A rehash of an old blog post, this was before I knew about lighting and good imagery! I will update the images later but the information is too good to just let it sit around. This is not to scare anyone out of cooking, it is to get you prepared and motivated to create amazing, simple, delicious and wholemeal meals and spend as little time as possible doing it. So here goes, my top tips for reclaiming your kitchen and making the cooking process more enjoyable in 2017!!
If your cooking experience is going to be – fun, easy and efficient, you need the right tools to get the job done. The right tools can cut your time in the kitchen by half without you having to sacrifice nutritional quality, get frustrated and give up or reach for the take away menu feeling defeated. The right tools is an important step in reclaiming your kitchen. And, you don’t need much in the way of gadgets either, am positive that most of you will have a lot of these lying around gathering dust. And you don’t have to spend a fortune either, just sensible buys.
Here are my top gadgets for getting the job done…
Something I think should be invested in:
- Food processor or Blender: can’t really make a smoothie without one of these. Having one means you can make smoothies, liquidize soups, make bread crumbs, pastry and bread mix and make salads in a jiffy. These should be invested in, they should last you for years and stand up to all and pretty much anything you throw at them. Always check out reviews before you buy I use BBCGoodFood and Amazon to look up reviews on any equipment or gadgets before I spend any money.
- Mandolin: for paper thin vegetable and fruit slices, making impromptu salads in no time at all. Great for introducing kids to new vegetables. If they look interesting they are more likely to try them. Now Granted, the food processor could very well do some of the jobs this little gadget will do, but if you are only making small amounts of something and need quick mincing etc then this is great. And it means you are not using any electricity!!
- Decent sharp knives: everything from chopping to mincing. Let’s face it a good set of knives or even just one decent knife will make you feel like the Gordon Ramsay of your kitchen!
- Chopping boards: good quality stuff that will stand up time and again to all the cutting and slicing that will take place (I prefer plastic or glass for cutting and wood for serving – just my personal preference)
- Measuring scales: digital is by far more accurate, but go for what you feel most comfortable using.
- Hand Mixer: This is one you could by pass if you have a food processor, but it will make light work of whipping your eggs and sugar/margarine for cakes and bakes.
- Tupperware: it’s easy to go nuts with these, but they are very useful for left overs and keeping your baked goods airtight.
- Freezer bags: – essential to any kitchen take over, great for saving ingredients, leftovers and organizing your freezer.
- Other useful gadgets: vegetable peeler, can opener, measuring spoons and strainer, rolling pin: goes without saying really. These are essential they are as basic as the knives.
- Clear the clutter! remove things that are not needed or necessary from work tops, if you start with a clean kitchen it is more inviting.
- Expectations: expect it to be messy, here is where I have a hard and fast rule! clean as you go! trust me, it will make the experience more enjoyable, reduce the risk of cross contamination and it means you will have less tidying up after.
- Start small: be realistic and start with something simple, better yet not just simple but preferably something you enjoy eating. Using small portions – this way you are building confidence with preparing and making a simple dish and preparing smaller portions means you are not going to waste food if it doesn’t turn out right the first time.
- Be prepared: read the recipe through before hand – you wouldn’t set off on an unknown journey without first looking at a map and checking what there is to do once you get there! Reading your recipe first means you get an idea of the equipment, gadget and ingredients you need. This will prevent stress during the cooking process which should be full of fun.
- Shop with a list: I know, you know, that you should always shop with a list and never when you are hungry, but no harm saying it again.
- Practice good health and safety, and food hygiene:
Washing hands before you start cooking, and after handling raw meat. Use separate chopping boards for root vegetables, fruit, cooked foods and raw meat. Trust me nothing puts you off your cooking mojo like a dodgy tummy, because you didn’t follow some simple food hygiene principles.
- Experiment: part of cooking, which the recipe books out there won’t tell you, is to go with your instinct. This is how you will move up from being an ok cook to a great cook. Some of my most memorable dishes have been those I threw together, or didn’t really follow the recipe. Think of recipes as guides only and not hard and fast rules which cannot be broken. In fact I will always say break the rules (this step is after you have gained some kitchen confidence).
Crank up the music or have a glass of something nice to sip as you create magic!!
Till next time, EAT mindfully, DRINK responsibly, and EXERCISE your mind and body!!!