Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Which Kind of Fry Guy are You?!

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO YOUR NEXT FRY-UP

Recently we talked about the method of cooking called sauteeing, which is a type of frying…but did you know that there are actually several different types of frying…

These include…

Stirfrying

Panfrying

Shallow Frying

Deep Frying

Let’s take a quick look at each of these different methods, before exploring these different methods even further…

——————————————-

1.Sautéing…As we previously learned, sautéing involves cooking small pieces of food over medium-high to high heat until browned on the outside and cooked through, all the while keeping the ingredients moving around in the pan, either by using a wooden spoon or by moving the pan back and forth. This method is typically used for cooking onion and garlic, but can also be used to cook fish, beef, shrimp, and tender vegetables such as mushrooms.

 

2.Stirfrying…Stirfrying is very similar to sauteeing…except stirfrying is typically done in a wok and usually is done before adding any sauce and additional ingredients such as meat and veggies.

 

3. Shallow Frying…Shallow frying is another type of frying, but involves cooking food that has been partly submerged in oil at a high temperature. The main goal in this method is to brown the food. Shallow frying is the method used to make such foods as fried chicken, fritters, and eggplant Parmesan.

 

4. Deep Frying…Deep frying involves completely submerging the food in lots of hot fat or oil and then cooking over high temperature. The main goal of this method is to cook food very quickly.

Advertisements
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to De-Funk Your Kitchen—Enhance

Now that you’ve gotten rid of whatever it might have been making your kitchen smell terrible and taken the time to clean out the fridge and shelves from rotten food, it’s time for a more fun thing to do…enhance the odors around your home.

Here are a few ideas…

Air Freshener…Use plug-in air fresheners, stand alone air fresheners, or spray air freshenera.

Air Vents…Clip a car deodorizer to the metal slats of your air vent. As the air blows through the vent, the scent will waft throughout the room

Baking…The aroma of warm baked goods—such as cinnamon rolls or banana bread—will fill the house with a pleasant scent quickly.

Baking Soda…Leaving a box of baking soda open in your fridge actually does absorb any smells in your fridge.

Candles…Candles are almost a given in any room, right? 

Charcoal....Putting a piece or two of charcoal in a bowl in your fridge will absorb smells, just as baking soda does.

Citrus…Collect any orange, lemon or lime peels. Bake them at 350 degrees for a few minutes. When you open the oven door. they will make your kitchen smell wonderful.

Cleaning…Use great smelling products, such as Dr Bronner’s,

Diffusers…Diffusers, both electric diffusers and reed diffusers, can be used along with your favorite essential oils to create a more pleasant smell.

Dryer Sheets..Tape a new dryer sheet to the back of your buffet or china cabinet. Also could stash one where you store your kitchen towels and stuff.

FloorsSoak a cotton ball with something that you really like the smell of…such as your favorite perfume or essential oil. Then drop it into the vacuum cleaner bag. As you do your regular chores, the vacuum will gently release the scent into the room.

Houseplants…Houseplants—such as geraniums, Arabian jasmine, eucalyptus, gardenias, corsage orchids, and Cuban oregano—are not only attractive but also clean the air.

Lights..Before turning your lights on, place a couple drops of vanilla extract on your light bulbs.This will gently spread the scent once you do flip the lights on and make your home smell like fresh-baked cookies.

Sachet…Use scented sachets—little fabric sacks filled with cinnamon sticks, dried lavender, dried herbs, potpourri, or scented rice—to give your drawers a more pleasant, yet natural, aroma.

Simmer…Another easy way to freshen the air would be a “simmer pot.”

To do this, fill a small pan with a cup or two of water. Next add what you are going to simmer. Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Then let simmer for a few hours on your back stove eye, adding more water as needed. As the water heats, the scent will be permeated throughout your kitchen and house.

