Thursday, December 4, 2008

Frugal Foodie

[Photo credit: La Tartine Gourmande (left) and amNewYork (right)]

Yesterday, a dear friend was kind enough to pass along this post by La Tartine Gourmande. The topic was potatoes and it was surprisingly very fascinating. In fact, I was completely enthralled by Bea's stories of growing up in France and picking potatoes with her grandmother. It was so sweet and charming and made me think of my own Granny who was formidable cook herself.

With Thanksgiving feasts now a fading memory (hope everyone had a good one :-) whipping up Christmas goodies is my latest fixation. I already have some of the basics like cranberry sauce, corn muffin mix, and sliced pineapples which I swear makes all sort of casseroles seem fancy :-) As you're guessing by now, I'm no Martha or Granny for that matter, but I do love being in the kitchen. And since ours is tiny, everything in it must be functional and preferably do double-duty.

Our local freebie newspaper, amNewYork, recently did a great feature on the kitchen gadgets you need to get your cooking on for the holidays. Their recommendations included:
1) When purchasing knives, start with either an eight-inch chef's knife or a seven-inch Santoku. Then add a paring knife and a bread knife. Yep, no big block of knives - those three are all you need.
2) You should have a cutting board - never use a countertop.
3) Invest in a cast-iron Dutch oven as it's very versatile and can go straight to the table.
4) Beautiful bakers are great but a simple Pyrex 9 x 13 dish is a real workhorse for anything from baking brownies to a lasagna.
5) In terms of pans, you need a two-quart and a four-quart saucepan. Also, a good sized saute pan and a 10-inch skillet. For baking, two round cake pans, an eight- or nine-inch square plus a loaf pan for baking bread or meatloaf are all you need.

I really love the practicality of these suggestions and I also thought they may help those of you who want to pare down a kitchen that's a bit over-stuffed with utensils and gadgets. Are you already planning menus for the holidays. I'd love to know what's cooking in your kitchen!