The Best Can Opener – In Praise of Simplicity

I walked up to the counter of the local convenience store and set my item on the table.  I mindlessly pulled out my wallet and reached for a $20 knowing that the $8.99 can opener would be more than the ten-spot I had once the taxman (woman?) got involved.

No.

The reply was unwavering.  It wasn’t a suggestion.  It was a command.  I looked up and didn’t know what to say.

The Best Can Opener   In Praise of Simplicity [Read more...]

An Introduction to Wet Chopping – and Why I LOVE it

When we bought a high-speed blender we were beyond excited.  We had been thinking of taking the plunge for years (and even had a jar to collect money that I left in my pockets and placed in the wash to put towards it) and we were pumped to get one.

I don’t know why we were so excited.  There was the promise of smoothies (it’s true that the blender is so fast that it will even blend strawberries seeds smooth!), the ability to puree hot soup and the ability to crush ice for cocktails.  These were all exciting ideas but not exactly reasons to invest in a significant piece of kitchen hardware.

When we bought the blender we watched the awful video that came with it.  Friends had warned us to watch the entire thing before using the blender less we’d risk personal injury or improper use that could burn the motor out!  We watched the video dutifully and found most of it to be mind-numbing.  Until the video introduced…. wet chopping!

I had never heard of wet chopping before.  It’s an easy way to quickly grate/ chop vegetables into little pieces in moments!  Here’s how it works:

  1. Place vegetables in the blender.  If the vegetable is large (like an onion), cut it into pieces.  If it’s narrow (like a carrot), place multiple carrots in the blender (I tossed 7 or 8 carrots into the blender last night).
  2. Cover the vegetables with ample water.
  3. Turn the blender on (generally on low).
  4. As large pieces of the vegetable are chopped into small pieces, the water carries the smaller pieces to the top of the blender and allow the larger pieces to hit the blades and get chopped.
  5. Strain the vegetables!

The water is important; it allows the small pieces to circulate and get out of the way of the larger pieces.

Wet chopping isn’t as ‘pretty’ as grating or chopping veggies by hand.  But it is convenient – I can chop an entire onion, a few stalks of celery and 3 or 4 carrots in less than 30 seconds.  On a busy weeknight that can be the difference between cooking from scratch or ordering in!

I’m pleasantly surprised at how often I use the high-speed blender; even more surprised at how often I use this technique!

We’ve Been Dating our Vitamix for 3 Weeks

After thinking about buying a high-speed blender for years, we took the plunge in August.  After weighing the options between a BlendTec and a Vitamix, we opted for the Vitamix and bought our blender:

Weve Been Dating our Vitamix for 3 Weeks [Read more...]

Quench App: Eliminating Bottled Water for Free in Toronto

On a quest to end the use of plastic bottles, a new smart phone app called Quench helps Torontonians find fountains, stores and other locations that will fill your reusable water bottle for you!

Quench App: Eliminating Bottled Water for Free in Toronto water technology

The Water Brothers (and they really are related) are co-hosts of a TV Ontario show of the same name.  Their focus is to draw attention to water issues across our planet.

The app shows two sources of water – confirmed locations that are official distributors of water as well as user-submitted locations to harness the power of the crowd.

We just loved the idea and thought you might too!

Julienne/ Matchstick Mandoline Review

Up until recently there have been two mandolines (a device used to cut food that is a cross between a cheese grater and a razor blade that, while very effective, it might be intimidating and/or dangerous without the right amount of experience and concentration):

Despite the limitations of the much more affordable hand slicer, it is a tool that I use 5-10 times a week.  I tend to use the Mandoline around 5 times a year (typically when preparing a large batch of preserves).

A few months ago I decided to buy this modified mandoline which cuts matchstick/ julienne style cuts:

Julienne/ Matchstick Mandoline Review gadget equipment [Read more...]

Kitchen Tool/ Accessory: Metal Chinois

We don’t have a lot of storage space so adding accessories to our kitchen is a activity that we do sparingly.  I had avoided buying a Chinois for a long time before I finally gave in.  After owning it for a few months, I can’t remember how I functioned without it.

Kitchen Tool/ Accessory: Metal Chinois gadget February equipment [Read more...]

Product Review: Wustof Classic Boning Knife

As part of cooking school, I realized I needed a proper boning knife.  I considered a few options ranging from $30 boning knives (that would have been absolutely fine) all the way to some pretty deluxe options.

I settled on the Wustof Classic Boning Knife.  It met my basic criteria: flexible without being floppy, good torsional rigidity (it bends but doesn’t twist) and most importantly, it just felt right.  Tools like these can last a lifetime and I’ve learned that if the more expensive one feels significantly better that’s worth my investment (in this case it was just over $100).

Product Review: Wustof Classic Boning Knife Wustoff Classic Boning Knife Wustoff Wustof [Read more...]

What’s in a Portable Kitchen (Small Wares) Kit?

Tonight is week 2 of my formal cooking education (I shared more about the class I’m taking last week).

Heading into class this evening I’m feeling excited as well as a little nervous.  I’m excited to learn and am thrilled to be cooking in a formal environment.  Any healthy nervousness comes from a combination of entering my first formal cooking education as well as a funny hesitation about wearing kitchen whites.  Tonight will be my first time ever actually wearing whites in a kitchen.  I’ve always viewed them as the uniform of the professional cook; many who I look up to wear them with fierce pride and I feel a little out-of-place putting them on.

Whats in a Portable Kitchen (Small Wares) Kit? gadget Cooking School [Read more...]

A Great Use for A Small Cast Iron Skillet

We have a 10-inch cast iron frying pan and we were short 1 pie plate:

A Great Use for A Small Cast Iron Skillet December

The frying pan made a great pie plate!  Cast iron retains it’s heat, the pan was well seasoned and prevented sitcking and it is really pretty.

Although this was out of desperation, this pan is probably my new favorite pie plate!

Product Review: Imperia Pasta Machine

We’ve had a few people ask, “What Pasta Machine do you use?” lately so we thought we’d share a little review.

I should start the review with what we don’t use – our old pasta machine.  We had used an older model that appeared to be a knock-off of a full-blown machine.  It was decent and had great results – for about a year.  It started to ‘stick’ a few months ago before I realized that the cutter blades for wide noodles had become misaligned.  Once this happens, the cutting action is rendered useless as the machine seizes before making a full rotation.

I turned to our friend, Italian Chef Massimo Bruno, for advice.  He looked me dead in the eyes and said a single word.

“Imperia.”

Product Review: Imperia Pasta Machine December [Read more...]