A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

The title of this post was the sign my college roommate posted in the kitchen of our six-person apartment my freshman year. It was made even funnier by the fact that her last name was Kitchen. I adored my roommate, but I’m afraid I was one of the offenders. Between my untidy housekeeping and the fact that I was always coming home at odd hours having forgotten my key, and knocking on our bedroom window to be let in, I was lucky we were such good friends. I guess maybe she figured I would grow up someday.

And maybe I have. I do generally keep my kitchen pretty happy now (and Tony doesn’t have to let me in during the wee hours of the morning, either). Although I think my formula would be, “A well-stocked, inhabited kitchen is a happy kitchen.” And yeah, it does help to have it clean. I hate cooking in a dirty kitchen. But I love to cook.

It has been a loooong time since I had a real American kitchen. You know, the kind where the refrigerator will hold more than one day’s worth of groceries, and the oven temperature can be regulated to somewhere around what the temperature gauge says (and it actually has a temperature gauge). And I had almost forgotten that stuff like muffin tins and a crock-pots existed.

To celebrate, I checked out a book that purports to marry good culinary techniques with the convenient crock-pot. Here’s my Goodreads review:

Williams-Sonoma the New Slow Cooker: Comfort Classics ReinventedWilliams-Sonoma the New Slow Cooker: Comfort Classics Reinvented by Brigit Binns

I generally associate slow cookers with fairly unsophisticated meals. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book takes crock-potting up a notch. Since I checked it out at the library last week, I’ve made two meals: Winter Vegetable Stew, and Spicy Red Bean and Chorizo Stew. Number three is at this moment in process in my crock pot: Short Rib Ragu. Typical instructions for recipes include sauteeing onions and other vegetables and browning meat before putting it in the pot, and then adding something fresh in at the very end (e.g.lemon zest and fresh herbs, chutney, or salsa). While these added steps make it less of a throw-it-all-in-and-go meal, they also add the flavors, colors, and textures that (let’s face it) something that’s spent an entire day in a crock pot really need. I don’t think I’ll go out and buy the book, but I feel like it’s given me the techniques necessary to change my “real” recipes into more convenient crock pot recipes without sacrificing flavor.
View all my reviews

My other recent culinary discovery (besides crock-potting) is parsnips. I have a lovely recipe for Turkey Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust that I make fairly often. The recipe includes a single parsnip. However, when I can’t even reliably find avocados in a foreign country, I am not about to put myself out looking for parsnips. And plus, there is all the weirdness about them looking like carrots that have been sucked dry by a vampire rabbit (yes, I confess to having read Bunnicula as a child. Don’t turn me in to the twaddle-police). However, in the above-mentioned cookbook, there is a recipe for Winter Vegetable Stew that includes parsnips. And I just happened to find them at the grocery store.

So I put them in my stew. And that same week, I happened to make the Pot Pie recipe, and I thought I might as well include that elusive parsnip, since I finally had it. And do you know what? It was fabulous. Now I LOVE parsnips. They are NOT just like carrots with no juice. They have this fascinating, sultry flavor that makes you go picking around your plate for another bite of parsnip, even though it also subtly flavors the entire dish. So, if you have never tried it, I commend to you the lowly parsnip.

And now I’m off to clean my kitchen, because, you know . . .

A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen!

photo credit (parsnips)

One thought on “A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

  • February 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    We discovered parsnips this year as well and LOVE them! We’re excited to plant them this spring and really hope they grow well. I’ll have to check that book out at the library. I admit to having a less than favorable opinion of most crock pot meals. 🙂


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