Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Resources

Cooking is a solitary act. Individuals plan meals, go shopping, and cook alone and on occasion one eats alone. Solitary time in the kitchen can be the most cherished time of day – a recluse of calm in a crazy world. Solitary kitchen time can also be the most dreaded. 

The best way to sustain kitchen-related motivation is to utilize the resources available.

Toronto Based Resources:

Kitchen Tool Library: Want to try canning but don't have the space or money to invest in the equipment? For a small fee you can 'check-out' kitchen tools and return them when you are finished your food project! 

Hot Beans: Looking for some cheap, fast, filling and tasty vegan junk food? Get a seitan burrito from Hot Beans. You won't regret it!

Audio Resources:

You won't feel alone in the kitchen, slaving over prep if you have some friendly food podcasts to listen to!


There is nothing more depressing than recipes that simply do not work. All your time, effort and ingredients go to waste, you have no supper to eat, and all your motivation is gone! With time you will develop a list of trusted cookbook authors and bloggers. In the meantime, here are few of my favorites...

Veganomicon by Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

How it all Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Easy Gourmet Tips

Shortcuts and tricks to get a meal on the table are great (and much better than takeout!) but for special occasions or every second Tuesday you might want a little something extra. These extras will give you the feeling of a five-star restaurant for the effort of an extra 5 minutes.

1. Fold a napkin in the shape of a heart.  

2. Two easy cocktail stirrers. Umbrellas. Gumballs.  

3. Tomato flowers are cute and simple additions to your dinner plate.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Eating the Web

1. Hosting a dinner party can seem intimidating but check out this very chill post on the subject. You can do it 
2. Meal planning has been on my list for ages and ages. This post acts as inspiration for my slacker habits while this article on protein in a vegan diet reassures me that even if I eat three meals of beans I'll live! :) 
3. Gluten-free bread intrigues me (even though I love my gluten!) but baking your own seems utterly inapproachable! That's why I love this post that really breaks down the steps of GF baking! 

4. As autumn approaches a guide to creating the perfect fall soup seems very appropriate. 

5. Bookmark this post for next summer – when the very thought of cooking makes you sweat

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Review of 'The Way of the Hedge Witch'

Recently I have been exploring, researching, and discovering the rites, rituals, and beliefs of modern day witches. I confess I find the practice of spellcasting and their belief in fairies bizarre but the focus of kitchen witches (or hedge witches) on the spiritual hearth and the innate sacred nature of domestic activity intriguing to say the least.

My childhood home did not abound in love and safety. As a consequence of growing up in an instable home my adult homes have always been viewed as temporary and I have always viewed myself as not deserving of a nice home environment.  

Hearth witches focus on the energy created inside a home. 

A lavender door wreath reminds one to come into the home with peace and tranquility in their hearts. A candle on the stove (the modern day hearth) reminds one of the lineage of historical cooks whose food had made it possible for you to stand before the stove today. We've changed a few things about our home, inspired by my readings on kitchen witches, and have felt better, more at peace, and calmer in our home.

Here's a few interesting quotes from the book. 

“There's a lot of emotional energy tied up with home-based activity...” (51)

“The home is the root of your family's energy and spirituality. If you are working to honor and strengthen it, and to make it as peaceful and spiritually nourishing as possible for you and your family, it only makes sense to protect it from harm or attack.” (116)

“What makes hearthcraft so special is that the principles of it dovetail – if fact, are – the things you do every day in your home. In essence, this book is designed to help you recognize those things, and lend awareness to them so that you can appreciate them all the more.” (5)

This book, “The Way of the Hedge Witch Rituals and Spells for Hearth and Home” by Arin Murphy - Hiscock is an interesting read. I recommend it whole heartily to those interested in kitchen witchcraft and those interesting in making their homes comforting and peaceful.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Salad Basics

Focus on what you are craving. Do you really want to eat two whole avocados? Are you craving kale? If you open a can of chickpeas will you eat half the can with a spoon? Build the salad around the one ingredient you really want to eat. 
Extras. A salad of just the main ingredient will most likely leave you unsatisfied. If you add a bunch of fancy extras you'll feel accomplished (as well as full!) Fun extras include: tomatoes, shredded carrots, shredded beets, shredded sweet potato, corn, fennel, mushrooms, avocado, beans, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp), sprouts, fruit (oranges, sliced apple or pears, pomegranate seeds) and/or dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, apricots and dates).
Salad Dressing. There is nothing wrong with purchased salad dressing but its really quite simple to make your own. My favorite version of salad dressing requires a dollap of mustard, some red wine vinegar, a splash of oil, and some herbs such as oregano. Shake it all up in jar. Adjust amounts to personal preference.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Quotes to Inspire

