Tips from my Kitchen, Part I

I know you all understand that my culinary and baking skills strictly come from trial and error.  I grew up in the kichens of my mother’s, as well as both of my grandmothers’.  I am thrilled to be able to say that my grandma Claudia is practically famous for her German cooking, while my grandma Bonnie was born and raised in the Midwest.  Needless to say, their styles are polar opposites, but I have learned to create things in the kitchen that are by far a mixture of the two.

This year over Spring Break, my dad, grandparents, brother, sister, Brian and I all spent a few nights together in Leavenworth, Washington.  Being the amazing German town that it is, we made sure that we enjoyed the food.  :)  What I enjoyed the most was having each and every one of us gathered around a table for each meal…breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Brian now understands a little better why I constantly want to entertain and have people over for dinner.  I really enjoy having everyone together, enjoying a meal and each other’s company.  My grandma Bonnie is famous for her fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, which Brian has never had before.  My dad laughed and told him he couldn’t be a part of the family until he did!  Needless to say, our wedding is in less than two months, so my grandma is trying to plan a dinner date.  :)  That meal is just one of hers that I truly crave and can literally feel my mouth water as I type this.  :)

Which brings me to the entire reason for my post.  Growing up in the kitchen has taught me a lot…not only how to cook, but some tips I’d like to share.  Now that I have my own kitchen, there was some pressure to make sure I made it work for me!  I never thought that would be an issue when I grew up, but there’s so many things you don’t know until you experience them.  :)

Tip #1:  Buy in bulk.
I am not a big fan of buying ALL of my food at Costco.  Now, don’t get me wrong, frozen chicken is a staple in our house and the only place I buy them are Costco.  However, lugging bags and bags of powdered sugar home is not ideal for me because of the amounts I use it in.  What I have found ideal for me is buying in the bulk foods section of my local grocery store.  You really do have to compare prices for the bulk section vs. the normal grocery aisle items, but when you find they’re cheaper, it is a great way to buy.  A few things I purchase in bulk now are: most all of my spices (cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, cream of tartar, etc.), flour, powdered sugar, cocoa, chocolate bark (especially if I’m going to make a bark or chocolate-covered something), pasta, honey, agave nectar, and almond butter.  Like I said, this is just to name a few.  I love buying in bulk if it means I save some money.

Tip #2:  Bake, freeze, and seal in a mason jar.
Brian and I are getting married this summer and we’re trying to keep our reception fun, but nothing extravagent.  It’s really just not our style.  That being said, we still want to make sure our wedding and reception truly reflects us.  Which is the main reason our bar will be serving beer, wine, soda, water and lemonade in a mason jar.  The lemonade just represents the fact that we want people to feel like summer is here and enjoy.  It will be served in mason jars because I love the look and the feel it gives to the wedding.  Funny thing is that I’m purchasing 300 jars for this purpose, I am SO excited to have that many to use in my kitchen afterwards!  Woohoo!!  Most everyone has asked me, “what are you going to do with all of those afterwards?”  My response: “Use them!!”

*By the time this was published, Brian and I did get married and I’m thrilled to be the new owner of 12 dozen pint-sized mason jars!  (hahahahaha)

In a year’s time, I make soup, homemade applesauce, and freezer jam to either seal or freeze.  And each and every year, everything is gone.  :)  This year, we lost power during a snow storm for 4 days and didn’t panic in the least because we had a wood stove, soup, and applesauce to keep us happy and a semi-normal menu.  We did eat our meals by the light of a headlamp, but that’s part of the fun, right?  :)

Tip #3:  Store in a mason jar.
Another use I have for mason jars is storage.  With all of my bulk food purchases, jars are a fantastic way to store all of those things.  It makes for a great look in the cupboard, plus I love being able to admire my purchases.  Yes, I’m weird like that.

More tips to come….

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