Six more weeks of winter, said Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog)...
Out here we call them marmots, and they are all currently asleep...
I don't think this rule really applies in the Wyoming dialect of Groundhogese... they all just assume the weather will be too cold to bear until May, and they stay safe and warm underground... no shadow-dance necessary.
So as we hunker-down in our own burrows and grumble at the windiest part of the year settling down upon us, what better past-times than to cook, to garden plan, and to dream of Spring...
What does your Spring Dream look like?
Mine includes my biggest garden yet, and a summer/fall full of canning. I have truly missed canning and growing my own veggies and fruits. Nothing beats pulling a growing radish out of the ground, brushing the dirt off, and eating it right then and there.
I can taste the crisp, peppery, cool, crunch on my tongue already...
On a particularly gloomy and breezy day this past week, I went digging through my seed stash from years past.
Man, do I have a TON of seeds!
I thought it would be fun to offer up some of them for trades if anyone wants to exchange seeds for other things they may have too many of.
Here is the list of seeds I have.
Give it a gander and let me know if there is anything you would like to trade for!
I also want to share my top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools with you!
I am so grateful to have these tools this time of year, they definitely help me look forward to Spring and they also help me with other things like:
-increasing efficiency in the kitchen
-cutting down trips to the store
-increasing my repertoire of meal-variety
-making more things at home instead of buying them
-making cooking more enjoyable and easier
. . .
10 Must-Have Tools for Your Sustainable Kitchen
- Meat Tenderizer- I like the basic, hammer-style one. I used to use the bottom of a jar or wine-bottle, but that is a serious pain and this tool is low-cost, easy-to-clean and very effective at converting tougher cuts of meat into delectable, tender morsels with plenty of crevices to help soak up marinades and seasonings. Yum!
- Food Processor/Blender- Some things just need to be mixed/blended thoroughly, like sauces, home-made dressings, german pancakes, salsas, and drinks like egg-nog. I appreciate a food-processor more, but a blender will work for many of these things as well.
- KitchenAid Mixer- If you have been reading my emails for any amount of time, you probably have heard how much I use my KitchenAid. My KitchenAid makes bread-making, butter-making, pastry-making, and also things like sausage mixing so much quicker and easier. This thing is so easy to use and easy to clean, and you can get so many attachments to do a wide variety of jobs without having to buy more appliances.
- Crock Pot/Pressure Cooker Combo- I also love my "instant pot." It is an off-brand one, but the same basic thing. I like having a pressure cooker for preparing things like dry beans, but most of the time I just stick with the slow-cook function. I very much appreciate that I can set a timer and walk away and the machine will stop cooking and go to automatic "keep warm" mode. That has saved many a meal, while I am out-and-about doing farm chores and loving the fact that dinner is cooking itself on my kitchen counter.
- Glass Bowl Tupperware- Bowl-shaped glass tupperware are so versatile! You can use them for baking, reheating, mixing, washing produce, leftover storage in the fridge and freezer. Glass is much better to reheat items in than plastic, because it does not leach compounds into your food when it is heated up. I'm also all for less dishes to clean. When you can prepare a meal in the same container you will store it in after your meal, and reheat it in again as leftovers the next day, that is a win-win-win in my kitchen!
- Dutch Oven/Skillet Combo- Non-stick pans can get a bit scary. Your body has no idea what to do with PFAs- compounds like teflon- so they end up accumulating in your body over the years as you are exposed to them. This is why I prefer cast-iron and ceramic. Between a cast-iron skillet, and our ceramic-coated dutch oven, we have everything we need for simmering, slow-cooking, oven-roasting, baking, frying, sauteing and more. You don't have to worry about melting a plastic handle or about harmful fumes being produced like you do when you cook with teflon-coated pots and pans.
- Ladle- This is a really simple one, but I went without a ladle for the longest time and once I got one I was amazed at how much easier my culinary life became. Trying to spoon off fresh cream from the top of raw milk is so much more challenging without a ladle!
- Meat Grinder- The only thing I am hesitant to use my KitchenAid for, is grinding meat. KitchenAid mixers aren't really made for running under a lot of resistance continuously. A meat grinder is great for mixing and stuffing sausage, incorporating organ meats into ground beef, and converting cuts that are tougher to prepare, like gizzards and round roasts into versatile ground meats.
- These 3 Specific Knife-Types- This was Chris's suggestion for kitchen must-haves. A skinning knife, a boning knife, and a chef's knife. My favorite is the skinning knife. I know that does not sound like something you would need in your kitchen, but I have found skinners to be the most versatile shape of knife for cutting meat from bones, for cutting veggies and fruits, for fitting into hard-to-cut places and for making longer cuts without having to start another slice. I even included a skinning
- Storage Freezer- This one is important. Having a freezer to store food is such an advantage. This allows us to purchase in bulk and to purchase at times of the year when certain things (like turkeys after the holidays) are on sale big-time. There are also certain vegetables and fruits that just freeze so much better than they dehyrate or can. Like tomatoes! Tomatoes are so easy to freeze- you just cut the end off, freeze it whole and when you are ready to use it, stick it under hot water to quickly peel the skin off and Ta-Da- its ready to throw into a stew or sauce. Having meat in the freezer is what allows me to cook on-the-fly every time I don't have a plan for dinner. I just reach in our chest freezer and go with whatever cut of meat my hand finds- most of the time.
Have you been thinking about getting a freezer, but are not sure how much freezer space you might need? I made a chart to help you out:
What would you add to this list?
I would love to hear what tools you just couldn't survive without in the kitchen, and how you like to use them.
Leave a comment and let me know!
Do you know someone else who would benefit from our blog? Share this blog post with them for me. It is my goal to help connect as many people to their food as possible, and I would just love it if you could help spread the efforts!
Speaking of freezers... our bulk meat deposits launch in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned to hear how you can be entered to win free prizes when you reserve your bulk meat packages for 2023.
Here's what's in-stock in our online store this week:
We have Winter Stew Bundles Available Now!
-Beef Stew Meat
-Slow-Cooker Beef Roast
-My 5 Favorite Go-To-Stew Recipes
-FREE Shipping for the Month of February!
Get your Winter Stew Bundle ,
delivered right to your door so you can skip the grocery store and cozy up to the fire with a nice warm bowl of
Have you thought about Valentine's Day yet?
Do you have a special someone you would like to give a neat gift to?
We have Funny Farm Valentines paired with our awesome Beef Snacks to help you out!
Order One or Two for a Friend,
Send a Whole Beef Bouquet of 6 Valentines to a very Special Someone!
Each Valentine Pack includes FREE Shipping and is shipped in a 100% recyclable reinforced-kraft-paper mailer.
You can even send a custom message to your friends, family, and loved ones- just specify what you want to say in the notes section when you place your order!
Keep your peeps full and happy, and let them know you are thinking of them this Valentine's Day.
Well, that's all I've got for you this week.
Now make like a marmot and stay warm and hunkered-down for the extension of winter we have ahead of us!
-BJ and the Taste of the Wind Crew
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