Back To Basics, Are We Really??? - TheBritishBaker Blog at - 191352


Back to Basics, are we really??? 
Aug. 21, 2010 4:29 pm 
Updated: Aug. 29, 2010 4:52 am
Back to Basics, are we really??? 

I like to think of myself as a “back to basics cook”.  When it comes to cooking a meal for my family, I love to start from scratch using fresh local produce wherever possible.  If you want pancakes for breakfast why use Aunt Jemima or bisquik when we have so many easy recipes at our fingertips.  

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that I don’t cheat occasionally; in fact one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes starts life in a box (well two, actually)…

Last night I was lying in bed in the middle of the night unable to sleep, it was one of those crazy moments when your body is so tired, but your brain has other ideas!!!  Anyway I got to thinking, how could I possibly even remotely think of my self as being back to basics when I have every kitchen gadget going.  I will only bake on stoneware; my pots and pans have to be Le Creuset.  I will only use German Forged steel knives.  Mr. Bingley (KA food processor) and Mr. Darcy (KA mixer) are part of the family!  I have a bread machine, Ice cream maker, oh the list just goes on and on…

I thought back then to my dear Grandma Harris, the wonderful lady who passed her love of cooking on to me.  (Grandma Tunstall, my other Grandma was a wonderful Lady too, in fact she was one of life’s true angels, but it was Grandpa in that family that did the cooking).  I thought about her kitchen, it was as far removed from the gourmet kitchen I have here as you can imagine.  In fact she didn’t have any counter space, all her prep work, mixing, baking etc was done right on the kitchen table.  She certainly had nothing but the basic wooden tools (our earth friendly bamboo not being available) but of course her biggest asset was of course her hands…  Those hands created some of the most lightest sponge cakes I have ever tasted the perfect piecrusts and everything was always made with love.

I do not think of myself at all as an expert cook and very much the intermediate, but take away all my gadgets and gizmos and really what type of cook am I.  A beginner, I would not know where to start if I didn’t have Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley to work their magic.

So my next thought was should I really try and cook like grandma did, and really be a back to basics cook (this last thought was about 3am in the morning).  It took me all of one minute to think this little thought over, not on your life.  I love all the tools out there on the market, even though they do overfill our cabinets and drawers.  So I came to the conclusion yes I do adore cooking, but the more I think about it, the more I realize I would just prefer to stay the lazy cook that I am…

Thank you for reading my blog, if you have a few moments, I have a few questions for you?

What kitchen gadgets can you not live without?

Did you buy any gadget that lives in the drawer or cabinet with little use?

Money no object, what kitchen gadget would you love to own?

Did a family member inspire you to cook?

I am so looking forward to reading how many of you foodies out there are like me, or how many of you use your own hands to create your masterpieces…

Grandma's wherever you are now, I just want you to know that not a day goes by when I don't miss you and love you more.  God bless, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers...

