I thought I’d make a bit of a change and not talk about food this week. You may think this is a bit strange, being a blog about food and all, but bare with me… the recipes that I find the most useful are the usually the ones that emphasise how much time they’re going to save me. It’s all very well having a bookshelf full to the brim with lovely looking volumes, packed with the finest recipes known to humankind, but if it takes me one day of preparation and two days of actual cooking to create something then chances are, I’m only going to be using them maybe once a year. If I’m lucky.
So, this got me thinking about time saving in the kitchen, and how, for me, it’s not just about the simplicity of the instructions. When it comes to making sure cooking is less of a chore, the key thing is what kitchen equipment I use. I’m not talking fancy pants expensive, all singing, all dancing food processors here, just the simple things that make my life so much easier. And here they are…
The first things that spring to mind are knives. I’m married to a professional chef, so I have had the ‘importance of a good knife’ mantra spouted to me for many years now. I suppose we’re pretty lucky in that our household always has a supply of good quality knives, but I really cannot underestimate how helpful this is. How much quicker I can get through all that tedious vegetable chopping. How much easier it is to slice up meat. You don’t have to fork out a fortune for the very best, but putting aside a bit of money for a decent quality set will save you so much time – just make sure you look after them by sharpening them regularly and they will see you good in the kitchen for many, many years.
Not completely unrelated – a good quality wooden chopping board. There’s nothing more annoying than a lightweight, flimsy thing that keeps moving about when you’re trying to get your (blunt) knife through a chicken joint or an awkward root vegetable. Invest in a heavy block and you’ll never look back.
A decent non-stick frying pan. And when I say non-stick, I mean non-stick. Not a poor quality one that will leave a nice layer of non-stick coating on your food when you lift it out of the pan. If you want to master the perfect omelette, pancake, or fried egg, then you need the perfect pan.
A lovely big stock pot – you’ll never guess what I use this for…. (hint: the clue is in the name). Not only for boiling up those roast chicken leftovers to make, you’ve guessed it, delicious stock, but also great for generous portions of sauce and stews
I do, of course, use other things in the kitchen. In fact, I do have one of those aforementioned fancy pants, all-singing, all-dancing food processors. Which would be very useful if I wasn’t so scared of it. But for the everyday meals, the sort of thing that most of us will be trying to master, these are the utensils that make cooking that little bit quicker, easier and I suppose, tastier.