How I Started Cooking at Home

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I was never what you might call culinary inclined. In fact, the extent of cooking knowledge I possessed was from my eighth grade home economics class and it was the ability to make… wait for it… honey butter. Yes, honey and butter. Mixed. So when I took to living alone in the big city, my cooking skills weren’t as developed as I’d have liked.

This is a guest post by Jeffrey Bunn, co-founder of Mealime.

I felt like the odds were stacked against me. After all, with so many takeout options available and an insane schedule to adhere to, I thought perhaps young people like me just weren’t supposed to cook. But despite my pitiful cooking skills and negative attitude, I was determined to learn.

This is how it began. Does this seem familiar?

  • After a long day’s work, I’d arrive home and decide to cook.
  • Search the internet for a recipe that didn’t involve two hours of prep or include ingredients I’d never heard of. (15 minutes of my time.)
  • Either get frustrated and order pizza, or write down the required ingredients and head to the grocery store.
  • Walk to the store, get what I needed, and walk back. (35 minutes.)
  • Start cooking. Run back and forth to the computer to check and double-check the instructions to be sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong. (35 minutes.)
  • Stress out.
  • Eat my meal slightly frazzled, and probably wishing I had ordered pizza.
  • Two days later, end up throwing out 1/2 of what I made.

Result: 1.5 hours spent, one meal made, 1/2 of it wasted. My cooking experience could be summed up in two words: frustrating and inefficient.

I came to belive that cooking at home simply wasn’t for me. But despite early failures, I kept at it. And I learned that, while at first it seemed impossible, there is actually a simple process one can follow to cook quickly and cheaply. But before I show you how to do this, I’ll explain why it seemed impossible to me.

The Three Mindsets That are Holding You Back

  • Cooking is expensive.
  • Cooking is time consuming.
  • “I don’t know how to cook.”

Indulge me for a moment when I say that all of the above are false. I know how much time cooking can take. I know how expensive it can be to purchase groceries for one. And as someone whose recipe knowledge consisted of mixing two ingredients together and calling it a dish, I can say with confidence that I simply believed it took a lot of skill to cook great meals—skills I simply did not have the time to learn.

Truth #1: Cooking at Home is Cheaper Than Takeout

Simply eating takeout food for lunch each workday can cost up to $3,000 a year. If you often eat out for dinner, you can expect that number to double. When I cook at home, I always cook enough to bring to work for lunch the following day. This immediately pockets me that $3,000 per year and saves more money in a non-obvious way.

According to a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada, 40% of the food we buy ends up in the trash. The UK Guardian ran a report with similar results: 30-50% of the food we produce ends up in the garbage. By cooking food at dinner to provide for the next day’s lunch, I automatically save money that otherwise would have been spent on takeout, or been lost to what is effectively a 40% food tax we place on ourselves.

Truth #2: Cooking at Home is Quicker Than Getting Takeout

Saving money is great, but time—at least to me—is much more valuable. If you don’t agree, I’m sure you at least understand where I’m coming from. In a go-go-go society like ours, time is incredibly valuable. The cost of eating out is an eye-opener, but the most compelling reason I wouldn’t cook was because I didn’t want to spend the time. Most recipes I found online tended to be time consuming and complex.

However, through some experimentation, I managed to slowly build up a list of recipes that could be made in 30 minutes or less. Simplicity became my number one requirement. As a rule of thumb, when searching for recipes, immediately disregard any recipe that calls for more than 10 ingredients. In my experience, these inevitably take longer than 30 minutes.

Efficient recipes are key. But what made the biggest difference was my decision to break up with the grocery store. I used to waste at least 35 minutes every time I decided to go to the grocery store. This happened multiple times per week, and it was an obvious time drain. Now, I grocery shop only once per week. A quick 30 minutes of preparation on the weekend allows me to grab all ingredients for the coming week in one go, saving me over a dozen hours each month.

Truth #3: Equipment is Half the Battle

The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was complexity. Cutting recipes with > 10 ingredients had already saved me a bundle of stress. But for a single guy living alone, I found that I was often lacking in essential kitchen equipment. Contrary to popular belief, a few quality items are all that you need to have a fully functional kitchen. You don’t need a 12 piece knife set. Or a food processor. Or a rotisserie oven.