Grandma Harris
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Grandma Harris
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Grandma Tunstall
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Grandma Tunstall
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Aug. 21, 2010 4:54 pm
Sweet blog Apple.Strudel! Funny where our minds go on a sleepless night! So lets see - What kitchen gadgets can you not live without? My bread machine I think but the dishwasher is a solid second! Did you buy any gadget that lives in the drawer or cabinet with little use? My husband bought me a Salad Shooter (jeez do they even make those anymore?) and he teases me about not using it! I did once - that was enough for me! LOL Money no object, what kitchen gadget would you love to own? Commercial everything - fancy refrigerator and separate freezers, another set of ovens (have the convection oven now with the pizza oven on top) but would love a set of wall ovens, Oooo - and one of those stone/brick wall ovens! Yeah definitely want one of those! Lots of good pots and pans would be nice! And I would do my entire kitchen in vintage appliances that are modernized! It would be a huge kitchen with an enormous table and pretty high back chairs too! And while you are at it please throw in one of those ice machines like hotels have - we never have enough ice here! Did a family member inspire you to cook? I guess it would have to be my husband. My mom kept us all out of the kitchen so I learned how to cook on my own. When I met my husband who is Italian his mom taught me how to make all kinds of things. I was hooked! I dont have any real kitchen memories or stories from my childhood except stealing fresh baked christmas cookies when mom was not looking but I do have them with my husbands family and I am creating them with my children. I wonder what they will remember or what great tools they will have in their kitchens one day! Thanks for a great blog!
Aug. 21, 2010 4:57 pm
What kitchen item could I not live without? Hands down it would be my cast iron skillets! I guess in that respect I am not unlike my grandma Richardson who gave me my first one. Other than the cast iron, I would hate to be without my mini food chopper!!
Aug. 21, 2010 4:58 pm
Back to basics to me means less processed food like mac & cheese from the little blue box (mac & cheese from scratch would be noodles/shredded cheese/milk etc) plus using the ingredients to make brownies over a store box.I do use a food processor but I don't like recipes where you need a Kitchen Aid to mix. Most people purchase alot of already made food like TV dinners/ Deli Fast food things like this I don't consider them basics.___What kitchen gadgets can you not live without? (my crockpot/food processor/toaster oven/rice cooker for dd ) ____Did you buy any gadget that lives in the drawer or cabinet with little use? my mandolin gets little use but I use it maybe once a month)___Money no object, what kitchen gadget would you love to own?___a Bigger Kitchen & counter space_____Did a family member inspire you to cook? Both my grandma & mom cook ( even basic meals it shocks me how many people even at the stores have cart after cart of ( frozen dinners) I have taught lots of young adults to cook & read recipes enough to not have to eat ramen noodles. :O)
Aug. 21, 2010 5:23 pm
Hi Applestrudel. I really love my citrus grater and the Le Creuset! It is wonderful! My newest gadget is the stick mixer whatchmacallit. Great for blending potato leek soup! So hard to choose.I really have everything I need. Food processor, KA mixer. Basic pots and pans. It would be nice to have an ice cream maker, though. My irish grandmother new "basic". I saw the cottage in Kerry, ireland where my dad grew up. Wow!! How did she do it? Just a fireplace/pot. They had 10 kids.
Aug. 21, 2010 5:31 pm
Oh my inspiration? Have to say my husband. Our first "date" was when he made dinner. He was trying to impress me, lol. I was able to make banana bread before marriage. He encouraged me. And hia suggesting...How 'bout hot dogs tonight?"
Aug. 21, 2010 5:41 pm
I couldn't be without my Kitchen-Aid mixer. I have a stainless steel crockpot that I used once a few years ago and has since sat in the cabinet. I also have a George Foreman grill that we never use either. I am somewhat inspired to bake by my mom. I grew up on a farm and baking was a way to pass the time. My mom baked a few different things, but she inspired me the try different recipes and not to get stuck in a rut of baking the same chocolate chip cookies.
Aug. 21, 2010 6:16 pm
I do love my gadgets, they make life easier. But I learned the basics of cooking without them so I can do without them I just don't WANT to. I still will go at a new recipe the old fashioned way until I'm comfortable with the process. And there is a lot I don't know. What kitchen gadgets can you not live without?----Dishwasher and coffee maker. Life would be so much more difficult without those. And beside with out these no cooking would ever get done ;) Did you buy any gadget that lives in the drawer or cabinet with little use?------Hmmmm this is a hard one I use just about everything but let me think about it...Ahhh my pastry blender. I don't really see the point in it. Guess I just can't figure out how it makes it easier than 2 knives :) Money no object, what kitchen gadget would you love to own?----Mmm I'd just take a new kitchen with new appliances, tons of counter space and lots of cabinets! Did a family member inspire you to cook?-------I have a few who inspire me to cook and try new things. My Grandma, who was an amazing cook and could make delicious meals out of nothing, My Nana, whose traditional Italian dishes and desserts still can make my mouth water just thinking about them.MMMMM. My Dad, who loved to experiment and never used recipes but everything always tasted really good, even if he could never duplicate it!!lol! And my Aunt, she can cook ANYTHING! Seriously she can go to a restaurant and eat something and make the list of ingredients then go home and weeks, months later make it. I seriously wish I had her palate.
Aug. 21, 2010 6:38 pm
I love this blog apple.strudel. I miss both of my grandmothers so much. They were both wonderful cooks and inspired me to do the same. I tried for 11 years to make a nut cake like my grandmother and finally succeeded. My favorite kitchen gadgets are a very sharp knife and the whisk. I use them daily it seems. One thing that has stayed in the cabinet without use is the salad spinner. It doesn't work well and is big and in the way so it sits above the fridge unused now. Money no object the thing I would like to own would be a nice five burner gas range/stove. I have electric now and would love the top of the line gas ones.
Aug. 21, 2010 6:46 pm
What's for dinner, mom? ~ Oh my goodness I would just love to learn proper Italian cooking. I love Italian cuisine, the real Italian home cooking, not the rubbish some of the Italian restaurants churn out and like us to believe is rustic Italian food! What on earth is a salad shooter, that is a new one on me. grannygigi ~ I have a couple of very big cast iron skillets and I use them every now and then, I have a food chopper on order from Pampered Chef, so looking forward to playing with that new toy. Jayashiangel ~ Back to basics means the same for me to, like you I am amazed just how many people live off convenience food when there are so many quick and easy meal options out there. I just got to thinking that years ago my grandma would not have had convenience foods to hand even if she wanted to. That than got me on to gadgets today and how much we depend on them. Maureen ~ Your Grandma's cottage must have been something to see. Please don't get me started on country cottages or else once again it will have me longing for home... MySweetCreations ~ I have an expensive crockpot which only gets used to keep soup warm, I have never used it yet to cook anything. I guess its one of those things I could live without. No one could accuse you of just baking the same old chocolate chip cookies!! rae ~ what an amazing aunt, I wish I had her palate too. I know where to come now, if ever I need to copy a restaurant dish!