“It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” - Lewis Grizzard

“Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable.” - Ina Garten

“If we're not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food.” -Sally Edwards

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” -John Gunther

“Fervet olla, vivit amicitia: While the pot boils, friendship endures.” (Meaning the man who gives good dinners has plenty of friends.) -Latin Proverb

“ If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: My Vintage Kitchen

As evident by the sheer number of 'My Vintage Kitchen' posts on my blog over the years, I LOVE vintage kitchen tools and equipment. I regularly visit thrift stores and am constantly on the hunt for great vintage items in both the luxury and daily use categories. I have thrifted for regularly used items like pots and pasta makers and specialty items such cake decorating tools. I always keep my eye open for that specialty display item like glasses in their original packaging or cocktail collectibles. 
There are many reasons I enjoy thrifting. I love the thrill of the hunt! I like how cheaply one can outfit a kitchen (and in style to boot!) by utilizing thrift stores. Thrifting suits my environmental mindset as it keeps items that are perfectly usable from ending up in the landfill. Most of all, thrifting for kitchenwares keeps me connected to a lineage of strong women who cooked for themselves and their loved ones.

Research: During the course of your regular reading about food, take note of the style of pan used for that traditional dessert, the full priced cost of a copper pan, or the type of jar needed for that food project. I have discovered several awesome deals because I knew what the thrift store had – but they did not!

Visit high-end vintage stores: Visiting high-end vintage stores specializing in kitchen wares allows you to discover the asking price of specialty kitchen wares. If the high-end store has those measuring cups priced at $25, you will feel vindicated in spending $1 for them at the thrift store!

Frequency: Visit thrift stores with a certain amount of frequency to get the best deals. The turnover on some stores is quite fierce so they may have entirely new stock from one week to another. However, I thrift for fun, so I tend to return when the mood strikes me and I still manage to snag some amazing finds!

Open boxes: I have found a few interesting tidbits by digging around in boxes. If you truly explore the thrift store you may find things that other thrift hunters have hidden or things that have simply fallen out of sight. Dust covered kitchen wares offer an opportunity to practice your haggling skills!

Original Packaging: I love original packaging and will purchase almost anything if it comes in the original package. However, original packaging does not bode well for the usefulness of the item. If the kitchen ware is 60 + years old and has only be removed from the box once or twice? It's unlikely to be functional, but it will be pretty!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: But I am not motivated!

I love experimenting and developing recipes in the kitchen but sometimes the very thought of cooking supper can depress and overwhelm me. Even as a gourmand, I do not have unlimited motivation and inspiration in the kitchen. The following tips will help encourage and maintain your kitchen motivation!

Maintain kitchen cleanliness. Cleaning up after a meal never takes as long IRL as it feels like it does emotionally. Set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes and go on a cleaning frenzy! If you have a pile of dishes to tackle before you can start cooking supper you are way more likely to order in than to cook.

Stock the pantry with staples. Develop a list of family favorites and keep the pantry stocked with those ingredients. Focus on recipes that are easy to cook and easy to keep the ingredients in stock (focus on canned, frozen or dried ingredients rather than fresh). My personal favorites include pizza (flour, canned tomatoes, canned pineapple, canned olives) and refried beans (spices and black beans).

Focus on simple recipes. If you are low on motivation do not start a huge project with multiple steps that will take hours to complete. Focus on simple recipes so that you'll be eating in the near future. Pasta dishes, bean salads, and stir-frys are high on the 'simple recipe' list!

Non-traditional meals. If you do not have the motivation to make supper switch it up and make something non-traditional. Try breakfast for dinner. I've eaten many supper meals of popcorn!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Eating the Web

1. Everyone KNOWS that cooking dried beans saves money and tastes better but I simply cannot get my stuff together enough to do so. Chickpeas are especially difficult to cook from their dried state for some reason – I always end up with hard chickpeas. Apparently boiling chickpeas with a little baking soda speeds up the process by quite a lot. 
2. Of course, another option for cooking dried beans is the dreaded, explosive pressure cooker! Who hasn't heard a story about these things exploding? Here's a post to ease your discomfort with the pressure cooker. You'll be eating tons of beans in no time at all! 
3. Tired of eating plain old apples and oranges? Try these beautiful fruit platters as a way to get your fruit in a new, visually pleasing way! 
4. Breakfast is one of my least eaten meal especially during the week. I do enjoy making pancakes on the weekend but I could definitely use this list of easy breakfast ideas. 
5. I rarely follow recipes – especially when it's zero hour and I have 20 minutes to plan something for supper. I tend to make a lot of bean salads (especially in the summer when I can't bear to turn on the stove or oven!) I follow a lot of the improvisation tips outlined here. This specific recipe for tomato and white bean salad seems perfect for my cooking style! 
6. Meal planning has been on my list for ages and ages. This post acts as inspiration for my slacker habits while this article on protein in a vegan diet reassures me that even if I eat three meals of beans I'll live! :) 
7. Gluten-free bread intrigues me (even though I love my gluten!) but baking your own seems utterly inapproachable! That's why I love this post that really breaks down the steps of GF baking! 
8. As autumn approaches a guide to creating the perfect fall soup seems very appropriate. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: Tips to Enjoy Eating

