What is Kitchen Kreature?

Our small kitchen buzzes to life with activity when I come home. Food is sculpted from its raw shape into dices, slices, wedges, and purees. Flames dance off the range, heating sauces and vegetables and soups. Colors decorate the granite counter tops - slices of green avocado, chunks of yellow mango mixed with diced red and green bell pepper, and bottles of spices - dark red, brown, green, yellow, white - are lined up and ready for use. Aromas drift delicately through the house, teasing the senses and rousing the appetite. The sound of vegetables being chopped are like the heartbeat of the kitchen itself, sauces bubbling create an acoustic energy - the life blood of most recipes.

The kitchen allows one to fully be immersed in being "local" - buying from the farmer's markets and enjoying the bounty that grows around the neighborhood. Paradoxically, it also is a terrific way to travel. From the rawest ingredients, I can make a dish from east central Africa to accompany a National Geographic safari on TV, or put on some blues, light a candle, and cook up a classic and hearty creole platter.

This room embraces so much - art and creativity, travel and discovery, and the pure essence of being local. In this blog, I share my experiences and discoveries - the delights of the kitchen.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Survival in the kitchen environment

The expression If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen is true on many levels.  Kitchens naturally tend toward chaos, and imposing structure and discipline is the main ingredient in every recipe.

Here's what works for me...

  • Cleanliness and organization make up half of every recipe.  Start with a clean kitchen, organize those ingredients, and end with a clean kitchen (I call it the clean kitchen sandwich); clean as you go along, and clean everything after the meal but before anything else.  Leave no dishes or utensils in the sink and in the morning you will love you for it. 
  • Plan ahead - time management is key to multi-course meals all happening in harmony
  • Plan your kitchen between meals - as you cook more and more, think about making your kitchen work into your workflow rather than the other way around.
  • Pot handles should never reach out over the counter.  I turn all my pot handles away from areas trafficed by people or by working hands.  Catching a handle can cause a meal to become a mess, or spill hot liquids that can create injury to people or pets.
  • Slow down with the knife - no matter how crazy things get, slicing is serious business.  SLOW DOWN.  You have ten fingertips - it can be easy to lose track of one...
  • If in doubt, throw it out.  I'm not into wanton waste by any means, but if something doesn't look, smell or taste right - even that lingering doubt - it's not worth it.  Believe me.  Fresh is the way to go.
  • Never leave a knife on a counter where it can be knocked off.  Vertically flying knives can maim or worse.
  • Always have at least one more timer than you think you'll need
  • The half-second/no bounce rule - if it falls on the floor even as a bounce, it's probably garbage.  Think about where the soles of your shoes have been and what microbes they grind into your floor.  You don't have to be a germ-o-phobe.  Think about it.  Really....
  • Local is best.  Creole tomatoes are the best in the country, unless you are not in that part of the country.  Fresh regional produce always trumps.
  • Go scratch - there is nothing more satisfying in completing a recipe than knowing you started with the most raw, unprocessed ingredients, and you'll taste the difference.
  • Recipes go by the letter of the law the first time through.  When working from another chef's recipe, take it literally, see what it is about, then improvise the next time if you feel so daring.
  • If the TV is on, it should be something I've seen before.  I can relive the scenes in my mind without having to divert my attention.

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