Category: Equipment

Skill of a Chef: It’s All About the Knives

Knives are personal. The way they feel, the way they balance in the hand. How the blade cuts through the food. Personally, I like a lighter knife, one that is easy to grip and that is very, very sharp. Cat Cora of Iron Chef fame uses a 13" chef’s knife, and she’s 4’11”. Intimidating? Yes. Necessary? When you are that short and working in a “man’s” world, wielding a large knife can help intimidate your co-workers.

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Spices Make the Pantry Go Round

I’m trying to figure out how many dried spices I use. In the spirit of reducing, reusing, and recycling, I’ve been using the small jars that jams come in, and the jars that the nut butters I buy come in. However, I’ve run out of the small jars because I make my own jam now. I’ve broken some, and some of them are in use.

I’m looking at needing to buy spice jars to organize the pantry. I’ve looked at Anchor Hocking, Oxo, Sur La Table, Bed Bath and Beyond, along with several on-line companies. I really really like the Anchor Hocking square jar. Problem: there is no price on their website. How can you be selling something and not show a price? Are they really that expensive?

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New Year, New Knives

As you know, I've been cooking for a while, quite a long while. My standard everyday knives have been Forschners (now under Vitorinox). They are getting up there in age. Since I moved into the land of fine dining, that means fine knife work, and that means new knives. I have secretly coveted Japanese knives, and though not trained in their usage, nor mentored by a chef who gave me permission to purchase them, I stepped out and bought new knives last week.

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Kitchen Shaman’s Favorite Kitchen Tools

microplane

One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is the microplane. They come in a couple of different forms, and whatever variety you use, they are great to have. Microplanes can grate ginger, and whole nutmeg, zest lemons, limes and oranges, and mince garlic. Once you grasp how to use this little gem to grate fresh nutmeg, you’ll never buy ground nutmeg again.

My next favorite handy tool is a mini food processor, or mini food chopper. I laughed at it when I first saw it. This handy Food Chopper Plus by Black & Decker makes quick work of mincing garlic, chopping cilantro, mincing onions, or any other chopping job too small for the regular sized food processor.

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I Want a Pot Rack

If I was a really good food blogger, I would have had multiple posts ready to go on a second's notice, that would have covered this long absence. I am not that adept yet. Sometimes it' s a challenge just to get a good photo of the food I make or getting a recipe put together and uploaded. And during the last month or so, just getting to work on time was a challenge. And now, I come back to the blog, to you my faithful readers, with this story.

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Salad Spinners Aren’t Just for Lettuce

Salad SpinnerThe other day, I went into full on cooking for the week mode — making several dishes and some sauces all at the same time. Earlier this year, I had picked up a salad spinner at a local thrift store for like $2.50. The parsley and cilantro I had bought were a bit on the dirty side, so they got a nice bath in cold water, and then, I thought, wow, it’s going to take a bit to dry these, and I needed them quick. I was ready to process the Falafel mixture in the food processor. Then, I spied the salad spinner. Guess what got spun? First the Cilantro, and then the parsley.  If I were using them together, I would have spun them together, but I needed cilantro for chutney.

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Wooden Spoon

So I have a question for all you culinarians out there; Do you have a favorite wooden spoon?

I have several wooden spoons. One I use only for bread baking, and batter. It is large with a blue handle. One I found at the .99 cent store, it is a spatula type, and great for saute. And my favorite is the small one I got from my mother’s kitchen. It is old and used, and has a short handle, and great for gravies, and small batch sauces.

Tell Kitchen Shaman your favorite wooden spoon story. In the meantime, here are some other stories to share.

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Kitchen Gadgets:

mini chopper

Useful gadget

What is more annoying then walking into a dollar store and finding a Microwave Egg Cooker? It happened. I saw one. When I go to dollar stores, I always check the Kitchen Equipment shelf. I’ve found a wooden spatula with a curved lip that helps for saute. I’ve found a 4-pack of tongs, made of good quality metal (minus the silicon tip), the package included 2 short and 2 long tongs. I’ve picked up a funnel strainer, and one or two other cool things.But a Microwave egg cooker? Come on folks. What happened to the old fashioned boil-the-egg-on-the-stove? Are people really afraid to use their stove-tops? Does a microwave use less electricity than a stove? I don’t even have a microwave in my house. I am adverse to them, and short of a quick way to heat butter, or chocolate (double-boiler any one?), I find them useless.

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