Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fast, Cheap, Healthy Eating

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4 comments:

  1. You recommended a knife. Culinary flame war time! :-)

    Seriously, though, if you have one knife it will have to be steel, because there are a few things ceramic knives can't do - namely, cut through bone and other hard materials, and they can only be used on soft surfaces (wood, plastic, or bamboo cutting boards - no stone, metal, or ceramic). However, we've got plenty of very good knives and the knives we use 95% of the time are our Kyocera Ceramic knives. The reasons are simple:

    1) They hold an extremely fine, sharp edge in a way that makes the best metal knives seem downright pathetic. Our "daily use" ceramic knives need sharpening about every two years. The big downside of this is that you have to send them back to the manufacturer for sharpening. This takes about two weeks (including shipping time), but they only charge shipping and handling (about $15 or so for the first knife, each additional knife for a few bucks more).

    2) They don't impart any flavor or increase the oxidation rate of your food. You're probably reading this and immediately dismissing me as a brain-dead hippie who believes any stupid thing they read on the Internet. No, I'm serious - I noticed this myself before I started reading up on it. You actually can taste the difference - especially in acidic fruits - and see the difference in things like sliced apples (they go brown much more slowly). Really strange and not something we expected when we bought them, but I'm always willing to take yes for an answer.

    3) They don't stain or rust, and nothing sticks terribly well to them.

    We had some very nice Henckels steel knives, and we were given a three piece set of Kyocera ceramics as a gift. We've expanded our collection of cermaic cutlery quite a bit since then. Aside from the steak knives (have to use metal on plates), the Henckels mostly gather dust these days. Our preference is so strong that we bought "backup" ceramic knives for the rare occasions when our main ones are out being sharpened.

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  2. I very much like the idea of cooking a lot and storing it for later as it would definitely save time on food preparations. I do have concerns though, how long do you keep it in the freezer before preheating it after- can it stay for say a week? We have tried it before but when I preheat it in the microwave- which is probably a bad idea as the food was still a bit cold even if it was already in the microwave for 20 minutes. Is it a better idea to heat it in a pan? Thanks

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  3. I enjoy cooking, although I'd never say I'm particularly good at it. But I cook all the time, and I have probably far too many pots, pans, knives, etc.

    Things I find indispensable or at least extremely handy:

    A dutch oven. If you are pressed for space you can forgo the slow cooker, any crock pot recipe can be made as well or better in a dutch oven. The only drawback versus a slow cooker is if you want to leave it cooking unattended, which may not be a good idea.

    At least three knives - a paring knife, a chef's knife for chopping and a boning knife, especially if you cook wild game.

    A steaming insert for a large kettle.

    A pressure cooker.

    A smoker.

    Over the long term having multiple cooking vessels for a variety of cooking methods makes cooking at home more interesting, and I will be less likely to eat out if I know I can cook just about anything myself.

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  4. Carol, How long food will keep in the fridge or freezer very much depends on the dish. But generally if you freeze something it will remain in the same state for much longer than a week. Whether you want to microwave or stove-heat a dish -- with or without refrigerator thawing -- again depends on the dish and the portion size. In my experience, microwaving smaller amounts, and stirring frequently, works better. (Don't use plastics!)

    Walter, Thanks for the tips. I never use a knife to cut bones, just because I tend to throw stuff in the crockpot, which nicely removes any remaining meat. I've found no need for a pressure cooker or a smoker, though I do have a nice steamer pan. -Ari

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