Back to Basics: Kitchen Essentials

II hope everyone is having a great week so far - it's Wednesday! Which is 2 days away from Friday! Yay!  Confession: I spent a good chunk of my morning think it was Tuesday, like this lovely lady, and had to check my calendar to ensure that it was, indeed, Wednesday.  At least the week is flying by, with or without my acknowledgment. Also, I promise I will do a vacation/Inn at Little Washington recap soon.  I'm blaming this awesome weather for my slacking. How about a gratuitous pup pic to make it up to you?

Here she is, begging for apples. She looks so crazy when she begs for apples since they're her absolute favorite food and you can't even say the word around her without her having a mini freak-out.

Anyways, we're not here to talk about my insane dog and apples, but we are here to talk about something equally important (because that other stuff is totally important, right?) which is kitchen basics.

Whenever I talk with someone who wants to start eating healthier, is struggling with their diet, or just wants to start cooking more, they all express frustration with the fact that they feel lost and don't know where to start.  Cooking at home is essential for a healthy diet and is even more essential for those on a gluten-free diet. Cooking at home means you control the ingredients which equals healthier, safer, and cheaper meals.  This sounds well and good and at this point most people are totally gung-ho about cooking healthy meals. They rush to the store, load up on ingredients, step into their kitchen, and then either freeze, get frustrated, or feel defeated.  At this point, most people just give up and accept the fact that they just "can't cook" and go back to their old ways. Well, I'm here to tell you that yes you CAN cook - everyone can cook if they have some knowledge.   After all, knowledge is power right? (how after-school special is that phrase?)

  

I know countless folks who, with the best intentions, have followed a recipe to the letter and still feel defeated. But recipes should work right? Yes, they should but what many people don't realize is that many recipe writers (myself included) assume that the reader has a general base of culinary knowledge. This can be incredibly frustrating to the new cook - what the heck is small diced? how do I saute something? emulsify-what?!

So in spirit of this, I'm starting a new series on the blog called "Back to Basics".  Each week, I will do a tutorial on one basic cooking technique with assistance from the husband (he is going to go all culinary school on you!).  We'll break it down, share tips, and hopefully, inspire you to get back in the kitchen.  The kitchen shouldn't be an intimidating place, it should be a fun and stress-less place.  Techniques take practice and the kitchen is a constant learning environment, so go easy on yourself and get ready to get in the kitchen.

Typical dinner - no recipes, just using some basic techniques.

Cooking for yourself or your family will change your life for the better -  better health, more wealth, and well, more fun!  To kick-off this series, let's do a quick rundown of some essential kitchen tools that will make your life so much better.  I did a previous post about kitchen tools here, in case you're interested.

Absolute must-haves: - a GOOD, SHARP, chef's knife (dull knives are dangerous and this makes prep go 1000x faster) - a good, medium sized non-stick pan - a spatula, spoon, whisk - salt + pepper (on every.single.thing) - a baking sheet - a grater, zester - measuring cups (liquid and dry), measuring spoons - a good cutting board
- kitchen shears - vegetable peeler - insta-read thermometer

That's a quick list of some essential tools and if you're interested, there is a similar list over at Real Simple that has a few more items. Get your knives ready because we're doing some chopping next week!

What cooking technique would you like to see here? It can be basic, semi-basic, or totally chef-y!