Category Archives: Kitchen Tools & Organization


I’m Brandie Kajino and this is my kitchen

This post is part of my “I’m __ and this is my kitchen” series of posts, in which fabulous home cooks dish a little about their cooking lives and their kitchens.  The goal is to get inspiration, ideas and insights from other regular people about shopping, planning, cooking and kitchen organization.  See more here.

I shouldn’t have to introduce this person because, in my opinion, everybody should already know the name Brandie Kajino, but just in case you haven’t had the good fortune to be familiar with my fellow Evernote Ambassador’s blog Spoon and Saucer, let me fill you in!  Brandie is a food blogger, a professional organizer, a wife and mom, and the Evernote Ambassador for Organization.  She is also witty, hilarious, and waging a war in favor of eating real food, which is something we can all get behind.  You can find her at

Name: Brandie
Age: 40

Location: Vancouver, WA (across the river from Portlandia… yes that one)

I love to knit, read, shop for antiques, and nap on Sundays

Do you follow a specific diet or food philosophy?
I am gluten-free, and so are most in my house. I’m mostly plant-based during the day, with dinner and eating out is less strict. Basically, I try to make great choices 80% of the time, so I can eat ice cream on the weekends. :)

How do you plan for meals?
I use Evernote, and I plan them by the week. Sometimes I even pitch that out the window and make breakfast for dinner. I have a secondary freezer that I use like a pantry, with meats, frozen produce and nuts. Honestly though? I like to improvise quite a bit.

How many people do you cook for?
3 (including me)

Does your family cook with you?  If so, who does what?
Not really. My husband does sometimes, but my 12 year old son isn’t that into it (yet). I’m the main cook, which is totally fine by me. It’s my zen place (with the exception being the very occasional cooking disasters).

How often and where do you get your food?
I shop 1-2x per week. I shop at three places mainly: Costco (LOVE it), and the local places Chuck’s Produce and New Seasons Market. Once in a while I go to WinCo.

Describe your kitchen.  What’s your favorite thing about it?
My kitchen is pretty cottage-y. The cupboards are painted white, and we have mostly stainless steel appliances, outside my pathetic stove (which hopefully will be replaced this year!) Our countertops are old. Really.really.old. I have two windows, which make it quite bright in the daytime, making artificial lighting pretty unnecessary most days.

How do you organize your kitchen?
This is always a work in progress. I keep the things I use the most close, and the extra pantry supplies around the corner in my small non-perishable pantry. I clean it out about every year (and it’s really overdue right now!)
I don’t over-organize and drive myself (and others) crazy. I keep things handy as much as possible.

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?
A new stove! My oven light doesn’t even work. *le sigh*

What ingredients do you always have on hand?
I have a fair amount of beans, oats, whole grains, pasta, garbanzo beans, and canned tuna. I’m also always ready to bake with assorted gluten-free flours, butter and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
I also keep a fair amount of eggs in the house, Japanese sauces, mayo, pickles, anchioves and nuts.
I also have a variety of nut oils, and assorted salts.

What ingredient is in your pantry that you’re not sure how long has been there?
Japanese noodles. We have some pushed to the back that seem a little suspicious.

Favorite dish to make?
Granola and spaghetti carbonara. Was I supposed to pick one?

If you could instantly master any dish on earth, what would it be?
A tart. For some reason it intimidates me!

What’s your biggest struggle in the kitchen?
Soup. Dear lord I need to be better. I’m getting there, but improvising in this way is pretty sucky.

Favorite tips?
Use the freezer as a pantry.
There can never be too much bacon.
The slow cooker is your friend, and is a real food dream tool.

Name 3 absolutely necessary pieces of kitchen equipment
My chef knife, cutting board, and the food processor.

Do you listen to music while you cook and if so, what’s usually on the playlist?
Not really. I usually listen to NPR News.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I wish more people would get in the kitchen and make something simple. I think it’s a shame that a lot of people don’t even know how to make scrambled eggs. It’s so much easier than people think, if they’d just try it. Have courage and get in there!

I’m Heather and This is My Kitchen

This post is part of my “I’m __ and this is my kitchen” series of posts, in which fabulous home cooks dish a little about their cooking lives and their kitchens.  The goal is to get inspiration, ideas and insights from other regular people about shopping, planning, cooking and kitchen organization.  See more here.

