Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegan Kitchen Essentials Week: Small Appliances

Hi friends!  The busy-ness just doesn't end...I have been running around all day.  Unfortunately not actually running.  Just two more days in the boot though!  Today as I was driving I saw one of my favorite running buddies out for a run and I was so jealous.  Maybe on Thursday we will be able to run together. 

Today officially starts my week of Vegan Kitchen Essentials.  I am amazed that despite the busiest time for Girls on the Run I decided to take this on this week, however the timing is perfect.  Vegan Kitchen Essentials week is a response to a few National-attention grabbing events.  The first being the Vegan Oprah episode, and the second and most important- the new Dietary Guidelines set forth by the government. 

This week will not necessarily debate the issues that Oprah and the new Dietary Guidelines stirred up, but it will help shed light on the Vegan Lifestyle...specifically a whole-foods plant-based vegan lifestyle.  Although I share my life and lifestyle on this blog everyday, I am excited for this opportunity to dive into the inner-workings of my kitchen. 

As discussed yesterday, my number one kitchen essential is Mr. very valuable Sous Chef.  When deciding my number two kitchen essential there is no question in my mind.  Number 2 is the Food Processor.

Since the food processor arrived on my doorstep a few months ago it has gotten quite the work out.  This weekend it nearly overheated in its efforts to grind peanuts into peanut butter.  Nonetheless it stood the test and it has quickly found its place in my kitchen of misfit appliances.  
From smoothies to soups, and peanut butter to hummus this guy can do it all.  What I really love about the food processor is its ability to shred and slice veggies.  Especially onions.  No more tears here! 

So why is a food processor so important to a vegan kitchen?  Well for starters it is your all-in-one machine that comes at a fraction of the cost of the much-coveted Vitamix.  I use my food processor almost every day.  I'm not sure how I ever survived without it.  I would say if you were going to splurge on one purchase in the kitchen, this should be it!

A Steamer Pot and Basket is another essential.  The quickest, easiest way to cook veggies, and let's face it, as a vegan, you better be eating plenty of veggies to warrant one of these.  Funny thing is I don't even have a steamer basket.  I have a large pot but am in desperate need of a basket.  I think about it so often enough that it made my essentials list despite not actually having one in my own kitchen!  (My birthday is right around the corner: hint, hint)

A Rice Cooker is also a must.  I have a Tupperware version that cooks rice and other grains in the microwave, but I am also talking about the heavy duty, very expensive, counter top rice cookers.  If you cannot afford one, I highly recommend the Tupperware version.  Just careful to not actually cook on high with it, that is how I ruined one microwave and rice cooker!  I am the worst rice cooker ever.  When cooking on the stove top I almost always burn my rice.  I can't get a good texture and I always forget to stir and the rice winds up sticking to the pot.  A rice cooker does the trick.  It doesn't really speed up the time, but it makes it a hands-free dish allowing you to multi-task and whip up a dinner with little work.  Lately Mr. Kummerow and I have been cooking our grains in the rice cooker on Sunday while we prepare all of our other goodies in the kitchen.  Then we are stocked up on brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc for the entire week!

Mr. Kummerow just reminded me of my very favorite small appliance.  How could I forget my Kitchen Aid Mixer?  While I admit my arms would be a lot more sexy if I didn't own one, I couldn't live without this very important piece! 
I am fully serious when I say if it weren't for this small kitchen appliance, I would never bake! 

I'm not sure if this is categorized under small appliances, but my newest love in the kitchen are my brand new stainless steel pots and pans.
But if we were talking just essentials here: my trusty non-stick saute pans are the ones you want.  I have had mine (Calphalon) for almost 3 years and they are probably the most used item in the kitchen.   From stir-fry to grilled (vegan) cheese and quesadillas, you just cannot beat the non-stick.  The coolest thing I have learned with my pans is that you don't even need oil to saute veggies.  A little water and your veggies and that's all you need.  Very important for a low-fat, whole foods vegan diet!

What small appliances are in your kitchen that you cannot live without?

Yesterday I told you about my favorite kitchen buddy: Mr. Kummerow the Sous Chef.  Just as behind every good man there is an amazing wife, behind every good vegan chef there is an amazing sous chef!  But today, let me share with you another person that is absolutely essential in my vegan kitchen: my father-in-law Dave. 
It is possible that I discovered my love of food and cooking through Dave.  For as long as I've known him and for possibly as long as Mr. Kummerow has been alive, Dave has been a magician in the kitchen.  I always look forward to the most delicious meals at Dave's and I love to help in the kitchen at his house!  Of course I am spoiled when it comes to kitchen essentials because Dave is always assuring that I have the best of equipment in my own kitchen.  As I was writing this post it was quickly becoming apparent that all of my favorite small appliances were gifts from Dave!  So I suppose behind every vegan chef there should also be a foodie father-in-law! 

Tomorrow on Vegan Faith: Essential Kitchen Tools

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