Aug. 21, 2010 8:11 pm
Love this blog and the photos. Also - Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy? Genius. That gave me a good giggle. This blog is timely because I just treated myself at the Kitchen store today. I drooled for quite a while over all the gadgets and came home with some treasures: a new measuring cup/spoon set, flour sifter, and citrus juicer. I couldn't live without my KA mixer, microplane zester and santoku knife. Oh, and the coffee maker of course. There is really only one appliance that I don't use - my electric skillet.
Aug. 21, 2010 8:43 pm
Oh, I forgot to say who my inspiration is - my Grandma Betty. I wrote a blog about her not long ago - have a look!
Aug. 22, 2010 5:42 am
LOL AS - a Salad shooter is like a grater/slicer/shredder thingamabob- it is electric. I guess it is a mini handheld food processor that you hold over the salad bowl. What a mess! LOL - I would be glad to send you mine - it is in like new condition HAHAHAHAH Or if you want a new one they still make them! Can't believe it! ------>
Aug. 22, 2010 6:03 am
Good blog - lots of food for thought here. Back to Basics for me means less processed food not really the gadgets used. Still I really love having great knives and pans. I too have a couple of electric gadgets that I use daily, my KA (Ol Yeller) and my "Smart Stick" hand held blender and it's mini food processor. LOVE IT. I see chopping and dicing as therapy, so although I do on occasion use the big FP - I usually resort to the knife. My hubby is the gadget master and bought me a very expensive steamer - which I never used and gave to my daughter. The bread machine was a waste of money too - gave that to my other daughter. As for inspiration - I would have to say it would be my Aunties. They taught me to make light pastry, gravies, sauces, custards and they, like your Nana's were truly working in bare bones kitchens. My one Auntie Minnie is almost 90 and still bakes everyday in her Aga. Good memories, thank you.
Aug. 22, 2010 6:18 am
Your blog has had me pondering just what back to basics means to me and how I cook. You gave me lots to think about and memories are seeping in.... I remembered my dad from about 20 some years ago (I was just a newlywed) saying how my cooking reminded me of his mothers. I felt so good about that then! I asked my dad what kinds of things she would cook and what his favorites were. I wish AR was around in those days because I tried to recreate some of her dishes and really could have used the help!! Anyhow my dad said she was a basic cook - fresh veggies, scratch baking nothing out of a can unless she canned it herself. He said her food was "thoughtful" and thats what makes my cooking like hers! So, I guess, to me, getting back to basics means I think about what I am going to make. I choose to use fresh, preferably organic foods when I can and I do as much of the work as possible. I try to eliminate processed foods, preservatives and all of that. I am not a fancy cook but I am a "homemade" and hopefully, above all else --- a "thoughtful" cook. I do love all of my gadgets and modern appliances and they do make cooking and getting back to the "basics" much easier. Thanks for bringing that memory back for me!
Aug. 22, 2010 6:22 am
I get a kick out of the common question that begins, "I don't have a bread machine, can I......" Like I grew up watching my mom knead bread! We never had counter space or boards for kneading on, so she did that in the pan she mixed it in. I can still picture her sitting there with the pan between her legs kneading away! My most unused appliance is my Breville grill. Sometimes I'll make sandwiches using it--maybe three times a year! But living in SoCal, we can grill outdoors almost every day of the year!
Aug. 22, 2010 7:09 am
OK - you gave me furiously to think! Thanks for this. Most enjoyable. I have spent exactly 1 hour going through this now and am ready to answer you - Kitchen gadgets I could not live without: Hob, Oven, Good pans, Good knives, chopping board, strainer/colander, mixing bowl, whisk, kitchen sink and draining board, washing up cloths and drying cloths, fridge. Anything else I could manage somehow, not necessarily with enjoyment! Things that I could (stress could) do without but cannot imagine not having: peeler, kettle, freezer, paper towels, garlic press, defroster box, alu foil, dunno what you call it (Saran wrap?) but in German it translates as Freshness-holding foil, and in Brit English, clingfilm. • Gadget purchased but never used - Jamie Oliver's Flavour Shaker • Love to own - Blast chiller • Family member who inspired me - Sonya Jane Fairchild is NOT technically a family member, but she is alife-long friend. She got me off my backside and into the Hell that is a kitchen.
Aug. 22, 2010 8:43 am
Heather C ~ I know just what you mean about salad spinners, I had one that I think got used just the once. Here I have a large gas range, its good but back in England I had a duel fuel range, which if I am honest is how I prefer to cook. It was a six gas burner hob and duel electric ovens. If I had my choice, I would have that range back in a heartbeat. Just one of those things we could not move across the ocean... Dianne ~ going to take a read of the blog about your grandma this afternoon, looking forward to it. Going to hit the stores in a few minutes. What's for dinner, mom? ~ What a strange gadget that it, it looks like a cross between a rotary grater and a mandoline. If I am honest I think it looks a little on the complicated side! I thought the title of "thoughtful cook" that really does make so much sense and I feel describes my style of cooking too. Baking Nana ~ I I just love aga's they really are fantastic, your aunt must be pretty something to still be able to make everyday. Hope I am the same if I am lucky enough to live to her age... Marianne ~ Lucky you being able to grill outside so much. I know what you mean about the bread machine, I love baking bread but I can count on both hands the sides I have made bread without either making the dough in the KA or breadmachine, I do enjoy making bread by hand but its just such hard work. Told you I was a lazy cook... Swiss Phil ~ Should I be apologizing for taking up an hour of your time??? Saran Wrap, its good old Cling film to me. Still not sure what the correct name of it is here!
Aug. 22, 2010 9:39 am
Hi-If you would call a cook book a gadget then so be it. I need my cook books, love to collect them and read them. I would love to be able to cook without having to look at a recipe. I remember my grandmother or my step-mother just cooked their own way without recipe books. No measuring just seemed to know how much of this and that to add. I do have a lot kitchen gadget's that I don't use. I don't want to get rid of them either. If money was no object, would like to have my own chef. Since that will never happen, I love my cook books.
Aug. 22, 2010 9:59 am