Name Heather Sidwell

Age 29

Location Farmington, MO

Occupation/Pasttimes? I am a stay at home mom and wife. I like to read, go geocaching with my family, and search for new music/bands to listen to.

Do you follow a specific diet or food philosophy? No specific diet. Even though I am not a great cook, I still make sure that my family has home cooked meals, made from healthy ingredients.

How do you plan for meals? I’m not a very creative cook, so I have to follow a recipe exactly to a T. I look on Pinterest for new recipes, and I use Cozi as a meal planner.

How many people do you cook for? Six

Does your family cook with you?  If so, who does what? I have four boys! The three that are old enough to help, love to! They all gather the ingredients for me. My eight year old measures out the ingredients, my five year and three year old takes turns putting the ingredients into the bowl and then they mix it. If no mixing is required, there is an assembly line in my kitchen. Like if we make tacos, my three year old will put the tortillas on a plate, then my five year old adds the meat, my eight year old adds the cheese, then I add the sour cream and wrap it!

How often and where do you get your food? I go grocery shopping every other Friday with my mom when she comes to visit! I live in a small town, so I try to shop locally. There is a small store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables at amazing prices!

Describe your kitchen.  What’s your favorite thing about it? Right now, we are temporarily renting a small house. We just sold our house in August and we are at our current home until spring. My kitchen is very small. I only have my essentials here, most is in my storage unit! My favorite thing about it, is my decor! It is decorated with cupcakes! I’m obsessed with all things cupcakes. I love that my husband is fine with my pink, girly kitchen!

How do you organize your kitchen? Organize? What is that? Seriously, with the lack of space, it’s hard to stay organized. I only have two cabinets designated for spices and dry goods. That’s ok with me, since we buy mostly fresh foods.

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be? I want more space! I  can deal with it for now, because when we move, I am making sure I have all the space I need!

What ingredients do you always have on hand? Chicken broth, dry kidney and black beans, pasta, white oats, tortillas, canned chickpeas, and hot sauce!

What ingredient is in your pantry that you’re not sure how long has been there? Everything is actually pretty new. When we moved in August, I gave my old neighbor pretty much everything that I had in my freezer and pantry.

Favorite dish to make? Pizza! I love the endless possibilities! Cheese, macaroni and cheese, bbq chicken, and you can even make desert pizzas!

If you could instantly master any dish on earth, what would it be? Authentic Pad Thai with tofu!

What’s your biggest struggle in the kitchen? My biggest struggle is that I’m not that creative. It’s hard for me to tweak a recipe to fit my own taste.

Favorite tips? I’m a total klutz, and I have broken so much glass! I found that you can use a piece of bread to clean up broken glass! Peroxide and baking soda is a great kitchen cleaner (make a paste out of the two.) You can clean pretty much anything and make it look new again.

Name 3 absolutely necessary pieces of kitchen equipment – Magic Bullet,  Kitchenaid mixer, and my griddle!

Do you listen to music while you cook and if so, what’s usually on the playlist? Yes! If my boys are in the kitchen with me, we usually listen to a pop station. If it’s just me, I prefer listen to metal and hardcore music. Arsonists Get All the Girls, Slayer, Otep, Horse the Band, and Terror are usually on my playlist.

I’m Dawn Casey-Rowe and this is my kitchen

This post is part of my “I’m __ and this is my kitchen” series of posts, in which fabulous home cooks dish a little about their cooking lives and their kitchens.  The goal is to get inspiration, ideas and insights from other regular people about shopping, planning, cooking and kitchen organization.  See more here.

I don’t even know how to properly introduce this week’s featured home cook.  Teacher? Ed tech guru? Sustainable, natural living aficionado?  Awesome as all hell?  That starts to scratch the surface.  Dawn Casey-Rowe is one of those people you find yourself asking, “How does she do it?”  Well, below are a few answers to some of those questions…in regards to cooking at home, that is.

Dawn Casey-Rowe


Scituate, Rhode Island

I teach high school social studies and have fun working for Learnist. I also co-own two locations of with my husband, Rusty. My hobbies include running, yoga, photography, blogging, sustainability, DIY, and gardening for food production.

