,  while perusing Sur La Table, I came across a very nice selection of Le Creuset and most of it was on clearance.   Sadly, much of it was out of my price range even with it discounted.

I found a piece, that had been marked down twice and was 40% off.  I made a comment to hubby about how our anniversary was just a couple weeks away. 

After walking through the store, we stopped back to look at the cookware again.  I was gifted a new piece for my collection.

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This 12.5″, 3.5 quart dish has a new home!  It can go in the oven, broiler, grill, freezer and microwave and dishwasher. 

I am moving away from cooking in metal pans and using glass or stoneware or ceramic.  I cook quite extensively, so the expense is justifiable to me; even if I use birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas presents to obtain them.

If you are a closet chef, kitchen guru or need a really nice wedding present, I highly suggest purchasing Le Creuset pieces.  They have everything you need to transform a kitchen.

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It’s in the bag

Published May 24, 2015 by lynn k scott

Drop that can!  Oh, the convenience of it all.  Pick up a can of beans to use as a side dish or to use in preparing other dishes. I have come to tell you, there is another way. Did you know that all sorts of beans are sold dry and in bags? Amazing, right?

I never paid attention to bagged beans growing up.  My mother was less than a good cook.  It’s not being mean.  When the dog refused to eat her cooking, it was a validation that it wasn’t just us kids that didn’t like the food.  Just about everything she made came out of a can or was already processed.

Many moons later, as I made a commitment to myself to cook healthier, to avoid food allergens and chemical processing, I use dried beans exclusively in my cooking.  Granted, dried beans do require a few extra steps, but they are very tiny steps that yield much better results than anything that plops out of a can.

Last night, I put some navy beans in some water and soaked them overnight.  This morning, I dumped them into a colander and then added them to my crockpot.  This is my preferred method of cooking beans.  The crockpot is your friend.  If you don’t currently have one, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND picking one up.

When you utilize dried beans, you have the option of using recipes that suit your needs.  You get the opportunity of teaching your children to cook.  Crockpot cooking is still cooking.  After I added the beans to the crockpot, I diced up a small onion and added that too.

My daughter came into the kitchen and I let her help mix the sauce to pour over the beans.  I opened a jar of ketchup that I had previously canned.  Added the ketchup to some water, added some brown sugar, some molasses, a little apple cider vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper and let her whisk those ingredients together.

She poured the blended mixture over the beans and stirred to combine.  Then I had her place the lid on, set the crockpot to 6 hours and turn it “on”. This afternoon, we will have baked beans.  I will probably can several jars for use this summer.

My daughter really enjoys helping in the kitchen.  Making recipes like this teaches her about food, allows her to ask questions about the ingredients and she sees how raw ingredients come together to make a new dish.

The next time you are about to pick up a can of kidney, pinto, black or baked beans (just to name a few), think about making your own.  I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.

Kitchen Hacks

Published February 20, 2015 by lynn k scott

Here are some kitchen hacks that I have learned or adopted over the years.  This is far an all-inclusive list, but I don’t think it’s too shabby.

  • If a recipe calls for half an onion, chop the entire onion.  I use a mandolin-type slicer.  It has 4 settings, two thin, two thick, slices or strips.  It takes me all of 5 minutes to peel and slice the onion and run my knife across the strips for a quick dice.  Then I store the leftover onion in a glass bowl (not a fan of storing in plastic).
  • For “minced” garlic – use a garlic press.  If a recipe calls for minced garlic and it’s just a small amount, it’s rather quick and no need to get out a knife and cutting board.
  • Garlic smell on your hands?  Pick up a metal soap.  They are relatively inexpensive (around $6.00-$20.00).  Simply wash your hands using the metal soap and in a few moments, the smell goes with it.
  • Uniformity is key.  A couple of years ago, I picked up a small cookie scoop.  I bake a lot during the holidays, and this $7.00 gadget was a life-saver.  Using the scoop made light work of rolling 4 dozen cookies.  It grabs the same amount each time.  There’s no wondering if you have too little or too much dough.  Not to mention, everything will bake evenly if they are all the same size.  I have even expanded using the scoop to making meatballs.  Perfectly sized and shaped.
  • Make your own hamburger patties.  This was a trick I learned from my dad, way back when.  We always bought Skippy peanut butter.  If you get the large container, save the lid when the peanut butter is all gone.  After you wash the lid, lay a piece of plastic wrap over it.  Then fill will hamburger meat until it’s flush with the lid.  Using the plastic wrap, lift out the patty.  Perfectly shaped and portioned hamburgers.  Not too thick and not too thin.
  • Boil that chicken.  This is a two for one deal.  I like to boil chicken quarters for recipes such as enchiladas or casseroles.  One of the best parts of shedding meat is it goes farther.  Our family is only 3 people, so I can normally get two meals out of 4 chicken quarters.  No instead of just boiling the chicken in water, let’s add a few things.  I typically will quarter an onion, peel and smash 3-5 cloves of garlic (depending on their size), rough chop a few carrots and celery stalks. 10-15 whole peppercorn and add it all to the pot.  Then add my chicken and finally the water. When the chicken is done, remove those and use how you intended.  Now, remove all the vegetables and pour the stock in a non-metal bowl. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.  Next morning, scrape off the fat.  Pour into mason jars and freeze (leave room for expansion as it freezes).  The other option is to can the stock, if you have a pressure canner (which I do).

chicken stock

  • Learn to can.  Canning is making a comeback.  It’s not just for grandmas anymore.  I started out waterbath canning. Those would be your high acidic foods.  Tomato related recipes and fruit jams.  Even if you can for this reason alone, you will feel better about what you are eating and can preserve some of the in-season produce to enjoy all year long. If you’re adventurous, then pickup a pressure canner.  Remove the images of those exploding pressure cookers. These have come a long way.  You’ll be able to preserve vegetables, make stocks, store food preservative free and low sodium.  I personally can make 7 pints of vegetable stock for about $5.00, during the summer.  Try buying 14 cups of vegetable stock for $5.00, you’ll never be able to.  Left over Thanksgiving turkey.  Some carrots, celery and onions (which you have from making the stuffing), can be turned in to turkey soup.  When you’re ready to use it, either add some rice or pasta.  Simple meals and perfect for the upcoming winter.  I will say, canning isn’t the cheapest kitchen practice to get into, but there are deals to be had.  I invest the time because of food allergies and wanting to eat better and with minimal preservatives.
  • Mason jars are your friend.  Sounds strange, but I LOVE my mason jars.  My husband, he doesn’t share the same feelings.  In addition to using mason jars with my canning, I use them to store liquids, take milk to work, freezing broth, holding pens, organizing crafting supplies, etc.  There are these white, plastic lids you can buy.  They fit on standard mouth jars.  That means you can use the same lid on a 4 oz., half-pint, pint and quart jar.  Now that’s versatility.  Just because I have four dozen mason jars, at any given time, doesn’t mean I’m addicted to using them.  Ok, in my case, it does.  But that’s beside the point.  Mason jars are extremely useful in so many ways.

So there are my kitchen hacks.  I hope you find them interesting, if not useful.  I’m sure I’ll have another list of hacks for you soon.  I’d love to hear some of your hacks, if you’d like to share.

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