Eating is a necessary and often repeated aspect of our lives – we might as well make the best of it! Here are some hints to help you turn the unpleasant task of eating into a daily joy.
Make every meal count.
We only have so many meals to enjoy throughout our lives so make each one count. Do not waste a meal on street meat or fine dining unless you really want to eat it. Eat things that surprise you. Eat things that excite you. Eat things that count.

Location! Location! Location!
Buy a kitchen table. Pull out your linens or good china. Sit on a real chair. Play some mood music. Go on a picnic. Eat a sandwich in the park. Have a conversation around the table. Eating is about more than simply feeding the body because meals have the potential to create community.

Buy an apron.
Has your cooking gone stale? Do you rely on a few tried-and-true recipes? Do you dread meals as a result? You need some inspiration! Buy an apron. Take a new cookbook out of the library. Buy a new kitchen tool. Try a new food. If you enter the kitchen with a smile and a spirit of adventure the quality of your food (and your life) will improve!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen: But I hate cooking!

Cooking takes forever!
Chopping carrots AND onions AND potatoes for a stew seems to take forever – especially when you are using a dull pairing knife and a unstable cutting board. The best way to improve your kitchen skills is practice but a half-way decent knife ($30-50 range) and a stable cutting board (put a tea towel under the board for stability) will drastically improve your kitchen life. It still might take you a long time to cut huge amounts of vegetables and that's okay. Move your set-up to the table. Have a seat. Listen to a podcast. Get your prep done. You'll feel better about the amount of time it takes to prep a stew if you have leftovers to stock your freezer with so make extras!
No one helps me!
Your non-cooking partner can help you prep while you focus on the timing of a different aspect of the dish. Utilize pre-washed greens or pre-chopped vegetables because cooking is more important than chopping! Experiment with the aspects (cooking versus cleaning) and type (quick and dirty versus day-long kitchen adventures) of cooking that you enjoy. Avoid cooking for large gatherings, special occasions and holidays before you have a good base of cooking knowledge. Special occasions and holidays are stressful for the cook regardless of experience level (remember that when your bubba cooks Christmas dinner for you!) Consider meal planning.

I can't find anything!
No matter the size and layout of your kitchen or the amount of kitchen equipment you have (or don't have) an organized kitchen will make any cooking experience more pleasant. Store knifes close to the cutting boards. Use the drawer closest to the stove to store spatulas and wooden spoons. Donate kitchen items that you dislike, were once owned by an ex, or that you never use. Discard broken kitchen items. All the equipment you really need is a few pots and pans, a cutting board, and a sharp knife.

I don't know what to cook!
Focus on learning some of the basic forms of cooking (like sautéing or roasting) as this will give you the freedom to cook without a recipe. Libraries have a plethora of cookbooks which can be great resource. Food blogs can be beneficial but sites were recipes are crowd sourced (like are more reliable than most food blogs, especially if you are a beginner with limited kitchen intuition. Sometimes you will have zero motivation and no ideas for supper and this is when a stocked freezer is a blessing.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Coming Home to the Kitchen

As a gourmand, I enjoy spending time in the kitchen. When I have had a hard day, I head to the kitchen as the process of cooking is often more valuable to me than the consumption of the food created. The world can be a scary place and we all need somewhere safe and comfortable to come home to. While many individuals view the kitchen as a place of drudgery and oppression – an unpleasant link to our base nature this series will teach you how to make the kitchen your safe and comfortable place – even if you hate cooking and are fundamentally lazy in the kitchen! The information presented is designed to increase your kitchen-related motivation and inspire you to get into the kitchen!

Topics covered include... 

- shopping for vintage kitchen wares         - kitchen motivation         - Salad Basics

- Inspirational Quotes                  - Gourmet Tips              - Resources

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October News

Lots of exciting things to share with you for the month of October! 

~ I've started a little puzzle blog to share (on a sporadic basis) my puzzle adventures. I have a lot of old man hobbies!

~ I wrote a guest post entitled Beginner Fondant: All you need is Creativity!

~ I've been involved in TallBoys beer and cheese blog for a few months now. The blog just got a facelift! Check it out here!

~ I took a short break from my PaperDroid Zombie column but came back with a vengeance in September with a Sourdough Series

~ And the news I am most excited to share! My comic collaboration with MJ Alexander is finally finished! Check it out! Order your copy today