Do you follow a specific diet or food philosophy?
I’ve been a vegetarian since middle school. I will cook meat for others, however. I do the best I can to source food locally, or grow it myself. I often go to the local farms, where I get produce, eggs, honey, and maple when possible. I also get as much meat as possible for my family at the farm down the street. We moved from an urban area into the woods, so this makes a lot more of this possible. Before, I’d go to farmer’s markets or local ethnic stores, and take trips out to the farm.

How do you plan for meals?
I see what fresh foods are on hand, and make things out of that. I also do a great deal of recycling of food–leftover generation so I can make them into new dishes for the next night. 

How many people do you cook for?
On a regular basis, I cook for myself, my husband, and the six-year old who eats very little. 

Does your family cook with you?  If so, who does what?
For the most part, I do the cooking. Once in a while we cook together. I’d like to start doing this more. Declan, who’s 6, likes to cut mushrooms and stir things. He makes his “masterpiece lumpy pancakes.” 

 How often and where do you get your food?
I try to stock up so that shopping is an option–at any given time, I can cook several meals out of my pantry. I go once a month or so, but I’ll stop locally for produce when necessary. I shop at a great many ethnic stores for things like spices and specific ethnic ingredients. By knowing where to source ingredients, I save a lot of money. Spices are a big one–in the grocery store, they’re very expensive. I can buy the same spices at the Indian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, or Japanese store for very little. Knowing which cultures use which ingredients is key to diversifying cooking techniques and sourcing ingredients better.  

Describe your kitchen.  What’s your favorite thing about it?
My kitchen is nearly a chef’s kitchen, and I’m grateful. We moved from a raised ranch with no kitchen storage a little over a year ago to this house in rural Rhode Island. The former owner had just redesigned the kitchen, and I couldn’t love her more. There’s a double-propane oven, a stainless steel French-door refrigerator, and pull out cabinets which are critical for me in organizing my ingredients. In my old house, I had to go up and downstairs for most ingredients, because only the very basics fit upstairs. This meant I even had to go downstairs for things like Crock Pots, and small appliances. Now, the things I use most can be upstairs.  Since the center island is in the middle and the stovetop behind, it reminds me of the line in a restaurant kitchen. It’s very efficient, and makes cooking a pleasure. 

How do you organize your kitchen?
Because I have so many specific ingredients for different styles of cuisine, I have a lot of stuff going on.  I’m a big fan of the Mason jar, and a series of inexpensive rectangle snap-shut containers that my local overstock store carries. I fill them with ingredients and label and stack them. I often shop in bulk so I put the leftovers downstairs in dry storage. The previous owner worked in retail, and had a bunch of store-quality shelves he left me, which gave me more room than I could ever imagine for stocking up dry goods and canning. 

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?
My kitchen has sit-at island, but is not a full eat-in kitchen. I like eat-in kitchens. My house is a ranch with an expansion, so what was the original parlor now serves as a dining room, and since it abuts the kitchen, it serves the purpose that an eat-in kitchen would. 

What ingredients do you always have on hand?
I worked my way through college in restaurants. This means I have a stock-up and rotate mindset. I don’t often run out of things. I keep so many types of things on hand that I can make most recipes that come up at any time without having to go to the store for ingredients, including ones with less frequently found ingredients. I have ingredients I can’t even translate and have labeled in their original language, like kalonji, amchur, hind, nori fumi furikake, and garam masala. 

What ingredient is in your pantry that you’re not sure how long has been there?
I just tossed a couple types of coffee I didn’t like but felt wasteful tossing before. Somehow, if something sits in the fridge or cabinet for a long time it seems less evil to waste. I know I’m joking, but I do try hard to limit waste–the average American household wastes 25% of our food, which I think is a truly awful thing. 

Favorite dish to make?
I don’t have a favorite dish to make. I cook many different cuisines, many ethnic. I’m a vegetarian, so I’m always looking for ways to convert important national dishes into a legitimate vegetarian version that doesn’t taste like someone forgot the main ingredient. 

If you could instantly master any dish on earth, what would it be?
I’m working on improving my Indian and Korean cuisine. I go back and forth into different areas of culinary interest. 