  • One good knife and cutting board
  • Lunch containers (you’ll be bringing your lunch to work now, right?)
  • A strainer (doubles as a salad spinner)
  • One frying pan
  • One pot
  • A garlic press (my favorite)

Quality kitchen items are premiumly priced, but they also last forever and serve multiple purposes. That brightly colored knife set you got for your birthday may look nice, but it sure doesn’t last. Believe me, I know.

Recap: A Small Amount of Planning Goes a Long Way

Cooking at home is cheaper than getting takeout. Eliminate waste by cooking enough food to bring to work for the following day’s lunch. Save at least $3,000 per year by brown bagging it and eliminating food waste.

Cooking at home is quicker than getting takeout. Simple recipes with 10 ingredients or less is key. Plan your meals for the week ahead of time and go to the grocery store once per week. Save at least 12 hours per month.

Simplicity and the right equipment is all you need. Complexity is the main reason why cooking at home can be so frustrating. Simple recipes + quality tools saves time and makes cooking enjoyable.

What Toaster to Buy

Find that your two-slice toaster is used as a conveyor belt every morning as you load it up with slice after slice? Whilst a four-slice toaster will take up more room on your work surface, it is a great solution for larger households.

There are two types – those with four single-slice slots, which tend to be on the chunkier side, or those with two longer slots which fit two slices each. These are longer, but slimmer, and therefore better for narrower worktops.

If you can, go for a model with independent controls so that you don’t have to heat up all four slots if you’re not using them – and if you like home-made bread, bagels, teacakes or crumpets, be sure to choose the best toaster that copes with a wide range of breads. We’d also advise buying one with a removable crumb tray, which makes it much easier to clean.

best toaster

For a high-end toaster, our vote goes to the Magimix Le Toaster 11536, which is hard to fault in terms of functionality and it looks great too. Too expensive? The Breville Aurora is a fabulous buy for under £50.

Toasters are pretty basic. But even these humblest of appliances are being designed to look at home in custom kitchens. Design gurus seem to have devoted less attention to toaster ovens, which tend to be boxy, though some have fairly sleek trim and details. When deciding what type of toaster you to buy, you might want to consider style as well as substance.

Two-slice models outsell four-slicers by about 3 to 1. Toasters come in a variety of exterior finishes, such as chrome, copper, brushed metal, and colors.

Toasters have morphed beyond the square metal box. Retro and contemporary designs abound, as do models that look perfectly at home in high-end designer kitchens. But great looks don’t necessarily equal great mechanics: Many upscale toasters we tested were middling performers.

Related Post: Find the Best Toasters of the Year

Rice cookers can make more than just rice

Rice cookers can make more than just rice. In college, my Chinese roommates and I used to get around dorm rules against burner cooking in our rooms by making things like ramen and fish ball soup in our rice cookers. And when I lived in Japan in the 90′s, I worked in Japanese consumer electronics companies whose higher-end rice cookers had settings for Chinese rice porridge (congee or jook). But my coworkers didn’t seem to use their rice cookers for anything other than rice, reminding me of Betty Crocker & Morinaga’s failed push to sell cake mix for rice cookers in Japan.
carrots in rice cooker

So I was intrigued to come across this tip from a Japanese-language book on how to save energy by steaming slow-cooking vegetables on top of rice in your rice cooker. This is convenient if you already use a rice cooker to prepare rice — you can steam some vegetables for meals at the same time. Along the same lines as multi-boiling, multi-broiling, multi-frying or multi-grilling, this is a handy way to kill two birds with one stone. (Click to read cooking directions…)

