The Tricked Out Kitchen
By Lisa Hoover
For some people cooking is a hobby, for others it is a comfort. One thing cooking should not be, however, is a chore to be dreaded. Whether you enjoy making an elaborate meal of duck breast in capers for yourself or just prefer to whip up a quick stir-fry, here are a few items that every kitchen should have to make mealtime a breeze:
Good Knives: High quality cutlery is a must-have for any cook. Good knives make arduous kitchen tasks like chopping, dicing and slicing a breeze. Having good knives make sense from a safety standpoint as well. Poor quality cutlery quickly becomes dull, requiring the user to apply more downward pressure while cutting and increasing the change of slippage and injury. When shopping for knives, look for sturdy handles, well-crafted blades and a comfortable grip.
Quality Cookware: Resist the urge to buy that fourteen piece pot and pan set for five dollars at the neighborhood garage sale. It won't turn out to be such a bargain when hot spots cause your food to burn and scratches on the non-stick coating flake off into your scrambled eggs.
Oils: Be sure to keep a selection of various oils on hand to use when cooking. Your pantry should have: olive oil for dipping sauces or dressings, vegetable oil for frying, peanut oil for stir-fries and safflower oil for general cooking needs. There's no need to spend a lot of money to keep your shelf of oils well stocked. With the exception of olive oil, which is often a main ingredient of a recipe rather than a vehicle for cooking, simply purchase small bottles of whatever happens to be on sale.
Cutting Boards: Good cutting boards are essential to proper food preparation. Wooded boards may be used for slicing fruits and vegetables but plastic boards should be used when working with meat and poultry since they can be placed in a dishwasher for proper sanitizing. Which ever you choose, look for something sturdy and with a non-slip bottom that will help hold it in place on a slippery work surface. Some boards also have channeled edges to keep juices from dripping onto your countertop.
Sanitizing Products: The most important items in every kitchen are good sanitizing products. Keep an anti-bacterial soap at the sink for washing your hands after handling meat and poultry and a good countertop cleanser for washing surfaces. Though food-borne illnesses are on the rise, protecting yourself from them is easy and inexpensive.