What’s your biggest struggle in the kitchen?
I am not very neat. I try to be neat when I cook and it doesn’t always work. Then, after working all day, I’m not usually in the mood to make it sparkle after enjoying my dinner. I drive my husband crazy. He’s really neat and efficient. I’m the opposite. 

Favorite tips?
Buy spices at the store representing the ethnicity that uses them most. Buy teas at the MIddle Eastern or Asian stores. Learn to read the names of the ingredients in their languages, so that you can shop with confidence at many stores. Make whatever you can from scratch–it’s usually simple once you practice. Never buy spice blends. You can make them with the big jars of spices you get at the various ethnic stores you’re visiting.  Get foods in season and learn to preserve them. It takes discipline, but the quality of the food is much better. I have a laundry list of things that I think people should never buy in the store–things that are simple. Why waste the packaging in the environment and load yourself up with preservatives? 

Name 3 absolutely necessary pieces of kitchen equipment
I could not live without my KitchenAid mixer–a couple years ago, I upgraded to the Professional model and gave my smaller one to my sister. I love my Cuisinart food processor, and my knives. Finally, I have Braun emersion blender that I nearly gave away years ago, but turned out to be the mainstay of my existence. It does so many things with its little gadgets. I almost always use my food dehydrator, as well. I need to process and preserve food when it’s in season, but it also does things like make fruit rollups, fruit and nut bars, and dried fruit snacks and my favorite kale chips. And I can’t forget about my yogurt maker, either. I know you said three. That’s five. 

Do you listen to music while you cook and if so, what’s usually on the playlist?
I do listen to music while I cook, and do many other things. Lately, it’s a range of female vocalists, but it changes from time to time. Sometimes I try to catch up on my TEDx talks and podcasts, too. Usually, just my favorite overused R’dio playlist that I throw songs on from time to time. 

Anything else you’d like to share?
There are so many foods you can make yourself better that stores would love to charge you a million dollars for–I make jams, my daily loaf of bread, yogurts, soft cheeses, hummus, taboleh, cheesecake, all kinds of soups, salsas. I also like to think of the best places to source food. I used to coupon shop for ingredients, but since I started farm shopping, getting things locally, and going to ethnic stores exclusively, I rarely have to go into the big store, except for  things like the bread flour and things. It’s a nice feeling. My family eats better, I rarely go to restaurants because I feel like my food is better–and if I do, I save up for one where a chef makes me think about the food.

I think getting back to our food roots is important. My students rarely know the genesis of most foods. One time, in response to their questions about my freakish looking lunch, I brought them apple butter, home-baked bread, and some cheese I made, and they thought they had witnessed a miracle. Another time, I planted seeds with them in Dixie cups and offered them 10 points on their final if they kept them alive–keep in mind these aren’t kindergartners planting beans in milk cartons, these are high school kids. The buzz about this activity was humbling. It made me realize how important the food movement is to all our families, schools, and the world, really. I’m a big fan of organizations like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson’s Food Tank. Food justice is important. I try by limiting waste and processed foods, and educating my students about these things, too.

I’m Lauren and This Is My Kitchen

I love kitchens.  I bet you never would have guessed that from someone with a food blog.  Crazy, right?  But anyway, it’s true.  I love kitchens.  The best part of Ikea is  the cinnamon rolls the kitchens.  I like to see the different styles, setups, color schemes, organizational trends.  I love appliances and pantries.

I also like seeing how people set up and get around their own kitchens.  When we moved into our house, I took the longest to unpack the kitchen.  There are so many choices that impact my everyday life there–what goes into which cabinet and how to arrange things so that they make sense to me and I can find them.  I also redo my pantry on a fairly regular basis, always trying to achieve some optimal level of organization.  Seeing what other home cooks do and how they work gives me ideas and inspiration.

So to help spread that around, I’ve started asking people to answer a few questions and share some pictures of their home kitchens.  I figured I’d be a good sport, and go first.

I’m Lauren and this is my kitchen.

I’m 30 years old and I live in Michigan.

Occupation and hobbies?
I have a few occupations–I’m an instructional technology consultant at the University of Michigan.  I produce content for Learnist, and I do freelance WordPress development.

