07 January 2017

Weekend Cooking: Changes in My Kitchen

The Kitchen Journal: What's New in My KitchenWhen I sat down to write this post, I wasn't at all sure what I was going to say. After the last six weeks of holiday cooking, I had no new cookbooks or recipes I wanted to try. Once we finished up the leftovers from our New Year's Eve party, we spent the rest of the week eating light, light, light.

Then while I was cleaning up the kitchen one night I started thinking about some of the changes we made during the last 18 months or so and what we hope to do this year, starting with my plans for spending one of my kitchen-shop gift cards.

I should at least mention the electric pressure cooker, which was new to me last year. You'll read all about my experiences with it and how it compares to my old friend the stovetop model in a future post. In the meantime, here's what's happening in my kitchen.

Cast Iron

The Kitchen Journal: What's New in My KitchenMany years ago I bought eight cast iron skillets at an estate sale. Once I cleaned and reseasoned them, we used them intermittently with our copper-bottomed stainless-steel pans. Then came the no-stick pan decade. Yeah, clean-up is easy, but after a while, no matter how careful we were, we noticed the plastic started to wear off and, one by one, the pans had to be replaced.

Early last year we stopped buying new ones and have turned back to our trusty cast-iron and safe stainless-steel. We use our cast-iron for everything, from roasting chicken and veggies to frying eggs. And you know what? Our well-seasoned pans are virtually no-stick and clean-up is a breeze: wipe them out, add a little oil, and place them in the oven for 10 minutes. I can't figure out why we fell for the no-stick hype.

Ditching the Plastic

The Kitchen Journal: What's New in My KitchenSometime in 2015 I was dealing with the stack of cheap plastic containers that seemed to fill an entire cabinet. Many of them were discolored, some were missing lids, and I had already developed a healthy skepticism about using them in the microwave. In a fit of "what the heck are we doing?" we tossed all the containers in a bin and hauled it down to the basement. I resurrected our glass and porcelain refrigerator dishes, and we bought some additional pieces as needed.

Even though glass is heavy and breakable, we haven't once regretted making the switch, even when one of us has to pack a lunch. I love cutting down on plastics, though we still use plastic bags and plastic wrap.

Replacing My Egg Cooker

The Kitchen Journal: What's New in My KitchenIn the #$%^ years since I rented my first apartment, I've always had an egg cooker. Sorry, you can't convince me that I don't need it. The first two were made by Sunbeam and each lasted many more years than most small appliances do. My second one bit the dust last month and I set out to replace it. Not an easy thing, as it turns out. I bought and returned two units before I tried the Cuisinart.

Right from the start this little machine made perfect hard-boiled and poached eggs. I even tried the small omelet pan that comes with it. Okay, so not quite the omelet you'd make in your *cast-iron* pan, but kind of nice to let the machine do the cooking for me. And easy-peasy clean-up too.

In the Future

As I mentioned, I have a gift card burning a hole in my pocket. Although I'm mostly a coffee drinker, I like hot tea in the afternoon during the cooler half of the year. I usually drink some kind of breakfast tea (Irish, English, estate), but occasionally I go for green tea or chai. I'm still boiling my water the old-fashioned way, using a whistling tea kettle I got as a Christmas present a long time ago. At least part of my gift card money is going to a stainless-steel kettle with different temperature settings. As for spending the rest of the card? Hummmm, I'll have to see what catches my eye.

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.


Tina 1/7/17, 7:26 AM  

Happy new year! First of all, just the mention of taking things to your basement made me remember having a basement when I lived in PA and Michigan, I miss that space and a cool place for wine.
Anyway.....I had been thinking of swapping out our plastic food containers too, for the same reasons you mentioned. But I'm fairly clumsy and worried about breaking the glass containers. Food for thought, haha.
Never knew about an egg cooker but now I am looking at them online!

Mae Travels 1/7/17, 7:40 AM  

The range of appliances that people love and use (or don't) is fascinating. The egg cooker and electric pressure cooker seem to be favorites of yours, but in some kitchens they would stay on the shelf until they were relegated to the basement. Slow cookers, popcorn poppers, crepe makers... I know people who swear by them -- and others who don't. As a big fan of my electric kettle (recent replacement for one that wore out) I suspect you will like it when you get it -- but maybe you'll just see it as a countertop space hog. I didn't like the stovetop kettle because it always got splashes from the frying pan.

best for a good New Year from ... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

rhapsodyinbooks 1/7/17, 7:43 AM  

So true about the non-stick stuff losing its non-stick-ness! And I am wary of plastic also even for storage but I still use them for that if not in the microwave.

bermudaonion 1/7/17, 8:21 AM  

We're turning to our cast iron skillets more these days too.

Molly 1/7/17, 9:03 AM  

I never knew there was such a thing as an egg cooker - now I think I have to own one :)

I made the decision to ditch plastic last year, and I only regret I didn't do it sooner.

