Tuesday, March 3, 2015

In My Kitchen.

Commence random thoughts...

Having a small kitchen is not easy, but I'm used to it. I think our last kitchen was probably only 8x10 feet with no room for a table, only a chopping block that now doubles as a workbench in our garage. Our new (or new-ish) kitchen is a galley kitchen, with barely room to turn around in but an open bar top counter to socialize over whilst whipping up foods.  Thank goodness for the laundry room, which serves as a walk-in dry goods closet as well or I'd have piles of rice, beans, breads, spices and canned goods overflowing onto my dining room table.

I bring this up because I've discovered, through my obsessive-compulsive cleaning & organizational tendencies, that there are certain items I simply must have in my kitchen at all times.  Here are a few of my favorites right now...

Chef's Towels
Cotton, white (so you can bleach the daylights out of them when needed), 16x19in- Great for sopping up messes, using as a potholder, wiping clean chopping boards and cleaning blades. I keep one on the counter and one hanging off my apron.
-Chef Revival Red Stripe 100% Cotton Bar Towel-12/Pack for only $10.49 here.

Santoku Knife
Easy to handle, sharp, inexpensive and can chop, slice or pound just about anything. I like the 5 inch version for everyday use. 
-J.A. Henckels International Forged Razor Series 5-Inch Santoku for $26.99 here.

Barkeepers Friend
This stuff cleans everything without using abrasive ingredients. Pots, pans, knives, sinks and so much more. Cheap and dependable since 1882.
-Bar Keeper's Friend® 21-Ounce Cleanser And Polish $1.99 here.

Microplane Grater/Zester
Perfect for grating/zesting everything from citrus fruits to fresh Parmesan cheese. Helps make the rather tedious job of fine grating go quickly and cleanly.
-Microplane ® Grater-Zester can be found here for $14.95.

Wine Forest Wild Foods 'True Wild Rice'
A mix of jasmine brown rice, genuine wild rice, dried porcini, dried shallots & parsley. Based out of Napa, CA too! Great as a side dish or a full hearty meal. 
-You can find this rice for $14.00 and all other sorts of treats on their website here.

Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
If I could eat this with a spoon, I would. We braise chicken in it, smother pork, sprinkle it on fries, simmer fish and sometimes just dash a little on garlic bread. Savory, zingy & spicy all at the same time.
-Grab the original for $3.50 or check out the wide array of Tony Chachere's seasonings here

Huy Fong Sambal Oelek
Ground fresh chili paste. I use this in sauces, soups and if I'm feeling freaky, topped on a baked potato. Excellent combination of heat, vinegar & garlic to sass up subtle foods. A staple in our house.
-Find it here for $5.99 or just take a trip to the grocery store and grab the biggest jar you can find.

Thai Red Curry Paste
I've been obsessing over Thai curry lately, drowning rice noodles and fresh vegetables in a broth I make with pastes like these. Try steamed tilapia, mung beans and cilantro for a soothing winter bowl.
-6 Can (4oz. Each) of Thai Green, Red & Yellow Curry Pastes for only $17 here.

Persian Cucumbers
Crunchy, cute, thin-skinned & nearly seedless, these cucumbers have taken the place of potato chips in my daily snack attacks. I slice them and sprinkle Maldon sea salt over them- such satisfying bites! Also great in salads or in place of lettuce on sandwiches.
-Grab a container of 6-8 at Trader Joe's for $2.29!

Jeff's Naturals Whole Golden Greek Pepperoncini
I might be one of the very few people who enjoys eating pepperoncini like candy, but hey, a girl's got her weakness. I love the flavor of these particular peppers, not too heavy on the vinegar. Jeff Mezzeta's family has been in the business for years, based out of the North Bay, using locally farmed produce for their products.
-Pick up a jar for roughly $4 at your local market, Whole Foods or Sprouts.

Better Than Bouillon
All natural beef, chicken, fish (and so many more!) flavor bases perfect for braising, roasting, creating stews or just giving oompf to whichever protein you choose. A little goes a very long way, so this jar is worth the dough.
-Available just about everywhere for $8.50 a jar, so keep an eye out or click here.

What are some of your favorite kitchen staples? 

Be well,