a food blog by samwellsphoto.com

Archive for 'setup'

November 19, 2014

I am a firm believer that you absolutely need an organized kitchen with everything you need at your fingertips. I recently added this new eight foot bar to hang all my pots and cooking accessories. It’s very cheap and easy to do. All you need is a 10 foot 1/2 inch conduit or galvanized pipe from home depot ($2.34) and two 4 inch stainless steel screw eye with 5/16 inch thread ($2.27 each) and as many Ikea Grundtal hooks as you want. Make sure you screw the bolts into the studs and you’ll be able to hang anything. This will clear room in your cabinets and let you find things quickly.

December 2, 2012

I love my foodsaver because it not only keeps my food fresh for way longer, but it also makes my life easier. Chicken breast was super cheap at Sprouts the other day, so I bought a bunch to freeze. I just cubed it all up and vacuum packed it in packs of 2 servings each. This way I can do all the labor of cutting at once, and then pull a pack from the freezer when I’m rushed and need to cook something fast. I also added a few different marinades to some of the packs. Once they were sealed, I flattened them out so they thaw faster.

People always tell me they don’t have time to cook, and I totally agree with them because they probably don’t have an efficient kitchen. I wouldn’t be able to make meals as fast as I do if i didn’t maximize my kitchen space. I spend on average 20-30 minutes max to cook a full meal, and I owe it all to my setup. My philosophy is that the more efficient you are, the easier it is to cook, the more you’ll cook.

I have one of the smallest kitchens I’ve ever seen, but I use a ton of kitchen utensils on a regular basis. I’ve been tinkering with new ways to hang things in visible places, so I don’t have to search through cabinets when I need something. This is what I came up with, and I think I’m finally at a place where everything I need is at my fingertips.

Lets start with the hanging rack over my sink. This is one of the most important parts of my kitchen. I simply added a bar over my sink, so the freshly washed utensils can drip into the sink. This came about when I got rid of my dry rack because it was taking up too much of my limited counter space. I then added a wire rack on top of the bar for drying larger bowls and things that can’t be hung. I installed this at a slight angle towards the sink, so the water would drip into the sink and not behind my sink. I also use this to store some of the things I use all the time. The bar is just a piece of electrical conduit from home depot fastened in with some screws.

This is my main pots and pan hanging storage, which is just a piece of electrical conduit from home depot as well. I used the o-ring screws to tap into the studs (MAKE SURE YOU TAP INTO STUDS or else you’ll have a ton of cast iron pans fall on your head). All the hooks are from IKEA and they cost about $2.50 for 5. This is a must have for my kitchen because I just don’t have cabinet space for this many pans. Even if i had the cabinet space for them, I would loose my mind searching through cabinets to find a pan. I simply look up and unhook. And also notice my hanging immersion blender in the bottom right hand corner. This has saved me hours of my life since I’ve installed it.

I was fortunate enough to have an open top area above my cabinets so I can put my jars all around my kitchen. Mason jars are a must have in my kitchen because they keep things fresh and organize things. Having food in jars allows you to see what you have quickly. This allows me to keep track of what needs to be eaten because everything is visible.

My IKEA spice rack is the best because is has a bar you can hang other utensils on. I highly recommend this one. It’s cheap and it looks rad. Once again, I use jars to seal in the freshness. Light does spoil spices and food, but my view on it is that I should be using these ingredients before light has the ability to spoil it. It takes several months to spoil from light, so I buy what I use often in smaller quantities that allow me to use all of it quicker.

 

April 20, 2012

I recently went to Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco to get some good teas, and they told me a really cool method of brewing green tea. Going with the rule of the hotter the water, the shorter the brewing time; she said you can brew tea at room temperature for 6-8 hours without it getting bitter. Green tea shouldn’t be bitter at all if brewed correctly. Most of us us have been served brutally bitter green tea from unnamed establishments (Starbucks) that has been boiled for 5 minutes, and then you can’t drink it for another 10 minutes because its still boiling hot, which causes it to get even more bitter! I digress. Most green teas should be brewed at 160-175 degrees for at most 1-2 minutes. This way you don’t burn the tea, and it’s drinkable in its prime brew period.

This brings me to cold brewing. Since cold water doesn’t burn the tea, you can cold brew green teas for 6-8 hours and it will be very smooth and retain the unique qualities of the tea. I’m playing around with the idea of using a mason jar with a pea sprout lid (Here is the Amazon Link). This way I can brew, pour it in my glass, and refill all day until the tea is used up. Its a great drink for the entire day. Very mild and can be sweet if you use a tea like jasmine. Just don’t let it sit for longer than 8 hours at a time, or it could get bitter.

