How to be a Better Cook: Cooking Utensils Right Where you Need Them
If you’re relatively new to the kitchen scene, there are a few things that you need to know to become a better cook:
1. Don’t let fear guide you: relax in the kitchen and your food will naturally taste better – I promise!!
2. Let your creative juices flow: As you begin to navigate your way through recipes and cookbooks, start using them as a guide rather than sticking to them word for word…learn how to substitute ingredients and you will find your own “groove”.
3. Be as prepared as you can possibly be: there is nothing worse than starting to cook and then not having the right “stuff” to proceed (I will do a post soon about a well stocked pantry). The things you use on a daily basis are important to be within reach so you can change things up quickly.
What does “being prepared” look like to me? Well on a daily basis, that means having the things I use everyday within an easy grab as I’m cooking…no pulling open a drawer, no walking into the pantry, and no running to the cellar.
On either side of my stove, I have a few containers (make them pretty – mine all came from Winners so they are cheap!) to hold my tried and true daily “things”.
First, above, is a vase I bought to hold my wooden utensils. You may think this is excessive, but you need at least one round (I have 3 or 4), and one flat to scrape the bottom of a pan (I have 2). I also have wooden tongs (totally not necessary, but kinda cool).
Then, beside it, I have an old cookie jar (the lid broke and I didn’t want to throw it away) full of other “non-wood” cooking untensils: a wire strainer (for scooping things that are boiled or fried from gnocci to doughnuts), a handful of spatulas (small, medium, large, metal, plastic), 2 basters (one pastry brush with bristles and one plastic one), 3 different sized whisks, 2 soup ladles, a 2 metal tongs.
On the other side of the stove, I have a basket. If your stove generates a lot of heat while you are cooking, just remember to pull it about a foot away from the stove because heat is not a friend of any oil product. My basket is filled with the following: a salt grinder (I love freshly ground salt on a salad) a pepper grinder (never, ever, buy pre-ground pepper…it loses potency so quickly), a bottle of my dad’s olive oil, balsamic vinegar (not the expensive kind – this is just for reducing sauces – I have a small bottle of good quality balsamic in my pantry), red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic glaze (great for drizzling on caprese salad or a plate of grilled pork), a small bottle of hot oil for a dash of heat, a bottle of truffle oil (I actually would suggest you keep yours – if you have one – in the pantry, but I moved mine out to the stove area to force me to use it more), and a salt cellar.
This is a salt cellar. It holds salt. Because I use the salt grinder for seasoning, I need something easier to get larger amounts of salt out (like when you have to salt your pasta water). This one is great because it has two compartments…
The bottom (which is the bigger part) hold regular salt (you can use table salt, but I prefer non-iodized so I use sea salt). The top section holds course salt for times you need a pinch of great flavour – I have smoked Himalayan salt in there now (I just buy small amounts of course salt and experiment with them). What do you have beside your stove? I’m think a nice glass of red would be nice :):)…hhhmmmmm….