Wednesday, May 23, 2012

what i've been learning in the kitchen...

alright friends,
it's been almost 6 full months of my cooking/blogging adventure.

so, i figured it was high time for me to share the
top ten things i've learned in the kitchen so far...

(don't worry, this list could go on for days, but we'll just stick to 10 for now) :)

1. read your recipes
yes, i am that person that totally forgets one ingredient,
because i don't read the instructions :)

i'm learning to read my recipes over and over.
a couple of times before i go to the store,
as well as the night before i plan to make something

i feel like this allows time to
a) not forget anything, and
b) best plan ahead...
(for example: do you need milk at room temperature, etc)

2. start with a clean kitchen
there is something to be said for the peace of mind of starting
your cooking adventure with a clean kitchen.

and trust me, i always end up with a mess anyway,
so starting clean and organized allows me more room to think and move around.

3. substitutes
as i'm learning #1 above,
i've also learned there are some super easy substitutes if you are in a pinch.
one of my fave references for these is here.

this also has allowed me to better understand the 'chemistry'
of a lot of ingredients. example: the other day one of my recipes called
for buttermilk... well, in true christine fashion i hadn't planned for that. oops.
easy enough! i found out all i need is some lemon and regular milk!

4. when to 'whole foods'
i shop at a pretty standard grocery store for a number of reasons.
a) i like buying everything in one place, and sometimes specialty stores make this hard,
and b) i don't want to pay extra on top of my already growing grocery bill.

i have learned, however, that there are just some certain things
you HAVE to get at whole foods.


if there is something slightly out of the ordinary,
or maybe even something i haven't heard of,
i don't even look for it at my grocery store...
i just ask at whole foods.

they honestly are the nicest, most helpful people.

i had the most frustrating experience trying to find tahini the other day.
i asked about 12 different people and got a total runaround
each one telling us to go somewhere else in the store.
when i finally arrived at whole foods and asked the same question,
the clerk said 'oh, what type???'

(pretty sure i was in heaven!)

every time i ask for something they walk with me right to it's location

AND, the meat counter doesn't laugh at me during my classic...
'hi, i'm making ________. what meat should i buy?' :)

do it.

5. the glory of a vanilla bean
how i had never been let in on the secret of a vanilla bean, i have no idea.
i'm just glad i'm not in the dark anymore.
what an amazing thing!!!

the flavors, aroma, and authenticity it adds to any dish.

i'm starting to use it more and more.

(learn how here!)

6. how to: butter
i go through a lot of butter.
maybe like 6-8 sticks a week on average
(don't quote me on that)

i'm learning that there is an art to having your butter
 at the exact right consistency needed for your recipe.
whether that means melted, softened, or something else.
follow those instructions diligently.
it will make your dish better 99% of the time.

7. the magic of a crock pot
if i was a working mom,
the crock pot might literally be my best friend.

it's amazing. SO easy. SO simple.
honestly, it's a no brainer.

i've loved learning easy breezy recipes that i can throw in to cook all day long,
and spend my time a) doing something else, b) cooking dessert!

8. the art of failing
i remember the first few times my recipes didn't turn out - i was so frustrated!
you spend all this time, and all these ingredients, and then it's a complete flop!
i've learned a few things...

a) laugh at yourself (obviously)
b) revel in this moments...

some of my best failures so far...

attempt at cinnamon yogurt pretzels - disgusting and soggy
first attempt at cream puffs - totally didn't rise
creme brulee - kind of mushy and didn't have the tools to toast the top
the list goes on.... but you get the idea :)

these things make me learn how to do things right!

there is a finesse in baking and cooking,
and sometimes, even if you follow the directions exactly,
your recipe won't be perfect.

9. take your time
i've learned that i most enjoy the kitchen when i take my sweet time.
i'm in no rush, i'm not scrambling, i'm not under a deadline.

i think it also makes your food better.

10. don't be scared
there are a lot of ingredients i used to be scared of.
i'd look at a recipe and automatically write it off for a whole host of reasons.
it had meat i didn't like, an ingredient i had never heard of, too many spices, etc.
i've started embracing these items as a challenge and an adventure.

thanks so much for reading my blog!

i'm having a lot of fun, so i hope you are too :)


  1. Christine! I really enjoy your blog. Love the recipes and honest feedback on what went right/wrong, etc.. Also love your restaurant reviews. :) SO FUN! Thanks for sharing!

    1. betsy! you're the best :) thanks so much for reading :)


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