Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Essential Utensils

Here's one that's been frementing in my "starred items" list forever...

Essential Utensils via The Cook's Kitchen


They say:
I say:

They say: One 8-inch chef’s knife–for chopping.
I say: check

One 10-inch slicing knife–for slicing meat and poultry.
check

Two 3/4-inch paring knives–(one for you and one to share).
Share with whom? The Pampered Chef's "$1" paring knives are great. I wish they were still just a buck.

One serrated bread knife–for bread and tomatoes.
check

One boning knife–for deboning meat, poultry and fish.
Nope - I leave deboning to the butcher.

Knife sharpener (electric or stone)–to keep your knives very sharp.
I leave knife sharpening to the guy at the hardware store.

Knife block–to store your knives safely.
check, although I'd love to have those magnetic strips mounted to my kitchen wall to free up counter space.

One or two vegetable peelers–for potatoes, carrots and apples.
...and for slicing things really thin.

Three to five different sized rubber spatulas–for cleaning out bowls, folding ingredients or getting the last little bit out of jars.
Get silicone instead of rubber - it stands up better to heat (including the dishwasher).

Three to four metal whisks of different sizes–for mixing batters or sauces.
check

One to two plastic or wooden whisks–for whisking in non-stick pans.
None of my sauce pans are non-stick.

One ladle–for soups and gravies.
check

Three to four wooden spoons of different sizes–for use in your non-stick pans and for beating thick mixtures.
More like 5 (spoons and paddles), and bamboo is so much better than wood.

One metal spatula–for scraping roast pans and using on the grill.
...and scraping the cooktop.

One hard plastic spatula–for using in your non-stick pans.
Nope - use the bamboo paddles.

One slotted spoon–for removing items from water or oil.
check

One meat fork with a long handle–for the oven and barbecue.
check

One set of kitchen tongs–for moving around awkward or hot items.
I have two sets - one like this and one like this

Bulb baster–for basting and removing fat.
check

Meat thermometer–essential for making sure meat is cooked.
check

Kitchen timer–very helpful when you are busy.
check

Four-sided grater–for potatoes, cheese, etc.
check

Ricer or potato masher–for potatoes, squash, etc.
I say get both - I have a masher and really would like a ricer too.

Corkscrew–wine just wouldn’t be the same without it.
Get a vacuum pump too, unless you're going to finish every bottle you open within the next 24 hours. If so, call me!

Bottle opener–essential kitchen accessory.
Get the kind that doubles as a can puncturer (like for pouring broth or tomato juice).

Can opener–electric or hand is indispensable.
There's no need to get an electric one; they take up a lot of space and you can't throw them in the dishwasher. Most of the hand held ones today require little effort to turn.

Rotary egg beater–for beating eggs and batters.
Nah - Between whisks, my electric mixer and my Kitchen-Aid, I'm covered.

Rolling pin–for rolling out doughs, breaking ice and candy.
I use the wooden dowel from my paper towel holder - just wrap it in waxed paper or parchment first.

Flour sifter–for sifting flour and other dry ingredients.
I just use a wire mesh sieve.

One large metal or plastic colander–for straining or draining.
check

One small colander–for straining or scooping items out of pots.
I use a wire mesh sieve for this too.

One wire mesh sieve–for pressing solid or lumpy food through to get a smooth sauce.
I have a set of three - one's about the size of 2 tablespoons, one's about a cup, and the third is about 2 cups. I use them a LOT. The big one is great for rinsing that goo off of canned beans.

Two wooden cutting boards–for chopping food. (Wood is safer than plastic or glass because of its natural bacteria killing properties. It may be easier to clean plastic or glass cutting boards, but bacteria is killed in under five minutes on a wooden cutting board. Wooden boards are also better for your knives.)
I've switched to bamboo for these too.