Please try some really nice organic teas from a place like Red Blossom Tea Company, redblossomtea.com. They might seem expensive, but let me explain. Loose leaf teas can be more expensive than tea bags BUT you get 4-5 infusions out of a single serving. Since tea bags are lower quality blends of tea, they can only be infused ONCE. So you can basically quadruple the price of tea bags, and now compare it to loose leaf teas. They are also sold by the once, but one ounce goes a very long way if brewed properly.

Fun Fact: The first infusion from a loose leaf green tea is caffeinated. All other brews after that are decaff. If you see decaf green tea, its because they just brewed it once and sold it to you. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you could hot brew a cup in the morning for a mild caffeine boost. Then coldbrew the same tea after that for flavor without the caffeine.

 

March 28, 2012

My brother had a cool idea to store his sandwich for work. There’s nothing more filthy than having a soggy sandwich from sliced tomatoes, so he packs everything in this rad MSR camp pot that locks down. Then he cuts the tomato on site for ultimate freshness. You can find these at any camp store or on amazon here. Amazon Camp Pot

The best part is you can store soups and it is very easy to reheat. It is also stainless steel so you wont have any toxins leeching into your food.

January 19, 2012

I just got my mandolin slicer yesterday and I’m putting it to work on some raw food recipes. My first challenge was to take some veggies that are pretty harsh eaten raw and make them delicious using other ingredients to back them up. Eating chunks of broccoli stems and yellow zucchini isn’t on my list of favorite foods, but they are good for you raw. Here’s how to make them super good.

Veggie Salad Recipe:

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 Fuji apple
  • 1 broccoli stem
  • 1 yellow zucchini
  • 1 bell pepper
  • handful of basil
  • handful of cilantro
  • 2 scallions
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 tablespoons of Bragg Amino Acids
  • 2 tablespoons of Oyster Sauce
  1. Shred all the veggies in a large bowl
  2. In a jar, mix lime and lemon juice, Bragg, Oyster sauce, and olive oil
  3. Rough chop basil and cilantro
  4. Combine everything and add some avocado if you want
December 19, 2011

When I was fishing up in NorCal last year, I met a guy that used these cotton sacs to brew coffee. He would just fill it with grounds, drop it in his thermos, and then add water all day. I wanted to try this method to brew tea, so I recently bought some from etsy.com. You can also fill a sac with herbs and use it to flavor soups. I’m going dedicate one for coffee and one for each type of tea so they get flavored nicely over time. This is going to be perfect for backpacking or any day trip where you want to travel light and still have a nice beverage.

November 27, 2011

I use my immersion blender everyday, so I modified mine with a loop and hung it in a convenient place. This blender is only $50, and it is one of the most used devices in my kitchen. Everyday I make a protein shake with frozen fruit, and I always hated using a big blender because it takes too long to clean and it is bulky on my counter. I simply put everything in a wide mouth mason jar, and use the immersion blender. I drink from the jar, and now I’m only cleaning one jar and the blender tip rinses off in seconds. It also works killer for blending sauces because when you are done, you can just add the lid and put it in the fridge. You can make enough sauce or salad dressing for the next week, and keep it in the fridge to use at your leisure. Mine is always plugged in near my stove, so I can also blend soups right in the pot. Super sweet.

November 24, 2011

I love to use the mortar and pestle to combine spices and ingredients. Bashing up spices releases their flavor so much more than just mincing. One of my favorite things to do is make a paste that you can add to anything. This mixture of lemongrass, garlic, and ginger is a simple base to so many recipes. You can also buy spices whole and grind them into a powder before you cook to get the freshest spices you’ll ever taste. Get one. It’s worth it.

November 21, 2011

Call me a drug dealer, nerd, European, or whatever, but I love measuring in grams, and I HATE our system of cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, etc. All you need is grams. The rest of the world uses the metric system and its so much easier to bake with. All you need is a scale, which you can get anywhere for $15. Get a digital one that zeros out after each measurement. Put in 1,000 grams of this, hit zero, put in 700 grams of that, hit zero, etc. Once you get used to it, you’ll never go back to using US units again. Here are 5 reasons why I like using a scale with grams:

1.  Its way faster to add ingredients.

2. I only need one measuring device, so I don’t have to clean all other tools to measure cups and teaspoons.

3. It’s way more precise and predictable (a cup of flour can vary by 25 grams; compound that by 5 cups)

4. This might be nerdy, but you can calculate percentages and alter to your liking. You simply break each ingredient down to a percentage compared to flour. After baking for a while you’ll be able to remember what the difference is between a 65% hydrated dough compared to a 75%. Now you can look at a recipe and know exactly what its gonna feel and taste like BEFORE you make it based on the ratio between water to flour, salt to flour, etc.

5. Since you can now do percentages, it’s easier to change the quantity.  (Ex: most bread doughs have 2% salt, 70% water, etc) 70% of 1,000 g of flour is ….   you got this.

I’m slowly converting all my recipes to grams, and I’ll include grams in all the recipes from now on for you die hard gram fans.