AS - Great questions for a blog! As for gadgets - I'm not really a gadget girl. As long as I have a set of good quality knives I'm pretty much set. I would hate to give up my slow cooker, though, if that counts as a gadget. It's just too darn convenient for work days. I love coming home to the smell of chili or spaghetti sauce or a good stew on a cold day. Very welcoming. As for my inspiration, I blogged in May about Cooking and in June about Baking. For better and worse, it was definitely Mom!
Aug. 22, 2010 3:26 pm
I guess I'm sort of a Basic cook. I need a sharp knife, a few spoons, a skillet and a crockpot. This is how I cooked in college (I baked bread in the crockpot then and sometimes do now). A saucepan is handy, as is a cooktop and an oven. I do love my KA mixer (a present from DH about 5 years ago), I occasionally buy bread, and I bought an inexpensive food processor about a week ago to see if I'll use it. But I cooked for years with a basic set of cookware, a few knives, wooden spoons, a few spatulas, measuring spoons & cups. I guess my can't-do-without would be a coffee maker-any kind that I can set up the night before so I can start the day with fresh coffee. I love the gadgets, but could live and cook without them. And I think if you tried, you would find it's not that hard. Inspiration? Every woman I met before the age of 18. Those women were (and are) incredible cooks who learned to make the best with what they had, whether it was a little or a lot. Church and school potlucks were incredible, cake walks were a joy, and the hospitality that went with the food was even more incredible than the food itself.
Aug. 23, 2010 7:43 am
Coco ~ I just adore cook books to and can sit there and read them like many people would read a novel. Dutchgirl ~ I really will have to start using the slow cooker, to be honest I have no idea where to start with it and what to cook in it. The thought of coming home to the smell of cooking on a cold winters night, sounds just perfect....Elle ~ so many people are telling me they can't live without the coffee maker, other than for guests its not used so the first thing I would more than likely hand over if I had to get rid of one item. Coming from England I am a tea drinker, now take my hot water kettle away from me and I would have a panic attack...
Aug. 23, 2010 7:57 am
I'm with Dutchgirl. My slow cooker. I cannot function without my slow cooker. With 2 busy teenage boys, our schedule doesn't always allow me time to spend an hour cooking/cleaning every night. It's wonderful when I can come home to a pot of soup in the slow cooker (and a loaf of bread in the breadmaker) or when I only have to warm up tortillas for the shredded beef burritos - or make a quick pan of cornbread to go with the chili, etc.
Aug. 23, 2010 9:16 am
back to basics is good with a touch of convenience. I could not live without my coffee pot. I love my food processor, KA, just to make prepping quicker and allow me to multitask in the kitchen. Canning gadgets (canner, strainer, lifter, french bean cutter-all share a special cupboard). Gadget in a drawer-not here, if it is not used it goes to Goodwill or my sister. Gadget I would love to own...already have them, I like simple so I don't have many fancy dishes or pans. My great grandma, grandma and favourite aunt all inspired me to cook.
Aug. 23, 2010 11:39 am
Hey Apple, lovely blog about Grandmas! A gadget I couldn't live without would be my tea kettle if you consider it a gadget and my steel knives! A gadget I bought that sits in my cabinet is my coffee maker!A gadget I would like to own would be a beautiful copper bowl!! The person who inspired me to cook was my mom because she's the type of cook that throws anything in to a recipe even it doesn't belong!!!! And 7 out 10 times the meal didn't work!( Sorry MOM) My Nana on the other hand was a hardworking single mom of 6 kids who taught me how to cook from the basic necessities and she's still teaching me! I'll be 37 and she will be 93!! Lot of love Mom and Nana!! Thanks Apple!!
Aug. 23, 2010 11:44 am
I have all the respect in the world for the women who used to run their households without the conveniences of electricity, and all the other things we take for granted! I'm not that tough! I love making soap, I make most of our food from scratch...beginning with milking the cow in the morning making our own butter, bread, all our dairy products (except hard cheese, haven't mastered that yet)but I could never do it with out my KA, peeler, electric ice cream maker, FP, etc. I am the gadget QUEEN!!LOVE the pics!!
Aug. 23, 2010 12:15 pm
Petey ~ Oh I am so in awe of you, milking your own cow. Thats fabulous, you really are starting right from the beginning of the food chain. Homemade soap to, I would love to try that. My mum makes all her own lotions and potions, but its something I have not gotten around to trying yet. dragonfly22 ~ we are just so alike, I can not live without my kettle, but the coffee maker can go tomorrow. You are so lucky to have your Nana around, I envy you so much! Redneck Gramma ~back to basics is good with a touch of convenience, you are so right there! Crikkitt ~ I really am going to have to rethink my use of the crockpot.
Aug. 23, 2010 1:28 pm
Ok, Petey, you win! I don't have a cow. The gadget I wish I had discovered when my kids were younger and I was much more stressed and harried is my crockpot. It's a lifesaver. My mother is the person who inspired to to cook. She used to sit me on the kitchen counter and let me "help" her. My newest gadget is my KA mixer my husband got for my birthday. He calls it my Harley Davidson. If money were NO object and this is not a gadget but I really want one before I die! I would absolutely love to have an enormous 6 burner Viking gas stove. Yes, I have a drawer full of gadgets. Anybody want them?
Aug. 27, 2010 5:25 am
I want (money aside) an induction cooktop, a HUGE double oven, a KA stand mixer (I only have the hand mixer). No one inspired me to cook --- I come from a long line of lousy cooks - but all 4 daughters are good cooks - go figure!
Aug. 27, 2010 5:35 am
After coming from NC last year to visit my daughter in Ca.I decided to move near by. My home sold quickly but I did not move my household goods, wanting to first find a home. I suddenly realized I did not have a kitchen full of zimos, sets of everything. Here I was in an apt. refusing to buy anything with so much waiting to be shipped. I quickly found something reassuring in cooking with mimimium tools, pans, etc. Cleansing might be a good term. Try working with only basic tools and you might just be surprised how simply cooking really is...remember grandmother was the best cook of all time! and she had only the very basics in her kitchen.
Aug. 27, 2010 5:54 am
Funny thing, I've been thinking of my grandmother this week. Her and her old woodburning cooktop & stove she cooked on. Talk about luxury when she got a new gas one. I don't think I would like to live without my KA or toaster ove.n. I rarely use the nice blender I got. I can't pick just one gadget I'd like because I would dearly love to remodel the whole kitchen. Mom inspired me to cook. Her bread was the best!
Aug. 27, 2010 6:31 am
Cat Hill ~ Do you know I have never even tried a toaster oven, feel like I am missing out on something now! Kenn ~ I have thought about the same thing, but just can't bring myself to it. Some recipes of course only call for simple tools but I like to know I have everything on hand should I need them! Shee ~ You obviously did something right to have 4 daughters who are all good cooks... LCook ~ I love the name of your KA mixer...
Aug. 27, 2010 6:53 am
