At times I hesitate to cook some of my favorite foods – fish, bacon, onions – because as wonderful as they smell while they are cooking, our home reeks for hours afterwards. I have four exhaust fans above the stove but still the smell lingers through the house.
One of the simplest ways to combat kitchen odor is to put a small bowl of white vinegar on the stove while you are cooking and leave it afterwards. It is absolutely amazing how the vinegar pulls in the odors, leaving only a faint vinegar smell which dissipates quickly.
Go ahead and sear that salmon!
I get distracted fairly easily. I’m often fixing dinner while preparing something for the next day so there are a lot of things going on in the kitchen in parallel. A timer is what saves me from having to regularly reset the smoke alarm. When I have friends over and have a number of different things cooking at once I have multiple timers going at once. I place one of my three timers by each of the foods I’m cooking. This works because my stove, oven and vent hood are made of a stainless steel that attracts magnets. Each timer has a magnet on the back so I can slap them on the oven door or right above what’s cooking. The timers’ display is big and the buttons simple. Here is one similar to mine that has gotten good reviews.
I have another use for a timer. When there is a project I need to do but don’t want to – like filing, cleaning out a closet or folding clothes, I set a timer for 30 minutes so I know I only have to do the dreaded task for that amount of time. I can do anything for 30 minutes. It really helps me get projects I don’t enjoy done so I can go play.
When we get to the after-holiday let down, clean-up, and carry on, I’ll be using my timers and feeling virtuous about getting my least favorite items on my to-do list done with the help of my timers.
Holiday baking time has me thinking about my kitchen scale, one of the tools you really need in the kitchen.
Being off a bit with quantities is more consequential in baking than in any other form of cooking. Baking recipes do not tolerate approximate amounts well. Often, a less-than-stellar outcome stems from using volume measurements instead of weight measurements. For example, if you measure flour by filling a cup, then the amount of flour you end up using will vary depending on whether the flour is sifted or hard-packed and on whether you scoop or pour. The solution: do not measure by volume, measure by weight – put away the cup, get out the kitchen scale.
My scale measures ounces, kilograms, grams, and pounds on an easy-to-read screen. One feature I use all the time is the “Tare”, which zeros the display regardless of what is on the scale, enabling you to measure only what you put in the bowl. This scale is big enough to weigh a variety of bowl sizes and since the scale is thin, it is easy to store and to stack. I stack my big measuring cups on top of it. Great when you don’t have a lot of storage room. This kitchen scale, the EatSmart Precision Pro Digital, is also priced at $19.95 right now (12/15/15) on Amazon. It usually costs between $30-$40.
Sitting around the table the other night we started taking about each person’s favorite kitchen tool, knives excluded. I had to really think about it.
Joni instantly said her instant read thermometer was one tool she would not be without. A big Kitchenaid mixer was Jim’s choice, because of the bread-kneading elbow grease it saves.
My first thought for my favorite kitchen tool was my set of peelers. I use them daily. I’m really picky about peelers. A dull one or one that has a poor grip can make a simple job frustrating. My next thought was my weighing scale: I use my scale often. And then there’s my juicer: I had just finished making limoncello so my wooden fruit juicer had seen a lot of use.
What do you use most often? A corkscrew is certainly a viable answer. This is important when you have a small kitchen. It is easy to clutter your drawers with what’s non-essential.
Especially since Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I’d pick a favorite tool each week and post it. For this week it’s my set of vegetable peelers. These peelers are inexpensive, quite sharp and have held their cutting edge for years. Their handles are well designed to grip easily. One is your typical scalpel peeler, another a julienne peeler and the third is a serrated peeler. Not only do I use these at home but when I travel they are light and easy to pack.
I gave these peelers to my mother for Christmas one year. Her reaction was one of surprise – they are plastic. She finally tried them and figured out what a nifty tool they are.
I’ve added a link to Amazon above in purple if you want to take a look at them.
I’d love to hear what your favorite kitchen tool is!
- A loaf of my husband’s bread from the freezer. We take the loaf out of the freezer the night before we need it and leave it on the counter to defrost. It tastes just baked in the morning. Or pop it into a 350F oven for 10 minutes and you have warm bread. TIP: If you have a good loaf of bread and you can’t eat it all, cut it in half – freeze part to have later.
What do you really need in your freezer? I am the queen of stuffing little leftovers in the freezer and having such a cluttered mess that I can’t find anything.
Having a small amount of freezer room means you need to use that space wisely. What would make your life easier? 4T of leftover frozen peas slightly freezer burned isn’t going to be very useful.
What will you use within the next two months? Most items (fish, meats, soups) don’t last a long time even in the freezer. What you consider essential is going to differ based on what you like to cook. I’ve tried to unclutter my freezer so nothing attacks me when I open the door and what I pull out is edible.
There are a few basic things I like to always have in my freezer:
• At least one sweet and one savory pie crust
• A box of good puff pastry (the kind made with real butter)
• A frozen soup or two (perfect for those nights you don’t feel like cooking)
• Homemade chicken broth (sometimes I have fish or lobster)
• Butter (Kerrygold – my husband is Irish)
• A whole chicken
• Frozen peas and blueberries
• Chevre starter (to make goat cheese and powered rennet to make mozzarella) freeze it to last longer
• Rinds from parmigiano reggiano to make soups and stews more flavorful
• A zip lock with chicken necks, tops of carrots, celery and onion…to make a stock
• My husband’s wonderful bread (he makes it on the weekend and we freeze several loafs or baguettes for the week)
• Ice packs (Yeah, I’m getting older)
You can make a great meal quickly with these ingredients on hand. They also don’t take up a lot of room if you have a small freezer.