Spending time in the kitchen is one of the more rewarding experiences in life. Whether cooking or baking for yourself or someone else, the feeling of creating something for someone to enjoy has a kind of magic associated with it.
However, spending time in the kitchen can also cause you a bit of pain. Constantly leaning over pots and pans, bending and turning yourself to pick things up and pour, the constant stirring required to make a great sauce; these things can have a strain on your body. For many, though, the pain is absolutely worth it.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat these issues, if not prevent them from occurring at all. Let’s take a look at some common issues associated with cooking and see if we can’t find a solution.
Chopping, slicing, dicing, stirring, seasoning; each of these requires the use of your hands, and that can definitely take its toll. As a sufferer of carpal tunnel syndrome, I can speak to this from experience. I’ve lost count of the number of times my hand has gone numb while I’m attempting to cut up vegetables for dinner.
Full-on carpal tunnel is a pretty bum diagnosis as it’s not something which easily fixed, but it can be managed. Using something like a wrist brace, or just giving your hand time to rest, can help increase the amount of time you’re able to keep stirring and slicing your way to deliciousness.
In a worst-case scenario, surgery can be performed which can help. The best bet, however, is to take precautions against letting it become too bad. If you start feeling strangeness in your hands, talk to a doctor and see how they can help. They may recommend a brace or even some form of steroid or other medication to help strengthen the muscles and such in your hand.
A carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of your cooking career, but it certainly can be if you don’t take care of the problem.
In some ways, cooking can be as detrimental to your posture as sitting at a desk all day. If you’re constantly leaning over to taste and smell things, your back is going to feel it. Changing your habits can go a long way toward stopping this problem. Forcing yourself to stand up straight when doing your work is a great first step.
Should that be difficult, however, there are tools out there to help. Back braces can be a fantastic method of keeping your spine aligned. If that sounds like something for you, take a look at some of the reviews from Perfect Postur.
The biggest complaint I hear from people I know in the food industry is regarding the pain they feel in their feet. Cooking is not something you can really do while sitting, unless you’ve got a short stove or a tall chair. Even then, sitting doesn’t give you the mobility you need if something needs to be done quickly.
Special insoles can be a huge help for anyone who is constantly on their feet. The materials companies use these days are fantastic at helping to distribute the weight across your entire foot, all while keeping it nice and cool and comfortable.
Alternatively, you can also purchase mats which will sit on the floor and do a similar job to insoles without having to actually wear insoles. These are quite common in restaurant kitchens or at cashier stands in retail stores.
Remember, one of the neatest things about cooking at home is how healthy you are able to make your food, so consider keeping the rest of your body in good condition, as well. Don’t let yourself get too fatigued or worn out and you’ll find you’ll be able to keep cooking for as long as you’d like.
I’ve been there before, working in an industrial kitchen around all of the steam and water, it’s not the most pleasant thing on the planet. It’s extremely humid, but the food is totally worth it and seeing the look on the customers faces when they take that first bite. The same goes for your family’s kitchen, the humidity can be almost unbearable, especially during the summer. It’s important that you don’t let your kitchen get too humid, because it can cause bacteria buildup.
Let’s talk a little bit about mold. If you have mold in your kitchen, whether at home or in your restaurant, you aren’t going to want your customers or family to know, so it’s best to get rid of it as soon as you can or take precautionary measures to prevent it. The growth of mold can contribute to poor indoor air quality and certain molds such as dry rot fungus and serpula lacrymans are extremely destructive and can completely ruin your business or home.
Mold requires moisture to grow. This moisture can come from cooking, condensation, leaks from plumbing, and more. The mold then releases spores into the air that people can’t see, but can inhale deep into the lungs and can pose a risk for respiratory issues. This is why investing in a dehumidifier, such as those recommended at Good Air Geeks, is essential to keeping your bistro or home kitchen mold-free.
When I walk into any bistro, if it’s uncomfortable, I walk right back out. You don’t want to sit down to eat in a place that’s overly humid, do you? If you own a bistro and you find customers walking out and notice it’s humid, get that dehumidifier. Another thing that I look for is cleanliness. I do not like a dirty bistro. I hate seeing crumbs on a table that a busboy/girl previously cleaned and I really don’t like a dirty bathroom. Usually, if a bathroom is dirty, it means that the kitchen where your food is being prepared is dirty as well.
One other thing that I look for is space. I’m not a huge fan of sitting in a crowded bistro. There should be ample space for you to comfortably sit without having to move your chair anytime somebody wants to walk past you. Bistros are supposed to be inviting and comfortable, a place where you can sit and have a conversation with a friend without feeling hot, overcrowded, or rushed. I can’t tell you how many of them I have walked out of because of all of those reasons.
