Kitchen Chronicles

Cooking is one daily chore I really enjoy. I usually prepare breakfast and dinner and occasionally lunch. By some stroke of luck, we have a great kitchen. It has plenty of counter space (there is no such thing as plenty of cabinet space in any kitchen). It's small enough to have everything within reach when I'm cooking alone, but it's big enough we've had four people working comfortably at the same time cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Having the right tools makes cooking a pleasure.

I love cutting boards. I would collect them, but Kathy discourages hoarding behavior. We have a nice large maple cutting board, a large plastic cutting board, a glass one and a small plastic one. I really like the wooden one for chopping and dicing vegetables. We use the large plastic one for cutting meat and then clean it with a bleach solution. The glass one is mostly for carving roasts, chickens and turkeys fresh from the oven, and the small one is for slicing cheese, making sandwiches and general use when we don't need a large one.

Good knives are essential. We got rid of all but three of our knives when we moved out here. The ones we kept were wooden handled and had been my mother's for most of my life. One is a short paring knife, one is a long paring knife and one is an eight inch slicing knife. The blades are thin and I don't know about the quality of the steel, but they sharpen easily and hold an edge very well. Shortly after we moved here we bought a set of two cheap kitchen knives at Dollar General Store. One is about four inches long with a wide blade, the other is a short, very pointy thing. They both come in handy for specific tasks and do a good job. I found a Miracle knife out in the pump house and cleaned it up. It is ten inches long, has scalloped serrations and a fork on the end. I think it was intended as a carving knife, but I like it for slicing bread. The most important knife in the kitchen is a good quality chef's knife. I have two. One is an eight inch Kitchen Aide that my brother Randy gave me and the other is a Swiss Victorinox I bought on Amazon. Both are extremely good, professional quality knives.

With all of those knives, using a whetstone is impractical. I bought an expensive Chef's Choice XV electric knife sharpener. It re-bevels blades to fifteen degrees, rather than the thirty degrees standard on most knives. After sharpening my knives with this machine I had to buy a Kevlar glove and a stainless steel finger guard. Aside from the bandaids on my fingers, good sharp knives are a pleasure to work with.

I also have four cast iron skillets in different sizes that were my mom's and I use them constantly. Cast iron may seem like a cult thing, but I wouldn't be without it. I've tried non-stick skillets, but I always go back to my cast iron.

Something else we got rid of when we moved were our Revere Ware pots and pans. At the time it was about down-sizing and uncluttering our lives. Bad move. After two years of nonstick pans, we tossed them and I bought thirty-six pieces of antique Revere Ware on eBay. We now have multiples of pots and pans from 3/4 quart to twelve quarts with lids for each and every one. It makes for a storage problem in the cabinet, but there's nothing better for most cooking.

We also have a variety of utensils and small appliances, but they are too numerous to list here.

When you cook as much as I do, it's nice to have a kitchen that works with you.

Stephen P.


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