Tag Archives: obsession

Even More Kitchen Obsessions

21 Sep

I have been ill lately, and in no fit state to cook. I managed soup yesterday, but I worry that if I make something, I will pass on this nasty bug to one of my family. So with very little to occupy my time (well, except the Queen Z of course), I have taken to dreaming about my perfect, modern, streamlined, totally organised kitchen. These are some of the things I would have in it!

messerstahl

This knife block reminds me of Starck’s ghost chair. Sexy and streamlined, its truly a thing of beauty. Such clever design. Of course, I know that if I had it in my kitchen it would soon be scratched, splattered with food, and precariously sitting atop something… but a woman can dream cant she?! If I could have a kitchen that would fit a knife block like that … well, it would have to be as large as my entire flat at home!

Knife block by Messerstahl. Dreams by me 😉

with stones!

Talk about sleek. This water pitcher uses Binchotan charcoal and Iouseki stones from Japan. At once earthy and modern, I can imagine having this in my stainless steel fridge. The water is filtered through the charcoal and stones, and becomes mineral rich in the process. Its a gorgeous serving carafe as well. I love it because the charcoal and stones last up to 6 months – when one thinks about treading on the earth lightly and with care, using a product that gives you up to six times more use than regular water filters… well, that just makes me really happy. Plus its stunningly beautiful. I wish I had more room in my luggage!

alessi

In my  dream kitchen, I would have this Gnam bread box by Alessi, designed by Stefano Giovanonni and Elisa Gargan. The kitchen of my heart is brushed stainless steel with bamboo wood accents – light, airy and yet very industrial modern in colour. However, my life is not monochrome, and I would want the occaisional pops brightness… I adore the colour of this bread box, and yet its modern lines are very in tune with the design aesthetic that I love. How gorgeous is this?!

I must pause to admit here, that the kitchen of my dreams will in all reality stay exactly that. I am too messy, too much of a hoarder, and like cosiness too much to be able to maintain a zen space of which I dream. Within two minutes, it would be messy, warm, splattered, covered in photographs and notes, and painted with the textures of my life. I understand and accept this, but in a world where I wouldnt have to do the cleaning up and putting away, I might attempt a streamlined kitchen!

by prepara

These gorgeous modernist tubes hold water at the bottom, and fit into the door of the refrigerator. You can safely store asparagus and a variety of fresh herbs fresh for up to 3 weeks! What a pleasure that would be. One of the reasons I dislike buying fresh herbs is that they very rarely survive to the second cooking… I use them once for a recipe I am dreaming up, and then when I go to use them again a few days later, they are sticky and dying. Its an expensive waste, but this would solve that problem in absolutely stunning style. What I would give to have six or seven fresh herbs at my disposal day and night. And to be honest, at USD$30 for a set of 3, the Prepara Herb Savor is an economical designer friendly way to be green.

profi plus

I love this Profi Plus Bobble Whisk by WMF. Its so beautiful and yet so simple. One of the main reasons we whisk ingredients together is to aerate them – and the bobbles are designed specifically to enable more air to circulate within the ingredients while whisking. Theres the science of it, and then theres the pure aesthetic pleasure of looking at and using something so pretty. This whisk is about USD$30 – but I think it is worth it. I love things that work well and are designed with care and thought.

from DWR

Back in Malaysia, I have two very used and beloved black granite mortar and pestles. They were bought in the markets, and have been used for everything from grinding spices to making sauces. They are heavy as hell, and very comfortable. This, however, is a mortar and pestle from design heaven (actually, its USD30 from Design Within Reach, but you know what I mean!). I would probably keep my black granite ones, but this piece would be on the counter top (next to the ghost knife block). Its simple and yet sensuous. Those curves are lovely, and that pestle looks like it could fit in the palm of my hand perfectly. Stunning in its simplicity, and yet very user friendly.

And finally, a bit of whimsy. This tea kettle, by Michael Graves, from Alessi, is something that I lusted after for ages. I loved its usefulness, and yet its sweetness. Its charming and yet so beautifully made. Thanks to one of my best friends (yes, you, ZaZa), I now own this gorgeous piece. I have to figure out a way to use it in my real life kitchen though… its so gorgeous, I am saving it for best. I have come to realise, in the course of writing this blog, that the best is NOW. So when I get home, I will take it off the highest shelf, where I look at it and admire it, and actually start making tea with it 🙂

More Cooking Obsessions

7 Sep

So here I sit, eating the last of the vegan chocolate cake (man, it was good), full as a tick after a phenomenally good veggie burger from BGR The Burger Joint. Their veggie burger is sooo delicious – black beans, oats, rice, molasses, with a smokey BBQ flavour, slathered in mojo sauce, roasted onions, fresh ripe tomatoes, lettuce, on a toasted brioche bun. Their fries are amongst the best I have ever had – I cant decide between the Yukon Golds or the sweet potato fries. And dont even get me started on the vanilla bean shake … pure sin. Creamy, flecked with vanilla bean, so thick it takes effort to get the good stuff. Full I am, full full full.

So obviously, I didnt do a lot of cooking today! I just ate, and ate very well. And that got me started thinking about some more of my cooking obsessions. I have written before about some of the things that I cannot do without, and I have remembered several other bits and pieces which I really adore. These are the things I take for granted in my kitchen, but which I could not do without. They make my daily life as a cook so much better.