Do you follow a specific diet or food philosophy?
Not all the time, but my general feeling is to “eat real food.”  We tend to cook from scratch using ingredients with names we can pronounce.  I’m prone to hypoglycemia (I have almost passed out in so many embarrassing situations–church, the grocery store, on the job) and tend to feel better when I eat a lower carb diet.

How do you plan for meals?
I drift back and forth between organized and random.  When I do plan for meals, I usually first think of things I’d like to make (a combination of new things to try and old things we like to eat) and then I write up a menu for the week in Evernote.  In the midst of my “organizational” swings, I buy based off what’s in sale and use Supercook and the contents of my Evernote recipe book to figure out meals based off those sale items.  Often I just buy ingredients I like to have on hand and then I make up the rest as I go along.

How many people do you cook for?
Most days, just 2–me and my husband.  Occasionally we have friends over, and a few times a year we do a huge to-do and cook for 40-50.

How often do you grocery shop?
Several times a week.  Usually at least once on the weekend for big things and then a couple times during the week for a few ingredients here and there.  I actually prefer multiple small shopping trips to one big one.  I actually really love shopping for food.

Describe your kitchen.  What’s your favorite thing about it?
My kitchen is in the back part of a 150 year old house.  It’s galley style, and long and we have delightfully high ceilings.  My favorite thing about it is actually a two parter: I have a walk in pantry that has a countertop (it’s where I do most of the prep for my baking) and our refrigerator is actually built into the wall, in a box that juts out into the mudroom.  It’s weird but awesome because it saves us so much space.

Do you have any particular methods for organizing your kitchen?
I keep the counters relatively clear.  There’s stuff on them in the pictures above, but generally, half that stuff is put away somewhere.  I like a lot of free space for when I need to chop veggies or roll out dough.  Beyond that, I organize the cupboards and pantry so that I don’t have to take too many steps to get to things I need.  And because I like to have a lot of platters and serving items but don’t want to have a ton of room in the kitchen, I use those as decorative items lining bookcases in the next room.

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?
I would cut down one of the walls and make it more open.  Galley kitchens are nice, but a little odd when you have multiple cooks.  Cutting down one of the walls would open it into the next room, create more connection and expand the space!

What ingredients do you always have on hand?
Outside of the basics like salt, pepper and olive oil, I always have the ingredients to make buttermilk biscuits at any given moment because you never know when your sanity will suddenly depend on having a biscuit in your hand in 30 minutes or less.  Also always some sort of pasta and a bar of dark chocolate.

What ingredient is in your pantry that you’re not sure how long has been there?
There’s a bag of almond flour in the pantry that is definitely less than a two years old but maybe more than one year.

Favorite dish to make?
Biscuits, clearly, because they are fast, easy and comforting.  But for actual dishes, probably chili and barbecue ribs.

If you could instantly know how to make any dish on earth, what would it be?
Chicken 65.

What’s your biggest struggle in the kitchen?
Keeping it clean.  Also, apple pie.

Favorite tips?
You can scoop pieces of egg shell out of your cracked egg with another piece of egg shell.  Chill cookie dough for a half hour before baking.  Grill your meat on a salt block.

Name 3 absolutely necessary pieces of kitchen equipment.
A sharp chef’s knife, a KitchenAid stand mixer and a cast iron skillet.

Do you listen to music while you cook and if so, what’s usually on the playlist?
Absolutely, and normally it’s classic Motown and R&B from the 60s and 70s–Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Smoky Robinson, Aretha Franklin, etc.  Occasionally it’s modern pop or rock, and sometimes classical.


Optimize Your Pantry: Using Supercook to Create a Menu

Supercook is an awesome little site.  If you’ve never tried it, what it does is help you find recipes using ingredients you specifically have on hand.  It’s great for a “Cook Your Cupboard” type thing, if you have ingredients sitting around that you’re not familiar with and don’t know how to use, or if you’re just looking for something new to try.  It can also help you save money by creating menus around sale items at your local grocery store.