Fire extinguisher–the most important kitchen utensil of all.
check

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

I also have to add:

parchment paper:
I rarely bake anything on my pizza stone or a baking sheet without first lining the sheet or stone with parchment paper. And I wouldn't dream of baking fish unless it's in a parchment packet.

kitchen snips:
These are great for cutting raw chicken into small pieces. It's a lot easier to cut up your chicken with snips before you cook it and add to a pot pie or other dish than to try to cut it with a knife when it's still steaming hot (Of course, I could just buy the precooked frozen chicken chunks and not have to worry about when to cut and how to cook, but that's something I reserve for dinner emergencies).

food chopper:
I've used the same Pampered Chef one for over 10 years now - it's the version they had before they had their own branded one. This is wonderful for chopping onions, mushrooms (I always chop up the mushrooms so they're not identifiable when I add them to a meal when the Bear is eating with us), carrots, garlic (before I started buying the minced garlic in a jar), and to make our meals bite-sized for J.J.

rubber grip for jar lids:
One of the best give-aways you can grab at the Southern Women's Show or other convention/trade show. I got a really neat Smucker's one at a booth at the Country Music Marathon this year. These have proven indenspensible to remove bottle and sippy cup lids. Who would have throught that juice transforms into superglue when it's stuck between a sippy cup and the lid?

What can you NOT live without?

Phrase of the week

"Good stuff!"

...usually after J.J. takes a bite of something he REALLY likes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Unlunchables

Even though I have so many more options for lunch now, they appear to be dwindling... At this rate, I'll be bringing something from home or driving to Cool Springs to eat before year's end.

So, without further ado, here are the places in Brentwood where I won't be having lunch again any time soon because my last experience was just THAT BAD:

O'Charley's. I sat down, immediately ordered my drink (lemonade - they don't serve Coke) and a salad. 45 minutes later, no salad. The fact that I didn't have to pay for my lemonade and I left with $20 in certificates won't get me back there any sooner (especially since the waitress and manager both PROMISED they would at least get me my salad to go and didn't).

Back Yard Burgers. Oddly enough, this visit was the same day as the O'Chuck's fiasco. I still needed to eat, so I decided to grab some fast food. The drive-thru line wrapped around the building, so I went inside to get something to go. Even though there was no one in line, I waited 12 minutes before someone took my order and when I ordered a Dr. Pepper (again, no Coke), they handed me an empty cup which I took to the soda fountain, only to find there was no Dr. Pepper at the self-service drink station. After trying for several minutes to get someone's attention behind the counter, I left without a drink and threw my burger away as I walked out the door. I guess lunch just wasn't something I was supposed to do that day.

Joey's. This one makes me sad, because I really like Joey's pizza. And calzones. And spinach rolls. But, after two bad visits in a row, I'll be driving to Gio's in Nolensville, where the pizza is just as good (actually, it's better). At least there, I've never been harassed because I wasn't paying with cash (note to Joey's: if your credit card machine is out of commission, consider placing a note on the door to alert your customers rather than waiting for them to order and get to the cash register where they are met with a major eye roll when offering their debit card) and I've never received half of my meal and been told I didn't order the other half when I asked about it and I've never spent 30 minutes waiting to get a reheated piece of pizza (no, I don't mean waiting in line, I mean waiting at the table after I had waited in line, ordered and paid - maybe I should have realized things were slow when the guy who was getting his food as I was paying for mine asked that they just wrap it to go).

Puffy Muffin. I seriously doubt I'll be talked into going back any time soon. The one item on their menu that I just can't live without (ginger tea) is in their cook book and I've successfully made it at least a dozen times, plus there's decent tortilla soup, poppyseed cake, and chicken salad elsewhere. This one makes me sad too, because I've been a customer for almost 14 years and have used their catering services and convinced my husband to go there with me and defended their sketchy service the other times it wasn't up to par ("It's not usually like this...", "S/He must just be having a bad day...", "I've never waited so long to get a refill on my tea...").

Hmm... Maybe I need to investigate what it would take to get a PB on this side of town.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Phrases of the week

First, it's a sing-song "uh-oh!" when something "falls" to the ground from J.J.'s highchair, stroller, car seat, etc.

It's followed by a sweet, emphatic, "Than-duh!" (that's "thank you" in J.J.-speak) when I hand him whatever it was he threw down just so I could pick it up for him. Well, I pick it up and hand it back to him the first time, just in case it was an accident. :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Another useless rule

"I before E except after C and when pronounced "A" as in neighbor and weigh..."

Unless you're using one of these words:

their
weird
financier
protein
ancient
conscience
deficient
efficient
glacier
omniscient
proficient
species
sufficient
science
society

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dear Confederate South,

You may not have heard, but the Civil War is over. The Union won. Please try to put this behind you so we can move on.

yours,

Linda

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Let's go Krogering...

