From Friday Night Pizzas to Clean Countertops – Learn to Make Life Easier in the Kitchen

Everyone seems to be in a rush these days, relying on caffeinated coffee and sodas just to keep going. We have to go here and there, pick up the kids, drop off the kids, go to meetings, meat friends, walk the dog, do the kitty litter, do the laundry, get caught up on the news, and a oh yes –  let’s not forget we have to cook too.

Here is some good news.  Learning to structure our time and space in the kitchen with a few practical tips, life in the kitchen can be relaxing, less hurried and more enjoyable for everyone.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.  Use appliances to do your mixing and chopping.

Many cookbooks will mention how long it takes to make a recipe.   What is particularly helpful is when the author indicates how much of that time is prep work.  This is a great feature because many times the prep work such as chopping, slicing, sautéing, etc. can take a considerable amount of time in and of itself.

One of the ways to get around this, especially when a recipe calls for a lot of chopping, is to use a food processor, or mixer depending on the need.  There are various types of blenders and it is important to purchase one which is suitable for your needs.  There are many popular styles such as the KitchenAid mixer, or Cuisinart mixers which offers chopping and dough mixing settings.

2.  Clean while you cook.

One of the greatest time saving tips doesn’t even have to cost you a penny.  Use the times when something is baking, cooking, or sautéing to clean up your area.  This can include cleaning pots and pans, or simply cleaning the countertop –  such as removing any scraps of food.

The more you practice this while cooking you will reduce the cleanup time at the end of the meal.  This allows you to finish eating and move on quickly to your next activity, or sit back and relax while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.

3.  Grow indoor herbs.

Learning to grow culinary herbs indoors is not for everyone, as it will require space and maintenance.  However, it is a convenient time saver when cooking a recipe to reach over and snip some fresh herbs to toss in.

Indoor herbs not only help keep your recipes bright and fresh during off-season months, they also add bright foliage to your kitchen decor.  Adding a little bit of greenery to your kitchen can help lift moods, and create a warmer atmosphere.

4.  Use a recipe box.

It can be hard to keep a recipe box updated with favorite recipes when strapped for time.  After all, stopping to rewrite a recipe from a cookbook onto an index card is not always the most pleasing way to spend our free time.

However, one must think of its long-term implications.  If a person can get in the habit of doing this every time they come across a good recipe, they will save themselves many headaches in the future when wanting to easily refer back to that recipe – yet cannot remember which cookbook it came from.

By categorizing your favorite recipes in one location like a recipe box, it becomes easy to find ideas simply by sifting through your list of favorites.  This will not only save time, but many headaches as well.

5.  A theme a day.

For those who are responsible for cooking each night, it can be rather taxing coming up with a new menu each week.  However with a little organization and discipline, a person can relieve much of this stress.

Assign each day of the week to a particular theme or category.  For example, Monday can be devoted to poultry, where the main dish consists of chicken.

Tuesday can be a meatless theme where the meal consists of mostly vegetables or even pasta.  Pasta tossed with fresh vegetables such as eggplant and zucchini is always a good combination.

Don’t forget a leftover’s night, and of course you can always make Friday pizza night, whether you choose to order out, or make your own pizza at home. By the way, kids loves making homemade pizza dough!

Another fun idea is to have a special dessert every Sunday, or other day of the week.  An example could be a homemade pie, or even homemade ice cream using a gelato maker.  This is another fun activity to do at home with the kids.

6.   Never wear white.

Lastly, this step is one of the most practical, which is never to wear white when working with any ingredient that can stain – such as an Italian pasta sauce.  If for whatever reason you need to wear white, try using an apron to help protect your clothing.  This is a simple tip, but has huge rewards.

In the end, it is safe to say, with a little preplanning and organization, life in the kitchen not only becomes easier, but can also be fun.

Contributor: Liz T. Krause is the owner of SimpleItalianCooking.com, a website devoted to Italian cooking recipes.  She enjoys writing about Italian related topics and writes reviews for different products such as the Alessi 9090 espresso maker.  She spends her free time in the kitchen and enjoys trying new recipes and making homemade espressos.

Re-thinking Your Cookware Needs.