Take your current grocery store sales circular.  For instance, I like to shop at Hiller’s, which is a local, southeast Michigan grocery chain.  I go through the circular and find main staple items that are on sale.  This week, I can see they have steak, greek yogurt, strawberries, chicken breast, portobello mushrooms, radishes, salmon, tortillas, cheese, sour cream, eggs, canned tuna and watermelon on sale.   I like most of those things; I almost never cook with radishes, though, so that kind of appeals to me as something new to try.  My goal here is to focus on these items, since they’re on sale, supplement them with a few things I always keep on hand (like rice and herbs/spices), and develop a dinner menu for the week that will give us healthy meals but also allow me to experiment a bit.Supercook__recipe_search_by_ingredients_you_have_at_home_and_Evernote So here I’d open Evernote and create a note with the list of items that are on sale and how much they cost.  If you prefer pen and paper, break out your trusty Livescribe pen or Evernote Moleskin notebook…or a sticky note or the back of a napkin, whatever works.

Now, go to  There’s an area called “My Kitchen” on the front page which lets you plug in specific ingredients, or you can choose them from a tag cloud in the center of the page.

I put in all the sale item ingredients and as I do that, it starts offering recipe suggestions that use at least one of those ingredients (and it tells you at a glance what other main ingredients you’ll need).  I can narrow down the results by category–for instance, dinner, salad, dessert, veggie, etc.  I can specify if I have a particular diet (i.e., gluten free, no dairy, etc).  I can also emphasize that I really want to use certain ingredients.

Supercook__recipe_search_by_ingredients_you_have_at_home-2 3

In this case, I put in the foods mentioned above and sorted through the results.   I made a weekday menu consisting of the following meals:

  • Yogurt marinated grilled chicken with braised radishes
  • Brazilian style skirtsteak with watermelon-lime salad
  • Bloody Mary salmon with salt-baked potatoes
  • Yogurt chicken curry with rice
  • Salmon salad wraps with marinated portobello

So once I’ve got some dish options that I think will work, I list the week’s dinner menu in that same Evernote note where my initial grocery list was.  So now I have a grocery list of sale items, plus the dish I’m going to make with it and the day I’m going to make it.  And I can also do this for breakfast, lunch and dessert.



Of course, the service isn’t perfect.  The interface isn’t the most gorgeous thing ever, it won’t have every single ingredient you can think to put in, and not every suggestion has pictures or is going to be something you really want to eat.  But it’s a great start for figuring out a menu cheaply and trying some new things.

Anyway, give it a shot–it might just help you organize your shopping, utilize your pantry more effectively and still experiment with delicious new dishes.




Marc’s Corner: Cooking with Cast Iron

I noticed that cast iron cookware seem to be making a bit of a comeback lately. And that is not a bad thing at all. My salute to the Food Network and a plethora of cooking shows out there for re-popularising cookware that has been with us for hundreds of years.

I am going to spare everyone an otherwise boring lesson on the history of cast iron cookware and get right down to the crux of it in this short article. You can find plenty of historical references on the interwebs. Continue reading


Marc’s Corner: More About Stainless Steel Cookware

I was having coffee with a buddy of mine some time back and we were talking about cookware. He popped a very interesting question to me. What the hell is this business with the 18/10 or 18/8 grade stainless steel that you see on some pots and pans?

It dawned on me that a lot of people who are not in the business of cooking may not know this as well. So here’s my take on this and hopefully it will shed some light on the subject and hopefully make some of you out there walk into your kitchen after reading this to take a closer look at your stainless steel pots and pans if you own them. Continue reading


Marc’s Corner: What You Should Know About Cutting Boards

I have been asked this question a couple of times and I thought it best to write a short one on the subject for the benefit of some of you out there who might have that thought crossed your mind.  So some people don’t give a hoot if they use a plate to slice their meat or vegetables on but as they say, right tool for the right job.

The two most common surfaces used for chopping boards are wood and plastic. Let’s explore the two and then you can decide for yourself which type suits your needs better. Continue reading


Marc’s Corner: Cooking with Stainless Steel {Guest Post}

Introducing guest posts from Marc, which I’m affectionally calling “Marc’s Corner.”

Marc is a fellow member/moderator of the Home Cooking community on Google+.  He’s also a semi-retired Food & Beverage professional-turned home cooking enthusiast.  He’s been kind enough to share some of his culinary experience and expertise to help you cook better in your own kitchen.