A long, long time ago, I decided I was going to compile my grocery list (arranged by the order I walk through my neighborhood Kroger) in a spreadsheet. The plan was to list the things I buy all the time, along with their regular price. Then, I was going to scan the weekly Kroger and Food Lion (unfortunately, the only other grocery store near our house) sale fliers and get the stuff I always buy at the best price each week, plus stock up on things that are stock-uppable when they were a great bargain (like Juicy Juice for under $2 a bottle).

As you very well may have guessed, it never happened.

But then, those crafty (and not in the Martha way) ladies at Home Ec 101 posted a link to mygrocerydeals.com. And I added a star to the post in my Google Reader and it sat there waiting for me to get back to it.

Which I finally did. Now, I have my list (in a spreadsheet, arranged by the order I walk through Kroger). I'm still adding price information, but I also have a list on mygrocerydeals.com which I can compare to the sales ads for Kroger, Food Lion and Publix without having to go to each store's site.

Now, if I could just find some time to get to the grocery store...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Phrase of the week, week 2

This week's winner: "See ya!", accompanied by a wave after J.J. slid himself (feet first) down the side of the bed and scampered off to find shoes to put in the dog's crate. So much for story hour.

First runner up: "Oh! Yes!!!", when I handed him his Elmo cell phone, which he hadn't seen in at least 3 days.

Honorable mention: "Ohhhh...", when he was spritzed by the water fan by Aunt Jeanne on July 4th.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Just in case you were worried

I think I solved the problem/inconvenience of my Blogger account being tied to my old gmail address by adding myself as an author to my own blog.

Of course, it didn't work at first, because you add new authors by email address and since I had already changed the email address in my Blogger profile to my "new" email address, Blogger didn't send me an email inviting me to join since I was already the blog's author. Of course, Blogger never said, "You're adding yourself, dingbat," so I just thought it was broken. Eventually, I thought about it and changed my profile email back to the "old" address, invited myself with my "new" email address, accepted the invite, and changed the old profile back to the new email address.

You did realize this was not going to be a "simple" fix, right?

Anyway, no more signing out as LindaDub, signing back in as DblU, posting, having DblU take over my iGoogle (I hate that name, btw) and my Reader that are open in other tabs, closing everything down and starting back up. But, there are officially two of me now. Because sometimes one just isn't enough. :)

Google Reader Makes me Lazy

I think it's safe to say, I've made it pretty clear how I feel about Google Reader. Although, the fact that search is non-existent in this Google tool has gone from being a chuckle-inducing bit of irony to a flat out gaping hole in the product's functionality, especially since Google desktop doesn't pull results from Reader.

Anyway, I digress (big surprise, huh?).

Back in the old days (pGR: pre-Google Reader), I would see things out on the internets that interested me and I would either immediately post a little blurb (ok, usually just a link). Or, I would save the link as a draft and come back to it relatively soon and write a little more about it. Because every time I signed into Blogger, there was that draft staring at me, begging to be published.

Now, not so much. My quick hits are shared and show up either in that little widget on the left or in the RSS for my shared items, if you subscribe. No comments from me or the peanut gallery on those. And the others? Well, the others are starred in Reader so (in theory) I can get back to them when I have a little time and throw some words together and post them on my blog. In practice, they sit in my starred items area until they stagnate and die.

So, I'm actually going back through my starred items and reviving some of them, and putting the others out of their misery. Just to warn you, things might seem a little retro for a while...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Phrase of the week... week one

So, J.J.'s walking and talking and growing and changing by the minute.

He's picking up new words every day. Last week, the word was "tickle" (two weeks ago, it was "NO"). Actually, it was "Tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-KULLL!". So, we tickled him a lot. And he tickled the dog and the cat and his daddy and me.

And I walked around the office thinking "Tick-a-tick-a-tick-a-tick-KULLL!" and smiling a lot.

What will it be this week? I can't wait to find out. If daddy has his way, it will be, "Mommy, my new shoes may be great for my feet, but daddy says they're fugly."

Gator Wrasslin'

When we were in Florida (was it really only two weeks ago?), J.J. learned the ins and outs of wrestling with gators... Not shown, the busted lip from the face plant on the gator... It healed quickly, thank goodness!
Gator wrasslin'

(more vacation photos here)