There’s no doubt that having the right tools for the job makes any task easier, and there’s no better place to illustrate this than in the kitchen, where having the right cooking utensils can be the difference between creating good meals and great meals.
Many cooks think about major appliances such as the stove and refrigerator when planning to equip their kitchens, but to be a success in the kitchen, you need to have a good selection of cooking utensils in addition to the bigger items. And don’t forget, cooking utensils means more than just spoons; there’s a host of small cooking utensils ranging from cutting devices, juicers, graters and more.
Think about what you do in a kitchen and about how different cooking utensils come into play for each task:
• Washing and drying fresh produce – always easy to accomplish with a strainer and salad spinner. A vegetable peeler is also an important addition to your cooking utensils closet.
• Slicing, chopping and dicing all kinds of food and garnishes – a food processor makes short work of vegetables, but mandolins, knives and graters are also helpful cooking utensils to have on hand.
• Measuring – cooking and baking can be a form of art and recipes should be followed as precisely as possible so measuring dishes, cups (both wet and dry measures) and measuring spoons are invaluable cooking utensils.
• Weighing – depending on what you like to cook, you may want to add a food scale to your shopping list of cooking utensils. Such a tool can be excellent for portioning meat and other products that have cooking times affected by weight.
• Temperature – as important as measures are temperatures, which can affect the success of your kitchen endeavors. An oven or meat thermometer is key to having properly cooked meat that is safe to eat, and should be included in your pantry of cooking utensils.
• Mixing – no kitchen would be complete without a cadre of mixing bowls in its cooking utensils cupboard. Having a selection of bowls in assorted sizes is essential to fast, efficient cooking.
• Manipulating, poking, prodding, lifting and stirring – perhaps what most often comes to mind when you think of cooking utensils are implements used to move food: spoons, forks, knives, spatulas, wire whisks, pastry blenders, tongs, salad lifters, slotted spoons, wooden spoons, serving spoons and more.
By imagining the tasks you do every day in the kitchen, you will get a better idea of the cooking utensils you should consider purchasing. Think about every stage of the food preparation process, from storage and cleaning, to cooking and presenting.
Other useful cooking utensils: pastry brush, kitchen shears, rolling pin, salt shaker, pepper mill, cutting board, ramekins, flour sifter, rotary beater, ladles, juicer and a can opener. Cooking utensils come in a range of prices, quality and materials such as wood, metal, rubber and silicone. Regardless of how much you pay, always make sure any cooking utensils that have multiple pieces, fit together securely.
Because cooking takes so many nutrients and vitamins OUT of food, you automatically start feeding your body what it needs when you stop cooking food and start eating uncooked, nutrient-rich foods. A raw carrot has exponentially more nutrition than a cooked carrot.
Cooking also alters the chemistry of foods, often making them harder to digest. Why do we have so many digestive problems in this country? Because we’re putting foods into our bodies in a form that we weren't designed to absorb. High fiber, high water content fresh produce abolishes constipation of the bowels, cells and circulatory system. Obstructions are cleared and blood flow increases to each and every cell in the body. Enhanced blood flow is significant for two reasons: as mentioned above, blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to living cells, and carries away their toxic metabolites.
Obesity is endemic in this country. The diet industry is more profitable than the oil companies. Why? Because the way we eat and prepare our food practically guarantees that we’ll overeat. Psychologists tell us that we overeat because our souls are hungry. But in reality, our bodies are hungry, even though we may feel full. When you start giving your body the nutrients it craves, overeating will cease.
Eating raw foods is a boost to your metabolism as well. It takes a little more energy to digest raw foods, but it’s a healthy process. Rather than spending energy to rid itself of toxins produced by cooking food, the body uses its energy to feed every cell, sending vitamins, fluids, enzymes and oxygen to make your body the efficient machine it was intended to be.
You’ll naturally stop overeating, because your body and brain will no longer be starving for the nutrients they need. A starving brain will trigger the thoughts that make you overeat. The brain and the rest of your body don’t need quantity; they need quality.
As humans, we all make mistakes. It is human nature to do so, and cannot be prevented each and every time. When it comes to barbequing, this rule is no different. We often make mistakes that we do not even realize until we taste our food, or something potentially dangerous happens.
Some mistakes just mean that the food you cook is not going to taste very good, while others could potentially mean a trip to the hospital, or a visit from your claims representative on your home insurance policy. No matter the severity of the mistake, you should do your best to try to avoid them whenever possible.
You must properly prepare the meat you are cooking, before cooking it. You should never attempt to cook meat on a grill when it is still frozen, or even partially frozen. Thaw your meat by sitting it out about 12 to 24 hours before you plan on cooking it, or by thawing it in a microwave.
Once meat is cooked, never put it back in on the same plate you had it on when it was raw. This could cause the spread of many unwanted illnesses.
Cooking with charcoal lighter fluid can be good or bad. The lighter fluid will cause the food you are cooking to taste different then with other types of grills. Alternatively, attempting to not use lighter fluid may cause a lot of frustration due to the fact that charcoal can be difficult if not impossible to light without lighter fluid.
Never poke you meat while it is cooking. Poking holes in meat will cause the juice inside to leak out into the bottom of the grill. Not only will this make your food dry and unappealing in the end, but it also could potentially ruin your barbeque grill. At the very least, it will cause a buildup of unwanted grease and juices on your grill, which will make cleanup harder.
Once the meat is on the grill, try not to open the lid to many times. Each time you open the lid, you change the temperature in the grill. The constant change in temperature and the air flow will cause your meat to dry up quickly.
Remember that the higher the heat is not always the better. While it is okay to quickly cook food, turning the heat up will just cause the meat to dry up and potentially burn.
While using tin foil or aluminum foil will make cleaning easier, it will cause your food to have more of a fried taste then a grilled taste.
Never, under any circumstance, should you leave a grill alone when it is in use. Grilling does have fire involved, and accidents can happen. Fire spreads quickly, so being aware of your grill could mean the difference between a small fire that is quickly extinguished, and a visit from the fire department.
Never place a hot grill against a wall, even if the fire is already completely out. A hot grill can heat up an exterior wall to the point of combustion. Also, do not put the grill cover back on until you are sure that the grill is completely cool.
You grill should be cleaned after each and every use, no exceptions. While no one likes cleaning the grill, it is essential for the life and safety of your grill. If you allow your grill to sit dirty, not only are you causing a potential fire and health hazard, but you are ultimately making it harder on yourself when it does come time to clean your grill.
Make sure that your grill is completely cold before cleaning it. Spraying oil and cleaning agents on a hot surface could cause it to ignite. Be careful, because the grill may seem cool, but may still be hot in certain areas. You do not want to sustain a burn.
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