My son just received one of those stainless steel kettles for his birthday and absolutely lOVES it! His wife uses one setting for tea, and he uses a different setting for his French press coffee. I hope you write a review for us after you've had a chance to use it.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 1/7/17, 9:08 AM  

Our household is on track with cast iron and glass over plastic (although some plastic still goes into the freezer) I completed the grain mill and upgraded mixer a couple years ago and so this year my kitchen changes are a return to homemade bread with whole grains, and reduced meat consumption to equalize the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 fats.

Louise 1/7/17, 9:17 AM  

I'm planning on cleaning out my plastic cupboard this week. I try to have sturdy durable plastic for taking salads and things I don't heat to work. I really don't like microwaving food that's in plastic (although will use the glass containers with plastic lids. I try to cut down on plastic wrap and single use plastic as much as I can. I've never heard of an egg cooker either, but love doing boiled eggs in a saucepan, so don't think I'd use one.

Karen White 1/7/17, 9:20 AM  

I love the idea of getting rid of the non-stick in favor of cast iron - am going to see if I can push for that change, too. I'm sure that the non-stick is leaching terrible things into the food, even the fancy ones I got last year.

I drink herb tea all day long when I'm working and have absolutely loved the electric kettle I got for my birthday a year ago. I was always walking away and leaving the kettle on the stove going before...

If anyone has a suggestion for a good thermos to keep a full pot (or two) of tea hot in, I'm disappointed with the one I currently have. It is stainless (again avoiding plastic) but barely holds the heat in at all.

Happy New Year!

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 1/7/17, 9:31 AM  

Now that I have pet birds in my house I don't use non-stick cookware. If heated to a high temperature (ie over 400F), the coating gives off odorless fumes that are toxic to birds and I'm sure it's not good for people either.

I have never gone the cast iron route and have always used stainless steel cookware. I keep saying I want to buy a few pieces. Never thought about trying an estate sale. Recently I inherited some Pyrex cookware and like it way more than I thought I would.

I hear you about the plastic containers. They are clogging up an entire shelf in my kitchen and I probably only use about 10 of them regularly.

Esme 1/7/17, 9:49 AM  

Happy New Year-everyone should have a good kettle in the house. Not sure if you need different temperature settings though-this is from a tea drinker. I do not touch coffee. I do like my cast iron skillets. Do not laugh I bought a kitchen aid food processor a year ago and just opened the book in December-while it will not find a permanent home on my counter it has seen a lot of use. We were having the discussion last night-no lid for a plastic container-out it goes-I just get the disposable ones so once they are stained they get tossed without regret.

Claudia 1/7/17, 10:48 AM  

I've had those thoughts about "no stick" pans as well. Just where does the coating go over time? Right, into your food. Yuck. And good idea to replace the plastic containers with glass if you're not clumsy like me. I usually re-use the empties food comes in, though my old Tupperware is looking bad.

Deb in Hawaii 1/7/17, 11:30 AM  

Great post. I have been slowly weeding out the plastic for glass and have a large cast-iron pan but still need some smaller ones for more frequent use. I've not tried an egg cooker before but it looks like fun and a teapot with temperature settings would be lovely as I am always trying to guess-time different temperatures for my tea and coffee choices and to grab it before the boil! ;-)

Vicki 1/7/17, 12:21 PM  

I love cast iron skillets!

Now I have to buy me a Cuisinart Egg Cooker.

Katherine P 1/7/17, 1:17 PM  

I'm curious about the egg cooker. Eggs are kind of my nemesis because I have no idea what to do with them but this sounds like it'd take all the worry out of it. I'm in the process of changing out cookware as well. I got married right in the middle of the nonstick cookware decade so almost everything I had was nonstick but most of them have died and I'm trying to figure out what really works for me.

(Diane) bookchickdi 1/7/17, 2:20 PM  

We bought cast iron skillets for our vacation home and my husband loves them. I bought an Instapot a few months back and so far I am loving it. I anticipate I'll be using it much more in the cooler weather.

TP 1/8/17, 2:33 AM  

We haven't quite ditched the plastic containers quote yet (for the kids) but use primarily glass and porcelain now. The plastic we send out with the kids when necessary. I'm eyeing an Instant Pot ... but still have sentimental attachment to my old pressure cooker, so that's not going anywhere!

Tanya Patrice

Unknown 1/8/17, 8:10 AM  

Happy New Year! I'm so glad I found your blog. Thank you for hosting this linkup! it looks great. Nothing like organizing your kitchen to start the year :) I never thought of having an egg cooker! I'm such a neophyte when it comes to kitchen gadgets! Thanks for sharing!

JoAnn 1/8/17, 10:09 AM  

I think you need a spiralizer! I'm using mine a lot lately, mostly for zucchini and sweet potatoes. Hope to post about it soon :)

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf 1/12/17, 12:20 PM  

Great post! I have a whole upper cabinet filled with plastic as well as half a lower filled with glass containers. Sometimes I think I should consolidate and get rid of the plastic but they do come in handy. We only use them for leftover storage etc though and never microwave. If I know it's a leftover I'll need to microwave individually (like soup) I put that in glass.

You do make me rethink my teflon though..

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