A great meal starts with proper food preparation. At a restaurant, the head chef has a team of workers who chop, slice, and mix, so that he or she can put the final meal together. In your home, you may not be so lucky, but having the right supplies on hand can make your job a whole lot easier. If you want to improve the quality of your cooking, keep the following tools in your kitchen:
Every wonder how restaurants get thin, perfect slices of vegetables? They probably have a mandoline slicer. These hand slicers are great for cutting smooth pieces of potatoes and other foods, even if your knife skills are not world class. They can even be used to cut thin slices of meat that has been frozen in some cases, and are relatively inexpensive and very easy to clean, so there is really no reason not to have one.
If you are anything like the typical home cook, chopping fresh garlic is probably one of your least favorite tasks in the kitchen.
It can be difficult to get the pieces fine enough without a grater and it makes your hands and the cutting board smell for hours. One remedy to this problem is a garlic press. With a garlic press all you have to do is load the garlic, choose your setting, and grind the garlic through. Look for one that has multiple settings, since you may want larger or smaller chunks, depending on the recipe.
You do not need a rice cooker to make rice, but it definitely makes the job easier. Rice is notoriously hard to cook, since bad timing can mean that the grains start to get extremely mushy. A good rice cooker can really make the difference in your meals.
You can make almost any kind of rice in a rice cooker, and it can be eaten as is or used in hot meals or even sushi.
No home chef should be without a great knife set. Most knife accidents in the kitchen happen because the knife being used was too dull or was the wrong blade for the task. Choose a knife set that has at least five to ten different sizes and kinds of knives so that you are prepared for any task. Also, do not forget to also purchase a sharpener, as well as a nice set of cutting boards to save your countertop from scratches. Typically, natural materials make better cutting boards than plastic, but it depends on the size and type of board you want.
Deli slicers are not just for delis anymore! More and more home chefs are purchasing slicers, which are great for cutting cheese and meats. With a deli slicer, you can save money, since you will be able to purchase your sandwich supplies in bulk. You can also use your the slicer for other tasks, such as chipping meat that has already been cooked, slicing thin pieces of potatoes or other vegetables, and shaving frozen, raw fish for sushi or other raw meals.
Having a juicer on hand at home can really change how you think about drinks. With a juicer, it is extremely easy to create old standbys, like orange juice and lemonade, as well as completely new concoctions that could turn into family favorites. Haven’t you always wanted to try lime-plum-orange juice? Juice is not just for drinking either. You can make your own fruit and vegetable juices to be the bases for marinades, sauces, salad dressings, and more.
Ice Cream Maker
The prep work for ice cream takes a long time if you are making a traditional batch with ice and rock salt. An ice cream maker streamlines the process, though. With just a simple recipe, you can create a creamy, sweet treat for your family. Ice cream makers save you time as well. While the old style can take hours to churn the dessert, newer makers take just a fraction of that time. Keep in mind that you can also use your ice cream maker to make ice cream for ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches, root beer floats, and more, so don’t feel limited to making cone after cone.
It is very difficult to be a great chef without the right tools. Professionals may have culinary training, but at the end of the day, half of the battle is prepping the food with the right supplies. Start adding to your kitchen piece by piece, and before long, you will have a wonderful stock of equipment that would make even Bobby Flay jealous. Investing in supplies for your kitchen is one of the best ways to become a better cook.
Eat Big to Get Big!
For children between the ages of four months and two years, food must be specially prepared. After all, infants and newborns aren’t quite ready to graduate to table food, and for parents who choose to breast feed, that process can only continue for so long. However, in a world where so many are switching to fast and convenient as the most important factors in a diet, it’s important to remember the impact of those formative years on a child’s nutrition well into their adult life.
The first years of a child’s life are crucial for getting the proper start, especially while so much growth is taking place. Babies are growing and maturing at a rapid rate, developing their coordination and learning about the world, and it is important that children receive the right kind of fuel to take on each new and exciting day. Therefore making the right choices in nutrition is a crucial component of parenting, just as important as ensuring that your child has a safe and healthy environment for playing and sleeping.
While purchasing baby food has been a long standing tradition in parenting, more and more parents are opting to make at least a portion of the food they serve their children at home. Making baby food is an excellent choice on a number of different levels. Many children have food allergies, and preparing food at home makes it easy to single out what potentially troublesome ingredients are. Furthermore, a great deal of store-bought baby food has additives, and preparing your own meals is a great deal healthier.
Making food at home for your young child is more than just healthy, it’s often economical, too. With more and more households pinching pennies and all of the other costs associated with a newborn enough to worry about as it is, taking a bit of time and saving a lot of money is certainly incentive enough to try the do-it-yourself approach.
One important fact to remember: The World Health Organization and The American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that, until six months of age, children be breast-fed. This is the optimal source of nutrition, and prevents later iron deficiency. Try to keep that in mind when making your food choices.
The best way to tell if a child is ready to start solid foods is by paying attention to what stage in development he or she is at. Are they able to sit up and fight the urge to push solid items out of their mouth with their tongue? Then it’s time to begin on solid foods.
An important thing to remember regarding babies and food is that their bodies have not yet been introduced to more complicated foods, so that digestion is another factor in choosing what to prepare first. Many parents start out with pureed apples, bananas, and pears, as they are easy to digest and provoke few allergic reactions. Popular vegetables for children include sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and carrots, for much of the same reasons.
When babies are starting to eat, an excellent first recipe is cooked and pureed carrots. A root vegetable packed with beta carotene and vitamin C, as well as calcium, carrots provide much of the nutrition that children need to grow. First peel the carrots, then steam them. After that, pureeing them should be a breeze.
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