How long is it since you looked through your cook ware?  I mean really looked!  It’s surprising how we keep things that we don’t use or need year after year. Or, on the other hand we have things that are so worn and discoloured that they should have gone out with the garbage long ago.

I recently visited a friend and needed something in one of the kitchen drawers. I tried to open the draw but it wouldn’t budge. It was with great difficulty that I got it open. The problem was, it was jammed packed full of old trays, cake tins, and pans.  I wouldn’t use them if I needed one. These are years old, taking up space and just gathering dust. It made me think about going home and check my own cookware.

Remember when you began putting your first kitchen together. Maybe you had lots of gifts from a wedding shower managing to equip your kitchen with everything you needed and more. Or maybe you had a few make shift left over’s from family and friends.  Like anything in life our needs change over time and so do our tastes.

We strive for the bigger home to bring up our family.  For those that like to cook the bigger the kitchen, the more cookware the better we like it.  When we are young and beginning our domesticated lives we add more and more to our homes.  Let’s be honest having a family usually means lots of cooking and entertaining.

 As we age and our families leave home we find it’s time to start making a number of lifestyle changes. It’s a time when we may want to travel more or pursue interests that we have put on hold while raising our families.

   There are those that have had and enjoyed a large house and garden that provided the needed space for their growing family.   Now the nest is empty they may be feeling that they have put enough of their time, energy and money into maintaining this home for long enough. They are ready to downsize. They want something more manageable and low maintenance.  This will allow them the time and funds to pursue travel, learn to paint, or perfect their golf swing; which is doable when practicing with the Medicus golf swing trainer  As we get even older there is also the challenge of physically being capable of maintaining a large home and garden.

For others that have been so busy in their careers, they have had little time to pursue their passion of gardening, cooking or whatever their interest is.  They welcome the opportunity to finally have the time to enjoy their home based special interests.   Some love to cook and entertain especially as they reach their 50’s and over. Many find it increasingly difficult to find suitable places to go for a social life once they reach their 50’s. They often find entertaining friends and family in their homes far more appealing.

One particular couple I know, after they retired they turned their modest home into a beautiful oasis. The husband’s passion is gardening.  He had spent many years at a high stress job in the justice system. During that time his form of relaxation was to lose himself in his garden.  After he retired he transformed their large garden into a relaxing Zen like park with a huge variety of colourful plants, flowers, and garden water fountains.  His wife a retired school teacher loves to cook. They spent some of their retirement savings on creating the kitchen of her dreams. This time she did not have to make do, so after doing the product research and checking out the cookware reviews, she equipped her kitchen with the best cookware.  She got out the cookbooks that she had rarely had chance to use, dusted them off and now cooks till her heart’s content. She cooks the most fabulous gourmet meals, and superb deserts.  This is a couple that know how to follow their passion while not going far from home.

Often if there are just one or two people at home our cooking skills tend to be little used. We may prefer to spend our time doing other things rather than cooking.  However, most of us know the value of preparing our own meals. As we get older it’s even more important that we pay attention to our health.  Cooking healthy meals is a big part of this.  Some of the healthiest and easiest ways to cook a meal when you don’t want a lot of preparation is with a casserole, or an electric wok. Several of my friends and I find this an excellent way to cook tasty low fat meals.  It’s so handy to have everything cooking in one piece of cookware.  As with most purchases it pays to get a quality product especially when it’s something that will last you a long time. 

 Author Bio:
Shirley Price lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of a social website called LifeByDesignOver50.  It’s a place for the over 50s to come together and share interests and ideas. As a mum of 3 and a grandmother Shirley has done her fair share of cooking-now she’s happy when others cook for her.

A Guide to Visions Cookware

Vision cookware - saucepan with lidIf you are in the market for a new set of cookware, you may have considered Vision Cookware as a part of your kitchen selection. But you want to know more about Visions Cookware. Well, look no further, here’s a guide to the cookware that has piqued your interest

What is Visions Cookware?

Visions Cookware is cookware that, as the name implies, lets you see through it. From the cooking vessels themselves to the lids you will put on them, all of the pieces of these sets are clear glass and therefore easy to see through.

