Kitchen Notes

While I try to keep my recipes simple and quick, I am a busy mother, there are a few things you should know about my kitchen and my philosophy.

Please note, I am located just over a mile above sea level, everything posted here can be considered adjusted for my elevation.  I frequently have to modify and experiment with recipes before I get them tweaked just right for a high, dry stove.  And that needs to be the second note of interest, we typically have very low humidity here and I often add a bit of extra moisture.

In correcting for altitude my main techniques are to cut the salt a bit and/or to use a tad extra flour.

The interesting thing about working in the mountains is that water boils right at 200°F here.  This means I can struggle to get something hot enough to insure adequate safe handling, boil-water bath canning is completely out, the only safe option here is to use a pressure cooker.  Also, the lower atmospheric pressure means that it is much easier to have flattened cakes and breads.

I attempt to be a healthy cook, trying to avoid fat, oil and excess sugar.  I grow much of the produce I use and rely primarily on whole wheat flour my dad grinds himself and delivers in five-gallon buckets.  I believe that food can be delicious and healthy.  Most of my cooking is vegetarian, or even completely vegan.  I often replace oils and eggs with applesauce, frequently the result is better than the original.

I would recommend that any cook keep rice, beans (both canned and dried), canned tomatoes, whole wheat flour, spices, and produce by season on hand.  I also believe that kitchen tools should be looked at as investments in the family’s health.  I’ve been told I have too many kitchen gadgets but am of the opinion that they’re not excessive if I use them regularly (even if regularly is, in some cases, a few times a year when I host gatherings).  By far and away my bread machine gets the most use (nearly daily) now that I have mastered Whole Wheat Bread WithOut Oil.  I also enjoy the use of a good gas range top, a huge stock pot, endless smaller pots and baking pans/sheets.  The food mill doesn’t get used often but when it does it sure gets a work out, same for the dehydrator.  I just acquired a pressure cooker, food processor, and ice cream maker (traded them for some old fans I don’t use anymore) so I’ll let you know if they are useful additions or big space wasters.

What tips and tricks to you use to customize your cooking?  What are stables for your pantry?  What gadgets can you not live with out?  Have you gotten worthless advice?  How about things that looked useful that just hog up space?

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