Cooking: To cook a whole carrot or other hard vegetable, prepare your rice for cooking as usual and put it in the rice cooker pot with your standard amount of water. Choose a clean metal strainer that’s small enough to fit inside without touching the rice cooker’s inner pot, which would damage the inner pot’s protective coating. Set the strainer right on top of the rice with a whole washed carrot inside, which keeps the vegetable suspended above the rice so that it steams rather than boils. Cook the rice according to your rice cooker directions. When the rice is ready, the whole carrot will be steamed and nutrient loss minimized as the rice absorbs the cooking water. The Japanese book used brown rice, but my three-year-old prefers white rice so that’s what I went with. I did detect a slight vegetal smell to the cooked rice, but it wasn’t unpleasant. The Japanese book also shows how to make a hard-boiled egg by nestling a washed egg right down into the rice and cooking water. I haven’t tried this out as I’m very content with my current method of boiling eggs, but it’s interesting nonetheless. My fancy yet reasonably priced rice cooker came with a steam tray that sits in the top of the rice cooker’s inner pot, so I could have used that instead of the metal strainer. Other high-end rice cookers (see article on Japan’s rice cooker trend) now have settings for cake, slow cooker/soup, brown rice, rice porridge, etc., so there’s no shortage of possibilities for different kinds of cooking in a rice cooker.

Using the Right Cookware

In a well-stocked kitchen store, you’ll see lots of first-rate pots and pans. They may look different, but they all share essential qualities you should look for.
pot and pan
Look for heavy-gauge materials. Thinner-gauge materials spread and hold heat unevenly, and their bottoms are more likely to dent and warp. This means that food can scorch. Absolutely flat bottoms are particularly important if your stovetop element is electric. Heavy-gauge pans deliver heat more evenly (see “Good pans are worth their price…,” below).

To decide if a pan is heavy enough, lift it, look at the thickness of the walls and base, and rap it with your knuckles—do you hear a light ping or a dull thud? A thud is good in this case.

“Good conductor” and “heavy gauge” are the key features of good cookware. Here’s how these characteristics affect cooking.

You get responsive heat. Good heat conductors, such as copper and aluminum, are responsive to temperature changes. They’ll do what the heat source tells them to do—heat up, cool down—almost instantly.

You get fast heat flow. Heat flows more easily through a good heat conductor, assuring a quick equalizing of temperature on the cooking surface.

You get even heat diffusion. A thicker pan has more distance between the cooking surface and the heat source. By the time the heat flows to the cooking surface, it will have spread out evenly, because heat diffuses as it flows.

You get more heat. Mass holds heat (heat is vibrating mass, so the more mass there is to vibrate, the more heat there will be). The more pan there is to heat, the more heat the pan can hold, so there’s more constant heat for better browning, faster reducing, and hotter frying.

You’ll want handles and a lid that are sturdy, heatproof, and secure. Handles come welded, riveted, or screwed. Some cooks advise against welded handles because they can break off. But Gayle Novacek, cookware buyer for Sur La Table, has seen few such cases. As long as handles are welded in several spots, they can be preferable to riveted ones because residue is apt to collect around a rivet.

Many pans have metal handles that stay relatively cool when the pan is on the stove because the handle is made of a metal that’s a poor heat conductor and retainer, such as stainless steel. Plastic and wooden handles stay cool, too, but they’re not ovenproof. Heat- or ovenproof handles mean that dishes started on the stovetop can be finished in the oven.

All lids should fit tightly to keep in moisture. The lid, too, should have a heatproof handle. Glass lids, which you’ll find on certain brands, are usually ovensafe only up to 350°F.

A pan should feel comfortable. “When you’re at the store, pantomime the way you’d use a pot or pan to find out if it’s right for you,” advises Fine Cooking contributing editor and chef Molly Stevens. If you find a pan you love but you aren’t completely comfortable with the handle, you can buy a rubber gripper to slip over the handle. Just remember that grippers aren’t ovenproof.

Depending on what you’ll be cooking in the pan, you may also need to look for other attributes.

For sautéing and other cooking that calls for quick temperature changes, a pan should be responsive. This means that the pan is doing what the heat source tells it to, and pronto. For example, if you sauté garlic just until fragrant and then turn down the flame, the pan should cool down quickly so the garlic doesn’t burn. Responsiveness isn’t as crucial for boiling, steaming, or the long, slow cooking that stocks and stews undergo.

For sautéing and oven roasts, it helps if the pan heats evenly up the sides. When you’ve got a pan full of chicken breasts nestling against the pan sides, you want them all to cook quickly and evenly, so heat coming from the sides of the pan is important. Even heat up the sides of a pot is important for pot roasting, too. Paul Bertolli, Fine Cooking contributing editor and chef of Oliveto restaurant in Oakland, California, counts on his enameled cast-iron oval casserole by Le Creuset for braising meat because “it’s a snug, closed cooking chamber with even heat radiating off the sides for really good browning.” Bertolli finds that meat fits especially well into the oval shape.