I am 67. I've had ALL the gadgets, yep, sucker for them all. Most have been donated to Goodwill. I must say that I live alone so my food needs are simple but still I prepare great food for myself and then my family once a week. What I couldn't live without are a few good sharp knives for chopping and slicing. Also I love my small Cuisinart chopper. But mostly I can prepare anything I like with good knives, good ingredients, and mostly using my (forgot to mention this)great toaster oven (for me), even wonderful broiled fish, burgers, chicken. This is what I would say to you young foodies: If you enjoy your gadgets that make your cooking and your life easier, then do it. Yes even my own grandmother and mother made wonderful recipes with their hands and spoons and iron skillets. But they were mostly stay-at-home wives/mothers who had the time (well mostly, after doing laundry by hand until they could afford washing machines and dryers). So if you can afford those fancy gadgets and they give you more time in these busy lives we lead today, then FEEL NO GUILT because you have them. GG
Aug. 27, 2010 7:21 am
Great blog, loved the photos of your grandmoms! I couldn't live without my crock pots (I have 2 sizes I use them so much). I splurged on my Staub coq au vin pot and it cooks like a rock star! My mom was a big cook and was a "back to basics cook" and I learned from her. Money no object? I'd want a Wolff gas stove! The object that sits in my drawer rarely used? Nothing really, if I don't use it I get rid of it cause in my teeny tiny kitchen wasted space is a no no.
Aug. 27, 2010 7:52 am
Terrific blog! I agree that back to basics cooking is not about what gadgets are being used - but that you are actually cooking with the freshest ingredients you have available to you. You will rarely find me in the frozen food section, and my husband would divorce me if he ever saw any packaged anything in the pantry. I could not live without a good set of knives (we are due for a new set), my cast iron pans, and KA mixer for baking. If I had the money I would love a set of wall ovens. I am fortunate to have a large kitchen with plenty of counter space and cabinets - but I would love to have the wall ovens. Who influenced my cooking? Well my Mom started me off, but it was actually my first job after college that really developed my interest. I worked as an admistrative assistant to the chefs in the General Foods test kitchens. Everyday for two years, I was exposed to all styles of cooking, was sampling food, and actually cooked in the kitchens with the staff working with me. I worked with the staff in developing cook books and the recipes you find on the back of packages. It was a great experience. I did lose 7 pounds immediately when I left that job! But I started off with a terrific foundation and learned not to be afraid to experiment and that mistakes happen - sometimes the mistakes actually make for a better recipe too!
Aug. 27, 2010 7:58 am
I love, love, love my KA mixer and my All-Clad slow cooker. But for a cannot live without?? That would have to be my collection of cast iron skillets and pots, I'd say...the end of the world can come, and those will still survive! My great grandmother and grandmother inspired my love of cooking, and they taught me to cook. As far as gadgets that get little use, I cook 6-7 days a week, so most of mine are used fairly regularly. My candy thermometer probably wins that one since I tend to use it only around the holidays. Great blog! Back to basics to me means eliminating the processed foods and using fresh ingredients with no preservatives or added chemicals!
Aug. 27, 2010 9:41 am
Let's see...I definitely couldn't live without my kitchenaid mixer, my pampered chef stoneware pans and mixing bowl, a large crock-pot and a good santoku knife. I love to cook. When my fiance met me he would (no joke) eat gummy bears for dinner sometimes. I was apalled, especially since his mom is such a wonderful cook. Since I've done the pampered chef sales, i've got all kinds of gadgets that get virtually no use, lol. In my dream kitchen i'd have Cutco knives, La Creuset pans and one of those $500 blenders that liquefies a smoothie in about 5 seconds. Of course, i'd also like to have the gourmet appliances and wear a size baby steps it is :) I was inspired to cook by the women in my family. Grandma came from a long line of loggers (they have all kinds of interesting recipes) and my aunt would do the holiday baking with us kids every year. Being raised by a single mom who worked full time and had little help, I learned to cook fairly young. I too have been trying to do the "back to basics" cooking. If I get anything frozen it's purely the fruit or veggies. I've cut back greatly on the boxed foods and we don't do frozen meals. This blog was awesome. It lets me know that i'm not the only one who relies on my "gadgets" to get me through a recipe.
Mike Lisieski 
Aug. 27, 2010 10:45 am
To preface my comment, I guess I can't say that I'm a very good cook, but I love cooking and am pretty happy with my ability to cook food that people seem to like. I don't have many cooking gadgets. I really appreciate having a microwave, and we recently splurged on a pretty nice wok that makes life a lot easier. Our rice cooker is very useful, but a bit limited. I often wish we had a blender, but in the end, I don't think it's really useful. Me and my partner decided to eat vegan this year, and so it's really difficult to eat prepared food, as most of it (in our price range, anyways) has animal products in it. In a way, I guess, we've forced ourselves back to the basics, because we have to purchase ingredients rather than foods if we want to be vegan and not go broke. If I could have any kitchen gadget, it would be a deep fryer. I know, I know, vegan is supposed to equal healthy, right? Deep fried food is just a weakness of mine, and doing it in the wok is so much trouble. My inspiration for cooking is my father. He was a wonderful stay at home dad for me and my siblings, and I remember the wonderful (and generally simple) food he'd make for us. Most of the time, when I learn how to cook something, it's because it's something I remember him making, and I think "gee, wasn't that delicious!" and want to make it myself. He came from a large Polish family where feeding someone was a way to express your care for them, and I think he did a good job passing this ethic down to me.
Aug. 27, 2010 11:48 am
My favorite cooking gadget? The drawers that hold all those d@amned gadets! I was raised in a (nearly) hand to mouth environment. When I left the Air Force, I was fortunate that I always had work that paid well and that resulted with me buying things that made life easier- I thought! In the mid 70's we moved to this house and I found myself facing hundreds of little things that really had no value to our lives. They would't even sell in a yard sale!
Aug. 27, 2010 12:19 pm
What kitchen gadgets can you not live without? this one i have no clue cuz i dont have anything fancy. but right now prolly my ice cream maker Did you buy any gadget that lives in the drawer or cabinet with little use? yepp waffle maker and deep fryer Money no object, what kitchen gadget would you love to own? KA stand up mixer...they cost sooooo much :( and a bread maker Did a family member inspire you to cook? nope i kinda had to step up to the plate once i moved out
Aug. 27, 2010 1:27 pm
Kait20 ~ Like you I love my ice cream maker, its just perfect for the summer months. Mike Harvey ~ you are so right Mike, we need those drawers! Mike Lisieski ~ I totally agree, for me cooking is a way to express my way of showing others I care. mandys_284 ~ yes we have got to have those gadgets, in fact today I have ben to sur la table for even more!! wisweetp ~ Like you I also cook at least 6 days a week, so most of my gadgets do get used. Although a few are only used when we are entertaining... Christine ~ Sounded like you had the dream job there! April D. ~ Thank you for the comments, I really appreciate them! GG ~ Oh yes I am guilt free!
