Ok, so remember my Kitchen Wish List? Well, I’ve fulfilled almost every wish! And I can’t tell you how much of a difference it has made! I wish I had done this YEARS ago! It has made everything so much easier and more efficient! I chuckle at how I was getting by with the bare necessities in the kitchen. My excuse was I just didn’t have the space for what I needed. This is true if I do what I usually do which is never throw stuff away. No, I keep the old stuff, you know, in case I ever have to use it, which I never do. This time I did something different. I started pulling stuff out that I simply didn’t want regardless of if I had something to replace it or not. I pulled the stuff out and put it in boxes to be given away. I reorganized my cabinets and counters to make things fit without looking crowded. So let’s discuss what I bought and how it’s helped me in the kitchen.

You already know about my Le Creuset braiser. But what you don’t know is that I got another LC pan off of eBay! A 9in enameled cast iron skillet the same color as my braiser, Kiwi! With shipping I only paid $35! The pan is normally $100. I won with a bid of $19.99. How? Because the enamel has a chip in it the size of a dime. Do I care? You already know I don’t. It’s a pan whose purpose is cooking, specifically cornbread. The inside of the pan had a few spots on it, but I went over them with steel wool, dried the pan, oiled it, and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour or so then cut the oven off and let it stay in there until it was cooled off. Looks just fine. And it matches my braiser?! Oh hell yeah, that was a deal!!! My inaugural dish? Cornbread, of course! Now here’s what you need to know: I only use whole wheat flour and whole grain cornmeal. My cornbread always seemed kind of dense; you know, whole wheat flour takes some getting used to. Well, not with this pan. It made THE best cornbread EVER!!!!! It was light and delicious. I now completely understand why we had cast iron skillets growing up and why that’s the only way my father ever made cornbread. If he could have tasted that cornbread, he would’ve been so proud!

Those aren’t my only cast iron goodies. I also got a Lodge grill/griddle. I *heart* it!!! I made some Bisquick pancakes on there and y’all – seriously – these were the best pancakes I’d ever made at home. Seriously delicious. We were eating pancakes every morning the week I got that thing! I wonder if that was the week I only lost 0.6lb? I’m gonna check my tracker and see because I wouldn’t be surprised. That cast iron griddle makes THE BEST pancakes. Ever. I like the grill side, too! I’ve made wing dings, lamb burgers, chicken kabobs, salmon, and grilled asparagus. Next up is grilled veggies of some sort. Yum!

So what else did I get? You already know about my knives, but in case you missed that entry, I got new knives, Chicago, Cutlery! I originally was only going to get just a Santoku knife, but I realized I had a slew of knives that were basically useless. There is nothing more necessary in a kitchen than a sharp knife. Each and every time I would chop onions or bell peppers, I would complain about the knife. Even still, I was never willing to spend any amount of money on better knives. Frugality is a disease. At any rate, I am SO happy I bought my knives! I’ve learned the hard way how sharp they are, and I thought I was being careful. I love the look of the set, all stainless steel. I love my knives, I really do. And I don’t complain anymore, either. I’m amazed at how much easier some things are, like cutting through meats. I’ve learned that I don’t like serrated blade knives; the slice is not as smooth. Or maybe I just had real cheap serrated blade knives, lol; that’s totally possible. After I bought the knives, I looked up youtube videos on how to chop onions and mince garlic. I’m getting better, but I still have a ways to go.

I talked about the Chop Stir yesterday, so I won’t repeat that. I bought it when I was buying my Microplane grater, which I haven’t used yet, so I don’t have a review of it. I also bought a wooden rolling pin, cookie cutters (one shaped like a Star of David, yay!), a pizza cutter (something else I used to have and have no idea what happened to it), bamboo and wooden utensils, a juicer, a tea kettle, drinking glasses (I somehow lost half of a set of glasses and finally decided to buy new glasses almost three years after I realized the other ones were missing), a food thermometer (which I friggin’ LOVE), whisks, and a stainless steel container to hold all of my spatulas and spoons.

My Biggest Loser digital food scale totally deserves its own paragraph. When I first started WW in 2002, I bought a little food scale. It probably cost me $5. It was small, with a little square bowl to put stuff in. I really hated reading the weights using those hash marks and trying to figure out how many ounces or half ounces or whatever the hell! It was frustrating, but I couldn’t justify buying a new scale when nothing was wrong with that one. Frugality is a disease. Finally one day I said screw it and looked online to see how much a digital scale would run me. Some of them (*coughWWcough*) are expensive and some of them (Taylor, like mine) are not. I only half cared that it was a Biggest Loser scale. The most important aspect was price, not name. However, I keep the scale in the box (just like I did with the last one, remember, my kitchen is tiny) so I always see the words, The Biggest Loser, so it kind of reminds me to stay on task. Kind of. Anyway, this scale is awesome. It’s lightweight, simple, and easy to use. Remember, I’m a digital scale newbie, so don’t judge my excitement over the next part. Ok, you can place a bowl on the scale, then press the ‘tare’ button and it zeroes the weight back out and you can add another ingredient to the bowl, zero it out again, add another ingredient, and so on, until everything you need is in the bowl. And you didn’t have to weigh each thing separately! Awesomeness.

