Tuesdays tools and tips

  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Mother’s Day Gifts Ideas

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    Mothers day is right around the corner. What are you going to get the most special lady in your life? No worries…. I’ve come up with a list of great gift ideas! For the lady/mom in your life that loves to cook or wants to be a better cook… these are sure to bring a smile to her face.

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    A really good knife! What a difference a good knife makes. This one pictured is a Miyabi Artisan SG2 9 1/2  inch that I use and love. With a knife like this… your mom or wife is sure to want to cook more! I bought mine HERE.

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    Ceramic bakeware is not only wonderful to bake with but it is also so pretty to serve in. And the clean up is a snap! Things just don’t stick to glazed ceramic. I found ones similar to mine here. Here is an another good alternative.

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    A pasta roller is something you don’t realize how much you need until you have one! Homemade pasta is to die for! I highly recommend you buy one that is made in Italy. You can find a good one here.

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    And you definitely need  this with your pasta roller! So handy, easy to store and inexpensive. This particular one is my favorite pasta rack out there! You can find this one here.

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    There are so many amazing desserts you can make and serve in these basic and stackable ramekins. I found mine here.

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    And the creme de la creme… the best stand mixer out there! I will put this on every wish list because I know most everyone that attends my class wants this unless they already have one! The best source I have found for this amazing, own forever stand mixer is here.

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    In my opinion… everyone needs a panini maker! Fastest and easiest way to a grilled cheese or hot gourmet sandwich. Best way to get dinner on the table in no time. I found mine here.

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    And last but certainly not least… a gift certificate or two for a date night or girls night out to one of my Jenny’s Gatherings cooking classes! You can email me anytime for a gift certificate! 

    I know what most people wish for when they come to my classes because they tell me.  I hope this list helps make your Mothers Day shopping that much easier. As a mom, I know that the best present is spending the day with those we love and we appreciate the words of love and gratitude expressed to us. Another easy but wonderful present is …. a nice long, and much needed nap! My sweet hubby always sends me upstairs to indulge in my yearly MD nap… such a simple pleasure, but one I love! Happy Mothers Day to you all! 

    XOXO,

    Jenny

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  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Bosch Mixer or Kitchen Aid

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    I cannot believe I haven’t shared my opinion on these mixers earlier with you all! (Outside of my cooking classes that is.) Better late than never…. right? I know that most people have or want this mixer. A Kitchen Aid stand mixer, that they offer in a variety of colors. This is one kitchen appliance that is commonly seen on many kitchen counters. After we built our home, I too bought a Kitchen Aid professional series mixer in the color I have wanted for years. They cost a lot of money but I was sure I was going to just be in mixer heaven! Well…. that feeling lasted about a day or so. Why? Well, if you bake as much as I do, you will quickly find that the motor in this brand cannot handle much for too long before it over heats and gives up or breaks. That was not what I expected from my “professional series” expensive mixer! That’s not very professional at all! I also could not believe how loud this mixer was. Crazy loud! It actually got on my nerves every time I turned it on.  

    After a couple of frustrating months, my hubby and I researched mixers that could handle my baking needs. I was done with my Kitchen Aid mixer and never wanted to see it again. I bake 8 or more loaves of bread a week for our family among many other things. Pizza dough, rolls, french bread, cookies, cakes, etc….. We thought a commercial mixer was our only option. The problem with those are the size of them. Where in the world would I keep it?

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    One day my hubby came upon a site (Pleasant Hills Grain) that sold the Bosch stand mixer and stated that they tested it by making batches of dough one after another for 24 hours and it never overheated. It was a workhorse! Could it be true? Could a mixer like this really exist?? We quickly ordered it and boy oh boy did I ever put it to the test. It cost less than the Professional Series Kitchen Aid and shipping was free. It doesn’t come in a variety of colors and is not the prettiest mixer, but I cannot tell you how much I love this mixer! I can mix and knead dough for as long as I want or need to and this baby never overheats or needs a break. And the power? Sheesh… this mixer is so powerful! Beats up egg whites or whipping cream in lightning speed. 

