A Few Of My Favorites: Kitchen Edition

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and use a fair number of tools to pull off 30-minute dinners, all day bake-a-thons, breakfasts on the run and celebratory shin-digs.

These made the cut:

  1. Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder, Stainless Steel. Because, coffee first. Grind it fresh people, it’s soooo much better. A burr grinder allows you to adjust the coarseness of the grind for your preferred brewing technique. Size DOES matter.

  2. Global MinoSharp 3 Knife Sharpener in Grey/Black. I like my coffee black, and my Wusthof knives SHARP. It’s not totally foolproof but it’s what the knife sharpening guy at Sur la Table uses...

  3. Pampered Chef Silicone Oven Mitts. Hands down (heehee) the best oven mitts out there. Donate your “hot pads” to Goodwill. These are all you need.

  4. Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan. Okay, I have never been a PC dealer but I can seriously give testimony to these stoneware pans. I love baking on them--roasted vegetables, cookies, salmon, you name it. You only wash with hot water, seasoning it over time like cast iron.

  5. Le Creuset Signature Flame Oval French Oven. Like a little black dress, you can rely on this sexy beast for any occasion--braise your beef and caramelize your shallots, simmer your stew and roast your bird. C’est nécessité!

What are some of YOUR favorite things?


The New Basics: 9 Cookbooks for Family Dinners

Cookbooks I've always enjoyed cooking. Baking especially. From my mid 20s into my mid thirties it was a heavy rotation on Martha Stewart and Cooking Light. Then I made baby food from scratch and took a weird turn into working parent survival mode with "dino" nuggets, broccoli and quesadillas. That was fairly short lived as we were determined to get back to the basics—whole foods and family dinners. So I was stoked when the Family Dinner "movement" came along and brought with it cookbooks geared to families trying to cook fast, healthy meals for grown ups and kids.

I first bought Time for Dinner (from former Cookie editors) and the The Family Dinner (from Laurie David, champion of the "Family Dinner Project". Because as much as I love Martha, it was only her FOOD publication that hit the mark. Anyway, I've since expanded my collection to include GP's My Father's Daughter, NYT fave Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, Heidi Swanson's Supernatural Cooking and Supernatural Everyday, and Andrew Weil's True Food. Even if I'm not following the recipes strict, I refer to them all the time. I also hit up the Dinner A Love Story blog and 101 Cookbooks. And last but not least, Pinterest.

Note: We're omnivores that fricking love bacon, homemade pancakes, and roasted veggies. That, and I'm 80/20 Paleo. So modification here is KEY.

In addition to cookbooks and blogs for meal inspiration, we use Table Topics Family Edition to spark conversation at the table. If you like that, you can find smart, probing, age appropriate questions posted via the Family Dinner Project. I also started a garden in our backyard, and the boys like to help me harvest the bounty--they eat most of it.

At the end of the day though, it's simply about getting a decent meal on the table and having a meaningful connection with the people we love. Don't aim for perfection, good is enough.

How do you do family dinners?

P.S. Stay tuned for my Top 5 Go-To Recipes in upcoming posts.