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Save Space in Your Kitchen

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Are your pots and pans stacked in cabinets and the pot you need is always at the bottom of the stack? I am forever unstacking and restacking my cookware. A friend of mine came up with a great way to have her pots readily available and save space in her kitchen. A high-rise pot stand!

I pulled the rack out from its corner so you could see it better. It nestles into a corner. This is a great option for small space kitchens!

I went looking on Amazon and found the one she has and several less expensive options. It is properly called a cookware stand. Here is a link.

What a great way to save space in your kitchen!

Chicken, Great Gift Ideas, Pork, Tips

Quickly Brining Pork and Chicken

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Quickly Brining Pork and Chicken

In my last post I talked about quickly and easily brining shrimp and fish. Brining pork and chicken also creates much moister and more flavorful meat.

My method for brining or marinating pork and chicken in 30 minutes relies on a special container that you can pull the air out of with a little hand pump. As the air is removed the brine or marinade is drawn into the meat. I’m usually trying to slim down on kitchen tools, but I use this Vacu Vin marinator all the time.

Without the Vacu Vin, a good rule of thumb for brining pork and chicken is:


1/2″ thick meat: 1/2 hour

1″     thick meat: 1 hour

2″    thick meat: 3 hours

3″ + thick meat: 8 hours

Even without the Vacu Vin, brining chicken and pork for a short time is worthwhile but the salt does not go very far into the meat.  What it does do is add moisture near the surface so as the meat cooks it stays moister.  The salt amplifies the flavor too.

Note: When a recipe specifies what type of salt to use, it is important to use that type to avoid surprises.  There are conversion charts available.

For example:

1 cup Morton’s table salt = 1.9 cups Morton’s Kosher Salt

Brined Chicken or Pork:

1 c     Morton’s kosher salt dissolved in
4 c    cold water

Put your brine and chicken in a zip lock bag, making sure the chicken is completely immersed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 6 to 8 hours. Put the chicken or pork in the brine in the morning and cook it that night. If the meat is to be brined for more than 8 hours, use less salt. Be sure to rinse and dry off the chicken or pork before cooking it – otherwise it won’t sear properly.

Additional flavors to put in the brine:  sage, peppercorns, bay leaf, cider vinegar (great for pork), rosemary, dill, mint

Tips, Vegetables

Roast Jalapenos in Minutes

Roast a pepper quickly! Go to to see how and for a delicious Cool Avocado and Cucumber Soup with roasted jalapeños. #pepper #jalapeño #roastedpepper #roastedjalapeños #quickroastedpepper

Roast Jalapenos in Minutes

Here’s a tip on how to roast jalapenos in minutes. You can use this method for roasting all kinds of peppers, including bell peppers.

If you have a gas burner – turn it to medium high to high. Spear the pepper with a fork.  Make an insulating handle for the fork because it will get extremely hot.  I use a silicone handle cover made for my black iron skillets.

Place the jalapeno in the flame until the skin chars.  Turn it so that every side is charred.  When done put the roasted jalapeno in a bag or a bowl with a top and let it steam while it cools off.   When cool, in about 10 minutes, rub the blackened skin off with a paper towel and discard.

If you don’t have gas burners, turn you oven on broil and place the peppers in a pan in the upper part of your oven.  Watch carefully.  Turn the peppers so every side gets charred. When done put the roasted jalapeno in a bag or a bowl with a top and let it steam while it cools off.   When cool, in about 10 minutes, rub the blackened skin off with a paper towel and discard.

If you have time you can slow roast the peppers in a 400F oven for 30 to 40 minutes.  When they are charred all over follow the directions for cooling them that are above.

That’s how simple it is to roast jalapenos in minutes!

Note:  When chopping or seeding hot peppers you may want to wear gloves or be very careful that the oil in the pepper does not get on your hands.  It will not wash off immediately and if you forget and rub your eye, it really hurts.


Cooking and Organization in a Small Space

What makes cooking different and difficult in a small space is that there is little room to store food or equipment and counter space is quite limited. Restocking from Costco and Sam’s is probably out! Some tips:

  1. What do you really need when you cook?

I have a small selection of essentials I take with me when we take off sailing for a few weeks. First and foremost, I always take my knives – chef, boning, paring, and maybe a bread knife (I sometimes do this when I go to cook at a friend’s too :-)). Next I take my grater or micro-plane, my nifty peelers and an immersion blender. I also take a whisk and four ramekins – see multi-tasking tools below. Even herbs and spices get pared down. In small zip lock bags I take cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and other herbs and spices dictated by the cuisine where we’re sailing such as curry in the BVIs, and Old Bay in the Chesapeake. At home you will want the basic herbs and spices you use often.  For special spices and herbs for a particular recipe, look for a store like Whole Foods that sells herbs and spices in bulk containers and buy small amounts. It’s cheaper and there are no jars jamming up your storage space and not being used.

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At home I have a bit more space, so the “essential” list is longer. My husband gave me a bit of good advice – put what you use the most within easy reach and only then consider the rest. It actually makes my shelves and drawers aesthetically pleasing as well as workable. Luckily there are shelves in our garage where I store the things I use less often but can’t part with. If I keep pulling an item from the garage, it can come back in. Conversely, if I don’t use an item in the kitchen for 6 months, it goes outside or to the give-away pile.

  1. Tools must multitask

My ancient 6” wire strainer doubles as my sifter. My big salad bowl is my large mixing bowl. I use a metal teaspoon as a melon baller. I use four ceramic ramekins for prepping bowls, poaching eggs, making individual fruit crisps and for baking muffins and popovers.

  1. Look for other surfaces that can double as counter space

When I’m cooking I use the boat’s main table and at home my kitchen table as extra counter space. If you don’t have room for a kitchen table where you live, what about a roll-around cart with a wooden top that you can use as extra counter space?

 I use my grill as an extra oven and cooktop, both on the boat and at, home for two reasons. The summers can be extremely hot in my part of the country and in most of the places where we sail. I don’t want to turn on the cook top or oven because it heats up the house or boat too much. One summer it was over 103F for more than a month and I did all my cooking on the grill. The other reason is that using the grill this way expands what I can prepare by allowing me to do more in parallel. You might use a counter top oven or microwave, which you can tuck away when not needed.

What can you do to cook more efficiently in a small space?

  1. First, simplify what you cook

 If you have the two burners like on the Bavaria 42 that we sailed on my last trip to Grenada, it limits what and how you can cook. But there are ways around this: one night a friend took one burner for roasting vegetables while I cooked pork chops with a dark rum sauce on the other burner. The wind was howling so we could not use the grill but it all worked out well.

  1. Read through your recipes to see what you’ll need before you start cooking

Get everything prepped before you start cooking. Think ahead – do you need chopped and sautéed onions in more than one dish? Do you need onions in anything you’ve planned for the next day? Chop all the onions you’ll need, once.

  1. Have a trash receptacle right at hand

 I usually have a small trash can or bag by my feet to clean up my workspace as I go. A dog works almost as well but needs more maintenance.

  1. Clean as you go

I have a sink filled with soapy water waiting while I cook so I can get ahead of the cleaning game. It also makes it easy to rinse and reuse a bowl or knife and ends up using less water than a running faucet.