Kitchen Tools Getting us Through Quarantine
We love to cook at home; in the pre-pandemic times, we probably cooked at home more than most. But now, the days of school catered lunches, and lunch meetings over tacos feel like another lifetime. Like so many, we’re just doing our best to get three solid meals (or, with young kids, something more like three meals and three dozen snacks) on the table each day.
Lucky for us, we have access to sauces that make pulling together pantry meals a dream. We’re also working out new systems for batch cooking family-friendly meals, and digging deep to come up with creative kitchen projects (sourdough! veggie chips!) that do double duty as both entertainment and healthy snacks.
Below is a round-up of the kitchen tools that are working overtime in our homes that are helping to keep us and our families happy and well fed.
Monica - Co-Founder of Do Anything Foods. Shelterting at home with her husband and three kids:
Washing the dishes is my husband’s specialty; in fact, he doesn’t let anyone else do them, because he’s the only one who does them just right. No complaints from me! But these days the dishes are feeling endless, and we’re relying on one-pot meals to try to cut down on clean up. I’ve been using my cast iron skillet nearly every day, to roast chicken and veggies, or to start a frittata on the stove to finish in the oven. Minimal prep, minimal clean up, and everyone is happy.
This may seem like a luxury in a small NYC apartment, but it’s a real workhorse for us. We don’t have a ton of time to pull together lunch each day, but we’re still craving hot lunches. So I batch cook grains in the rice cooker in the evening, and the next day we enjoy them as part of a grain bowl with some Kale Pesto or Cauliflower Alfredo. Cooked grains freeze beautifully, too! The Zojirushi is the so-called ‘Cadillac’ of rice cookers, and it consistently turns out perfectly cooked, fluffy grains.
Coming out of left field! This doesn’t always get a ton of play in my kitchen, but it’s been a hero in recent days. Our household is consuming an *incredible* number of snacks, and our once-weekly grocery shops aren’t always cutting it. The kids have been really into making veggie chips, which I see as a huge win. It’s a fun kitchen activity (with proper supervision, of course!) and because they’re “chips” everyone gets excited. They’re happy to crunch on the veggie chips throughout the day, or dip them in our Beet Pesto for a filling afternoon snack.
Allie - Co-Founder of Do Anything Foods, Sheltering at home with her husband in Portland, OR:
I’ve always been clear: I am decidedly not a baker. Baking is science; it requires careful measurement, precision, and following recipes. This is antithetical to my usual creative “a little bit of this, a pinch of that, let’s wing it” cooking style. But I’ve been doing more baking recently (yes, I am very much on the sourdough train), and the kitchen scale has become my friend. I am thrilled to cut out the tedium of measuring cups and spoons, and instead, I just throw my ingredients in a bowl and measure by weight. I am now a full convert to the metric system, and will only consider recipes measured in grams. If that sounds like something that appeals to you, Escali makes the best scale on the market.
I bought a case of these Mason Jars on a whim, and they’ve been in heavy rotation lately. For things like soups, stews and sauces, I prefer them to regular tupperware because they seem to use precious fridge space more efficiently, and they’re cheaper, too! I’ve also been making large batches of things like Veggie Tagines with our Tomato Veggie Sauce, and freezing them for when I need a night off from cooking. I believe I received the wine glass pen in a Christmas stocking a few years ago -- who knew it would be such a useful gift? It comes in handy to label the jars, especially when going into the freezer where something like a masking tape would cease to stick.
Just because we can only shop every 7 to 10 days, I don’t want to forgo the pleasure of a fresh, herby garnish, or a zippy green dressing. So, I’ve been getting back into freezing sauces and herbs in trays. At this point, this is a well known internet hack, but it’s especially useful given that my fresh, tender herbs like cilantro or dill, don’t seem to hold up in the fridge for more than 5 or 6 days. I’ve been making batches of green, herby sauces to dress up roasted veggies, or drizzle on scrambled eggs. Or just freezing dill or mint directly in olive oil, and thawing to top dishes and salads. The silicone tray makes them easy to pop out, and cleans up in a snap.I was #influenced by one of my favorite designers, Amber Lewis, who turned me onto these reusable “paper” towels. With the shortage of paper goods, they’ve been a life saver. They’re eco-friendly, super absorbent and easy to wash. I keep them neatly rolled right where our paper towel holder used to live (so it was easy for our household to switch habits), and use them for wiping up spills, and spraying down counters. They’re a great waffle stitch, so what’s not to like?