Aug. 27, 2010 1:42 pm
I don't do fancy-no bread machines or fancy knives or Williams-Sonoma stuff for me. I would find it hard to do away with my crock-pot-but I know my dutch oven inherited from my Grandma would do just fine. Really people, isn't this excessive need for more stuff what got us into this economic mess? Get back to basics and hopefully more people will get back to work. One more thing: Buy American!
Aug. 27, 2010 2:01 pm
Socalmom ~ don't agree with your statement at all, gadgets have not gotten us in to an economic mess. People buying what they can't afford has done that, but there is a huge difference!
Aug. 27, 2010 2:03 pm
I have always loved this quote of Oscar Wilde "Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of Imagination"
Aug. 27, 2010 2:06 pm
GG - I loved your remark about stay-at-home moms. My Mother, bless her heart, washed clothes for five people on Monday, ironed all day Tuesday (with no air conditioning in the house), cleaned the house, grocery shop, etc., etc., on Friday, didn't bake too much but what she did was great. When my Father came home from work each day, all 3 well-mannered kids had clean clothes on and there was dinner ready for the table. She even had a part-time job outside the home. On Sunday we had roast chicken or beef. She never rested. Plus, believe it or not she wore a dress every day and heels most of the time. June Cleaver, no, but she is my wonderful, loving Mother. Don't ever say just a stay-at-home Mom. If the mothers of today had to do all she did they couldn't handle it.
Aug. 27, 2010 4:15 pm
Rest assured your gramma would have LOVED to have the kitchen gadgets you've got now! My gramma fed her kids, grandkids, cousins and farm hands using nothing but a few pots and pans, some casserole dishes, a wooden spoon or three, and a good knife, and it kept her hopping sunup to sundown. AND, I'm sure her grandmother would have been jealous of what SHE had, because that woman had to cook out of a covered wagon over a campfire! You're doing the basics as they are in this time period. :)
Aug. 27, 2010 5:18 pm
Great topic. I really did go back to basics. I moved from a house with a huge kitchen, 48 linear feet of counter top and cabinets and a walk in pantry to a co-op apartment with slightly less than 12 feet of cabinet/counter space. (But I am right on the ocean so it was a good trade) My daughter got an early inheritance. The only thing I replaced was my stand mixer because the arthritis in my hands was too painful to knead bread. My Granny White is my inspiration. She was a phenomenal, depression era cook - able to make a wonderful meal out of almost nothing. Everytime I think I need a food processor I think of how she prepared things and I am content with what I have.
Aug. 27, 2010 7:24 pm
I have to say I am answering your blog without reading any of the other grandmother made the best apple pie, the crust was so flaky, the apples was cooked to perfection with just the right amount of spice. The kicker to all this is that she did it in a wood burning stove. The kind that folks today pay big bucks to display. She had to go out and get wood every morning to get wood and kindling. Put paper in the little round holes in the top of the stove, add kindling and then the logs, much like you would to start a fire in the fireplace. She too had nothing but the kitchen table to work on. Her crust started with lard and flour. The crust was so flakey, light and delicious. Yes I have all the gadgets. I have one of the "boat motors" - that to date I have not used, but have every intention of using. I have a crinkle cutter,stoneware bundt pan, mini muffin pans, muffin top pans,etc. Yes, someday I will use all of them, as I bought them for a reason. I love to cook, and make no bones about it. I also have a pinelle maker, which I have used many time... makes a very simple delicious dessert...lot of work, but well worth it. To me back to basics means using the simple ingredients to make great dishes. No one should be embarrassed to say they have gadgets if you at some point use them. Everything evolves, we would not be able to communicate like this if not for such evolution. I can still remember making 10 kinds of cookies for Christmas without a mixer.....would I want to go back...NO WAY. Enjoy the technology!
Aug. 27, 2010 10:42 pm
I can't live without my knives...such a versatile tool. And whisks..because mixing just wouldn't be easy ot thorough without them. With All the numerous contraptions I own or have access to..I still prefer to make thing with my hands. Whether it's slicing things up or making bread or preparing any number of kinds of meats for marinade..I prefer to get in there and roll up my sleeves just like my own grandmother did. It brings me closer to my food, I get a real feel (no pun intended) for what it is I'm working with. I have a pair of oversized chopsticks that I bought to use for stirring..still in the package. If I had a bigger smoker that would be nice, industrial sized :). My grandmother inspired me quite alot to cook. Good simple food with good wholesome ingredients that philosophy. I think it's important that people don't forget these skills. Never mind the gadgets..learn the technique
Aug. 28, 2010 5:19 am
Nick ~ you are so right, we do need to learn the basic techniques. I can do most of the basic's ~ I was only saying to my husband yesterday how I wish I was able to chop like a professional chef, maybe that is something I can address in the future. Dianna ~ Grandma's and their apple pies, they will always be the best... BigShotsMom ~ Oh it must be wonderful to live on the ocean, I have always wanted to do that. Hopefully I may still get the chance to live that dream too... Jessica ~ You may be right about Grandma liking the gadgets, over the years we had all brought different items to try and make life easier, but she never seemed to use them! Jeanne807 ~ I think the stay at home mums had a different life back then!!
Aug. 28, 2010 6:17 am
Hi Applestrudel.... Let's see items I couldn't live without, my coffeepot and dishwasher, the item that doesn't get used would be my deep fryer, if money was not an object I'd want a brand new large kitchen with top of the line appliances and lots of counterspace! My inspiration is my grandma (she raised me till I was 11...long story) but when she cooked I remember her sharing with the neighbors. The holidays were a feast!! I carry on her motto " no one ever leaves my home hungry" and as a mom of two kids the only one that is interested in cooking is my little guy maybe he will be a chef one day:-)
Aug. 28, 2010 7:05 am
The only "gadgets" I have are an electric mixer and a crockpot. I have a microwave that I do not use for cooking and very rarely for reheating a dish. I like to cook and bake from scratch because it is healthier for me and my family. The older I get, the more back to basics I have become so consequently there are some ready made things my youngest just loves (macaroni and cheese [anything but Kraft that is] from a box over homemade macaroni and cheese. Can you believe it?) I am trying to get away from all of the additives and preservatives that food manufactureres put in their pseudo-food. Making it myself is the way I do that.
Aug. 28, 2010 7:24 am