Some people seem to have this fear of cooking with stainless steel cookware choosing either a teflon or non-stick coated pot or pan over a stainless steel one. And I can understand where they are coming from.

Non-stick pans are a dime a dozen and some of them can be had for a bargain. Non-stick pots and pans literally endorses what the product stand for. Food does not stick on them. They are ideal for quick and easy frying, general cooking and they are definitely easy to wash.

Stainless steel cookware on the other hand is a different beast altogether. You need to treat them with a little respect. When not used correctly, food gets burnt and stick to the sides. Sometimes, it becomes almost an impossibility to remove.

On the other hand, stainless steel cookware is one of the most durable and versatile cookware invented by man. Modern and well made stainless steel pots and pans even come with a 3-ply base to distribute heat evenly.

I am not advocating stainless steel but it is my preferred choice and I hope this short article will convince you to try cooking with stainless steel if you haven’t already done so. You won’t become an expert at it overnight but over time and a little practice, I hope that you will truly appreciate its qualities.

First off, understand how stainless steel reacts to heat. Once you understand and learn how to control heat, you are practically  halfway there.


First rule of thumb, you must always pre-heat your stainless steel cookware. And I am not talking about turning up the fire for 5 seconds and  get going. Keep the heat steady and constant. No roaring fire please. Respect and master heat, do not let it become your master. Control is the keyword here. Ok, so this is starting to sound like something from a kung fu movie. But let me tell you this, it is.

Now that you’ve pre-heated your cookware, ow do you know it is ready? Test it with water. Let a few drops of water trickle onto the surface. If they start ‘dancing’ on the surface, you’re all set.

Add a small amount of oil, a teaspoon to a table spoon depending on what you intend to cook and let that oil heat up. Don’t go Rambo on me now and start throwing food in.  Wait till it gets hot and I mean smoking hot but not hot to the point when your cooking oil starts degrading and burning. You will know it’s ready when you see a wisps of smoke emanating from the surface. When you add meat in, it should be able to slide around. If the meat sticks, it’s not hot enough!

Why go through all this trouble you might ask? Stainless steel surfaces makes it easy for you to brown and caramelised food, retaining all those wonderful flavours that you think only those professional chefs in fancy and expensive restaurants can achieve. That brown stuff on the cooking surface is where all the flavours reside. Use it well. Well you’ve now moved one step forward.

With practice and the occasional screw-ups, your cooking skills will gradually improve and soon you will be able to bring out fantastic flavours from food that may even surprise you.

my cookbook

15 Ways to Save Recipes in Evernote

This blog post came to me in a dream last night.  Seriously.  In my dream, I created a list of 15 ways to collect recipes in Evernote.  This might be a sickness.  Or it’s a sign from God.  Or maybe in this case, Ganesh.

Organization is hugely important to me.  I like to have information in easily accessible, searchable, sortable structures and I need those structures to be sensible, flexible and, most of all, easy.  I’m very lazy, which is odd because I have a lot going on in my life, so I need the simplest solution possible.  That’s why I’m such a fan of Evernote.

I think about food all the time, and I’m always stumbling upon new recipes I want to try, new tips, new techniques, new ways of doing things—you know, information picked up from family, friends, magazines, books, the internet.  And all of that stuff means nothing if I can’t find it later on.  Hence, organization.

So here are all the ways you can pull recipes into Evernote….or any other information, for that matter.  There actually might be way more that I’m forgetting, but there are my go-to recipe-saving processes.

You can…

1. Type in a recipe.

2. Record yourself or someone else saying the recipe out loud.

3. Take a picture of a printed recipe and pull it into Evernote, or use the Page Camera in the Evernote app.  (This works for your cookbooks too!)

4. Scan in a printed recipe and send it to Evernote using a DoxieCanon ImageFormula or Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner.  (Example)

5. Email the recipe to your Evernote account using your private Evernote email address.

6. Clip a recipe from a webpage using the Evernote Web Clipper on your desktop computer.

7. Clip a recipe from a webpage using Dolphin Browser on your iPad.

8. Send recipes to Evernote using Instapaper, Feedly, Pocket or Zite on your computer or mobile device.

9. Automatically send recipes from your favorite blog’s RSS feed, your social network accounts, YouTube or your Pinterest boards to your Evernote account using an IFTTT recipe. (Example)

10. Write down a recipe using Penultimate, automatically syncing to your Evernote account, or use a similar iPad notebook app that will let you send a recipe to your Evernote account.