    I know many a people that have inherited a Bosch stand mixer from their grandmothers and they still work perfectly. I have to hand it to this company. They make these to last forever! I don’t know of any other appliance that a grandparent can hand down that works just a good as when they got it. That’s quality people! 

    Those that attend my cooking classes know of my great love and confidence in this amazing machine. In fact, Pleasant Hill Grain has done a Bosch mixer giveaway with me twice so far. I hope to keep that a yearly tradition!

    So for those of you that are in the market for a stand mixer and are on the fence as to which brand you should buy…. get off the fence and get a Bosch! This is seriously one of my favorite things in my kitchen. I don’t know how I would survive without it. It will be the last mixer you will ever buy…. made to last I tell you. Take my word for it and you will thank me later… I guarantee it!

    By the way, I am not getting paid by anyone for this review. This is an honest to goodness opinion from a serious baker that seriously loves this mixer! There are two things in my life I can always count on… my husband and my Bosch! Now that’s true love.

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  • Tuesday’s Tools and Tips- Le Creuset vs. Staub

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    Buying a cast iron french oven pot is no small investment. The top brands on the market are Le Creuset and Staub. As you can see here, I have both. The red pot is Le Creuset (13 1/4 quart) and the dark (4 quart) and light grey (13 1/4 quart) pots are Staub. If you are in the market for one of these beauties (Yes they are truly beautiful additions to your kitchen!), I hope I can help you with your decision. 

    They are both made in France, are of the highest quality (price reflects that) and are pieces that will last a lifetime. 

    So what are the differences… if there are any?

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    This is the first piece I bought. A beautiful red 13 1/4 quart Le Creuset french oven. Perfect for braising meats for a large crowd or making a huge batch of soup or stew. I looked for the biggest size they sold. I have been able to keep the interior of mine clean (with the help of Bar Keepers Friend), but others have complained that the interior of their pieces have become stained over time. It is finished with a durable non stick interior but since it is light in color, it can stain.

    IMG_0687This is the inside of the lid. Same finish. And yes… I have used mine countless times and it has gotten very soiled.

    IMG_0691Moving on to my 4 quart Staub. My 13 1/4 quart Staub looks the same inside as this one. The interior of Staub as you can see is a dark non stick durable finish. Much less likely to show stains. But stains to me are not the big issue here. Let’s talk about the performance.

    IMG_0686This is the interior of all Staub lids. And here is where the big difference starts and ends. Staub puts those small spikes all over the under side of the lids. Why? First of all, the design of the Staub lid keeps the moisture in the pot much, much better than any competitor including Le Creuset (See the deep well they made around the lid so it sits down on the pot? Great design that works!), and those spikes act as a self baster. The moisture inside the pot collects on each spike, then drips down throughout the braising process. Genius! Does it really work?

    In my experience, for example braising short ribs, the Staub far surpassed my Le Creuset in the outcome of my ribs. The first time I braised short ribs in my Le Creuset, I found it didn’t keep the moisture in. It almost burned on the bottom. I was surprised, given how heavy the lid was. 

    Enter Staub. I tried the exact recipe and it came out perfect with the juices staying in the pot with the meat. The design of their lid makes a huge difference!

    When we have a huge dinner party and need both the Le Creuset and Staub (Like we did at Christmas for my husband’s company Christmas party), I learned that if I placed a large piece of heavy duty foil over the top of the Le Creuset pot, then place the lid over the foil, I was able to retain the moisture like the Staub does without the foil. 

    The bottom line? Go for the Staub… no doubt…. no questions… hands down!

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    And if you are anything like me and like the little details, Staub offers these lid handles in a variety of animals. They come as an option on some of their products and they offer them separately if they don’t. As you can see, my big pot is in need of an animal lid handle! I need to go place my order. You can purchase these beautiful pots HERE and HERE. As I mentioned, these are no small investment and you should get the best performance for your buck. Staub wins!

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