For cooking acidic foods, such as tomato sauces, wine sauces, and fruit fillings, a pan’s lining should be nonreactive. Stainless steel, enamel, and anodized aluminum won’t react no matter what they touch, while plain aluminum can discolor white sauces and foods that are acidic, sulfurous, or alkaline. It can even make those foods taste metallic. Eggs, vegetables in the cabbage family, and baking soda are some of the other foods vulnerable to aluminum’s graying effect. In the past, there was concern about aluminum and Alzheimer’s, but evidence has been far from conclusive.

Read the full article here at FineCooking.

Why I Would Do Anything To Have A Juicer At Home

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To begin with; I personally love fresh juice. It is one thing our parents made us to love. When I was growing, a glass of fresh juice is one thing my sister and I took before we left for school, and thanks to the best wheatgrass juicer we had in our kitchen, taking fresh juice became a family tradition. However, what we had enjoyed for years was soon to stop. When I was big enough, I decided to move out of my family house and rent my own. I needed a little bit of independence and privacy. Although, I knew the whole experience was going to be full of fun; I was going to miss one thing; our mom fresh juice.

I talked to my mom about it and she advised me to buy the best juicer before I finally moved in. I took her advice very seriously; I knew how my life would be without a glass of juice every morning. I looked for the best juicer reviews and starting going through them in search of the best juicers. There were quite a number of them and I was spoilt for choice. I later decided to go with the best wheatgrass juicer. After all, having had it in our kitchen for years, I knew what this particular juicer could do.

It is now over 5 months since I moved in my own apartment and thanks to the best juicer I have, I have been able to continue with the family tradition. I loved the way the juicer does its job. It is efficient and I am amazed for I can throw in anything and within minutes I have my fresh juice. My advice to others; if a great juicer is something you have been thinking of being part of, I suggest you go through the best juicer reviews before you make your choice.

Juicing: How healthy is it
Nutrition rich juice recipes

Why I Love High Carbon Steel Kitchen Knife (And You Should, Too!)

Carbon steel knives have been around for a long time and has become every cook’s favourite choice.I checked the knife online and then read a couple of kitchen knife review online and decided to buy it. So,recently I brought a high carbon steel knife to my kitchen and today I am going to share my experience of with it in various kitchen tasks.

To start with,it was approximately 8 inches long and the first thing I liked about this knife is its handling which is very comfortable and is the basic requirement of any good knife. I got a good grip on its handle and it didn’t slip through.

cooking-knife

Another thing I noticed in this knife was its blade edges are narrower than the regular knives I have used before. I did not apply too much force while chopping slicing and dicing and my experience was sharp and smooth.

I think it was because the narrow blade slid through the food rather than just forcing it and this sharp edge really saves a lot of time especially when slicing veggies. So my experience with high carbon steel knives was superior than the regular stainless steel knives. I would recommend a high carbon steel knife to anyone looking to enhance their experience in kitchen and especially for fast prep tasks. Check out this video!

A little problem you might have with these knives is the extra care you need to take in their maintenance. I have heard too often that Its difficult to maintain a high carbon steel knife when compared to its stainless steel partners but performance and user experience are worth taking extra care of. I would suggest you should not leave a carbon knife in sink or with the food sitting on it so that it doesn’t get rusty.

All in all it’s been a good experience. These knives really does the job better and are really worth the extra maintenance effort.

Things I Consider When Buying A Bread Machine

A bread machine is used to bake bread at home. I have come across different bread machines with different cycles for a variety of dough like whole grain and white bread. Most bread makers have a timer to control the process of bread making. Things I consider when reading bread machine reviews.
bread baking
I always prefer that the bread machine has a warranty of at least one year as this shows faith of manufacture in the bread machine hence I prefer it durable, like Cuisinart bread machine. I always choose the pans according to my choice of crust as machines with thick pans make breads with thick crust unlike the thin ones which make bread with a thin crust. The design of the bread machine is something I consider as some designs allows me to make any kind of bread I wish.

