Exciting stuff in the kitchen

Last weekend was a bonanza of shopping.  I’ve moved and set up house so many times in the past few years that you’d think I would have everything I need. Yet I find myself shopping after each move. Shelves don’t fit the new place, I need a differently shaped shower rack…there’s always something. Plus, with each move comes a lot of marketing mail, and that means coupons. That means I can sometimes find some good deals on stuff I never got around to buying.

So when we headed out to get a few things, like the right water dish for our pooch (How can it be so difficult to get a dog to drink water in the desert?!), we brought along the coupons for various stores in the area. A trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond yielded far more than the new whistling kettle we needed. Our old whistling kettle had a layer of sediment that would not come off with abrasives yet flaked into the water when we tried to make tea. While a pot might suffice for boiling water, the whistle is necessary to keep me from ruining yet another pot by forgetting it as the water boils out and the pot burns.

While at the store, M convinced me to bite the bullet and buy a food processor. I’d been putting of the large purchase for years. I cook and bake a lot, but I mix and chop everything by hand. Now that I’m making homemade dog food (more on that in another post), the chopping really became a lot of work. So after a quick survey of food processor ratings on my smartphone, I chose a Cuisinart. In the past, the only food processor I owned was terrible, but this thing is a dream. I made some chicken/liver/rice/veggie/oatmeal chow, and Pierogi followed me for an hour, hoping I’d magically produce more of it for her.

We also splurged and picked up two fancy knives. That was another reason the hand-chopping had become a problem. We got rid of our crappy knives during the last move, and we had just a couple of bargain-bin knives on hand while I researched good knives and sweated over spending a lot of money on a quality knife we’ll have (hopefully) forever. There was a deal on two of them in a set, and our coupon for 20% of was good on our entire order, so I made the leap. Later, as I chopped the liver for the dog chow, I called M into the room and asked him to do some chopping for me. I didn’t tell him why, I just handed him the knife.

“Whoa,” was his reaction. The knife cut the rather tough liver like it was a stick of softened butter. I shouldn’t be so excited over a utensil, but I am. After years of using cheap knives, this thing was a miracle.

The final exciting kitchen addition was found at a thrift store. A 7-quart shiny red-enameled cast iron Dutch oven from Martha Stewart was priced at just $19.99. Amazon.com prices it at $117.95, so I think we got a great deal. It’s got a few nicks in the outer red enamel, but otherwise it looks barely used. Of course, baking a cassoulet for five or six hours during a desert summer sounds like a bad idea. If I can find a way to not be reprimanded by management, maybe I’ll make some beans on the gas grills in our apartment complex. Maybe they won’t notice it was left unattended for a few hours. There’s also a no-knead bread recipe I’d like to try. Dutch oven recipe suggestions are appreciated.  Otherwise, I’ll stick to the Crockpot until winter.

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3 Comments

Filed under kitchen, Life in Coachella Valley

3 responses to “Exciting stuff in the kitchen

  1. Jen

    I desperately need new knives. Cutting a ham or turkey is well, interesting with my knives currently. I want to find that deal you got on the dutch oven at the thrift store. I always hit bad times at the thift stores. I will have to take some cues from you.

  2. Knives are a tough find at thrift stores. No one gives them away sharp, so even if you find a nice for a good price, you’ll spend a lot getting it sharpened. Woot,com has deals sometimes.

    As for other deals, it’s all about patience. Whenever I pass one on errands, I stop in to see what’s new if I have time. For every deal, there are a lot of empty-handed visits. You also have to get to know the stores that attract the good donations, and what isn’t picked over by hipsters. The Goodwill in Quincy is where we got a lot of stuff for our Boston apartment. We donated most of it back when we left.

  3. krista.

    I wish we had good thrift stores in the city like we did in MI. They cater to hipsters, and the prices are actually pretty high as a result. It would be awesome to find some vintage crockery from the days when things were made to last.

    Good knives are worth every penny. I received mine as a gift several years ago, and I wish I had known then what I know now. I got Henckles, which is a great brand, but one edge has serration on it, which means they can’t really be sharpened. They’re still hardy knives, and they cut better than anything I used before, but I can tell they’re not as sharp as they were.

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