Five Tools Every Kitchen Should Have

If you cook on a regular basis, then you are probably well aware that there are some tools you just can’t live without. From your favorite spatula to a particular pan or a bowl, there are items that just make your life so much easier. Here is a list of some of the tools that are essential in my everyday work in the kitchen – if you don’t have any of these they may be worth looking into!

Cast Iron Skillet

If you could only have one pan in your arsenal, this would be my recommendation. Cast iron, when properly maintained, is a natural non-stick pan. That means no teflon to leach into your food. They’re also excellent for high temperature cooking, as they have quite a bit of mass and can stand up to the heat draw required to put a nice sear on a thick piece of meat. Better yet, they can go right in the oven so they double as a pan for baking, broiling, and roasting.

Silicone Coated Whisk

If you use teflon coated non-stick pans anywhere in your kitchen, then a silicone coated whisk is an absolute must. A metal whisk can knock off pieces of that teflon coating, however small they may be, and they’ll end up in your food and ultimately in your stomach. We don’t want that, right? Well, the answer is simple – get a silicone coated whisk. They won’t damage your non-stick pans and they can be used in other cookware just the same.

Food Processor

If you have a lot of cutting to do, such as mincing a bunch of herbs, shredding a bag of carrots or cabbage, or even grating a block of cheese, a food processor is a tool that will save you a ton of time, and potentially some cuts and scrapes! The cleanup of the food processor can sometimes be a pain, but if you have a lot of cutting to do it’s often worth it overall. You can simply wipe away the large debris and put the components in the dishwasher.

Lemon Squeezer

This is probably the simplest tool that has made the biggest impact on my kitchen work. You can get them for $5 or less, and they are perfect for squeezing citrus when you only have a handful or so to get the juice out of. They keep the seeds behind, getting rid of the constant headache of fishing them out if you were to do it by hand. Better yet, they can also go right in the dishwasher for quick and efficient cleaning.

Chef’s Knife

This is basically the staple of the kitchen. You absolutely need a go-to knife. You’ll quickly see that people will try to sell you on incredibly expensive knives, and truth be told they are entirely unnecessary. For about $20 you can get a basic chef’s knife, and if you get a sharpening block with it and learn how to sharpen your knife it will be in good shape for years to come.

So, these are my favorite kitchen products. What are yours? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Our Family’s Three Favorite Timeless Christmas Traditions

The holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family. Gathering with the same group of people each Christmas holiday season provides a sense of bonding. Your guests might only see each other that one time a year and it gives them a chance to catch up with each other. Just like looking forward to seeing these people every holiday season, many of our guests look forward to the activities that have become our timeless Christmas traditions. These include the white elephant gift exchange, holiday season gift exchange, and even a candy cane game to choose next year’s hosts. 

White Elephant Gift Exchange

The white elephant gift exchange is a way to add some fun to your holiday gift exchange. Each guest brings a wrapped gift to the party. The host can choose a category such as a specific price range, a specific weight range or a type of gift such as baked goods. When a guest presents his wrapped gift for inspection, he receives a number. This number represents what round of the gift exchange he will start. 

During a round, the person with that number chooses a gift first. Player number one must choose a wrapped gift, any others can select a wrapped gift and unwrap that unknown gift, or steal one that was previously unknown, going for the known item instead. If a player has his gift stolen he can then choose to open a wrapped gift or steal another gift from anyone than the person that stole from him. There can be a maximum number of three steals in a round and significant others can not steal from each other. 

The host must make one decision before the game starts. That decision is if the player that goes first in the first round gets to also go first in the final round. Some do this so everyone has an option to steal. 

Holiday Scavenger Hunt

The holiday scavenger hunt take a little preparation in advance. Choose the area the game will be played in. Sometimes it’s a home, sometimes a community and other times a radius in mileage from the host’s home. Once this is chosen, select guests to drive for each team, with five no more than 5 team. Before the event arrives, the host and a few friends should get together and create the scavenger list for each team with points assigned for each other. Creating a list of 20-25 items should keep your guests entertained for an hour-and-a-half. 

Candy Cane Hosting Game

Even the most outgoing guest at the party might hesitate when asked to host next year’s party. To do this, fill a brown paper bag with an assortment of mini candy canes. These candy canes should be an assortment of flavors with just one traditional red cane. Each guest before leaving pulls a candy cane from the bag. The one that pull s the traditional one is Next year’s gathering host. He gets to keep the candy cane as a gift. 

The least favorite part of Christmas parties other than when they end is setting up and doing dishes. The host can choose helpers or repeat the game. If you repeat the game, add three to five additional candy canes into the bag so more people are selected, those with the traditional candy canes will help host year. 

Staying Organized For Next Year

Creating a box that has the holiday supplies for each year, passing it from host to host makes planning easier. The guest list should be included in this box, as well as any remaining supplies from the current and previous years.

Innovative Gift Ideas for Your Aspiring Musician

When it comes to getting a gift to give your aspiring musician, whether it’s for your child or for your partner, there are many things to consider and many great ideas to pick from. A musician love music for many reasons, one is because music is what feeling sounds like and it draws the attention of many people who are blessed to hear the notes. While other musicians look toward music like it is a gift from the heavens. No matter what the reason a musician chose to become a musician, there are some certain gifts that you can give them to make them smile. Therefore, the following brief gives you a few ideas on what to give your aspiring musicians or at least consider giving to them, as it might change their world or enhance their love of music.
Ear Fixings
When it comes to music, hearing is everything. A musician wants to hear what they sound like in order to only get better for the listeners. Therefore, a great gift idea might be to consider getting them some quality headphones or some modern equipment that would enhance their ability to record and listen to the music they produce.
Vocal Enhancements
A musician loves the vocals in every song, or they wouldn’t listen to the song over and over again. To top that off new aspiring musicians love to listen to what they sound like and only push themselves to become better at their craft. Therefore, a great gift idea might be to get them vocal lessons, even if their vocals are on par, it will only enhance their craft and make them better.
Your Touch Of Favorite Songs
Another great gift idea to show your support to a musician would be to gather a few of your favorite songs and put them together in a mix tape or CD. This could be inspirational to your aspiring musician and give them ideas of new songs to make or give them ideas to re-create the songs you like. The reason for this is because musician love to give people what they want to hear, and with your mixtape, they might have found a way to show you their craft.
Electronic Turntables
No, not all musicians are one who likes electronic music, however those that do follow every new hit beat in order to turn it into a dancing light show, so to speak. DJ’s love to mix a bunch of sounds together in order to create a new fun song that everyone who hits the dance floor can enjoy. Therefore, a great gift idea may be to give them some new turntables that are a hot hit on the market or at least a gift card so they can pick them out themselves.
Strings
Every musician starts somewhere, and there is a man who starts on guitar. Therefore, a great gift for an aspiring musician that plays the guitar would strings. A guitarist can never have too many stings in their pocket. A guitarist who practices a lot will change their strings every few weeks to almost every week, which with the good strings on the market, can be sometimes expensive for some. Therefore, get them a large basket of different strings, and it may as well blow their mind.
Final Thoughts
In conclusion, there are many different ideas that you can give as a gift for a musician. You can go for strings, headphone gear, or all the way to new inspiring music equipment. No matter what you choose to give as a gift, try to make sure it has something to do with music, and they will feel the love you want to share with them, and you won’t be disappointed in your decision.