Friday, October 9, 2009

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings...

Ok, not THAT kind of thing.

I was reading a post today entitled 'What's in Your Fridge?'.  It was really fun to 'peek' into other foodie's refrigerators/fridges.  And it got me thinking about my own kitchen and how it would be fun to post every year or so what are my favorite features, etc.  So I can look back and compare how far I've come. And even see which things stuck.  Granted, I may not be blogging in a year from now.  But the kids and I had fun getting pictures today.  And it made me thankful for all that I do have.

So, here is a peek into my kitchen in October of 2009.  It's humble, but it produces some mighty nourishing and mostly tasty meals!  And a lot of time is spent here, preparing and eating meals, doing school with my 1st grader, doing laundry (it looks kind of tacky, but it's mighty handy!), playing play dough, doing crafts and painting.  And, as you can see today, putting a whole chicken in front of the kids to pick at while I mess around on my blog.  :)

First I'll show off my extra freezer, for which I'm extremely grateful.  My in-laws bought it for us for Christmas last year and it has been such a huge blessing to us.  We drive an hour to pick up milk and eggs once a month, and I store the extra milk and cream in there.  I also buy the majority of our groceries for the month at once, so I keep all the meats, grains, frozen veggies and fruit and butter in there as well. I cook up big batches of things when able to freeze for easy reach.  That includes black beans, chicken broth, lard (which I rendered myself-so proud!), nourishing soaked cookies, waffles, granola and any extra meals that I have leftover. 

The freezer is in my son's room (which is one of the doors off the kitchen), in his closet.  I call it my pantry.  He has no idea that I am invading his personal space. :)  That won't last forever I'm sure.

Next to the freezer, in the corner, I have a shelf from IKEA.  I keep my glass bottles on it for easy reach also.  We use them all the time.  We still use a lot of plastic, but not nearly as much as we used to.  I will reach for a ball glass jar if I think it will work.  I have the 32 oz on top. We use those the most.  Underneath I keep the half gallons jars, which I seem to use quite often as well.  And under that, I have the 16, 8 and 4 oz jars, as well as some odds and ends ones.

Finding lids for them was quite a chore.  We reach for them throughout the day and it took me awhile to figure out how to keep them in easy reach, while still looking nice.  I finally found a wicker basket at a thrift store for $1 and it works perfect!  I found it easiest to write on tape and put them on the lids and glass containers for easy identification (the iced tea looks just like the chicken broth-but you do NOT want to confuse them!).  I find the tape and ink hold up for quite a few washings before I need to change them.  And the vast majority of our jars use the same lid-which is so nice!  I'm quite proud of my wicker basket.  It's the little things...

Now, into the kitchen itself. Along side my washer and dryer is my refrigerator. How I wish we had chosen a bigger one when we bought it 3 years ago.  But who knew I'd actually start to prepare REAL food and use it?  I wasn't interested back then, so having a bigger refrigerator seemed useless. Live and learn.

It's mostly filled with my pastured eggs and milk.  But I also keep a half gallon of buttermilk and  yogurt in there.  There is always some chicken broth and more fermented veggies as time goes on.  I have some oregano garlic from the NT book.  It's pretty good.  As well as sauerkraut and kim chi (we bought that).  Our cheese drawer usually has Colby Jack, mozzarella and Romano Parmesan.  Yum!  You can see why we keep so many glass jars around.  My pantry shelf is often empty.

The freezer has some popcorn, tallow, bread crumbs, granola, frozen veggies and strawberries and wheat berries.

I took a few pictures of my favorite cooking gadgets.

The first is my trusty cast iron skillet.  I bought it for $4 at a thrift store and use it every day, for pretty much every meal.  Ok, maybe not that much, but it gets used a LOT!  I also use the mandolin often, although I hope to buy this one someday.  The box is a yogurt strainer.  I use that to make yogurt cheese and to get the leftover whey for fermenting veggies and marinating meats. I seem to find a lot of uses for it actually.  It's a handy piece of equipment to have around the kitchen.  Kind of like a non-disposable cheesecloth.

The second picture if of my handy-dandy toaster oven.  When we gave up our microwave last year, we replaced it with this. It was $6 at a thrift store and it gets used as often as my cast iron skillet.  Right now my oven is not working well, so I've been using it for pretty much everything.  I do wish it was bigger, but why complain?  (notice the butter dish next to it?  That thing gets filled pretty much every day as well-we eat a lot of butter.  Yum.....)

And this is also a place I spend quite a bit of my time.  My Vita-Mix was expensive, but I use it all the time and am very grateful for it.  I use it to grind grains.  Some days I wish I had a grain mill, but for the space I have, this works fine.  It only grinds 2 cups at a time and needs to sit for half an hour to let the motor cool down.  I also use it for smoothies nearly every day, and it's great for pureeing veggies for soups and sauces as well.  I use it for chopping the nuts for my granola these days also.
The nesting bowls in the middle were a favorite thrift store find (notice I buy a lot of my things from there?  I have 2 hugs ones close to me-I love them!).  They were $20, I know, it's expensive.  But I love them!  I think they are so beautiful.  I use them all the time as well.  I know they are lead free, so that was a big part of my decision at the time.  I soak, culture, marinate,  mix and serve things in them pretty much every day.
And of course, my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer, which I have had for about 8 years now.  It's possible that I could live without it, but it does make my life easier.  And it's such a quintessential piece of equipment to any American kitchen. My mother-in-law still has hers from over 30 years ago and it looks almost exactly like mine, and works like a charm still today.  It definitely can be considered an investment!

