The most important tool in your kitchen.

This is a post without a recipe.

Sorry.

Instead, I’m going to talk about something close to my heart. Something that makes life just that little bit easier and multi-tasking a breeze. Something that every – and I mean *EVERY* – kitchen should have and cook should use.

A timer.

Yes, I said a timer.

A kitchen timer will save your sanity.

Use the timer on your oven

Use the timer on your oven

My mother was a great cook. She also burned things regularly. This was because usually she was trying also to stop my brother and I from killing each other, trying to stop the cat from killing the dog, doing the laundry and everything else that mums do – all at once – while cooking.

It could only end badly, really. And it did. Often.

A kitchen timer means that, if you put a pot of rice on to steam and the doorbell/phone rings, then you will get a reminder when it is done.

It means that pasta can be put on to boil, a timer set to let you know when it’s cooked, and you can go about making a quick sauce without losing track of your noodles.

You can pop some biscuits into the oven, go to hang some washing out and be reminded that there is something else that you are also doing…

Delegate keeping track of time to something else that won’t mind doing the job.

You have a timer if you have a microwave. Use it.

Just between you and me, the most use my microwave timer gets is when I am cleaning my kitchen.

Years ago when I was still working, my energy levels were pretty much nil when I got home from work, because MS fatigue. I would have just enough energy to go to work but none for anything else. One day, I came home to find my front door open. It took about 30 mins before I could tell if I had been burgled or not as my home was in such disarray!

This is just between us…right?

Anyway, I came upon a link to the Flylady.net site and slowly started getting on top of everything again. I did this 15 minutes at a time, using my kitchen timer. I haven’t visited the site for many years now, but when any part of my home looks like it’s going to take several days to get habitable, I set a timer for 15 mins and just do what I can. Then I have permission to stop.

Try this at your place. You don’t have to get it all done, but you’ll have more done than you would have otherwise. I’ll often have the kitchen spotless in that quarter hour.

In the same vein, I often find that when I’m gardening I’ll overdo things (good old MS again!) and end up paying for it for many days after. So, I manage my energy by taking a portable timer into the garden. I work for 15 mins, rest for 15 mins and repeat.

It works.

If you have small children, a timer can help you with kid-wrangling. Tell them they have to pick up their toys for 15 mins and then they get to stop. Stick to your word. They may drag their feet and muck around a bit at first, but after you’ve repeated the exercise on several days and they know you’ll keep your word (no fair setting the timer again immediately after!) they’ll start to play nice. Trust me.

Your timer can follow you into your bathroom in the morning. I always lost time in the mornings and found myself suddenly running 5 minutes late after a leisurely warm shower…you know what I mean, right? It’s not just me, is it?

A timer set for 5 mins when I got into the water kept me on track. Try it yourself, try it on your kids. Save your sanity while saving water.

If your teenagers have their own mobile/cell phones then they have a timer

Use the tools available on your phone

Use the tools available on your phone

If you have a tablet, you have a timer. If you have neither, then they can be bought quite cheaply at dollar stores, in supermarkets, pretty much anywhere – really truly.

Change your life, use your timers.

I suspect that I may be required to buy one of these. Sigh.

 

First things first

Okay.

So you’ve just walked into your very first kitchen…now what?

Well, this is where we work out what you need and what you’ve got and maybe get started on a wish list for future food-adventure-type-equipment.

Time was a girl would leave home with the contents of her “Hope Chest,” put together over the years before she spread her wings (got married).Then, those things added to the wedding gifts she might have received, meant she’d have the tools she needed to run her home and kitchen.

We’ve moved on since then. Thank heavens.

However, very few young people do start a new home with anything other than having all their dreams of independence magically and effortlessly fulfilled.

So let’s get serious here and have a think.

I’m going to set out a list for one person, living alone. I’m going to assume you have a stove/cooktop, an oven and refrigeration of some description.

This is just a list – we’ll discuss what each of these should look like and the type of quality you may or may not need in separate posts. Don’t worry, I’m not going to send you off without directions!

First you’re going to need something to put your food on and to eat off.

A basic table setting looks like this. You’ll want:

  • a dinner plate,
  • a bowl,
  • a mug,
  • a drinking glass,
  • a knife,
  • a fork,
  • a spoon, and
  • a teaspoon.

Bare minimum. Keep up with your washing up and that should be enough. You’ll end up wanting more, but that’s a start.

To get the food into the pot, you’ll need these tools:

  • 2 cutting boards,
  • a paring knife,
  • a chef’s knife,
  • a grater,
  • a tin opener,
  • 2 mixing bowls (one small, one larger),
  • a wire whisk,
  • a colander/strainer,
  • a vegetable peeler,
  • a measuring jug, and
  • a set of adjustable scales.

On the cooking side, you’ll want

  • a frying pan,
  • a saucepan or two (preferably a small and a medium) with a lid,
  • a trivet of some description to rest your hot pots on,
  • a pair of tongs,
  • a wooden spoon or other stirring implement,
  • an egg/fish slice, and
  • a ladle/serving spoon for soups and casseroles.

These are all optional. They will all make your life easier.

You can spend a small fortune buying the ultimate in design and brand, or you can go vintage (secondhand) and gather stuff you aren’t afraid to use.

The latter option means the whole cooking thing will be just a little less scary too. I’m all for that.