Chef's Mat

I never think about it because its always there, but my GelPro Chef’s Mat is something I absolutely could not do without. This piece of kitchen equipment is used every day, and here in the US where I dont have one, I feel the difference. This mat is used in the most heavily trafficked areas of the kitchen – where I stand and chop vegetables, in front of the stove when I am cooking for ages. Its a very simple concept – a thick mat, filled with gel, that completely alleviates any fatigue associated with standing and cooking for long periods of time. This mat is so comfortable, easy to clean (simply wipe off any spills or stickies) and if anything sharp (like a knife) drops, then its cushioned and wont chop or cut floor or feet.

I love my mat. Its meant to stop foot, lower back and arthritic pain when cooking or standing for long periods of time. Its truly amazing. Its quite expensive, and for a long time, I really wondered if it was worth it to get one. But I did because I am sucker for new and interesting things, and I have never regretted it. Its quite beautiful in its simplicity, but its very well made, with anti microbial additives, so it never gets moldy even if its left without being cleaned for a while.

If I had to give a cook a present that they would not give themselves, this is what I would get them. I cannot tell you how fantastic cooking on this surface is – pure absolute pleasure. It makes standing over a hot stove for hours on end, or chopping a mountain of vegetables over the sink, totally easy. And it does it without me even remembering its there!

Magnetic Clips

When I cook, I often print out a recipe I have already written, and I need a place to put it so I can refer back to it as I mix and chop and saute and bake. Magnet clips, which are attached to my fridge, do the trick. I love the Endo Magnet Clip because it can hold up to 20 pages of writing. I usually have a pencil handy too so that I can notate and adjust recipes as I cook them. These clips are used constantly in my house.

Not only do they hold recipes, but I clip my shopping lists to them, important notes to my housekeeper, emergency contact numbers, calendars. Again, this is something that I never really thought about, but which makes my kitchen more efficient, and helps me do the work I need to do. I wouldnt be without them.

Magnet Hooks

And may be even more than I love the magnet clips, I love love love these magnet hooks that cover a whole lot of space on my fridge. As I have written in an earlier post, my kitchen is teeny tiny. I need to be able to access stuff quickly, but I also need to be able to store it nicely too! I like having things to hand … and because its my kitchen, and I know my own patterns and rhythms, I know that certain things, I want to be able to grab without opening a drawer or looking around for it.

These gorgeous magnetic hooks from ThreeByThree are wonderful. I use them to hang my oven mitts, my cooking aprons, dish towels, certain utensils, and for the big huge strong ones, even a fry pan or two. Seriously. They are amazing. They come in great colours, and are really strong. Useful beyond measure.

French OvenI have many, many pots and pans. I have different ones for different things, and of course, I love to collect them. I have a few copper pans that I have saved up slowly to purchase, but I have to say, my Le Creuset oval French Oven is probably one of my favourites. I found this pan at a Filene’s Basement store in NYC, for USD99, and I carried it home to Malaysia on my lap in the airplane (long ago, when you could bring things like a heavy cast iron pot onto the plane!).

Since then, many moons ago, I have used this pot for everything under the sun. You can bake brilliant bread in it, its wonderful for soups and stews, South African potjiekos, gratins and any manner of pasta. I have used it to bake a cake, and a tart when I didnt have the proper cake pans. Because it goes from stove top to oven with effortless ease, its the perfect multidimensional cooking vessel. Because its made of cast iron, the way it conducts heat is brilliant – even and strong, with no burning spots. I love this pot, and if I had to choose just one, I would probably choose this one.

Frying Pan

But I am very lucky, because I dont have to choose just one! My other favourite pan is my Green Pan. I use it all the time, every day, for just about everything. When I was renovating my kitchen and house, I was very aware of trying to be as ecologically friendly and sensitive as I possibly could. I read that non-stick pans were being reevaluated for their health and safety functions, and so I started doing some research.

I invested in several pans – a cast iron pan, which I love, but which is heavy and can be a bit unwieldy. I also bought a Green Pan, and I instantly fell in love. This is a GREAT non-stick pan – easy to use, very light, and yet incredibly functional. My Green Pan is the pan I reach for when sauteeing, frying, grilling cheese sandwiches, making pasta sauces, just about anything. It uses PTFE free Thermalon (dont ask me, I have no idea what it really is) technology which seems to be less scratch resistant and more sturdy than my other non stick pans. I use less oil and butter, and the heat conductivity is superb. Cooking with this pan makes me happy.for the oven!

One of the most annoying things about having an old oven is that temperatures can be so incredibly unreliable. For this reason, I really adore my Oxo Oven thermometer. It hangs on the oven rack and shows me temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Sometimes when you bake, a few degrees can make a huge difference between burned cookies and cakes or ones that turn out perfectly. Since I dont have the luxury of (or the money for) professional baking ovens, this oven thermometer which only costs USD15, ensures that I get as close to perfect as possible. I bake so much at home that I could not do without it! I love Oxo for all their kitchen stuff – beautifully designed, well thought out, useful and user friendly. Their salad spinner is the stuff of legend, their knives are sharp, comfortable in the hand and powerful, and their storage containers are awesome. But this simple thermometer is useful beyond words.

Santoku

And finally, an indulgence. I told you that I was totally obsessional about knives. Well, I was perusing a sample sale online, and I found this set of Ken Onion limited edition Shun knives. A paring knife, and this 7″ high carbon stainless steel Santoku knife. Look at that handle, imagine how it will fit snugly in the hand. Check out the blade… its so beautiful I could cry. It was so expensive, even on sale, that I almost did cry, but its my gift to myself for this trip. I cant wait to get them, and will write about them as soon as I have used them well enough to know how they feel in the hand… I was just so excited, I had to share them!