The kitchen is going to be a naturally humid environment because of the steam the cooking creates. It’s best to control this steam and the humidity to avoid the creation of mold, bacteria, and other nasty particles that can make your family or customers sick. Not to mention, if black mold forms, you can have your bistro shut down until the problem is resolved, costing you tons of money in business and repairs.
Sugar, it’s one of those things we hate to love. It’s packed into everything from breakfast cereals to condiments and often times other unsuspecting food items. We cook with it on a daily basis. There are many sugar alternatives out there labeled as sweeteners that may or may not be a better choice over sugar. Is there such a thing as the lesser evil when it comes to sweeteners? In this article we will talk about several sweeteners on the market that you can use to sweeten your baking or cooking and you can decide for yourself which ones you’d like to avoid or stock your pantry with.
Let’s start with the first sugar that we are comparing the rest to, white granulated refined sugar. It goes through heavy processing that removes the molasses from it leaving it white rather than brown. It is made by crushing juice out of the sugar cane, then clarified, concentrated by removing water and crystallized by evaporating what’s left. You now have raw sugar. This raw sugar is mixed with a syrup to loosen the molasses which is spun out of the sugar. These crystals are then washed, dissolved, clarified or filtered to remove the molasses and impurities reducing it to a clear, golden liquid. Carbon filters are used to remove the remaining color. The leftover syrup is again evaporated. This concentrated syrup is again crystallized and then spun. The sugar crystals are then washed and conveyed through large dryers. This results in a mixture called massecuite. It is separated, washed and dried. These crystals are sent through screens to separate the various sizes. At this point the sugar can be packaged.
Agave nectar comes from the agave succulent in hot climates such as Mexico. As a sweetener, it is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar and is considered a vegan alternative to honey. I personally use agave nectar over honey when sweetening soups, cereals, smoothies, yogurt etc. because it is not as thick as honey. It seems to blend into other food without the gooey mess that honey would leave you with; especially if what you are adding it to is chilled like a smoothie. Still, both do tend to leave that fuzzy feeling on your teeth after it’s been in your mouth. You can visit Pearly Whytes for information on oral care products that will clean your mouth well afterwards.
A sugar substitute called Stevia is an extract that comes from the leaves of the stevia plant and contains zero calories making it a very popular alternative. That and the fact that you need to use very little as the powdered Stevia extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. This form of sweetener is not as bad for your teeth as it has the same benefits as polyols which do not allow bacteria to adhere to teeth. You can find it in either liquid or powder form for cooking with keeping in mind that you need much less than the recipe calls for sugar. Try using 1/16th teaspoon stevia as you would 1 teaspoon regular sugar and adjust from there.
Sucralose is also a no-calorie sweetener that tastes like sugar but is 600 times sweeter and can be used to cook and bake with because it is heat stable. Although sucralose is an approved ingredient and has no known side effects, many are still worried about the possible effects from consumption of sucralose and are reluctant to use it. It is completely up to the consumer to decide for themselves whether or not this is an ingredient they want to keep in their pantry.
How does raw cane sugar differ from white refined sugar? The first notable difference between the two is raw cane sugar is processed to a lesser degree. White sugar requires further processing of turbinado sugar. Raw cane sugar also has more moisture than white sugar. Because it is less processed it does have a mild amount of molasses in it. It has larger crystals and is a good substitute to bake with except when finer crystals are desired.
White refined sugar goes through heavy processing to remove molasses and impurities. It is good to know your options as there are other sweeteners that you can use as a replacement in baking and cooking. We’ve outlined a few of them.
It’s late at night, you’ve closed up the shop and headed home with no worries in your mind. You arrive the next morning and notice water pooling up by your front door. Oh, no! A pipe burst somewhere and it’s been leaking water all night. All of your booths, floors, walls, and appliances have been compromised by water. This is what’s known as water damage and it can quickly turn into a catastrophic event unless it’s taken care of right away.
Sure, you could let the water sit and just dry your business out over a period of time, but this isn’t the best way to go about it. The reason is because as the water seeps into cracks, crevices, and fabrics, it’s going to become a breeding ground for mold and other nastiness. Not only does mold ruin just about anything it touches, but it can lead to some pretty severe illnesses due to poor indoor air quality.
The initial cleanup may be mentally and physically exhausting. After you put a call in to your insurance company and tell them your plans, you’re going to want to start the next phase.
First-Disconnect the power and unplug any electronics and remove them along with your furniture, and and anything else that can be moved. The electrical items are the most important and you should make sure that the power is turned off that leads to that specific area to avoid electrocution. If your bistro has carpet, you may be able to save it if you get it clean and disinfected.
