In order to remove stress from your kitchen, you have to have the proper tools. A mechanic wouldn’t try to repair a car without his wrench, and you shouldn’t try to prepare food without the proper kitchen tools. The right tools will go a long way in removing stress while cooking. Some of these tools I’m suggesting to help de-stress your kitchen may be a little unorthodox in a few areas, but they are still absolutely necessary to organize, prepare and execute great meals.
Post it notes
Yes, your little yellow semi-sticky friends should be kept on hand at all time in the kitchen. I’m not sure that my sister could pull off a holiday meal without these little babies. She even uses them to remember which bowl is holding which food. (I’m pretty sure she got that little tip from an old Martha Stewart show.) She uses them to write down lists of groceries used-up materials, cooking times, recipes and even reminders that the pumpkin pie in the oven should not begin to smell and look like a rubber tire on hot pavement.
The ding lets you know it’s done so you don’t have to worry about counting it out on your fingers and toes, because let’s be honest, how many foods do you know that only cook in the oven for twenty minutes? It’s actually a good idea to have a clock and a couple of timers that, yes, you can post-it-note what they are timing. 😉
An essential part of a stress free kitchen. Just ask any chef what their most beloved kitchen tool is and they will very likely say their knives. I have a couple of different knives that I use for different jobs in the kitchen, but if I am going to be cooking in someone else’s kitchen, I always take my knife along to use.
Your knives MUST be sharp. A dull knife makes chopping almost three times as long, plus you cannot do intricate work with a dull knife. Even if you’re not carving swans into the rinds of cantaloupes, you are twice as likely to cut yourself on a dull knife than on a sharp one. Keeping your tomatoes in pristine shape and your bread in actual slices will definitely help keep the stress down as well.
Plan / menu
Having a plan or a menu handy for what you are going to prepare will make life a lot easier. With your plan, you can determine when things need to go on to the stove or come out of the oven. When you are just winging it, there is a higher chance you will forget an essential part of your meal and the rest will have to sit and get cold while you correct your mistake. Make a plan and save yourself some stress.
Yes, I said it. A radio is probably the most important tool I have in my stress-free kitchen. By radio, I mean CD player, iPod, Walkman, whatever you have that makes the noises you like to jam out to. Music has been shown to reduce stress and when combined with another task, like test taking or cooking, for that matter, you become more focused on the task you are doing.
With your new-found focusing abilities, your plan, a sharp blade, something to ding at you and a wall covered with yellow sticky paper, you are now ready to have a stress free holiday cooking experience. While these aren’t your typical tools, give them a try and see how well they work for you; feel free to adapt them and alter them to fit your needs and ability. Most importantly, get in the kitchen and start cooking for your friends and family because great relationships and fantastic conversation are built at the dinner table.