Kitchen Un-Confidential

June 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

KItchenTools[1]It’s almost impossible to maintain a  healthy lifestyle  if you don’t cook.  Fortunately, I’ve learned to really enjoy the art of cooking. I didn’t spend much time  in the kitchen outside mealtime when I was younger, except  baking brownies from the box and sneaking into the refrigerator between meals.  Honestly, I’m a bit jealous of children who grew up cooking with their parents, and now in adulthood can whip up haute cuisine  like it’s no big deal.  After college, my mother gifted me cooking classes at the Institute of Culinary Education to make up for what she didn’t teach me.  And although I don’t have the memories of stuffing a turkey with mom, I was taught knife skills by Chef Ann Burrell so I must say, I’m quite the master chopper. I can mince a clove of garlic like nobody else!

Recently, Matt has had some free time on his hands so he’s been experimenting in the kitchen. It took him awhile to get over his fear of “messing up” a dish, which is exactly what I felt when I first started. However, the good news about cooking is that if it sucks, you can always throw it out and order take out. It’s happened. A few times.  To my surprise (and sheer delight!) Matt has blossomed into a dang good cook, with specialties of sweet potato fries and vegan chocolate chip hemp nut cookies (I have 4 of them sitting like a rock in my tummy from last night). But his favorite part about cooking is all the technology and gagetry. I have to agree…acquiring the right tools to assist you make food prep and kitchen so much more fun.  From my experience, the best way to get all these gadgets in the most economical way is to get married–my wedding registry was the best thing to happen to my kitchen!

Here are a few very basic gizmos that I love and use around the kitchen:

*Blender: Smoothies galore! Banana, fruit, nut milk or coconut water, raw cacao, agave, bee pollen, flax seed. Mix em together, and I’ve got breakfast or a snack.  Currently I am drooling over the Vitamix 5200, which I’m planning on gifting myself when I graduate IIN in July.

*Scale: How on earth do you figure out what an ounce of nuts and dried fruit  looks like? Or 3 ounces of tofu, meat, or fish. I had no clue, so I bought a scale and started weighing my food. Now I know exactly what portions are supposed to look like. Now I just have to work on eating one portion instead of three!

*Graters: Box grater: I use this to grate apple for my meusli in the morning, or zucchini for turkey meatloaf.    Microplane grater: everything from hunks of cheese to chocolate, nutmeg, zest.

*Cuisinart Food Prep: I have a large and small, but we use the smaller one more often as it’s portable and easier to clean. I’m a pretty lazy chef.

*Silicone: LOVE this stuff! I have a spoon, measuring cups, colander, tongs, pot holders. I love how the measuring cups can be stored flat. And a major plus is that silicone is so easy to clean.

*Misto: After years and years of spending money on crapola PAM spray (complete with chemicals and propellant) I discovered the Misto. I fill it with organic cold pressed EVOO and use it instead of pam spray. And I can use it on veggies and salad. Way healthier.

*Crock Pot: I must admit I don’t use mine that often anymore. No specific reason other than I store it high up in my cabinet and I always forget that I actually own one. But this is a great gadget for the time-pressed (which we all are) and you can make some fabulous meals.  Few things are more satisfying than getting home after work and having dinner warm and waiting for you. I suggest buying a healthy slow-cooker cookbook, since most typical  recipes are heavy on fatty cuts of meat, cheese, and sauces.

*Steam Basket: You might not use one, but I’m sure you’ve seen it. Simplest, greatest tool to make veggies.  Be careful not to overcrowd the basket and make sure the water level does not rise above the performated bottom. You don’t want to steam until your veggies are a bland mush…1-2 minutes for leafy greens, 3 minutes or so for heartier veggies like carrots and broccoli. A tip: When steaming anything GREEN, keep the lid off  the pot for the first 30 seconds or so to let the vegetable’s volatile acids escape. This will allow chlorophyll pigment in the vegetables to “shine” through, giving the veggie a beautiful green hue.  Keep the lid on and you’ll end up with drab olive-green colored vegetables .

Bodum Ice Tea Jug: How friggin awesome is this? I loooove water flavored with fruit and herbs because  it reminds me of being in a spa. It’s super refreshing and if you’re not a water drinker, adding some subtle flavor might help. I love to put in (but not at the same time, obviously)  strawberries, cucumbers, mint, oranges, lemons, lavendar, and my favorite, lemon verbena.

So, now you have no excuses… Get into the kitchen and get cooking!

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Some afternoon self-lovin Neti virgin no longer!

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