Some good ideas as to what to simmer include…

  • a drop or two of essential oil
  • a handful of cloves
  • cinnamon sticks
  • citrus slices
  • fresh herbs—such as lavender or mint
  • lemon and orange peels
  • vanilla

Tea…Make a pot of homemade chai tea by first boiling 3C water with 20 cardamom pods, 15 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 1Tbsp ginger. Simmer 5 min. Add 3 tea bags. Brew and then strain. Finally add milk and sugar as needed.

Vinegar… Set a small bowl of vinegar on your counter whenever you are cooking something with a definite odor, such as fish…honestly think that I’d rather smell the fish than the vinegar though right?

Wreaths….Buy or make your own kitchen wreath using fresh herbs…such as this wreath Creek Side Farms.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Maintaining Your Knife For Life

If I just forked over this much money for a quality knife to slice and dice veggies, I am gonna want to take the very best care of it that I can.

So how do we do that?

Here are a few tips…

After each use wash your knife in warm, soapy water and dry it well.

Never put it in the dishwater. This can dull and damage the blades.

Never soak your knife in water.

Store your knife in a certain place, not in a drawer crammed with everything else that manages to find its way into your kitchen….but more on this later…

Use a traditional knife sharpening steel to sharpen your knives. Otherwise, bring them to a knife store that will sharpen them for you. Remember that sharp knives are  not only easier to use, but also safer.

——————————————————————

  • Cuts
  • slice, mince, chop, crush, tenderize, and scoop up
  • cutting and
  • making garnishes
  • hold the knife in your writing hand (the Chinese
  • call this the “chopstick hand”).
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

How to Choose Quality Kitchen Knives

The very first thing that you will need to do when sauteeing food is to chop whatever ingredients you are going to use into manageable, bite-size pieces. This will make them faster and easier only to cook, but will also make sure that the ingredients cook more evenly.

Not only do you want your ingredients to be manageable and bite-size, but you also want to cut the different ingredients similar sizes so that they will cook evenly, instead of some ingredients being overcooked and other ingredients being undercooked.

Before we move to the next thing that you will need to saute your foods—which would be drying off your food and heating your skillet to actually start cooking—let’s take a look at different cutting terms and choose which knife we are going to use.

But first, let’s find a decent knife…

There are many knife manufacturers that market knives designed just for cutting vegetables.

These knives are specifically made to slice vegetables…

These vegetable knives are usually found only in Japanese kitchen knife sets—such as those knife sets made by Shun, Global, and Zhen.

Although these knives are a good choice, they are not always the best choice. For instance, larger vegetables such as potatoes will require a paring knife in order to shape and peel them.

But is buying a vegetable knife really necessary?

I don’t think so…

So let’s take a look at all of the other kitchen knife choices that could be used instead as you slice and dice your veggies, or whatever you may be cooking, that do not require forking over money that could be used to buy better quality ingredients instead.

Knife Choices

Boning Knife…Boning knives have a very thin blade and are used mainly for removing meat from the bone because the thin blade allows you to remove as much meat from the bone as you can.

Chef’s Knife…Chef’s knives are designed with a blade that makes it easy to learn how to do the fancy “rocking” motion that most of us only can wish for when watching such shows as Iron Chef…more on this later…

They also help when you’re cutting vegetables over a long period of time because they have some weight behind them.

Chinese Chef’s Knife…The Chinese chef’s knife is a lightweight, all-purpose knife that looks like a meat cleaver.

—Paring Knife…Because this knife is so small, it is great for cutting vegetables and fruits, but if you’re going to be cutting a lot of vegetables and it will take you a lot of time, this knife will make your hand more fatigued more quickly. Save this knife for those times when you are just slicing a carrot or peeling a few potatoes.

But regardless which knife you choose to dice and slice your veggies, there are some important things to consider, including…

Blade…The perfect blade should be strong and sturdy enough to cut meats and bones. If you will be slicing meat, you also need your blade to be thick. The blade of the knife should meet surgical grade or 18/10 grade.

Handle…The handle is an important part of the knife, just as important as the blade. The handle should not be slippery. For this reason, it is usually better to buy knives with wood handles. You also want the handle to be substantial, but not so heavy that you can hardly lift it. The handle must fit well and balanced in your hand.

