Saturday, July 18, 2009

Part 3: Time-Saving Tips When Cooking From Scratch

Part 3: Time-Saving Tips When Cooking From Scratch

Today I’m going to share how investing in a few time-saving tools has helped me when cooking from scratch. I don’t like a lot of clutter in my cupboards or on my counters, but there are a few main cooking tools that I find essential in saving me time.

1. Good food processor: Not all food processors are created equally. I bought a used Cuisinart food processor off EBay and I love it. In fact I got rid of my blender because I can do everything I was doing in the blender in the food processor. I leave it on my counter top because I use it so often.
Some things I use it to for are:
-Shredding large amounts of cheese to freeze in smaller increments
-Shredding/slicing/chopping large amounts of fruits/veggies to freeze or make stir fry, soups, jams, etc…
-Making mayonnaise, mustard, marinades, etc. It’s so easy!
-No more pastry cutter! I use the FP to make the dough for my biscuits-in-a-pan, pie crusts (when I do them), etc. You can use them to mix as well if you don’t have a Kitchen Aid. Just can’t mix a large volumn.

2. Kitchen Aid: Don’t by the cheaper one, if you are going to buy one, invest in the Professional 6. It is bigger and heavier duty. I got a refurbished one off eBay for a lot less than what you can buy it at the store. This thing can go a long time before the motor even starts to get warm.
Some things I use it for are:
-making butter
-making double+ batches of cookies and other baked goods
-mashing a lot of potatoes at once
-I bought a grinder attachment and grind meat and pumpkin (again freeze in two cup increments) in it.
-I bought an ice cream bowl attachment (so worth the money!) and use it to make ice cream. When not using, you keep the bowl in the freezer, so one less appliance to store.

3. Bread Machine (2 lb capacity): I’ve been buying the cheaper ones, but I’m in the market for one that has a stainless steel basket. The cheaper ones all have the spray-on non-stick coating which can leach chemicals in your food. The one I have now is literally starting to peeling off. Yuck!
Some things I use it for are:
-French bread dough
-pizza dough

4. Vacuum Sealer: We have a Food Saver vacuum sealer and it is great. Because I make such large increments of things, it is nice to be able to vacuum seal stuff for dry or freezer storage. It keep things from getting stale or freezer burnt and allows me to make bigger batches at a time so that I don’t have to make that particular item as often. Because the bags are made out of plastic, I find I’m using it less, but there are some things I find that just keep better in vacuum sealed bags:
Some things I use it for are:
-cooked meats

5. Stainless Steel Cooking Pots: I have 3 main cooking pots I use when cooking from scratch- a 1 gallon, 2 gallon and a 4 gallon pot. I got them all from Wal-Mart and they work just fine. My 4 gallon cheese/soup pot was around $60. If you’re going to do one gallon of soup why not use your food processor chop a few more veggies or better yet, go to your freezer, pull some out, and cook up 4 gallons of soup/stew? Freeze it in increments that work for your family size. Soup is our express food. We use it when we are in a hurry and I don’t have time to cook.

6. Stainless Steel Electric Tortilla Press: I love this thing! I got it off EBay for less than $50. It works like a dream. The kids love to help me make tortillas. You can make a double batch and freeze tortillas, using a square of parchment paper in between each one. When the tortilla bag is empty, simply store it with the parchment paper in the freezer for later use. A wonderfully easy snack for the kids is to take a frozen tortilla, fry it in olive oil or coconut oil until crisp, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Use pizza cutter to slice and eat. It is a fun and tasty way to teach the kids fractions, too.

Well that is it for my time saving cooking from scratch tips. Hope you have learned something you didn’t already know.

God Bless, Jackie


Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife said...

These posts are great, Jack!

motherofmany said...

Loving this tip series!

I just got as Kitchenaid (only waited 11 years;) and it is astonishing to me how much better/faster it is than the small one my sister has, or any of the other brands I have had through the years. I can make homemade marshmallows in half the recipe time, and merinugue is a breeze.

I had thought about using it to make butter, but thought it would need a paddle attachment. Which attachment do you use?

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

So glad people are finding this series useful.

For butter, I use the basic paddle attachment. It should have came with mixer. To do butter, it is essential that you have a guard over the top of the mixing bowl. In fact, I wrap a dish towel around the guard as well, which enables me to beat the cream at a high rate of speed. You gotta watch it towards the end or butter with splash the buttermilk all over. We had a radio sitting next to our mixer and soaked it with buttermilk one time. It ruined the radio. Lesson learned. LOL!

Another quick note on butter, it seems to whip up faster when it is at room temperature.

Anonymous said...

Love it!
I would love a vaccuum sealer, I can think of a ton of ways to use it.
-tf/Made From Scratch

motherofmany said...

Thanks for the butter tips!

I bought a vaccuum sealer for the jar attachment and put grains, beans, nuts, and seeds in half gallon jars and seal them with the widemouth sealer. It keeps bugs out and prevents staleness. It also makes a beautiful decoration with that line of jars on my hutch holding different colored beans and such.

Marie said...

Thanks for the great tips! I love my Kitchenaid--I use it to make bread. I think I will look into the ice cream attachment.


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