I also consider the power intake and I tend to prefer the low power usage bread machines to avoid large electric bills. I always make sure that the timer is easy and efficient to use by so doing, I avoid the timers with confusing bits as they have difficulties in counting the required hours before I set. For the cycles of the bread machine, I consider the ones with extra ones rather than only the basic or dough cycle as this will help me make jams and fast breads.

I also consider talking to the sales people to get information if they get many complaints and returns as this helps me get the correct machine. Last but not least, I consider the size of the pan. There are different sizes ranging from one pound to two and half pounds. I always prefer the one to one and half pound pan as it is average on number of slices it produces. The one pound bread machine will make eight slices per loaf while the one and half will make twelve slices. This is what I always consider in bread machines.

Add Veggies to Your Diet the Easy Way

green-juice

If budget is not a big issue, then upright style juicer is for you. It’s one of the best and most versatile juicer on the market according to the 10 best juicer reviews 2015 and it can juice all types of products from hardest veggies to the softest fruits and also any type of leafy green. (Look at this post)

It is a new style of juicer that uses single and large auger, which is thicker and turned upright. Mostly, single auger juicers are equipped with an auger that lays in horizontal position, but in upright juicer it stands upright. The upright juicer uses its auger to crush the produce and extract the juice.

Pros

This is the only juicer that can easily juice both soft fruits, firm veggies, leafy greens, and even wheatgrass! Also, there’s no need to constantly push the produce into the juicer, as the juicer pulls it without much effort. The upright design of the juicer also takes up less counter space.

Cons

This juicer has a larger screen to clean, but it cleans pretty quick, as long as you run sufficient water through this juicer before disassembling it. You should buy a separate strainer for straining your juice as juice has bit of pulp.

juiced-greens

Conclusion

Upright style “slow” juicer is the best and most versatile juicer on the market because it can juice wide range of produce, and is good for all those who want to juice a variety of produce such as hard vegetables, soft fruits, wheatgrass and leafy greens.

Detailed info on top 2014 juicers is also available on many review websites and blogs. With just few minutes of research, you will know more about the best juicer depending upon your needs and budget.

 

Recommendations

The best juicer in the category is Omega Vert HD 350. As you know, Omega is a time trusted company that offers a ten year warranty on the machine. They also offer the Omega Vert 330 HD. The only difference between the two machines is the 350 HD comes in silver and black and the 330 HD model is available only in white

Espresso Is A Must

The most appropriate to word describe a home coffee espresso machine is elegant as they give the owners some sense of class. The Breville espresso machine shows resilience over other espresso machines due to its stylish metal casing. To have the most accurate Breville espresso machine review one needs to check out the different models of the machines and compare their traits. The Breville 800ESXL gives your kitchen a more proficient and elegant look. This model requires an expert to make an outstanding espresso cup. The machine heats up quickly but for best results it’s advisable to pre-heat and run water through the port filter for the first few seconds to let the water temperature to heat up more.

The Breville 800EXSL produces the thick brown cream required in a quality cup of espresso. It is easy to clean after use as one is required to just wipe the froth tube with a wet cloth and rinse with a jug of water. The Breville Barista Express BES860XL is a semi-automatic model that has both a single wall filter and a double wall filter. This quality allows for both the amateurs and professionals to easily make presentable espressos.

espresso (2)

The Breville Barista Express BES860XL has an included grinder which should remain closed to avoid spilling water in and a compartment to store cleaning tablets. The Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma is another model that needs barista skills to use to be able to make quality cup of espresso with milk frothing and crema. It has a double filter that is great at producing crema for the espresso. The Breville ESP8XL Cafe Roma comes with a plastic stamp unlike the others that come with a stainless steel stamp.

When choosing the best home espresso machine one needs to look at three key factors. Firstly, the user level of experience in making espresso. The best beginner Breville Espresso machine is the Breville Ikon. Second, you need to consider the frequency with which you use the machine. The Breville Barista Express is the best for those who use the machine several times a day. Lastly, one needs to carefully research on the espresso machines from user reviews to see what those who have the machines say about them, whether the feedback is positive or negative.

Additional information:
Top 5 espresso machines in the market – FOX News

My Review on The Best Microwave

As we prepare to usher in the New Year in the next few days, it is important that we recap some of the top gadgets that hit the market with a bang in 2015. To do this, we are going to look at the top microwave oven reviews 2015.