Material…Always choose high-carbon steel or high-carbon stainless steel knives.

Tip…There are a few advantages of choosing knives with pointed or rounded blades, such as serving meat with bones directly onto a guest’s plate.

Weight…Technically there is no “correct” weight when it comes to knives, This is a matter of personal preference. But you do want to make sure that the knives you choose allow you to maintain control over the whole knife.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Drop Your Drawers

Although you keep your kitchen drawers closed until you need something out of there…and although no guest in their right mind would ever rummage through them, it is still worth the time and effort to organize your drawers.

Taking the time to organize your kitchen drawers will allow you to…

  • maximize your space
  • no longer have kitchen drawers that are so messy and crammed that you have to take everything out of the drawer in order to find anything
  • simplify your cooking routine.
  • squeeze the most out of the space you do have available.

First Things First

Empty your drawers.

Throw away or give away anything that you don’t actually use or that you have too many of or that is broken or with missing parts or

Move things that could be stored in a more convenient spot.

Take the time to wash every utensil, at least ;in the dishwasher.

Group like items together…more on this later…

Take the time to scrub down your drawers with a clean rag and antibacterial cleaning spray.

Use a drawer liner. This will brighten the drawers and inspire you to keep things neat and organized.

This is also a good time to make sure that the drawers have quality sliding hardware and secure handles.

Zoning

But before you do this, take the time to decide what zones you want to use.

  • Here are some suggestions…
  • Baking Drawer
  • Cooking Utensil Drawer
  • Dish Drawer
  • Grilling Drawer
  • Junk Drawer
  • Linen Drawer
  • Meat Drawer
  • Silverware Drawer
  • Utensil Drawer

Decide where you would like to store each zone.

Now start grouping similar items according to these different zones..

Let’s take a closer look at what should or cculd be set into whivh zone…

Baking

  • beaters
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons,
  • rolling pins
  • rubber spatulas
  • silicone spatulas
  • whisks
  • wooden spoons

Cooking Utensils…any utensils that do not belong in any of the other categories

Grilling…grilling tools such as grilling tongs, a basting brush, and a meat thermometer

Junk

This is the drawer for all your “extra” items.

Some of the items that you might want to have in this drawer include…

  • bandages
  • batteries
  • cords and chargers 
  • flashlights
  • paper clips
  • rubberbands
  • safety pins
  • scissors
  • tape
  • twine or string
  • twist ties

Place smaller items in small plastic containers with lids I have found maraschino cherries jars to be awesome. Stick only one thing into each jar.

Taking the time to label each jar, telling what’s inside the jar, is very useful.

Other things that you could use to organize your drawers include cardboard boxes, store-bought drawer dividers, or empty Tupperware containers.

it is a good idea to go back through these drawers about four times a year so that they don’t become “junk drawers,” but “miscellaneous storage drawers” instead.

Linen Drawer…Designate a drawer for kitchen linens, such as…

  • kitchen towels
  • napkins
  • oven mitts
  • placemats
  • table runners
  • tablecloths

Meat Drawer…Things that you ight want to store in this drawer include…

  • basting tool
  • meat thermometer
  • seasoning brush
  • tenderizer

Silverware Drawer

Using Drawer Dividers

As far as dividers, be sure to measure the height, width, and length of yout drawers before you waste money buying dividers that will not fit into the drawer.

Using clear acrylic dividers allows you to see the drawer liner that you just installed and makes it easier to see things.

Another great idea is using expandable or pegboard drawer dividers that will allow you to adjust the size of the divider to fit the dimensions of your drawer.

Feathering the Nest

Towels

IMG_4702-0

Now that you’ve finished your shower, the first thing you will probably grab for will be a towel…

But don’t just settle for any old towel.

 

 

Instead take the t;ime to find the best towels, or the best towels for you personally…and be willing, if able, to actually spent money on towels instead of grabbing the cheapest ones that you can find.

 

Towel shopping should not simply be a matter of how good the towel may feel on the display shelf or how much it might cost.

