03 March 2012

i'm learning: kitchen edition..

i've been thinking lately of starting a little segment about things i'm picking up and learning in different areas of life, and i'm getting the ball rolling with this, the "kitchen edition". i will never claim to be a fantastic chef, but i do feel like i'm gathering practices and information here and there that are helping me to like cooking a lot more than i have in the past, and, i mean come on, you know i've got opinions to share. :) so, without further adieu, let's get this party started!

.. cooking on a gas range is the bomb. since moving to indiana, i've had my first experience with having a gas stove, and i l-o-v-e it. it's quick, even heat, and if you realize you wish you had started something on that back burned instead of the front, BAM, just move it back there.

.. kitchen shears are the jam. i've been wanting a set for quite some time, and my sweet mama gave me a pair during our visit to north carolina. i use them constantly for things ranging from trimming fat off chicken breasts to cutting the edges off bread (yes, i wash them between doing those two things. and i know you're probably judging me for being a pushover of a mother and not making my daughter eat the crust, but she wastes more bread eating around it, so add that to the list of things i said i'd never do when i was a parent). i mainly love having a pair of scissors that are only used in the kitchen.. because i'm controlling like that.

.. when in doubt, thaw it out (you can frame that slogan if you'd like, i didn't copyright it or anything :)). i know i'm not the only one who has gone back and forth all day about dinner plans, not wanting to thaw any meat out just in case i ended up not need it, only to reach prep time for dinner and not having anything thawed to cook. so, i've learned to just set out some chicken breasts or ground beef at the start of those indecisive days, allowing whatever it is that i chose to help dictate what ends up being for dinner. i know this isn't a rocket science type of realization, but it's one i had so i'm sharing.

.. a good cutting board is a lifesaver. i'm a cheapo, and i have no problem admitting it. i want to think that i can find any and everything that i'll ever need at a thrift store or yard sale, and for just that reason, i've been working with janky, cracking, and warped cutting boards ever since having my own kitchen. i finally broke down at target (I LOVE TARGET) last week and bought a large, square, bamboo cutting board (on sale, of course), and it has been the sweet to have in our kitchen. it's nice not to risk cutting off a fingertip trying to slice a potato beside a mound of others piled 1/2 an inch from hand, or to dirty tons of bowls with chopped up meal components. has anyone ever loved a cutting board so much before? i'm guessing, no.

.. your crock pot (and/or dutch oven) should be your friend. i love what i've learned so far about using the dutch oven my mom got me for christmas, and i highly recommend having one, but i've been best friends with my crock pot for quite awhile. if you are a beginning cook and think you can't make a successful dish, google or pinterest search some crock pot recipes, and prove yourself wrong. they are easy and so satisfying because you can throw a few things in and be amazed at dinnertime by what went on under that lid. trust me, and try it.

in case you're wondering, this is what's stewing in there at the moment.

.. music and cheerful touches make you love it even more. ever since my sweet sis passed on a little ipod dock to me, i'm seldom in the kitchen without some tunes playing. it makes the time go by faster, and puts a little pep in your sauteing step. also, i'm a lover of any and all knick knacks, and my kitchen feels that love just like the rest of my house. i love being surrounded by little memories or inspiring words while i cook, and i think you would too.

.. watch cooking shows. i know i would stand there for the entire twenty minute appetizer round with my mouth hanging open if i were ever to be a contestant on "chopped", but even though i'm nowhere on those chefs' level, i've learned a lot of little tips and tricks from watching shows like that. whether it's a competition based show or something more along the lines of rachael ray's thirty minute meals, cooking shows will give you more knowledge and boost your confidence and know-how more than you might think. 

.. if you have one of these little people living with you, let them in there now and then to get their hands dirty. ruby loves even the simplest of jobs.. like me letting her wipe off an already clean counter or place cut up tortillas onto a cookie sheet. it helps me to take a deep breath, enjoy her tiny and fresh perspective on things, and keeps her out of the trouble she'd probably get into if i tried shooing her out of there.

ok, i think i'll stop there before i make myself sound like even more of a dork and continue to tell you things you probably already know. i'm going to try and start posting more recipes that i've tried and loved here and there, so be on the look out for that too.

now get out there and kick your kitchen's booty.
oh, and, happy friday! :)

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