Visions Cookware is See Through

This serves a number of benefits. First and foremost, if you are a regular cook you know that as you prepare meals, you often need to check on the progress of those meals. The problem here is the more you lift the lid, the slower it is going to cook as you are letting out a some of the heat and a lot of the juices that have built up in the pot.

Vision Cookware Gives You  Versatile Cooking

Another benefit of the all glass construction is that Vision Cooking ware is really all-purpose cooking ware. It can not only be used for stove top cooking, but also go in the oven or even in the microwave, something none of your metal pans will ever be able to do!

Corning Visions 1.5 qt Double Boiler with lidUse on the Stove Top and  in Fridge or Freezer

What do you do with your leftovers after a meal? Perhaps you take them from the pot and put them in leftover bins to put them in the fridge or freezer. This just means more clean up in the long run.

With Vision Cookware you can put that same pot in the refrigerator or freezer and store the meal you just cooked in it.

Important Note - if you are doing this, you should always let the food get to room temperature before doing this.

That means both hot foods should be allowed to cool to room temperature before freezing or putting them in the refrigerator and cold or frozen foods should be allowed to get to room temperature or thaw out before heating them in the pans.

Cleaning

A final great thing about Vision Cookware is that the pieces are easy to clean. Just toss them in the dishwasher, pull them out when the cycle is done and they’re ready to go.

What is Tri-ply Cookware?

When you’re choosing new cookware there are plenty of choices out there including stainless, copper, glass, and composite materials. But one great new product out there is called tri-ply cookware. What is tri-ply cookware?

Tri-ply cookware is a method of bonding different metals together. The typical metals used are aluminum, copper, and stainless steel.

What’s the point of mixing a bunch of different metals though? Simple. By combining and bonding different materials together you get cookware that combines the best qualities of each material.

Aluminum and copper both distribute heat evenly. Stainless steel is durable and cleans up easily.

The way it works is they sandwich different materials together. It’s extremely durable and cooks food evenly, no scorched spots.

One of the drawbacks to tri-ply cookware is its price. It’s more expensive than just a regular old aluminum pot. It’s not a branding issue though. It’s more expensive because of the time and labor required to cast different metals and then attach them to each other.

Not all types of tri-ply cookware use 3 different metals. If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative you can find a stainless steel and aluminum only model.  These are just a piece of aluminum stuck between 2 pieces of stainless steel.

Aluminum has almost the same conductive qualities of copper but is much cheaper. If you need a break on price then the steel/aluminum option of tri-ply is a great choice.

Whether or not you choose a copper, stainless, aluminum or a stainless and aluminum set is just a matter of personal choice. If you like the look of copper, the three metal tri-ply is the choice for you. If you’re more budget minded the sandwiched aluminum stainless will work for you. Either choice offers a great cooking surface that will let you whip up a perfect meal.


What to Consider When Buying Camping Cookware

How you like to camp is a big key in what to consider when buying camping cookware. If you’re car camping or bringing the family out for a quick picnic weekend then your cookware will be a lot different than that used for a solo backpacker.

Let’s look at what you need if you’re planning a backpacking trip first.

When backpacking you want the lightest gear possible. This means you’ll want a collapsible lightweight stove.  When looking for a lightweight stove you want something durable with very few parts. There’s nothing worse than being stranded on a trail with a broken stove.

These units only have a few parts, the collapsible stand, burner unit, heat reflector, and gas bottle.  It all folds down into a tight little package that can easily be stuffed into your backpack.

For backpacking you probably won’t be doing any elaborate cooking. All you need is a small lightweight metal pot for boiling water. Aluminum works well.

If you’re car camping or feeding a group of people then you’ll want a bit more choices.

Your two main choices are a propane or white gas stove.

There are benefits to both types.  A propane stove is much easier to take care of.  All you have to do is screw a bottle into place and click the auto ignite and you’re up and cooking.

A white gas stove is less maintenance intensive. All you need is a jug of fuel. Pump up the stove and light it.

As far as pots and pans go all you need are a skillet and one or two pots to get cooking. This is not going to be a problem as you can find durable lightweight cooking gear at any outdoor store. It’s just a matter of sorting through the offerings and looking for something that suits your current camping needs.