Thursday, November 29 2012
As I moved from eating TV Dinners to eating God’s wholesome foods, in the form He created them, I realized I still needed to “process” them, especially if I wanted my recipes to taste yummy. Thankfully, there is a myriad of kitchen appliances and cookware to make this job easy (ok, easier).
Here are my top five recommendations for cookware and small appliances, from least expensive to the most. These can help you enjoy your time in the kitchen and keep your New Year's resolution to eat better. (Note: this list does NOT include a food processor, which is by far the most important small appliance to have. Since mine is nearly 10 years old and still going strong, though, I will have to wait until I need a new one before I really research and recommend a particular brand or features.)
Lodge 12” pre-seasoned cast iron skillet ($20) - When I first shopped for a cast-iron skillet I thought it would cost a LOT of money. I was pleasantly surprised to see how inexpensive these long-lasting pieces are. There's a bit of a curve learning how to care for it, but once you do you'll love how homemade fish sticks, potato pancakes, and even stir-fried vegetables turn out. If you need more motivation for buying one, see my Natural News article Ten Reasons to Try Cast Iron Cooking.
Cuisinart® SmartStick® Immersion Hand Blender ($60) - This amazing, time-saving device transforms my soups and sauces from chunky to creamy, FAST. For example, instead of ladling steamed butternut squash and water into a blender to make squash soup, I can steam the squash in a pot and blend it in the same pot, adding just the right amount of liquid to reach the desired consistency. It's safer (no more pouring steaming hot sauces), and it's much easier to clean up.
Kuhn Rikon Pressure cooker ($200) - Once I got over my pressure cooker fears (and hunkered down reading the directions for a while), I was thrilled to learn that there was a way to cook brown rice in less than 30 minutes. Even better: soaked dried beans are fully cooked in 15. If you need more motivation for buying one, see my Natural News article Eight Reasons to Try a Pressure Cooker.
Excalibur 9-Tray Food Dehydrator ($250-$300) - Until my garden is in full swing, this is more of an extravagance than a necessity (my birthday present last year). So far I have dried fruit (apples, peaches, pears), made my own golden raisins with green grapes, and have enjoyed making (and eating) a variety of fruit leather. Fellow recipe followers beware: figuring out how long to dehydrate things is an art more than a science; a typical "recipe" might say "cook at 135 degrees for 8 to 16 hours." How's that for precision? More on this one as I learn.
Vitamix blender ($450 and up) - We call this our "blender on steroids." Originally purchased so I could make homemade peanut butter, right now its main use is smoothies. However, because of its power, I am able to add things to my smoothies that otherwise would not get processed enough to enjoy (almonds, for example). In the summer I can toss in a bag of frozen berries with a little juice and get a soft-serve sorbet-like treat. And when I need just a small amount of flour, I can grind whole grains into flour rather than having to pull out out the grain grinder.
These are just a few of the newer gadgets that help me have fun in the kitchen. If you are looking for a list of core staples to have, see the "Getting Started" section of the What the Bible Says about Healthy Living Cookbook, or send me a note and I can e-mail it to you.