My Kitchen

Pantry/Staples

In the Fire Department they are called Staples, those ingredients that you buy in bulk that aren't to be used for just one meal. Storage of these items are generally wherever you can but some require special handling. Examples are not to store potatoes and onions together as they speed up the spoiling process for each other. Oils can be stored in the refrigerator for twice as long as they could be at room temperature but make sure to bring refrigerated oils to room temperature prior to using. Dried herbs typically only are good for a year so purchase in small quantities. As with fresh ingredients, quality can be an issue so due your homework before you buy. That is why I will always preach homemade versions of what is below when time allows. They include but are not limited too the following:

The Basics
Flour (All purpose and unbleached bread flour)
Milk
Heavy Cream and/or Half & Half
Eggs
Butter
Salt (Kosher/Sea for cooking, exotic salts to finish)
Pepper (Whole grain for grinding)
Sugar (White, brown, and powdered)
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Corn Starch
Molasses
Vanilla Extract
Honey (local)
Bread Crumbs/Panko
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for finishing)
Olive Oil
Oils (peanut, vegetable, corn, etc.)
Vinegar (Balsamic, Red & White Wine, Rice, Sherry & Apple Cider)
Garlic (you can never have enough, never)
Onions
Potatoes (various types)
Ketchup (homemade preferred)
Mustard (homemade preferred)
Mayonnaise (homemade preferred)
Worcestershire Sauce
Broth (homemade preferred)
Rice (various types)
Pasta (various types)
Canned Tomatoes/Tomato Paste
Dry Wine (both Red and White and not at the Fire House please)
Sriracha
Chipotles in Adobo
Fish Sauce
Mirin
Soy Sauce

Dried/Fresh Herbs & Spices
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
All Spice
Cumin
Rosemary
Thyme
Sage
Oregano
Chives
Basil
Bay Leaves
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Sesame Seeds

Tools


Tools of the trade, like in Firefighting, can make or break your day. Ever try cutting through a tomato with an unsharpened knife? Frustrating and dangerous. The purpose of this page is to share with you some of the tools that I personally recommend, use, and carry. Consider them the "apparatus essentials" that every kitchen should have. In the beginning I do not expect you to have everything on this list so I will place an "*" next to those I deem a necessity. BTW, I realize this list is somewhat overwhelming but understand that it can be collected over time and on the cheap as hand-me-downs, from family, or flea markets, whatever. I will try to provide for you a listing of what brands I recommend and links to purchase them on another page as well. They are as follows:

Hand Tools
*7-10" Chef's Knife (depending on brand type, size of your hand, and personal preference. I've recommended what I believe to be the best for the price, and Cooks Illustrated concurs, the Victorinox Forschner Fibrox Chef Knife).
*Paring Knife
*Bread Knife
Boning Knife
*Kitchen Shears
*Knife Sharpener
*Wooden Spoons (Solid and Slotted)
*Spatulas (Plastic rated for high temps, one off set, and one flexible metal)
*Tongs
*Thermometer
*Cheese Grater
Mandoline (Absolutely Awesome!)
Micro Planer/Zester
Peeler
Whisks
Rolling Pin
Funnel
Spider (think of a large deep frying mesh spoon)
Brushes
Melon Baller

Power Tools (think Heavy Rescue)
*Blender
*Food Processor
*Mixer (Standing preferred but handheld will do)
Spice Grinder (Coffee Grinder)
Immersion Blender
Slow Cooker

Vessels
*Dutch Oven (HUGE fan of Cast Iron!)
*Small and Medium Skillet
*Large Stockpot with Lid
*Small, Medium, and Large Saucepan with Lids
*Deep, Large Skillet (2-3" deep) with lid
*Medium Nonstick Skillet (for eggs ONLY!)
*Baking Sheet (rimmed)
*Pizza Stone
*Mixing Bowls (various sizes)
Roasting Pan
Bread/Loaf Pan (traditional)
Square Pan (9")
Pie Plate
Spring Form Pan
Ramekins (6-8 oz)
Cupcake/Muffin Tins
Silicone Mat
Colander

Miscellaneous
*Cutting Boards (various sizes and shapes)
*Wire/Cooling Racks
Salad Spinner
Steaming Basket
Ricer
BBQ tools


VOCABULARY


Race Ready

The term Race Ready stems from my Firefighting training were I was preached early in my career to have everything I need to accomplish a task oiled, gassed, warmed up, connected, deployed, well, you get the idea. As it applies to cooking, I will preach assembling all essential tools and ingredients in such a manner as not to be delayed while using heat. Often meals are time sensitive when it comes to heat application so you can't stop the process to go looking for, open, rinse, wash, cut, chop, measure, etc. This means that I will have all the necessary vessels (pots, pans, etc.) needed for cooking, ingredients that have been appropriately prepared, grouped together, measured, and at the correct temperature, all hand/power tools available and easily accessible, and enough room to do work and have fun. Being prepared allows us Chefs to concentrate on what is important, the good food.

Fuel

I will preach locally produced, seasonal, fresh Fuel. Now when I say Fuel, I do of course mean food itself, well, and more... I chose the word Fuel for a number of reasons. First, it is a term Firefighters can relate to as it provides the energy to do work. Second, I view it as the most important ingredient to cooking and is easily understood when you've eaten a meal from store bought cans versus from the local fresh market. Lastly, and this is a lofty idea, but the Fuel term applies to the means to bring people together. Fuel for this page though relates to the actual product that you purchase, prep, cook, and eat. For our purposes I would like to see you only purchase fresh, non-processed produce when available and affordable. Affordability plays a key role, understandably, so it plays a large part in determining what type of Fuel is purchased, hence the push for seasonal foods as they are often cheaper. As nothing can replace the bolder flavors, freshness, and health benefits of local produce I encourage you to seek out local farmers markets, strike up relationships with the local butcher (even the local grocery store butcher), and find specialty markets that specialize in exotic ingredients (i.e.- cheeses, breads, etc.). Your hard work will be rewarded.








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