My list of favorite things simply wouldn't be complete without a picture of my cookbooks, and esp my favorite ones these days.  The first is my 'cookbook' shelf. And I took my 4 favorites off for a close up.  They definitely deserve special attention! :)

Nourishing Traditions is such an amazing book.  I have learned so much from it and still refer back to it for recipes all the time.  I even bought one for my best friend in Iowa.  It's so much fun to compare notes and recipes from it!  She loves it as much as I do.  The next one is 'Joy of Cooking', a 1972 edition I found for $6 at Barnes & Noble.  I had been wanting an older copy of the book, so I was beside myself when I found it.  It has recipes and ideas for EVERYTHING you could ever want to cook.  And it mostly used 'real' foods and is not too 'fat phobic'.  The next one is 'The James Beard Cookbook'.  A copy from 1959 that I found for $4, the same time I bought the Joy book-SCORE!!!  Same as for the Joy book, it uses mostly real foods and tells you how to cook pretty much anything under the sun. . He is big into organ meats.  So I hope that rubs off on me!  :)  I want to have a 'cooking with James Beard' month and base my month's recipes off this cookbook.  It's fantastic!  The last one is a 1979 Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  They were published frequently starting in the mid 1800s.  And it also, is a compendium of recipes and ideas to help one learn to cook, and using mostly real foods.  I know, who needs 3 such books?  But how can one resist? 

Well, that ends the tour of my kitchen.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I hope you did to. :)


  1. Sarah, this was great! I loved it!! I especially loved the yogurt strainer! I've never seen one, and you better believe it's on my list of things to buy! You have such a lovely kitchen and I can tell it's filled with warmth and love :) So great that you have a Vita-Mix, it's on my wish list, one day! All those mason jars and lids, look quite familiar, lol! My youngest is in the habit of digging into my lids and I find them ALL over the house! That is so great that you rendered your own lard. I have a friend that also has done this and I should be getting some lard from her. great post! I'm thinking about doing another round of refrigerators, would you like to join in? Feel free to facebook me!

  2. Thanks Diana. I had a lot of fun with it.

    The yogurt strainer really is nice. I bought it at Chef's Central, but I had seen them on line and wanted to buy one for some time. I added a link to it for more info. One of those 'unnecessary niceties'. :)

    Gotta love those mason jars! I was so excited to find them in almost every size using the same lids. My gallon jars use different lids, but they are quite obvious, so finding the right lids is easy enough. And those white plastic lids were such a find! I bought 40 of them on-line last year and already have most of them in use and want more. They are so much easier then the 2 piece lids-and they don't rust.

    The lard was so easy to do! I cut it up small and put it in my crockpot over night. I did finish up in a saucepan, but it was really easy. And the crispies were delicious when it was done!

    I'd love to add my refrigerator picture to your post. I really enjoyed seeing them.

  3. Hi Sarah! How FUN to see where my kefir grains and scoby lived and worked before they came to me. :)

    My laundry is in the basement, and it's not a basement I want my son running around in. So it's really hard for me to get it done during the day. It may not be the prettiest, but it sure is practical to have it in the kitchen.

    I too love the yogurt strainer. I've never seen them either, and I will be getting one soon! The fanciest gadget I have is a food processor. :) We're looking at a Bosch and grain mill purchase soon, I think. I don't even have a toaster oven yet. I heat everything in pans on the stove... talk about dishes!

    I'm buried in jars, and haven't found a practical place to store them yet. They're sitting all over my dining area. Organizing is on my never ending list. :) I lucked out and scored over 3 dozen free canning jars from another member of our CSA today. I'm getting them next week when we pick up our produce.

    Sorry for the long comment. Just wanted to say hi, and I love the pics of your kitchen!

  4. It was fun to see your kitchen ~ I have a Vita-Mix too and use it for grain grinding. I wonder why you have to let it sit for a half hour to cool down? I am able to run through around 10 batches without any overheating. It could probably go more but I've not done that many... You really keep the fridge and freezer tidy. I'm impressed. Thanks for sharing!

  5. WOW! I love it! I hope that one day I will get to the point you are at! We currently deal with a life threatening dairy allergy with my youngest son, so all the good things in life are out of the question until he grows out of it (Lord willing).

    Thanks for the tour!

  6. Jen, you're a doll. This was the home that nurtured your scoby and kefir grains before coming to you. :) Love that! I'm so glad they are working out for you. I just sent some to Brooklyn and she has friends who are excited to get her 'babies'. I love passing along such a good thing!! And I honestly can't imagine living without a toaster! Probably esp because of my lack of working oven. But we'de be lost without it! I'll email you later.

    Wardeh-thanks for letting me know. I think I read that in the user guide for the Vita-Mix and just never questioned it. :) Glad to know I can use it in succession now! Have you used it to make 'hamburger'? That's my next task for it. It's a very useful machine for certain!

    Becky-thanks for the comments, I'm looking forward to reading through your blog as well. Thankfully-no allergies here! Except to all things SAD of course. :) So we utilize raw milk and farm fresh eggs everyday. And I am so blessed to be able to do that! Have you tried GAPS or BED for your son?

  7. Sarah - It was so long ago, but I think I remember reading that, too. Then I called VM because I was freaking out about it overheating and they told me not to worry about it, so I never have, and it has never overheated. I have not made hamburger, no! Can't wait to hear how that goes for you.