Second-You need to get rid of the water. The longer it sits, the more stagnant it will become and it increases the chances for mold development. It only takes up to 24 hours for it to start forming and getting into the air. You can get rid of the water with towels, wet/dry vac, and anything else that will help to soak it up. Fans and dehumidifiers are very helpful for drying out the area.
Third-Disinfect the area after it has dried out. You need to get the wood beams, insulation, drywall, and anything else the water touched, especially if the water is unsanitary.
Sometimes, people just can’t deal with the loss and can’t even begin to fathom what happened, making the cleanup even more difficult. If you need help, your best bet is to get in contact with a commercial restoration company. They’ll come in, asses the issue, and get to work repairing the damage that has been done to your precious bistro.
These professionals have years of experience with this type of issue and they offer a quick response to any size disaster, they are highly trained, have certifications that you can rely on, and they work around the clock, all year long.
Once you call the restoration company, they will do a number of duties to ensure your operation can get up and running again as soon as possible. They will assess the situation and will identify the source of the problem. They will then cover any exposed areas, making sure there’s no further damage done to the area(s) during the process. Then, they’ll remove any materials that are too heavily damaged to be restored. They will then begin the necessary repairs to get the structure functional once more. After they do that, they will finish the cleaning process and ensure that you and your employees are in an aesthetically-pleasing work area as well as comfortable.
The loss of a business is tough for anyone. It can happen for a variety of reasons, but don’t let water damage be one of them. It can usually be easily managed if you call the professionals in a quick amount of time. They understand your needs and that your business is important to you, which is why they work so hard to get you back up and running.
Newfoundland households love a cozy kitchen filled with family and friends and the typical Newfoundland party atmosphere. To the surprise of many, Newfoundland has its own signature style cuisine. Its long winters and brilliant, sun-filled shorter summers makes for the ideal environment to catch up on family recipes passed down from one generation to the next and the innovation of today’s modern Newfoundland cooks who give these recipes a new appeal.
The first thing the new brides in Newfoundland learn is how to utilize all of the freshness of each season’s bounty. Creating a kitchen that is like a dinner invitation is important in summer or winter. There are plenty of opportunities to create barbecues that take cooks from their kitchens to the outdoors where the fresh salt air of the great expanse of Atlantic breezes add to the flavors of Newfoundland dishes.
There are many traditional Newfoundland dishes like Fish N’Brewis, a mélange of salt cod, an important ingredient in many Newfoundland kitchens local, salty Purity bread. This is served with pork scrunchions, tasty salty bacon and may be offered with vegetables on the side. This is a wonderful dish for young cooks to try because it is simple, quick and easy to prepare. Fish is served smoked outdoors in summer with little work or time involved. In a Newfoundland kitchen, no party is complete without a “duff” which, in summer might be made with local partridge berries or in winter “figgy” duff made without figs. (Ref. http://encounternewfoundland.com/traditional-newfoundland-food-unique-island-dishes-and-where-to-find-them/)
Another tradition among Newfoundlanders is seal flipper pie. As its name implies, this is the meaty cartridge of the knuckle of the seal flipper. Many kitchen parties in Newfoundlanders’ home also include toutons, a kind of fried dough. These are ideal for kitchen parties planned for brunch.
Don’t forget to provide something to drink. For adults, this might be one of the family’s home brews or for the kids, fruit flavored soft drinks.
Newfoundland is the most distinctive of all Canadian provinces. The climate can be like spinning a roulette wheel. This doesn’t stop Newfoundlanders from enjoying family and friends gathered in the warmth of a kitchen, eating delicious meals and then gathering for a music and song fest. Newfoundlanders are quite proud of their inherent love of music and often invite guests from outside of the province to enjoy the signature Newfoundland music style.
Today’s Newfoundland kitchens may be outfitted with the most modern appliances. Yet, there is something remarkably rustic about the curtains, accessories and the all important dining table and comfortable chairs. Be sure to provide sufficient seating for family and guests that is comfortable enough to go from dinner to after dinner entertainment. (Ref. http://www.foodnetwork.ca/shows/great-canadian-cookbook/photos/a-true-newfoundland-kitchen-party/#!1-newfoundland-kitchen-party-lynn-walking)
No Newfoundland kitchen party is complete without a few musicians who play basic instruments like concertinas, accordions, fiddles, a tambour drums or two and a harmonica. A kitchen party song fest is sure to evoke memories of traditional folk tunes and the most interesting lyrics.
Raising a vegan family is awesome but not without its challenges. I love preparing nutritious meals and healthy snacks for my kids and husband. Sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day to make healthy meals that will please everyone. I have been figuring out what I need to keep my kitchen running efficiently and to make sure my family has enough variety in meal options. I hope a few my tips will help you.
