This morning, I looked out to see all the tree branches coated in snow. Oh how I love that winter wonderland look! And when winter arrives it is time to drag out the slow cooker and “simmer” comfort food all afternoon! Since beginning my blog in September, I have mainly posted related to vintage furniture and some travel. I LOVE to cook too and have been wanting to share some of my recipes. So I decided today will be my food debut!
However, my pantry was not very stocked so I decided to make some nice chunky chili. Not exactly the most gourmet of dishes! Regardless, I had the time to take the photos and enjoy my kitchen.
While I was prepping and photographing my chili, I began to think about all the things I love about my home and my kitchen. So I decided I would share my favourite kitchen “things” as I use them to make this recipe.
Join me on this little journey…
Here are the ingredients I gathered….
All Canadian labels must be bi-lingual. I am very proficient in French words for various food items 😉
I was planning on using the slow cooker today. This is my newer large one but to be honest, I prefer the one I got in college many many years ago. But it’s smaller. Although it is not necessary, I browned the meat. Searing does help the consistency and flavour.
My Favourite Kitchen “Things”
#1 INDUCTION COOKTOP
A few year back, after our previous cook top died, we needed to change not only the cooktop but the counter top to accommodate the current sizes. This led to a minor renovation, which I am SO GRATEFUL for. Basically, we refaced the dated cabinets, changed a few around to accommodate a shelf for a microwave and added granite. I so LOVE the look now.
The access to gas was too far from the kitchen so gas was out of the question. I did some research and decided I would be adventurous and try INDUCTION. If you aren’t familiar with it, induction cooktops use electromagnetism to heat the PAN in order to cook the food. So your pots and pans need to be conductive, like stainless steel or cast iron. Sound weird? Perhaps it does but to be honest it is brilliant! My induction cooktop heats and stops heating as fast as gas. However, there is no flame throwing off heat into the room. No super hot elements to burn yourself on. It’s so clean too. Also, because it is the metal in the pan that heats and not the ceramic top, it is safe to put non metal items on the surface even if the element is on because it needs metal to work.
Here is a LINK that tells the story very well.
INDUCTION COOK TOP
#2 TITANIUM COOKWARE
The downside of induction is the need for cookware that will work. What I had previously did not. I tried stainless steel but food sticks to it too much. Again, I researched and found TITANIUM was the answer but I didn’t like the price. However, since Mr. Nice often does the dishes (you know, the pans where the food is stuck on) and he also knows how much I like to cook. He truly is Mr. Nice and told me to get what I want. Another benefit of titanium is it is a healthy! Many health experts agree “titanium cookware seems to pose the least health risks and doesn’t react with food while cooking. Part of a good cancer prevention plan is to ditch all others and buy high quality titanium cookware. Premium titanium cookware is more expensive but inferior cookware will actually cost more over time.” (Source)
I was able to pick up a set on promotion at Toronto’s National Home Show. I LOVE this cookware. It is made in Germany and the handles and lids are heat resistant up to 500 degrees! It will last forever! Yes, I may have spent a small fortune but cooking is so pleasurable with this stuff. You DO NOT NEED OIL! even with eggs and omelets! I added no oil to brown the meat! (Cookware Source)
If you really like to cook and you want to treat yourself, buy one titanium frying pan. You won’t regret it!
#3 MANDOLIN SLICER
No tears were shed in the chopping of those two onions. I have had this contraption for more than 25 years! It was also purchased at the Toronto Home Show and it too was made in Germany. I keep thinking about buying a nice new stainless steel one but hey! this one “ain’t broke”. It has a stand and other inserts for chopping and slicing. Such a great time saver and so much handier than dragging out my food processor.
It’s ORANGE and I have had it for over 25 years!
#4 GARLIC PRESS
Apparently the finer your garlic, the more evenly the flavour is released and distributed.
My press is from Pampered Chef and yes, you don’t need to peel the garlic!
No stinky garlic fingers!
Yes, the clove is UNPEELED!
There’s a little gizmo to get the peel out but i usually just use a knife
#5 OVER THE SINK STRAINER
This is pretty much self explanatory. Mine is stainless steel and comes from Lee Valley Tools, a very cool Canadian company with super high quality products. Check out their on-line catalog. They carry tools, hardware, garden and kitchen stuff and more.
#6 THREE PAIL GARBAGE CONTAINER
& COMPOST PAIL
Yes sir-ee! I love my refuse containers. The City of Toronto is big on recycling. Over the years, we’ve had blue binS, grey bins, green bins, yard waste, etc. Now we are down to (1) Blue Bins for recycling glass, paper, and much more (2) Black Bins for garbage and (3) Green Bins for organics. So when Costco was selling this 3 container garbage can, I snapped it up. I had the perfect spot for it hind the sink peninsula.
Although compost can go in with the Organics, I like to add compost to my garden.
I picked this stainless steel pail up at Lee Valley Tools.
What I like about it is so easy to clean and seems to keep the odours inside.
My ULTIMATE Favourite Kitchen “Thing”
THE VIEW OUT MY WINDOW!
Our home backs on to a ravine. It’s a “raised bungalow”, where from the street, it looks like one story and at the back, it is two stories with a walk out basement. When we saw this house 20+ years ago, we knew we had to have it. The view plus the snooker table clinched it for Mr. Nice.
The sink and working area in the kitchen is on a peninsula so while toiling away, I get to look at four seasons of nature out my window. Winter is one of my favourite times, especially when the snow sticks to the tree branches. Photos just don’t do it justice!
Although I hate the mess my darling daughter leaves EVERYWHERE she goes,
I didn’t bother to make my kitchen table all tidy for this picture.
I want to remember it this way.
You see she is in grade 12, her last year of high school and will be going off to university next year.
She will not be sitting at this table doing homework everyday.
She won’t be there asking me not to talk or disturb her.
Oh how I will miss this mess!
What are some of your favourite “Kitchen Things”?
…WONDERING ABOUT THE CHILI?
Here’s the chili finished and being kept warm until dinner…
Chunky Black Bean Chili
Hearty and delicious!
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 lbs. stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces, patted dry
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp of cumin
- 2 to 4 tbsp Chili powder (to your own taste)
- 1 tbsp Oregano, dried
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 can of diced tomatoes (28 oz) with juice
- 1 bottle of flat dark beer
- 2 19 oz cans Black Beans, well rinced
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- Heat oil in skillet and brown meat in batches. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook onions until soft, about 3 minutes. Add a tablespoon or more of water if sticking.
- Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, pepper and salt; cooks stirring for about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes with juice and beer. Bring to a boil.
- Transfer to slow cooker and stir well.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- About 30 minutes before it is finished, add beans, cilantro and lime juice. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and add any garnishes such as grated cheese.
- This tends to be soupy. If you prefer a thicker chili, drain tomatoes or omit beer.
Adapted from Sensational Slow Cooker Gourmet
Adapted from Sensational Slow Cooker Gourmet
Nicer Than New http://www.nicerthannew.com/
You may find me linking at these great parties.
Not every week and not all of them. Be sure to watch for me!