I get questions all the time pertaining to cooking and such, so I decided to answer a few of the most common questions I receive for you today. Feel free to ask more questions in the comments and I will get to them in a future post!
What are the most important tools to have in the kitchen? A good knife and a few favorite gadgets
Your most important tool hands-down is a good chef's knife. Go ahead and spend the money on something awesome. It will last you a lifetime if you take care of it. Of all the knives I've tried, I'm partial to Japanese brands. They are sleek, light (which is great for women & small handed peeps) and comfortable. I own this Global 7 inch Santoku, this NHS knife (which needs more care than the others), and this MAC knife (I prefer the feel and shape of the last two most). You could go to a fancy cookware or knife store and give a couple of brands a whirl. Play around, pretend to chop, get a good feel for it before you buy. And don't bother with a whole set; you just need one awesome chef knife, a paring knife and a serrated knife. Those last two can be any brand and purchased at Ross or some other discount store. Save your cash for the chef knife.
Also have a nice large wooden/bamboo cutting board and a few other favorite gadgets. Stainless steel pots of various sizes are needed along with a skillet. You can make delicious food without gadgets but they sure make cooking more fun and enjoyable. I couldn't live without my pressure cooker, food processor, blender, microplane zester, multiple high heat spatulas, dry and wet measuring cups/spoons, mesh strainers of various sizes, bakeware and variety of glass and stainless steel bowls.
Can I substitute this flour or another type of sugar or xyz? Baking is not that much of a science
I'm pretty sure some real bakers will disagree with me, but I have rarely messed something up when it comes to baking. I think this applies to regular vegan baking only (not animal-based baking, oil-free or gluten-free). I'm constantly changing the type of flours and sweeteners in a recipe, or reducing the oil. Many times I will look at 10 recipes to get a feeling for the overall measurements in a certain baked good and then go in the kitchen and wing it. As long as I know what the texture is suppose to be like (i.e. cookies are more solid dough, cupcakes more runny, brownies and muffins in-between, etc) and the overall general ingredients needed to make it (a. flour, b. sugar c. dash salt, baking powder and/or soda d. liquid, etc.) then I can easily adjust the dry and wet ingredients to accomplish that texture.
I've only made something once that was inedible. Basically what I'm saying is don't be afraid to experiment. If you are worried about budget than half the recipe…and go wild 🙂
What is your best advice for those wanting to cook more meals at home? Keep things simple for greatest success
Like I say in my book, every meal does not need to be a gourmet cook-a-thon. If you keep your meal simple it will take no time at all to make and your meal will be healthier in the long run. I see each meal as having a grain, a protein, and a vegetable and greens. Sometimes this is like the plate to the right with each of those elements, sometimes it's a big stew or one pot meal that has beans, greens, and brown rice in it. Sometimes I eat a huge salad filled with lots of veggies topped with chickpeas and quinoa. Maybe it's a big burrito with all those elements wrapped up nicely in an easy to eat meal.
Batch cooking on your days off saves you a lot of time as well. When you meal plan keeping the 3 elements in mind (grain, protein, veg/greens), then you can easily plan a meal that will be on the table in 30 minutes or less. So choose one "fancy" dish out of cookbook to try one night and keep the other elements on the plate simple. You don't have to cook out of three different cookbooks each night. Cooking that way takes forever.
How long with x last in the fridge? Plant-based foods last awhile
People always ask me how long something will keep in the fridge. A general rule is, if it's plant-based and whole food it will probably last at least five days to a week, maybe more. This raw taco meat lasted 2 weeks in the fridge! Also do the smell test and if something smells sour it's probably best to throw it out.
The best way to keep your produce fresh is to get these green bags. I've been using them for over 8 years and I swear by them. Sometimes I go a little crazy at the store buying produce and don't get around to using it all. Or maybe you get a produce box delivered to your house once a week. Grab these bags and your kale will stay fresh for around 2 weeks.
I hope this has been helpful to you! If you have any other questions regarding cooking please leave them in the comments and I will answer them in a future FAQ with a video!