Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Easy Kitchen Life

"You always take the easy way out?" or  "Why do you always do things the easy way?" Did you ever hear that as a kid? Well, I did and remember always thinking;  'Duh, why would I intentionally do it the HARD way?' Of course, being Southern born and bred, I only said Yes/No Sir and definitely didn't back talk my Dad without instantly regretting it, so I kept my 'rebellious' thoughts to myself and continued on.

Don't get me wrong, my dad was a wonderful man and I love him dearly, but he said what he meant and meant what he said.  He battled cancer for over twenty years and I never heard him complain. That's right, three full rounds of chemo., radiation, part of a lung removed, etc., etc. but he was always trying to encourage and help others. He was a voracious reader, loved people and good conversation, but was never one to mince words when expressing an opinion he was passionate about. As he progressed in life, his favorite saying was; 'Al (as he affectionately called me), my give-a-shit-factor is at zero.' Needless to say, his life was not the easiest, but he met it head on and gave it his all to the very end.

I realize now that his comments about taking the easy way out or doing things the easy way weren't affronts to common sense but admonitions to not do things half-way or avoid challenges.  To strive to be the best and give life my all.  In fact, I'm sure he'd be proud of the tips I'm sharing to make your life in the kitchen, The Easy Life.

So, to kick off my journey as a food blogger, and to honor my dad, I'd like to share a few money and time saving tips that I've gleaned from my life as a professional baker and avid amateur cook. It kicks off with a trip to my local restaurant supply house. (This is my very first post and I only have a cheap camera at the moment, so please cut me some slack! )  :-)

1) Quilon Pan Liners - If you use parchment paper, and I'm sure you do, these make a much more cost effective substitute. They're readily available from local restaurant supply houses and a case should last the average cook a lifetime (hint: share with friends and split the cost!).

These are your frugal alternative to Silpat mats! They come 1000 per case and cost less than $60.00. They do everything parchment paper does but are much more cost effective than buying expensive little rolls of parchment at the cake/candy supply store. Consider that by cutting in 1/2, then again in 1/2 diagonally, you could get 4000 triangles for making decorating bags!! How much would 4000 parchment triangles cost from Wilton? See what I mean? =)
But that's just the tip of the iceberg, they can also be used to bake cookies, line cake pans, transfer pizza, roll dough on, protect your counter, etc.,etc.,etc. Truly, they are one of my favorite 'go-to' items in my kitchen and SO cost-effective.

2) Plastic Bowl Scrapers - These are also super verstile, multi functional tools. After working in a full line retail bakery for many years, grabbing one of these is like second nature when cleaning out a bowl, leveling brownie batter  in a pan, scraping a counter, or scooping up chopped items like onions. Also, they're much cheaper than spatulas. If you're a young homemaker or beginning cook, one of these for $1.50 can replace $20 worth of spatulas and metal dough scrapers. In fact, if you attend any kind of bakery workshop or convention, most of the suppliers give them away as advertising:

3) Plastic Squirt Bottles - Sure, fancy dispensers and gourmet bottles are pretty and wonderful to look at when company comes, but for pure practicality and functionalness (I might be making up words now!) these are hard to beat for $.75ea.  Just be sure to label them properly and never use the same style bottle for hazardous liquids!

4) Heavy Duty Oven Pads - STOP BURNING YOUR HANDS!! Buy some large, heavy duty oven pads. They don't have to be mitts that you stick your hand in, but a strap on the back to go around your wrist is a plus. Buy these from your local restaurant supply house and you'll spend less for twice the quality and versatility. I'd show you mine, but they need a good run through the washing machine right now =)

As I walked around the supply house, I realized this post could go on forever, so I'll leave you with the above tips to ponder.  In case you wondering, I went to Sam's when I left to compare what I could, and the supplier was cheaper. So, what you save over your local party shop is pretty substantial.

Now that you know a little about me and my frugal ways, next time I promise to cook up some fancy fare to tantalize your taste buds! Remember, everything I cook is 'Cooke'd With Luv' =)

If you have questions or would like to know more, feel free to comment or email. Thanks for visiting.


  1. Welcome to the Food Blogging World dear friend! So glad to read you! This is seriously a great post; I love that box of parchment and am buying it when I have a set home! Bowl scrapers, check! And those oven mitts are pretty awesome and wow, so cheap! Seriously, welcome!

  2. Welcome to blogging! Hope you have fun with it.

  3. Welcome and thanks for the tips!! I'll be looking forward to more. I can already tell I like your style. :-)

  4. Thanks for the link.

    Love your first post!!!

    I have all you mentioned except I need to score a box of those sheets. I got through 1000's of feet of parchment a year.

    Looking forward to your posts!!!!

  5. Wonderful first post and CONGRATULATIONS again for taking the leap!

    As much time as I spend in the kitchen, I am certainly a novice, so these kinds of tips are immensely helpful :) Look forward to reading more to make life easier!

    Get cooking and show us what you got! :)

  6. Glad to see that you joined the ranks! Looking forward to reading more:)
    A trip to the restaurant supply store has been on my agenda for months - love the idea of a 1000 lining sheets!

  7. Great inaugural blog post!

    Thoughtful, amusing, and informative. Your father must've been quite a guy -- a worthy tribute. = )

    I have a couple plastic bowl scrapers and I never think to use them beyond the mixing bowl -- thank you!

  8. Happy First Post! love the homage to your father, he reminds me of mine :) thanks for all the suggestions and let me say those squirt bottles are life savers. I didn't know u owned a bakery, that sounds like fun!

  9. Ack! This is great info! Your father reminds me of mine a bit, and my grandad. Definitely going to pick up bowl scrappers asap!

  10. Your suggestions are right on! I always have a box of liners on hand at home. Couldn't live without them. And my cheapie bench scrapers?? LOVE them!!

  11. Alan, I knew you were a great baker but now I am so impressed with your writing ablility, too!! It was nice to read your notes about Dad. I have been thinking about him so much lately since we just celebrated another Father's Day without him. Keep up the blogging. I will try to read them as much as I can.
    Love you - Your sister, Dori


Thanks for visiting. I appreciate your comments and suggestions. :-)