1. Panasonic microwave oven

This microwave oven comes with turbo reheating, sensor cooking, and eighteen cooking programmes. In addition, it has an impressive automatic suite for vegetables and defrosting function.

If you have a big family and you are always faced with large dinner plates, Panasonic microwave oven is what you need. This gadget has plenty of room for all your large dinner plates’ requirements.

kenwood-microwave-oven

2. Kenwood microwave oven

Comparing it with Panasonic microwave oven, Kenwood microwave oven is not spacious for large dinner plates. However, it has enough space for double stage cooking option. This microwave has exceptional heating speed and defrosting function. In addition, the auto-cooking programmes are plenty.

3. Whirlpool Jet Chef microwave oven

Whirlpool Jet Chef microwave oven offers grill, convention, microwave-cooking options and comes with clever accessories and features. Its defrosting function and grill are superb and enables you to see your food when it is being heat. The only demerit that accompanies this microwave is the simplicity in deactivating the child lock system.

4. Sainsbury’s microwave oven

If you want a cheap product to buy, then you should be gaming for Sainsbury’s microwave. Despite the low price tag, it reheats and defrosts your food evenly. It has amazing features including the quick start button and the auto-reheat button for foods including soup and pizza.

5. Sharp steam microwave oven

This microwave is good for people who want to have food in a hurry. Its speed is incredibly fast and offers impressive results especially in steaming and grilling. Unlike other microwaves, this one has the ability to heat several foods at a go without losing its temperature.

What You Can Expect From KitchenAid Food Processor

KitchenAid is known for manufacturing some of the best kitchen appliances available in the market. If you are looking for the best food processor to buy 2015 , you might want to try KitchenAid Architect Food Processor. It is actually one of the more recommended appliances from KitchenAid. You can get other top options here.

There are a few food processors under this series but the most common one comes with 12 cups capacity bowl. This capacity is good enough for both regular and occasional user. Moreover, the unit is quite durable and it is not difficult to find replacement parts.

The blades come with the standard steel chopping blade and a specialized dough blade, which is perfect for dough mixing. Apart from that, you will receive several other attachments for shredding and slicing. The blade is known to be quite effective. In fact, some actual users commented that the processing could be too powerful that mere intended dicing can turned the ingredients into mushy pulps.

chopped

Therefore, you do need to take note while using the KitchenAid Architect Food Processor or you might overdo your chopping or slicing. Then again, this function would be perfect for making purees and sauces. However, some users commented that the bowl is not suitable for smaller chunk of food as it slipped under the blade and not get chopped. Other users solve this by adding some form of liquid to make the slicing smoother. It is also attached with smaller bowls and the slicer can be adjusted. There are several suggestion to solve this minor inconvenient so most users are generally happy with the KitchenAid Architect Food Processor.

As for the speed, it comes with the standard speed and pulse button for a quick burst of power. This allows the user to effectively processed different kind of ingredient with varied result. The 12-cup bowl is also a big advantage. It is definitely the best food processors for those who regularly prepare large meals. Moreover, some users like to prepare their ingredients in large quantities for future usage. Most of the time, they would just store the ingredients in the freezer and use them when it is time to cook. If you tend to do this then the bowl is just simple for you. It would be very useful if you love to bake or making other types of pastries. The large capacity bowl would allow you to process large quantity of dough.

The feeding tube is large that you can actually stick your hand down. This is convenient to process large piece of fruits or vegetables without further cutting. It also comes with narrow tube that is suitable for other purposes.

However, one of the drawbacks of this unit is that it is large and quite heavy. The size of the bowls can be used up a lot of space especially when you used a dishwasher. Moreover, the size means that it needed more space. Therefore, if your kitchen top is too crowded, you might want to place it somewhere else or clean up the kitchen top to create more space.

KitchenAid Architect Food Processor is a good food processor. It had been receiving good reviews from actual users. Therefore, if you are looking for the best food processor you might want to consider this unit.

What is The Best Cookware?

Cookware is inclusive of a variety of pots and pans manufactured from different materials such as ceramic, cast iron, aluminum and stainless steel. Skepticism where quality is concerned has left many individuals wondering what is the best cookware, when considering the materials, durability, price, and dishwasher safety.