I'm back to answer another question...I have almost no counter space and very little cupboard space so more of each would be on my wish list. I use a 2'x 1' space on my kitchen counter and my kitchen table to do all of my prep work for cooking or baking. I would like a waist-high custom-made kitchen island with cupboard space, and a dining room instead of a kitchen table. I would like a waist high counter/cupboard between my kitchen and my dining room with an overhang on the dining room side to tuck a couple of "bar" stools under for folks who want to keep me company or sample my wares while I cook or bake, or just a place for hubby and I to eat when it is just the two of us. Of course, with only 800 sq. ft. in our house, we would have to add on just to have a dining room.
Aug. 28, 2010 7:43 am
I was just talking about this with a coworker today! I'm afraid I don't have a favorite kitchen gadget, I am an old school cook, pots, pans, wooden spoon, knife. Growing up, the idea of buying "kitchen appliances" was out of the question, money for clothes was hard to come by. But I understand the convenience of kitchen technology. I learned how to cook without it and as I got older (now 28) I found people are more and more amazed at that. The last Christmas dinner I made (for 15 people) one of my guests looked around my kitchen and asked "where is everything?" I looked at her kinda funny, all the food was out, waiting to be eaten. I asked her what she was talking about. The response was "All I see are pots and pans, where is your cookware? How did you make all this?" She was honestly puzzled at how this was possible! Although I could now afford some fancy kitchen stuff, I choose not get it. I like that I can cook almost anything without electricity (not including the oven/stove) and would hate to loose those skills. I think back to the most delicious food I had growing up, and it was always Grandma's, the only cook in our family that didn't use specialty appliances or gadgets. Now I am the only one who cooks from scratch (my Grandma is still here, her hands just can't do that anymore), and I am referred to as "the one that can cook". My Grandma has told me she is quite proud of this, I think that's why I keep doing it.
Aug. 28, 2010 8:03 am
Great blog, apple.strudel! "What kitchen gadgets can you not live without?" I have a kitchen full of stuff, but I find myself using my santuko knife, cutting boards, mixing bowl and pots and pans on a regular basis. Everything else is just gravy! "Did you buy any gadget that lives in the drawer or cabinet with little use?" My DH insisted one year that we buy a Showtime Rotisserie to cook our Thanksgiving turkey (what I wanted was a simple standalone roaster). The turkey turned out great, but I've used it maybe once since then. That was about three years ago ... "Money no object, what kitchen gadget would you love to own?" Simple - a bigger kitchen with more counter space and commercial appliances. For the time being, just a new stove. The one I have is - not even self-cleaning. "Did a family member inspire you to cook?" My grandmother. I still remember her beef and noodles and homemade pie and Lemon Cool. I've enjoyed everyone's comments. Thanks for posting!
Aug. 28, 2010 9:41 am
I love this blog! "What kitchen gadgets can I not live without", my knives, crock pot, cutting board, hand mixer, toaster oven, ice cream maker, pasta maker, mandoline, melon baller, citrus peeler, pizza stone, bread maker, Golden Grain Grinder, and mixing bowls. Oh, and my pop can chicken thingy! I do have a lovely apparatus that makes whipped potatoes come out like rosettes, I've used it a couple of times. But now that I think of it, I'm going to take it down, and use it! "Money no object?" Yes, a designer kitchen when there would be stations, so I could sit and prep, with a separate area for my little "bake me happy" hubby! My Italian Mom taught me to cook, starting at age 4. I am the officail "keeper of the recipes" for our big family, and I have compiled most of them into a scrapbook dedicated to my Mom. I, too, have enjoyed reading everyone's comments, gotta go now, making a batch of whole wheat pizza dough!
Aug. 28, 2010 10:01 am
Oh Rusty ~ Welcome to my world, sounds like you have as many gadgets as me, love pizza! MELODYJO6 ~ I just adore my Santuku knives too, have them in both 5" and 7". I love them so much, that I have brought many people the same knives as gifts this year! Nicole ~ Congratulations, its so nice to hear you make your Grandma so proud! love2teach ~ You will not believe this but I have never even eaten Mac and cheese in my life! sillasmiles ~ it seems like most of us were inspired by our Grandma's. I could not even think of living without a dishwasher. Before we fell in love with our current house, the other house we viewed had 2 dishwashers, at the time I thought this was so excessive. Now I can totally see why they were there. Oh well Its something I will certainly be looking for in my next kitchen!
Aug. 28, 2010 10:27 am
I just stumbled across you blog after making honey wheat bread and rolls. I absolutely love my KA mixer (need to size up on that actually), food processor and blender. We've gotten away from packaged foods and are working on homemade healthy and veggie dense meals. My inspiration is my desire to raise a healthy daughter that does not go through puberty at an early age. So we've gone organic, walked away from convenience and do it ourselves. I bake bread once a week, make granola bars, muffins and banana nut bread once a month to freeze, and make hummus from dried beans every week or two. I often feel that this shift in how we eat, shop and live places me on the fringes of society. A bread maker would be wasted in my house as I like to knead the dough myself. I also have a garlic press in the drawer that I think was used a handful of times. Money no object I would love a farm with a chicken coop to get my own eggs. I marvel at my 7 year old who drinks kale smoothies and loves blanched asparagus along with 10 other vegetables that most kids don't touch and I wonder are we doing something so different or did we just get really lucky?
Aug. 28, 2010 5:43 pm
*I’m “roughing it” in a temporary kitchen situation before heading out later this year, so I KNOW the answer to the “cannot live without” query: my pizza pan, which is actually a repurposed barbecue flat surfaced grilling pan…I’ll end up putting that thing in my luggage…sigh. It’s heavy, too. *Bought and hand-carried by air, a tortilla press, thinking it would spare me rolling out my flour tortillas. It must be designed for corn rather than flour. * Money no object? A countertop convection oven. *I guess my husband inspired me, because his answer to my not cooking is McDonald’s. That’s inspiration enough to come up with SOMEthing. // Get some sleep. ;o)
Aug. 28, 2010 7:49 pm
apple.strudel. Such a fun blog. I too think a family meal is important. When my two (now 30 & 34) were young we always ate together which some of their friends thought was odd but loved to join in anyway. I would say my food processor is my favorite gadget because it saves me sooo much time. i did all the cooking for my son's rehearsal dinner and that's when I bought my first one. What a lifesaver! Also, I have become addicted to fresh brewed ice tea. I know, weird, but I make it in my coffee maker cause I don't drink coffee. Weird again but I can't stand the stuff. I don't have many gadgets. I've never told a soul this but my stand mixer is ancient. Son bought it for me his 1st year in college. It doesn't spin anymore, I have to turn it manually and the handle is broken and I have it taped. But, hey, it still runs & I get done what I need to. As you probably guessed, I would love a kitchen full of KA products, a large bright kitchen with lots of windows, double ovens, huge fridge, center cook island with a huge overhead exhaust, white cupboards, maybe two dishwashers (I like to have large family dinners)and a large pantry. I'll have this when I win the lottery! I want a gas stove too. I have an electric smooth top that I absolutely would like to throw in our lake! Oh, and lots of nice pots and pans. And counter space! I don't want much. lol I guess my mom inspired me to cook. She was an awesome cook. I wish I had paid more attention. Everything was from scratch. Don't know how she found the time. - and she canned. We had a candy store/restaurant growing up and did till they retired. My mom made all the food and my dad made all the candy. I could never do the work they did. Thanks for the blog everyone. I really enjoyed reading them.
