Almost any home cook I've met, whatever their level of experience, has a fiercely protected collection of favourite kitchen tools that cannot be loaned out for fear of loss. I am no different. My garlic press is my garlic press...do you know what I mean?
Here's my top 10 list. What's on yours?
A well-stocked and organized kitchen makes it easier to plan meals, prepare meals, and eat meals at home. You don't have to eat out (unless you want to!) when you can use your kitchen easily and efficiently! Throw out your broken tools and replace them with ones that work properly. Cooking just doesn't work when your things are broken or wrong.
For example, when we were newlyweds and stocking our kitchen, we went to our local dollar store to buy things like measuring cups and measuring spoons. I used my cook book from Home Economics in grade 9, so I knew the recipes worked. But nothing I baked would turn out. I was at wits' end until I compared my measuring cups to my mom's and realized that all the cups were completely wrong! It was eye opening, for sure. I had started thinking the problem was me rather than my tools...who would have thought?
What kinds of items are on your list of favourite kitchen tools?
Enjoy your week!
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A few years ago I attended a direct sales "party" - Epicure. As far as parties go, that one was right up my alley. It involved food and drink tastings and cooking demonstrations and I fell in love with the idea that I could cook foods from different parts of the world.
It was such a revelation! There are so many foods common to everyone, but it's how they are prepared- what spices and herbs are used, how they are put together, how they are cooked, how they are served, and what they are served with- these are the differences that make regional cooking "regional". Of course, many foods are region specific. But several cultures make use of foods such as potatoes, rices, and pulses, for example.
I have a stocked cupboard full of Epicure spice blends but also way more individual herbs and spices then most people I know- almost a whole pantry shelf in my pantry is devoted to herbs and spices. I have been spending some time "deconstructing" the flavours I taste in those blends, and coming up with my house version of the same. At first I would make a small amount, adjusting each time until I was happy with the results. I'm at the point now where I can confidently make a big batch of whatever I need- not of everything, but I'm working through my favourites as I go along, so when the Epicure product in the jars get used up it's a simple matter to create my own and keep cooking for whatever mood I'm in.
The key to finding creativity in the kitchen is giving yourself the physical tools (such as slow cookers, milk frothers, veggies spiralizers, and other small appliances and utensils), the physical space- a clean counter is much easier to work on than one covered in clutter (believe me, this I know from years of personal experience!), and a well-stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry.
Over the next few posts I'll be sharing tips on how to stock your fridge, freezer, and pantry. I'll give you ideas, suggestions, photographs, and practical advice on upping your game in the kitchen if you're not satisfied with how it's working now. If you've got any questions or concerns you'd like me to comment on, please leave me a comment or send me a message here or on Facebook. And if you haven't already, please go ahead and "like" my Facebook page! I post there daily!
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It's been a pleasure, friends. Enjoy your week!
I am excited to share a guest blog post with you today. Kareema Batal and I met last week at her store, Urban Organics. We shared some great conversation and I got to tour the store and talk about what great plans they have going forward.
I will be interviewing Kareema on Facebook Live in the near future...stay tuned!
I am so thrilled to be able to share some of my thoughts and experiences today through The Meals Maven blog. Stacy and I met quite recently and I, for one, am so happy that we did! We shared some brief conversations with each other about sugar, snacks, energy, and how complicated food has become for people. I wanted to speak about those issues from a retailer's perspective. But first, let me tell you a bit about me and us.
My partner and I own and operate Urban Organics Market in Sherwood Park. Urban Organics is a market dedicated to providing clean products to our community. We believe we are our customers' trusted source for pure living and we always strive to stay true to that. My role is shopping, really. Which is the best job on the planet! I graduated in 2014 from the Nutrition and Food Science program at the University of Alberta. I dabbled in a bit of everything in my undergrad and various jobs I've held over the years, but one very important skill set that I developed through all of it was an eye for quality and an understanding of manufacturing. Which is why I'm the product guru at Urban Organics and why I think we as a retailer are best equipped to source and provide the best quality products for our customers.
Let's talk about sugar. If you come to Urban Organics today, you won't find a salad dressing, a pasta sauce, or a decent selection of cooking sauces on our shelves. The reason for that is I simply can't find a product I'd recommend to you. Other markets, especially organic ones, are stocked to the brim with three, maybe four or more delicious options in these three categories. What's the deal? The deal is sugar. From a purely objective point of view, I completely understand the need for sugar in these products. If you are a company making organic or "natural" salad dressings for the market, you want to a) avoid chemical preservatives because consumers don't want that anymore, and b) want to have an extended shelf life to be able to produce in large volumes and keep stock for months and months. Remember - products need to cross borders, travel long distances on trucks, and wait in distribution warehouses before they get to the supermarket shelf with yet enough shelf life for the consumer to be comfortable buying it and storing it their fridge until fully consumed. The best option, more often than not, to achieve all of that is to use sugar. From a nutritional stand point, however, that still doesn't sit well with me.
There are a plethora of websites, books, research publications, and organizations dedicated to educating consumers on the danger of sugar to our health, so I won't bore you with the details, as I'm sure you've heard it all before. One thing I do like to point out to people, which is one of the main reasons I try to avoid products with - what I believe - unnecessary added sugar, is the danger of sweetness addiction. Take a moment and think of all the foods you consumed today - how many of those foods were SWEET? I bet MOST of what you consumed is sweet. The introduction of packaged foods into our diets introduced our bodies to sugar, far too much of it. We have now become accustomed to the taste of sweet, we crave it, and we find a hard time eating and accepting foods that are not sweet. That is a powerful change in our biology and one that we should not be indulging or encouraging.
For that reason, and many others, I call added sugar in these products unnecessary and I try my best to avoid recommending products with unnecessary added sugar. I ALWAYS try to encourage people to make their own using some of our organic oils, fresh organic herbs and spices from Harmonic Arts, and fresh organic produce. But, I do understand that people are busy. We all lead very busy lives and we often need the convenience of ready made foods. So what's the solution?
I think we have an idea. We'd like to see these products made locally. Why can't we make salad dressings, cooking sauces, and delicious pasta sauces right here in Edmonton from organic ingredients? I get butterflies in my stomach when I bring this up. We have NO REASON to import such basic items that are full of sugar. We can make it ourselves, in small batches, conveniently packed for the folks on the go, and that are not on our shelves for two years. Wouldn't that be great? I'll leave you with that thought because I'm hoping one of you would feel inspired or maybe encouraged to get into the food making business. Our doors all always open to local producers so don't hesitate to get in touch; we'd LOVE to hear from you!
I don't do well growing things. But look! My herbs haven't died yet. What's your favourite thing to do with Basil, Lemongrass, and Thyme?
I've made bruschetta pizza with my basil, stirfry with my lemon grass, and lemon chicken with my thyme. I'm happy to hear your ideas!
Hey friends...I'm on a quest to make the Perfect Plan! Everyone who completes my survey on meal planning will be entered into a draw for a Walmart gift card. Please help me out! Just click the picture to get started. And feel free to share with your friends. Open to both Canadian and American friends.
-I appreciate it!
Update: Survey Closes July 8, 2016 @ 8:00pm MDT