TOOLS

Although most of these items are not SPECIFIC to making these recipes, some of them make it so much simpler and quicker that, for me, they are a necessity. Most serious cooks will already have these item or similar tools to do the job.  If  you don’t have them you might consider purchasing them if you are serious about changing your cooking and eating habits. I would have you try many of the recipes first to be sure you want to go this route – why spend $$$ on stuff you won’t use later?!?!

1. LARGE NON-STICK STIR-FRY PAN with a lid and/or a 12″ non-stick frying pan with a lid.  You can probably use what you have.  I’m sure you have favorites.  I have ‘a 5 year old  12″ Analon stir-pan from Crate and Barrel with a lid (about $40) that holds about 16 cups of food.  I also have two 2 year old “GreenPan”s (TM) frying pans with lids, one 8″ and one 12”, that I got as a gift that are WONDERFUL!  (Thanks, Karen!) It came from Home Shopping Network, the only place I could find them (I did a search so I could buy some for a wedding gift for someone special).  They cook extremely well due to their heavy metal core that holds and distributes the heat AND they have a ceramic finish that is absolutely non-stick, making clean-up a breeze!  Be warned, they are pricey  —-but I have used at least one of  them almost daily for nearly 2 years and they are holding up very nicely! Look and cook like new.

2. PRESSURE COOKER – Mine is a small one, a 4 qt. MirroMatic aluminum one that is over 40 years old.  I used it intermittently until I began cooking salt-free.  Now I use it for all the beans that I cook ahead of time and freeze in 1  1/2 cup  (or 3 cup) containers for recipes that call for “one can (or 2 cans) of beans.”  Also it makes very short order of making split pea soup, a hearty soup that is one of our wintertime favorites. A quick caution, explained in more detail in the split Pea Soup recipe (coming soon): split peas disintegrate when cooked in a pressure cooker, making them foam up and seal off the vent pipe to the pressure regulator.  This can result in the over pressure plug to burst, causing a spray of hot, green split pea foam all over your kitchen.  WHEE!  Not a pretty sight.  It can be avoided easily with just a little caution.  (The reason I know about this is that when I was a 2 year old child my Dad decided to make split pea soup.  He didn’t watch the pressure cooker and it sealed off, popped the safety valve, and a fountain of split pea soup sprayed up onto the ceiling and dripped all over the floor.  Dad grabbed the pan and headed out the back door, leaving a trail of split pea soup, ceiling and floor, all the way.  When he put the pan down on the back steps it scared our dog who headed for shelter!  I was wearing little slick soled shoes which resulted in me sliding all over the floor, falling down and not being able to stand up.  I was crying, the dog was hiding, Mom was mad, my Dad was in the dog house and the kitchen and porch were a MESS!  After this incident, the kitchen had green stains on the walls and ceiling which were hidden for the next 40 years  by “seafoam green” paint !  Needless to say I am very careful with preparation of split peas in the pressure cooker!   AND  I have NEVER had a problem!)

Japanese vegetable knife

My favorite old Japanese vegetable knife . Cuts onion crescents perfectly.

3. A REALLY GOOD SHARP KNIFE – I have had a Japanese vegetable knife received as a gift about 25 years ago (again, thanks, Karen!) that I have used and used and used.  The blade is 6 1/2″ long and holds an edge very well.  When I am chopping veggies I always use this knife.  It is my favorite!  When I checked online I found similar knives in the $100+ price range but  in looking at one nearby chain store I found versions of vegetable knives, “Santoko” knives,  6 3/4″ to 7″ blade length, priced at $3.97, $10.97, $15.00, and $19.97.  I bought the $3.97 knife to try out and it does a pretty good job.  I don’t know how long it will hold an edge nor do I know how it will hold up in the long run.  But, probably partly due to tradition, I still love my  old Japanese knife, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

4. FLEXIBLE CUTTING BOARDS/MATS – These are very handy for preparing large quantities of chopped veggies.  You can pick up the mat, fold both edges inward and funnel the food into the pot with no spills.  Not a necessity but very handy.  Also, they are dishwasher safe and therefore can be sterilized well.  I have one exclusively for meat/chicken and another for veggies.

5. KITCHEN SCALE –  One that weighs fairly accurately down to an ounce or 2 and up to 4 pounds.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just practical and easy to clean up.  Mine is plastic, got it from my Mom.

6. BLENDER –  The handiest one I have and use the most is the hand held wand-type.  I use it for soups, sauces, etc.  Easy to clean and can be used in hot foods right in the cooking pan which means you can blend a large pot of split pea soup without having to transfer it from the soup pot to a smaller blender or food processor.  Also, you can put this style of blender into a tall, larger glass or in a 4 cup measuring cup to mix liquids.

7.  ONE, TWO AND FOUR CUP LIQUID MEASURING CUPS –  These are essential for making large batches of soup and, again, for measuring the total volume of a new recipe for calculation purposes. If you decide to try your hand at recipe modification you will probably want to know the nutritional values when you have completed your recipe.  If  you carefully measure what you put in and then MEASURE THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF FOOD THAT THE RECIPE YIELDS  you will be able to obtain the nutritional value per what ever serving size you decide is best.  When measuring hot food, a whole pan full, you will want to measure it in a 4 cup glass measuring cup prior to serving.  Makes life simple.  AND you only have to do it the first time you make a new recipe, as long as you don’t change the recipe.

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THAT’S ALL I’VE DONE, SO FAR . . . . . MORE TO COME LATER!

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