We’re a little over two weeks into the New Year and while you work hard on your resolutions (or have already given up, no judgement here), I think you should take a quick moment to look at one of the most important rooms in your house - your kitchen.
Now I’m not going to ask you to go all Marie Kondo on your cabinets and drawers. As someone who owns well over a dozen different knives, ALL of which spark joy (ok, Marie!?), this isn’t going to be one of those less-is-more, get rid of everything posts. Instead I’m going to give you four easy things you can do to give your kitchen a quick refresh for the new year.
Toss your spices. Ok, so maybe this is a little Marie Kondo. The thing is, spices don’t last forever, and chances are you have some in your cabinet that are over six months or maybe even a year old. While whole and ground spices can last a number of years, they’re effectiveness and flavor profile start to diminish after a matter of months. If you can’t remember when you last bought that jar of nutmeg, toss it and start over. Buy your spices in smaller quantities, only when you really need them, and make it your resolution to replace them more often. You can find bulk spices at Whole Foods and many natural foods stores. Invest a little bit of money into reusable glass spice jars, and mark the tops with a bit of painter’s tape and the date you filled them. Stale spices be gone!
Sharpen your knives. A good, sharp knife is one of the most important kitchen tools out there, and is actually safer than a dull knife! There are a few different ways to get your knives sharp and keep them that way. You can learn how to use that sharpening steel that likely came with your knife set. The steel is great at keeping a sharp edge sharp, but if you’re working with a dull knife you’ll need to actually remove some metal to re-set the edge. My two favorites are the Wusthof Two-Stage Hand-Held Sharpener (for manual) or the Chef’s Choice EdgeSelect Professional (for electric). They both have their advantages, and as a former kitchenwares salesperson and avowed knife geek, I could go on at length about sharpening knives, but I’ll just leave it here by saying a sharp knife is the perfect way to slice into a great new year. #badpun
Take a good hard look at your nonstick pans. Unlike your grandmother’s cast-iron skillet, nonstick pans are NOT meant to last a lifetime. In fact, most traditional nonstick pans only have a lifespan of three to five years depending on how you care for and store them. The Kitchn has a great list of tips for taking care of your nonstick pans, but suffice to say if that Calphalon skillet has been around for the better part of a decade, it’s probably time to part with it. Telltale signs that it’s time to retire your pan include surface scratches, dark blotches, and of course, the loss of non-stick properties. While I do recommend investing some good money in high-quality, tri-ply stainless steel cookware (like All-Clad), when it comes to nonstick I prefer (and tell others) to go middle-of-the-road. Don’t pay lifetime prices for something that has the lifespan of a healthy hamster. My absolute favorite nonstick cookware is Berndes, and their Signocast 8” skillet has been my go-to egg pan for well over ten years. They tend to be at the higher end of the price scale so keep an eye out for sales, like this one at Kitchenworks. Calphalon and Cuisinart are also good brands for the money, but at the end of the day you probably only need one, maybe two nonstick skillets. Don’t waste money on nonstick everything!
Make a cooking “strategic plan” for the year ahead. ‘Tis the season for planning, so why not apply that motivation to how you plan on cooking and eating in 2019? Take a few minutes, or even a couple of hours, to really sit down and brainstorm. Have you been inspired by Asian flavors lately? Move those Asian cookbooks to the forefront of your shelf. Anticipate a busy year with not of lot time for long hours in the kitchen? Put your slow-cooker in a prominent place so you can have your fill of set-it and forget-it meals. Think about how you want to use your kitchen and make adjustments - move things around, switch up what goes where. Write down all your 2019 #bucketlist recipes and tack it to your fridge for daily inspiration. Just generally take a moment for some big-picture strategic planning, you’d be surprised at what inspiration might hit you.
You don’t need a whole kitchen renovation to refresh the way you cook in the new year - just a few simple things can help you achieve a culinary reset that will leave you reinvigorated and ready to whip up a whole host of delicious moments in 2019.