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Food Prep #2 - Prepping Perfect Peppers... with a sharp knife

Jul 14, 2017

Salad stuff can also be prepped many days in advance. However, now would be a good time to mention how important it is to have a sharp knife. First of all, if it far safer to use a sharp knife. Most people are afraid to use a sharp knife because it seems more dangerous. But, when you use a dull knife you have to exert far more force, which makes it much more likely for your knife to slip and more likely for the knife to be substantially out of control when you do slip. So have a sharp knife!

The other reason to have a sharp knife is that it allows you to prep food that will last longer. When cutting vegetables the goal is to have a nice, clean cut which damages as few of the cells as possible. A dull knife rips the cells open, leaves a jagged edge, and spills the cells contents (mostly water) out which dramatically decreases shelf life. With a sharp knife, a fresh pepper will likely last 7-10 days if you place a paper towel underneath them in the container or bag. 

There are tons of ways to cut a pepper, I find the following the easiest. I take the top and bottom off, pull the insides out, slice down the side to open it into a flat rectangle, then slice off any extra ribs of "pith." Then it's just a matter of slicing or dicing.
Food Prep #2 - Prepping Perfect Peppers... with a sharp knife
Food Prep #2 - Prepping Perfect Peppers... with a sharp knife

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Food Prep #1 - Prepping Ahead

Jul 7, 2017

I'm a busy guy. I own my own business. My wife works full time, often on nights and weekends too. I have a relatively high maintenance 8 year old and a maniac of a three year old. I own a home... with the accompanying yard and manage a rental property with it's own set of demands. 

Did I mention that I have ADHD too? 

Bottom line: I don't have time to F*** around. I am all about efficiency! I'm also the person in the house who does the cooking every night. Partly because I'm a classically trained chef, partly because I work from home, it makes sense for me to be the chef at La Casa di Reid. But I certainly don't have to time to make anything epic Monday thru Friday. My goal is always to have a healthy, delicious meal on the table in less than 1/2 hour, while doing the dishes as I go and making my son's and my wife's lunches for the next day. Though 30 minutes may be ambitious for the not-former-professional-chef among you. Easy, quick, simple, healthy, delicious is not unreasonable for anyone. 

But, the pork & brussel sprouts that are going on the table tonight are do not begin their journey tonight at 5:40 when I get home from picking up my son. They started their path to our table last Friday. That's when I make the shopping list, often with the help of my wife. (And, actually that list starts as soon as the shopping is done the previous Saturday. If you have a running list on your fridge or on your phone, you can add things throughout the week as the run out or run low.)

The next step is food shopping which happens at a more or less predictable day and time. Saturday morning is when we do it 99% of the time. As a matter of fact, it is a recurring event on my Google Calendar for Saturday morning. That way I can't forget about it when planning my weekend. 

The next step is maybe the most important in terms of that meal being on the table quickly during the week. It is the prep that gets done on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I like to get it out of the way Saturday, but it doesn't really matter. I do bigger projects and a lot of my own butchering, but just to take care of the veggies for the week shouldn't take much more than 1/2 hour to an hour. But it will shave so much time off the making of the meals. 

What most people don't realize is how long veggies will last if purchased fresh, prepped well, and stored appropriately. The next few posts will be about how to prep certain foods and how to store them to make them last for you and your family. Below is an example of the best way to store your veggies at home. These green beans have been "picked" and put back in their produce bag with a paper towel or two in the bottom. Once you've done that, squeeze out as much of the air as possible and tie the top. If the beans are fresh, they'll last 5 - 10 days. Straight from the garden, 7 - 14 days easy. 
Food Prep #1 - Prepping Ahead

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Kitchen Organization #5: Misc. Vertical Space

Jun 30, 2017

I would also suggest thinking outside the box in terms of how to use your vertical space. I've used the 'item' in the first picture for years. It holds things that I use semi-regularly like spice blends, black pepper, and specialty vinegars. And it fits perfectly on one of our weird small walls between doors in 1920's kitchen. 

As for the mug hooks... that's one of my favorite out of the box solutions ever... if I do say so myself. I use multiple mugs daily to mix a medicine I have to take for my stomach. Having them right on above the sink hanging from the valance (if that's even the right word) makes it so easy. 

I guess the bottom line is a somewhat complex matrix of what you use most often, the space you have, the layout of the space, and how creative you can get.
Kitchen Organization #5: Misc. Vertical Space
Kitchen Organization #5: Misc. Vertical Space

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Pan rack no. 2

Jun 24, 2017

I have two pan racks. Thought I'd show you the second one too. This one is over the dishwasher, several paces away from the stove. So it is the home to many things we don't use every day. 

Also, you'll notice that you can use the top level to store things as well. In this one I have an old "grizwald." (vintage cast iron pan) In the other picture you can see that I have finally found a home for that one really large bowl that I use 4 times a year that doesn't fit in any of the cabinets.

AND... I hang herb and garlic to dry from the middle of the rack. Can't find a picture from last year. I'll take one this summer and post later.
Pan rack no. 2

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Kitchen Organization #4: So you've used up all your walls...

Jun 23, 2017

...Then don't forget about the ceiling! Hanging pot racks are super cool! They get a whole bunch of bulky items, some of which you use regularly, some very infrequently, completely out of your way. And, this is a category of items that do not stack or nest well in your cabinets, they take up a lot of space, and, let's face it, I like bending over less and less every year. You have to make sure you have enough clearance. Don't put them over high traffic areas. Make sure everyone who uses the pans can reach them and that the tallest person in your house won't bang his/her head on them. Other than that, they're super easy to install. As long as you have a drill and can figure out where the joists or strapping is, you're good to go. 

You may also notice that our go to cleaner is hanging right there so we don't have to bend over and rummage under the sink every night to clean the stove and table.

As always, the things you use most should be most accessible. The three pans that are missing are closest to the stove because we use them almost every day.
Kitchen Organization #4: So you've used up all your walls...

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Kitchen Organization #3: Vertical space & Knife racks

Jun 13, 2017

Conceptually, I don't love knife blocks. I always wonder how sanitary it is down at the bottom of that slot that you put your knife in. All it takes is one or two times of not getting the knife totally clean... But that's speculation on my part. 

Knife bars are my joint. I love seeing them all out and displayed for easy use. Plus, we have almost no counter space. So, again, using the walls is the way to go. 

The knife rack is at an angle because otherwise it wouldn't fit on the wall anywhere near the cutting board. 

Kitchen Organization #3: Vertical space & Knife racks

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