11. Write, or have your family and friends write, a recipe with your Livescribe Sky pen and have it automatically sync to your Evernote account.

12. Pull recipes from Say Mmm to your Evernote account.

13. Mail your massive stack of recipe tear-outs to Shoeboxed and let them scan them into your Evernote account.

14. Clip recipes from Evernote Food into your Evernote account.

15. Join recipe notebooks by your friends, family, or me!

Now…re-read that list again, only replace the word “recipe” with “receipts” or “bills” or “party RSVPs” or “documentation” or “interesting articles” or “stuff to buy” or “journal entries” or anything.

Yeah.  It’s pretty awesome.

Which Knife Do You Need?

If you’re curious about kitchen knives, and which ones to choose and why, keep an eye on this Learnist board I’m developing on that very same subject!  Coming soon: more knife types and tips on care and sharpening.  Knife skills are very important, but even the best cuts need a sharp instrument.

Doxie scanner sitting in a kitchen drawer

How I: Use Evernote and Doxie to Save Family Recipes {Guest Post!}

In the spirit of sharing helpful information from one home cook to another, I’m going to start a series of guests posts from home cooks talking about ways that they make their time in the kitchen easier, more efficient and more delicious.  (Are you a home cook interested in doing a guest post?  Email me.)

When Amanda (a fellow geek, foodie and Twitterer) told me about some of the ways she collects original, hand-written family recipes using Evernote and a Doxie scanner, I knew this needed to be shared with the masses.  Full disclosure: Amanda works at Apparent, the company that makes Doxie, so she knows all the best tricks to using it.  Check out her fabulous guest post below–it might inspire you to create a family recipe notebook of your own over the holidays!

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How I: Use Evernote and Doxie to Save Family Recipes by Amanda

I have various means of keeping track of my favorite recipes. I toss recipes into my Evernote “Cooking” notebook to keep track of everything. From cook books, saved PDFs, screen shots, magazine clippings, and handwritten family recipes, I like to have my entire catalogue on me at all times. As a cook, you never know when you’ll need ingredients or a recipe on hand.

Continue reading


Eating with Evernote: Auto-Send Recipes to your Evernote Account with IFTTT and RSS Feeds

As a tech-geek, I have long been a fan of the service If This, Then That (IFTTT–rhymes with “gift”).  IFTTT is a really easy way to connect the different pieces of your digital information puzzle.  It lets you automate the sending of resources and information from one source to another using easy-to-put-together “recipes”.  Recipes.  That’s a word we all know and love, right?  These recipes basically say, “If this trigger happens, then do this action.”

There are three main reasons that I love IFTTT:

  1. It’s easy to use.
  2. It connects to a lot of my favorite services.
  3. It works in the background, so quietly and smoothly I often forget it’s doing anything at all.

But it is doing something.  It’s being truly, utterly useful.  And now I’m going to show you some ways to make it utterly useful to the average home cook using nothing but variations on a single IFTTT recipe based on RSS feeds.  Simple, standard RSS feeds. Continue reading

stack of cookbooks

Eating with Evernote: Digitize Your Cookbook Collection

I don’t know about you but now that Thanksgiving is over, I am going full-speed into Christmas prep.  Why?  Pure survival.  December is a crazy month and I need to start early if I’m going to get anything done.  I mean, there’s so much delicious baking to do!

The keys to holiday success are simple: Be positive. Have fun. Stay organized.

We’re going to focus on that third one today.  I am all about an organized kitchen life.  It helps me feel more control, rather than devolving into culinary chaos, which helps me enjoy my time in the kitchen more.  Also, it means I get more cooking and baking done and that’s never a bad thing.  And I want to help you do the same thing using the best friend a home cook could possibly have: Evernote.

In this little episode of “Eating with Evernote,” I’m going to help you take one baby step towards organization, and one giant leap towards a happer kitchen. Continue reading