Mr and Mrs Diet Food: Kitchen Clean Out, Part II

In Mr. & Mrs. Diet Food: Kitchen Clean Out Part I we talked about the various foodstuffs that needed to be exiled from your kitchen.

In Part II we will go on an archeological dig through your cookware and appliances and help you determine what stays and what goes so that you can reach kitchen Nirvana.

KitchenNirvanaCooking with Kurt (and some other guys).


 
Are you ready?

Begin by taking an inventory of what is currently in your kitchen. I suggest opening up and emptying out all of your kitchen drawers and cupboards. Don’t be afraid…

gremlinsUnless this is you, then you should probably be very afraid.

I know this maybe a scary proposition but I encourage you to be brave. You never know what you may find.

oven-baby“Oooh yeah, THAT’S where I put that!”

With everything in front of you it will be easier to eyeball the lot and separate the junk from the goods.

What you need

ONE set of utilitarian cookware.
A great cookware set should include a few pots and a few pans of various sizes with interchangeable lids (around 8-10 pieces).

If you currently have a cookware set in pristine condition this either means you never cook or you know something I don’t about cleaning cookware. I demand to know your secret.

Stainless Steel, Cast Iron & Non-Stick

Given enough time, heat, and damage all cookware will likely leach something less than desirable into your food. I would stay as far away as possible from cookware made entirely from aluminum and tin. Cheap unregulated manufacturing of these types of cookware makes them a wholly unappetizing option. On the other hand, good quality copper, enamel, and carbon steel cookware is often crazy expensive, and to be frank, I haven’t seen an astronomical difference in performance of these expensive metals when it comes to everyday cooking. In my opinion, the absolute best bang for your buck in cookware is going to come from cast iron or stainless steel.

Stainless steel cookware will cover all of your basic needs. Look for manufacturers that use high grade stainless (the best grade is 18/10). Stainless steel is a rather poor conductor of heat so most cookware will have an aluminum or copper core (probably made of questionable quality metals) – which is fine as long as it isn’t touching your food. Damaged cookware also puts you at higher risk for those internal metal elements finding their way into your noms.

If you plan on cooking and eating meat you should really get yourself some cast iron cookware. Cast iron cookware is by far the best option for long duration and high heat cooking. Cast iron is extremely durable and resists warping, denting and chipping. It heats evenly and will retain that heat long after you remove it from the source. Cast iron also becomes naturally non-stick when cared for properly. Additionally, cooking with cast iron will parlay a little more iron into your diet; which is beneficial as many people are low on this essential mineral. As an added bonus you can use metal utensils on cast iron AND cast iron is heavy as hell so you can also pump up your guns while cooking!

IMG_0050That’s 8.2lbs of cold hard iron

Finally, there is a ton of contention around non-stick cookware. Without going into a diatribe about carcinogens the gist is that non-stick cookware made with Teflon should never be used for high heat or long duration cooking. Also, NEVER EVER use metal utensils on Teflon as they can scratch the delicate surface and cause the Teflon to flake into your food. Gross.

Understandably the ease and convenience of non-stick pans makes them great for cooking foods such as eggs and fish. If you are looking for an alternative to Teflon you can try out a GreenPan. I’ve heard good things, and they are certainly safer than cooking with Teflon.

Cutlery
Two words: Sharp. Knives. I cannot stress this enough. Your knives need to be as sharp as humanly possible. Cooking with dull knives sucks. A sharp knife will speed up your prep time and make chopping your daily veggies a breeze. Many knife sets come with a honer but if you really want some sharp blades get yourself a wet/oil stone. You can check out this Gordon Ramsay video to hone your knives.

Just don’t lose a finger in the process.

Appliances

Blender
When it comes to a versatile cooking appliance you can look no further than a Vitamix or Blendtec blender. These machines are built to stand up to years of demanding use and can be used to prepare a multitude of different foods including (but not limited to) sauces, soups, smoothies and super shakes, dressings, chutneys, salsas, nut butters and milks, purees, ice cream, and can pulverize dry goods into flours or bones into liquid. We’ve actually pureed bones into a pulp in our Vitamix.

Here you can watch this guy blend all sorts of stuff in a Blendtec.

Food Processor
A food processor has less power than a Vitamix and can be used for similar food preparations. Why have both appliances? The Vitamix is such a diesel machine that when left on for longer than a few minutes it will actually begin to cook your food. That’s right, you can actually cook something (such as soup) in your Vitamix.

A food processor is best for things such as mashed potatoes/cauliflower, homemade aioli and mayo, shredded anything (cheese, meat, cabbage, etc) and making dough. It can handle more nuance and delicate preparations than a Blendtec/Vitamix and reduces time spent dicing, mashing, shredding, and kneading.

Bonus Items

Tupperware
A good set of Tupperware is an absolute necessity if you are going to do meal prep ahead of time. Choose something BPA free, dishwasher safe, and durable.

Misto Oil Mister

misto-sprayers

I cannot tell you how much money we were spending on store bought aerosolized oils. Not only are they expensive they always seemed to have unavoidable cringe worthy additives. The Misto solves both of those problems. Buy one. I promise you’ll thank me later.

Salt and Pepper

saltnpepa

Seasoning your food is an absolute must and it all begins with the Adam and Eve of spices: Salt and Pepper. Spring for an adjustable salt and pepper mill if possible. Fresh ground salt and pepper will make a world of difference in your cooking.

What you don’t need

There’s nothing worse than slogging through a crowded cabinet or drawer to find the item you need. This is all about making cooking an enjoyable process instead of a cumbersome burden. The idea here is to have a comfortable cooking experience free of clutter and crap. Please get rid of the following items:

Cookware Clones
This is the perfect time to rid yourself of duplicate (or triplicate items). No one needs 17 spatulas of the same size. Pick out your favorite one or two and toss the rest.

Bachelor Cookware
Charred set of pots and pans most likely means you cook poorly or can’t taste food. Scratched, burnt, rusty, corroded, or warped cookware won’t allow you to execute cooking techniques properly and will affect the consistency and taste of your food. Bad tasting food will not encourage you to continue to eat your own cooking. Set yourself up for success.

rustypotpanIf you have any cookware that looks like this retire it to the garbage.

Single Function Appliances
So I know Aunt Flo sprung for the ice cream maker on your wedding registry which you were totally going to use for making fresh peach ice cream every summer when you and your newly anointed hubby went peach picking upstate. What a great way to decompress from your busy life in the city! Riiiight. That was most likely 10 years ago and that ice cream maker is still sitting above your fridge, untouched. Is the only ice cream you see these days the Haagen Daaz you eat in the car on the way home from the grocery store to avoid having to share with the kids? Aunt Flo will forgive you for parting with her well-intentioned wedding gift. It’s time to let go.

Here’s the rule: take the appliance out of the kitchen, then when you still don’t use it, re-gift or donate. That goes for the Panini press, juicer, enormous Belgium waffle griddle, bread maker, and popcorn machine you’re hoarding from the same era.

QVC Junk
Random QVC junk you’ve never used such as the egg press egg cooker, nuwave digital oven, nostalgia cupcake baker (i.e. easy bake for adults), and/or the personal pie maker.

…and anything that has to do with cooking hotdogs.

HotDogCooking

 
 

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