Speaking of bowls, I also bought a set of 4 Pyrex mixing bowls with lids and a set of Rubbermaid storage containers. I honestly have no idea how I got by without those mixing bowls. I used to have mixing bowls, but they were stainless steel and I have no idea what happened to them. Or the cake mixer that they came with. I have somehow ended up with someone else’s cake mixer and no bowls. While I miss being an urban nomad, moving around a lot sure does have its disadvantages. Anyway, those bowls have made so many things easier: marinating meats, mixing all manner of stuff, making salad, storing leftovers. I love them. And I got them cheaper at Wal-Mart (I’m so ashamed to admit that, but I can’t afford to be socially conscious all the time) than they were on Amazon or eBay. Love them. The Rubbermaid containers? I have some type of sick affinity for plastic containers. I used to buy Glad and/or Ziploc containers and then either throw away old ones or give away (you know, sending folk home with leftovers) just so that I could buy some more. Then I decided to make two final plastic purchases: these Rubbermaid bowls/lids and when they wear out, some Tupperware. Anyway, now that I’ve admitted my inner crazy, I guess we can move on. The different sized bowls and lids are super-convenient when it comes time to put away leftovers. And I can put them in the freezer. Winning!

And guess what else, guess what else! You know those little glass bowls that chefs put all their spices in? And then the ones that are a little larger that they put stuff like flour and yogurt in? Yeah, I got some of those!!! Y’all already know I’m a bootleg wannabe chef, so I’m tryin’ to get my mise en place on! And can I just tell you how much easier it makes everything?! Before, I prepare things in a specific order: mushrooms, green/red bell peppers, onions, garlic, meat. So I’d slice or cut the mushrooms in half and put them in the wok, then I’d slice the peppers while alternately sauteing the mushrooms, then throw the sliced peppers in. Then I’d start to chop the onions while still sauteing the mushrooms and peppers, then I’d throw them in, too. And then I’d start to mince the garlic (or put it in the Magic Bullet, whatever) last. This was so hard to me and I always wondered just how in the hell are people able to do all this mess at one time and still check to make sure the toddler hasn’t burned the house down! Now I understand; no one does that simple shit but me! Competent chefs/cooks prepare EVERYTHING before they even start cooking. I’m learning. So now I measure out all of my ingredients before starting and I place them in the order they are going into pan/pot/dish. The difference is amazing, it really is. Now, when I bought these little bowls (I found them cheapest at BB&B), I didn’t even know what the hell mise en place was. I just happened to see the phrase in a book I was reading (The Amateur Gourmet) and from the context clues I figured out that’s what I was doing with these little bowls. I have no idea what they are called. I did a search on the internet, but I found a lot of different answers. So I’ve settled on little bowls, ’cause hell, that’s what they are.

Now this doesn’t have anything to do with cooking, but it’s something for which I’ve been searching for quite some time: smoothie cups. Have you any idea how hard it is to find a reusable cup with a lid and a straw that’s bigger than a travel coffee cup? My smoothies are normally about 18-24oz, so I need a pretty big cup. The only thing I could find was a Rubbermaid water bottle with a folding straw, but it was still not what I wanted. Until I saw the perfect smoothie cup. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Meijer (a million reasons, and a single store) and there they were, COPCO cups. It’s like they had me in mind when they made those cups. They are PERFECT for my smoothie. And in such nice colors. I bought the hot pink one, then I went back and bought another one, just in case something happens to the first one. I forget where I bought the second one, maybe BB&B? It’s a lighter pink; I didn’t see any green ones. And yes, my frugal ass paid $7.99 for a cup and then went and bought another one. I mean, who knows when I’ll be able to find another one of these?! I love these cups. Ironically, COPCO also made my tea kettle (that I got for $2 at the Goodwill). I like you, COPCO.

So that’s all my stuff! What didn’t I get? The George Foreman 360 – there just isn’t any room for it. AND all the plates don’t come with it; you have to purchase some of them separate and damn that. So no GF360. I also didn’t get the silicone baking mat. I just didn’t feel moved enough to buy one. That and I didn’t see any that didn’t look like some pastry somethin’ or ‘nother. I also didn’t get any stainless steel cookware. I want a good set, but I spent the money on the LC Braiser, so I’ll have to wait for those. Those and a 12in Calphalon non-stick pan. I want one of those, too.

I do believe this is my longest blog to date. And I’m out!!!