Cookware can either be nonstick coated or uncoated, the former allowing for non-fat cooking. The shape and dimension determines the effectiveness of performance in the cooking process. Basic cookware such as saucepans, egg poachers, frying pans, pressure cookers, multi-pots, paella pans and saute pans are versatile, and can handle several cooking functions.

Options can be limited to the type of hob or burner a person utilizes when cooking. Magnetized cast iron or steel, carbon steel, and enameled cast iron are ideal for induction cooktops. Flat and stable cookware is effective for smooth ceramic or glass cooktops, to prohibit wobbling or uneven cooking.

Le-Creuset-TNS-Header

Aluminum brands are manufactured with or without nonstick surfaces. Hardened aluminum is durable, heats fast, bears a non-reactive surface, a dark exterior, and is non-corrosive. Cast aluminum is expensive, thick, strong, heavy, heats fast, and is available with or without nonstick coating. Quality brands include Swiss Diamond, Cuisinart, Le Creuset, Calphalon, Scanpan, Nordic Ware and Tramontina.

Cast iron cookware is suitable for deep frying. It is durable, heats slowly but evenly, while adequately retaining the temperature. Carbon steel is durable and suitable for high heat processes such as stir fry, or searing. Copper responds well to changes in temperature and is durable with a non-reactive surface that is incorporated with stainless steel. Quality brands include Lodge, and Joyce Chen.

Ceramic is expensive, cooks evenly, and offers an attractive presentation at the dinner table. The best brands are Revol and Emile Henry. Stainless steel is favored for its durability, rust, corrosion and stain free nature, and its non-reactive surface. Popular brands are Cuisinart, Fagor, Joyce Chen and Demeyere.

What You Can Do with Your Slow Cooker

Did you receive a slow cooker as a gift and have no inkling what to do with it? A slow cooker is known to cook slowly and produce juicy meats and more flavor in the dish. It helps you to organize your time because you do not have to stand guard over the cooker while it cooks. You can actually dunk the ingredients in and leave for work, coming back to a tasty meal. In fact, if you don’t have a slow cooker, it might be time to get one now. Here are some interesting things you can do in your slow cooker, and tips on how to do it better!

The easiest thing you can cook with a slow cooker is stew, but there are many recipes that can be done with a slow cooker.

Things You Can Cook

slow cooker

A very good recipe is to make a dish out of tough meats that you normally avoid cooking. After hours in the slow cooker, any tough meat would have been tenderized to the extent that it is softer than other cooked meats. Examples of such meat cuts are pork shoulder, pork knuckle, chuck and skirt steaks, and lamb shanks.

Poultry is also great to cook in a slow cooker. In fact you can cook a whole bird in the slow cooker if the size is good enough to fit. Otherwise just put in large cuts of it, so that the flavor will seal in well.

To complete your meal, vegetables can be added to your slow cooker recipe, though personal tastes differ as to which type of veggies are best for slow cooking. If you want to add rice or pasta to your meal, remember to refer to the particular recipe for specific temperature setting and cooking time.

Fresh cut oats usually take some time to cook, but if you use the slow cooker, you can add the oats, milk and fruits into the pot before going to sleep and leaving it overnight. By the time you wake up, you will have oatmeal ready for breakfast.

Interesting and creative ideas for slow cooking also include cooking a cake (not sure you can call it ‘baking’) in the slow cooker. Slow cooker cake recipes can be found online and you just need to add the ingredients and cook for a certain time. If you are interesting to buy a slow cooker after reading this post, try this The Best Slow Cooker blog for more recommendation about how to pick a good slow cooker.

slow cookerSlow Cooking Tips 

Always cook with water, broth or stock when you are slow cooking. Don’t fill up the pot too much though, because the oils and juices from meats will add to the volume, and when it boils the liquid may spill out.

You can add flavor to your cooking by using spices and herbs of both fresh and dried varieties. The flavor will enhance the dish strongly after many hours of cooking.

It is not recommended to cook frozen food directly in the slow cooker before defrosting, because although the cooking process takes a long time, if the food does not reach a certain temperature within the first hour, it might become contaminated.