Aug. 28, 2010 9:36 pm
The tool that I couldn't live without? Well, excluding basics like skillet, knives, oven, etc, probably my hand mixer. I think it's horrible having to stand over my mixing bowl for a half hour for certain recipes, but I'd never do special baking recipes if I had to do it all by hand! What would I like? A Bosch. Supposedly they do everything from blender work and food processor work to mixer work and bread machine cycles (minus the actual baking part). What do I never use? My convection oven. The design is so poor that I hate it with a passion. Hard to clean, blows food around instead of simply cooking it... blech. I'd rather have a toaster oven for the same space and cost. Who inspired me to cook? No one in particular. My aunt is the amazing Thanksgiving Dinner person, my brother makes awesome chili, my mother does great fried chicken, and my dad does amazing BBQ, meatloaf, and cakes. Luckily, I'm not quite as good as any of them, but almost as good as all of them! :-D (In other words, hubs is in love with my cooking, but I'll still jump at a chance at any of my family's specialties).
Aug. 29, 2010 4:31 am
Great blog,apple.strudel!I go with you-baking nana...back to basics means less processed foods. Thus, making use of fresh veggies and other ingredients that are available!I can't do away with my sharp knife for chopping and slicing.Also my 12 year old peeler :)These were the first gadgets I had! I have few gadgets around and I don't have something that isn't of use so far...thank God! Oh, I would love to have a 5 burner gas range/stove! A salad shooter would be great! My boys & I loves salad very much! I use a stove top oven for baking banana bread,carrot bread,brownies and cookies.Definitely,my husband and my 2 boys inspired me to cook!
Aug. 29, 2010 4:52 am
I am about to defend the Salad Shooter. (lol!).....First, let me say that we live off the grid (though we have alternative power.), we have goats and hens, and I use next to no pre-packaged foods.....for several reasons too long to get into at this time. ~~~~~~~The thing is, when you start with fresh, whole foods, you are cooking every meal from scratch, every day.~~~~~Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but I do like to have time for other things, as well, and also have some health issues, including pain in my hands. So I really rely on gadgets to help me out, and make my life, as I live it, possible.------------We used to joke about the Salad Shooter we saw on T.V. back when. Then, one day, we were given one someone found in a back cupboard that had never used. It ended up in my cupboard for a few years. ~~~~ One day I wanted to make coleslaw in the same fine crosscut as we used to get at a restaurant. I remembered the dusty Salad Shooter. It's now used regularly for crosscut cabbage, sliced carrots for soups/stews/candied carrots, sliced potatoes for au gratins, cheese for lasagna etc. It's fast, easy, effective, and is less weight than my food processor. ~~~~~~~~ I do use my food processor a lot. I use it to grind meat every week, to make fillings for sweet potato pie etc., but I no longer use it for simple vegetable slicing, cheese grating etc. I guess someone has to adopt all of the homeless Salad Shooters! :) They come in 2 sizes, btw. Now to the questions........ What gadgets can you not live without? ------ My bread maker (I also cook gluten-free, and have a difficult time rising bread in the winter here, so it's great for me.)/ my food processor because I grind my own meat./ my electric roasting pan, because it holds a lot, and I use it for everyday sauteing./ my rice maker, because it it makes meals easy, without taking burner space./ my pressure cooker, which I make all my stock in, as well as my chicken and meat for tamales, etc./ and my coutertop convection oven.~~~~~~~~~~ Did you buy any gadget that lives in the drawer or cabinet with little use? ---- Probably our deep fryer. ~~~~~~~~ Money no object, what kitchen gadget would you love to own? ---- 10 yrs. ago, I saw a built in wok that cooked hotter than a stovetop can get one. I think Ming had it. I'd really like that, as we stir fry regularly./ Also, I'd like a pedal activated sink, so there's no contamination from hands that have been cutting chicken, or what have you, and ice box drawers for an island. :)~~~~~~~~~ Did a family member inspire you to cook? ---- Both of my grandmothers, and one of my grandfathers, were excellent cooks, and so is my mother. I didn't know it until I was an adult, but my mother doesn't like to cook! Yet, she makes great food! I use one of my grandmother's saucepans whenever I make things like canned fruit. (I just used it to make blackberry syrup, and jam!) She got it when she got married. Not only does it make me feel close to her, but it really does cook better than it's modern counterpart, of the same brand!
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About Me
A little about me, I am a wife and Mum of two gorgeous boys aged 18 and 23, and now mummy to two adorable English Cocker Spaniel puppies named Brie and Henri. We have been living in the US now for 5 years. (You will also see me on - AR's UK site). I guess like most other European’s I don’t eat to live, but live to eat!!! One of my great passions in life is food. Good home cooked, fresh produce. Especially if it is sourced locally. I truly believe that it is so important at the end of the day for a family to sit down and eat a home cooked dinner together. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen now, which always amuses my husband. A few years back we had a small public house and restaurant in the Derbyshire Countryside (England). Never once would I venture in the kitchen. With all those professionals there was certainly no need for an amateur! Should you wish you can contact me at
My favorite things to cook
More than anything I adore baking. Cakes, Cookies (or biscuits as they are known to me) and my latest love is baking bread.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Some of my earlier memories are sitting at my Grandma’s kitchen table in England, watching her bake. She insisted on having to bake a fresh cake everyday. My Grandad was a big cake fan, and a cake always had to be kept in the pantry just in case a visitor should call. Not that you could move in the pantry for more sugar, flour and butter then any village store. (Just in case food rationing ever came back). Unfortunately my Grandma has recently passed away, but her passion for baking will always live on through me and I hope that in time my baking skill will do her justice.
My cooking triumphs
Anything that actually turns out how it is supposed too!!!
My cooking tragedies
Oh my goodness where do I start, like everyone I have had the usual tragedies, sponge cakes that have sunk in the middle, over cooked pie crusts, bread that has just failed to rise but I can thankfully say with a little patience and practice I am finaly getting better!!!
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