What are the most necessary kitchen items?

You have just perfected your first egg omelet, and you think you are ready to cook like a pro. You excitedly make a list of tools, gadgets and cookware you want to buy, and realize it would take a lot of money to get it right.

When you talk about a perfect working condition in a kitchen, you need preparation tools and utensils, cooking tools and utensils, cookware, pans and electric appliances. But you don’t have to overwhelm yourself, or your wallet, if you are just starting out. Here are our recommended must-have’s if you are a kitchen newbie:

  1. Pots and pans of good quality. Don’t skimp on these items, because you will be using it every day. Buy a couple of sizes. A smaller one if you are cooking for just one or two, and a bigger one if you plan to entertain at home. You can get a deep sauté pan for frying, but should be deep enough for other purposes, too, like making soups or sauces.
  2. Chef’s knife. If you had the budget, you can go for the full set, but for now, you can start with just one. Try a size of 8 inches. Go for a sturdy material of solid forged steel, with full tang, solid riveted construction and a balanced handle. It will do the job for boning chicken, cutting meat, chopping vegetables.
  3. Cutting board. You can opt for the wooden kind, or a heavy-duty plastic with rubberized grips. Try to have two boards, one for the raw, and one for the cooked items. But if you can only buy one for now, make sure to wash thoroughly in between using it for raw and cooked.
  4. Casserole dish. It can be used for both cooking and for serving food on the table, like a hot dish of lasagna. Get one that’s made with glazed ceramic because it heats food evenly and is non-stick, especially with that gooey cheese in the lasagna.
  5. A set of wooden spoons for stirring, tasting and all other magical stuff it does. Get one in assorted shapes and sizes – a round-head, a flat-head, and a slotted spoon. One of the big reasons why wooden spoons are preferred is that it does not scratch the surfaces of the pans. It also has high tolerance for heat, but is insulated so it does not affect the heat of your cooking, which helps if you are cooking something sensitive to temperature change.
  6. If you can only buy one electronic gadget, let it be the food processor. It will be make your cooking a bit easier. It’s a blender with many blades depending on how you want to use it. It can help in chopping, grinding, shredding and mixing food ingredients. You can puree soup, mix sauces and dips.

Lastly, but very importantly, don’t forget your own kitchen wear – your apron and gloves. The apron will keep you from getting dirty and from getting germs. It also protects your clothing from getting in harm’s way, like hot oil when frying or even from catching fire. Meanwhile you use an oven glove when you are handling something hot. It protects your hand from getting burned.

Happy cooking!

How to keep your kitchen clean and tidy?

My spouse is a great cook, but she often leaves the kitchen in full disarray after a cooking session. Since I am the one who eats most of her delicious cooking, I am left with the task of cleaning up after her. Since we have been married for quite a number of years, I have become an expert, and am sharing these great tips with you:

How to Keep your Kitchen Squeaky Clean

  1. Clean as you go. When you are peeling, peel right into the trash can, or into a plate. You can do your peeling in one session, and then you can throw out the gathered peels all together. When you open a can and empty its contents into a bowl, throw away the can immediately. Don’t let it clutter your work area;
  2. Re-use spoons or ladles. When you are cooking, you stir or taste your food. You use a ladle or a spoon, and then you put it into the sink. When you taste again, you use another new spoon, and put it in the sink again. Put a bowl of clean water near you. In between stirs and tastings, put your spoon in there. However, if you are cooking more than just one dish simultaneously, use different spoons and bowls so your dishes will not taste all the same;
  3. Do a list of daily, weekly and bi-weekly cleanings. You can schedule a daily wipe of your surfaces, a weekly cleaning of the oven and perhaps a bi-weekly cleaning of all the cupboards. This way, you don’t do everything at just one time. Whew, that would take too much energy.
  4. Clean your sponges. You think because it is soaked in soapy water most times it is squeaky clean. On the contrary, because it is kept moist most times, bacteria thrive. Bacteria from the raw foods or vegetables we clean off the sink, and bacteria which we transfer to our utensils when we wash them. Use different sponges depending on the degree of dirt of the items washed. It is good to at least have two, one for washing items that were used on raw food, and another for cooked food. You can color-code your sponges for easy identification. If I wash the cutting board where I cut up raw chicken, I use green sponge. When I wash the plate where I ate the fried chicken, I use yellow sponge. Another good tip is to soak your sponge in hot, soapy water at the end of the day. Squeeze it through while in the water to get the dirt out, then rise off the soap, and squeeze dry. Let your sponge drip dry overnight.
  5. Keep the trash area clean and orderly. Try to separate the raw foods from the other trash. During the day, you can leave a big container out for peelings, cuttings from chicken, meat or fish. Keep these separate because you can use these if you compost. If you don’t, keep it separate until you are finally throwing out the trash. Otherwise, these easy-to-rot items will stink your whole trash.

It is important to keep your kitchen clean so you can serve clean food to your family. Cleanliness is not just an issue about vanity, but an issue about health. Stay healthy, keep clean.