All right, that is all for now, hope you enjoy slow cooking!

Favourite Small Toaster Oven – Sanyo SK-7S Space Saving Toasty Oven Review

There are plenty good small toaster ovens around but my favourite would be the Sanyo SK-7S Space Saving Toasty Oven. I’ve had mine since college and although it looks a little shabby, its performance is still OK. This toaster oven takes only 1 sq. ft. at the most – it doesn’t take much room and is perfect for limited counter space. Therefore, this little gem is great for dorm rooms and studio apartments. Due to its size, it doesn’t require a lot of energy to fire up and will definitely not cause an unsuspected hike in your utilities bill.

cooking with toaster oven

I love the versatility that comes with this toaster. You can literally pop anything into it and it will do its work nicely; bagels are toasted to its fluffiest, savory pastries warmed evenly after a night in the refrigerator and bread toasted any way you like. The only problem is that it does take a longer time in toasting and heating your food. Perhaps it’s because of its size or maybe the heating element is more of the “light bars” type rather than metal coils as you would see inside a regular toaster. Did I mention that it can bake a small batch of cookies too? With the temperature set to about 375F, it was easy to bake a dozen cookies while I pore myself over my books. The cookie aroma that filled my room was so comforting when I was panicking over examinations.

I must say, that this was the highlight of my days during study week every semester – cookies as a reward after a hard day of work! If you’re looking for more information on this toaster oven, I recommend you to check out the best toaster oven website, which I think can help you on making the right purchase. It is safe to say that with the Toasty Oven, I was well fed during my days in campus. Other than cookies, I was able to make the staple food for university students second to ramen noodles. You guessed it right… PIZZA! All I had to do was pop in some frozen pizza and let it heat up in the oven. It was way better than popping the pizza in the oven because the bottom was not soggy at all (I hate soggy pizza)! Making mac & cheese was also a breeze – cook the pasta in hot water and pop the pasta in the oven with sprinkles of cheese on top and it’ll melt beautifully! While I do consider the Toasty Oven as one of the best toaster oven I’ve ever used, it does has its own limitations. While it can do minor league baking, it cannot prepare food in a broiling or roasting manner. A bonus point for this small toaster oven is that it is easy to clean with just a wipe – just remember to make sure it is cooled down adequately first. To make cleaning much more easier, line the pan or racks that you are using. I recommend a silicone-based mat so that you can re-use it over and over again.

Although the Sanyo SK-7S Space Saving Toasty Oven is no way a substitute for a full fledged oven, it does a pretty good job with its own capacity. If you are looking for a great gift for your kids that are going away for college or a house warming gift for people who are just starting out, I would highly recommend this small toaster oven. The other brand you can look for is Cuisinart.

Related article – Learn The Types of Oven

Cooking project: A little something to sooth your senses!

When it comes to cooking, most of us keep it strictly functional especially on busy weekdays. Food and cooking is an art which we can indulge in no matter the occasion. Food does not have to contain a whole lot of pricey ingredients in order to be tasty. In order to undertake a cooking project, all you need is some spare time on your hands and a bunch of fresh vegetables, fruits or any ingredient of your choice.

Cooking can be therapeutic, soothing and enlightening. If you enjoy cooking, you should consider it as a project that can even bring in some extra cash. Providing lunch/meals and snacks is a flourishing business these days. Even if you cook for your near and dear ones, every part of your cooking experience can be enjoyable when you think about their likes and dislikes. Start prepping all the ingredients before you cook. You can multitask and save time by prepping some ingredients while the other ingredients are cooking.

chopped-salad

Read up new recipes and watch videos to learn some new dishes that you can try out in order to add variety. Do not be afraid to experiment and use your own customized touch to simple recipes. In order to undertake a successful cooking project, plan wisely while shopping for the required things. Shop in supermarkets that offer discounts and buy in bulk to save more money. Buy good quality fruits and veggies and store them in the freezer for a long time. This will help you in saving money while buying vegetables or fruits that are not in season.

Also, you can make single serving sizes of all your recipes and store them in the freezer for use on weekdays when you do not have time to cook. Choose healthy cooking options and make sure you keep tabs on the amount of nutrients that you are consuming in order to stay fit. You can get your family to help out and add to the fun and bonding.