In fact there are several factors to take into consideration when shopping for high-quality towels—absorbency, durability, softness, cost, size, and launderability…(not sure if that’s a real word or not).

 

 

 

Absorbency…Towels made of .100% cotton, especially Egyptian or Pima cotton, are typically the most absorbent. Such towels, those made with Pima or Egyptian cotton, are usually the softest also.

 

 

 

 

Structure…(Loops and Twists)…Every towel has loops. These loops help the towel feel soft and absorb water. You should not be able to see the base of the towel beneath these loops.

The “twists” of the towel refers to how much the loop’s yarn is twisted. Towels with either a low or zero twist are more absorbent than towels with a denser twist.

 

 

Touch…Touch can be deceiving. Don’t rely on how soft the towel feels at first glance, or in this case, first touch. Most manufacturers add a softened “finish” so that the towels feel nice and velvety in the store. But that finish washes off after the first few runs through the laundry…leaving you with a much rougher towel than you had thought you had bought.

 

 

 

 

Weight…/Thicker, heavier towels are most likely to be absorbent than thinner, lighter towels., and truly high-quality towels will feel heavier than they look.

Towel weight is measured in grams per square meter (GSM). Generally, the higher the weight, the denser the towel and the more absorbent and plush it will be. 300-400 GSM is considered lightweight, 400-600 GSM is medium weight, and 600-900 GSM is the heaviest.  Thicker towels with high GSM, or grams per square meter, feel more luxurious.

 1.  1888 Mills Made Here Bath Towel

  • Availability…Walmart
  • Colors Available…blue, brown, cream, grey, red, and tan
  • Fabric…100% USA grown cotton with pima rich loops
  • Price…$2

2.  Abyss Super Line Bath Towel

  • Availability….Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s
  • Colors Available…30 available
  • Fabric…Egyptian cotton
  • Price…$74
  • Size…28″x54″

3. AmazonBasics Fade-Resistant 3-Piece Towel Set

  • Availability….Amazon
  • Fabric…100% cotton
  • Price…$13
  • Set includes…2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, 2 washcloths
  • Size…54″ x 30″…(26″x16″ for hand towel, 12″x12″ for washcloth)

4.  Fina Ultra Absorbent Waffle Weave Microfiber Bath Towel

  • Availability….Amazon
  • Colors Available…white, linen, sage, and coffee
  • Fabric…Microfiber
  • Price…$15
  • Size..29″x55″

5.  Pinzon Heavyweight Luxury 820-Gram Bath Towel

  • Availability….Amazon
  • Colors Available…blue, gray, sage, green, ivory, and white
  • Fabric…100% cotton
  • Price…$21
  • Size…30″x56″
  • Weight…nearly 2 pounds each

6.  Superior 900 GSM Egyptian Cotton Bath Towel Set

  • Availability….Amazon, overstock.com, Walmart
  • Colors Available…18 colors available
  • Fabric..long-staple combed cotton
  • Price…$62 for set of six (2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, 2 washcloths)
  • Sizes…30″x55″…(20″x30″ hand towel, 13″x13″ washcloth)

7.  Utopia Luxury Bath Sheet Towel

  • Availability….Amazon, Sears, and BB&B
  • Colors Available…black, white, navy, champagne, plum, gray, brown, and sage
  • Fabric…100% ring spun cotton
  • Price…$16
  • Size…35″x70″

 

 

How should I use my new towels? Drying off after your shower can be as important as the shower itself. Pat yourself dry. Rubbing your skin too vigorously with a towel can cause irritation, leave you itchy, and make dry skin get even worse. This will also leave some water on the skin, which can be sealed in with moisturizer.

 

 

How do I take care of my brand new towels?

Take time to actually read the tag on your new, luxurious towels tag before you simplty stick in your washing machine. Machine wash on the hottest temperature-setting recommended, with similar colors.

Never use bleach, dryer sheets, or liquid fabric softener on your towels. This will  eventually weaken the fibers make the towels less absorbent.