My kitchen is equipped with the basics: Safe cook and bake ware, good knives, cutting boards, cooking utensils, and plenty of glass containers to store food in. There are a 2 items I find I can’t live without.
I make time on weekends to prepare certain recipes in large batches that I can use for weekly meals or freeze. This is a great time saver during a busy week.
I always have on hand a variety of fresh organic fruits and vegetables, as these are the basis of our meals. Here are some of our favorites.
My pantry is stocked with everything I need to compliment fresh food dishes and for baking. This is where you will find our protein packed and fiber rich food options, as well as condiments and snacks.
If food allergies or intolerances are an issue when stocking your pantry, you can get some good advice and recipes from Angela at http://ohsheglows.com/.
I keep certain products in the refrigerator after opening them. They seem to stay fresh longer.
Fresh and dried herbs and spices are great flavor elements in many dishes. I have too many to even pick favorites.
This is a tough category when raising children. Kids are exposed to lots of unhealthy food options as soon as they head out the door. We can’t force them to live in a vegan bubble. They will experiment. I keep some go-to snacks on hand to ward off hunger pangs between meals.
With a little planning ahead my week of meal preparation is something I look forward to. A good vegan family recipe data base can be found at http://www.veganfamilyrecipes.com/recipes/.
Eggs are awesome. “Eggcellent,” in fact! They fit in every menu, cuisine, and type of dish imaginable. Healthy when eaten in moderation, eggs can actually be the best protein substitute, complete with its own power pack of good calories, fats, and flavor.
Now, let’s talk about two egg recipes that people often tend to confuse: Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine. Notice that I did not use the word “versus” as my measure of comparison. There is no need to battle out which one is the best, since both are so different. How different? Check out how these two recipes contrast, and decide for yourself which one is the most delicious.
A restaurant favorite, this dish reigns supreme in every American brunch menu. This is because of its versatility and perhaps even because of its history.
In one version of the history of the Eggs Benedict, the recipe is attributed to Charles Ranhofer, who was the chef of the first restaurant ever opened in the USA in 1860, “Delmonico’s.” According to lore, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, was a regular customer who, one day, needed something different for her lunch. In the recipe he later published in 1894, these “Eggs à la Benedick” called for:
2 English muffin halves, crosswise and toasted without browning
1 round slice of ham no thicker than an inch in width and diameter to be placed in halves on the muffins
2 poached eggs to place on each half of the muffins
Hollandaise sauce to pour on top of the eggs
A second story involves a 1920 Commodore, yachtsman E.C. Benedict, who claims to have received this very recipe from his mother.
Regardless, the recipe calls for the basics of egg, hollandaise, ham, and a muffin. Whatever you add to the recipe is entirely up to you. Some modernized versions of the same recipe add cheese on top of the poached eggs and butter on the muffins. These additions are the criteria of the chef, but any changes should be explained to customers who are looking for the traditional dining experience.
This one is easy. Anything with the name “Florentine” in it means one thing: it has spinach.
The history of Eggs Florentine, however, is less commercial and much more royal than the history of the Benedict. The Eggs Florentine recipe dates back to the Renaissance period!
The French are responsible for the coinage of the word “Florentine,” to associate it to spinach. The reason may have been that Catherine de Medici introduced spinach to French cuisine (she was born in Florence), after she married Prince Henry of France. Hence, the spinach in Florentine would take the place of the ham in the Eggs Benedict recipe.
The sauce used in Florentine is Mornay sauce, which is cheese sauce, essentially. The poached eggs are the same on both recipes. In Florentine, however, they can be also scrambled or boiled. Still, there is a 1898 eggs Florentine recipe that addresses the use of mushroom cream sauce and artichoke, which was yet another vegetable also introduced by Catherine de Medici.
If we stick to the original, the recipe for Eggs Florentine calls for:
Bread, or a muffin, which would have taken the place of an actual dish back in the day.
Spinach, whether cooked or fresh
A poached, baked or scrambled egg
Mornay sauce on top
Mushroom cream and artichokes optional
Personally, I prefer the Benedict, but they seem to appeal more to the American palate altogether. That doesn’t mean that the Florentine are not delectable too. I have made them with steamed spinach, often mixing the Mornay sauce with the spinach to serve it to my kids. They still do not dig it, but I definitely do.
So, which is your favorite? These two recipes are awesome for breakfasts and lunches. They can be awesome for small dinners and even for those days when you simply feel bored with the usual.
Most cooking stores now sell plastic containers that will make a perfectly poached egg for you in less than one minute. All you need to do is crack the egg onto the container, and place it in the microwave. So, do not think that you need to become a chef overnight to be able to do this.
Try these recipes today and enjoy the benefits of good eating with not that much effort!