With Thanksgiving around the corner, I took some time to reflect on the things that I am truly thankful for. It goes without saying that family is at the top of the list. As a chef, there are also things that inspire me in the kitchen on a day-to-day basis. Here are some of the simple pleasures that I’m thankful for:
Free Run Chicken Eggs. I particularly love eggs and believe them to be a miracle ingredient and pivotal in so many recipes and cooking techniques. After much trial and error, I’ve found a couple brands of eggs that have a very plump and bright yellowy-orange colored yolk. Not so surprisingly, my favorite eggs tend to fall in the category of free run eggs. Not all free run eggs are created equally, but there are certainly a few noteworthy varieties out there. Check them out and find the one you love. *Tip: Did you know that adding vinegar to your water helps create the perfect poached egg.
Cast Iron Tawa. A Tawa is an Indian cooking vessel that is a flat piece of black cast iron used in Roti and Chapati making. It is also a staple in many West Indian households. I use my Tawa to make pancakes, fry a bunch of free run eggs at the same time, and to make quick flatbreads. Although not the original intended use, it works incredibly well when I have to feed four hungry kids at once.
Step Stool. My kids like to cook with me but aren't able to get up high enough over the counter to do the work. To remedy this we keep a stool in a cupboard so they can jump in and see clearly what they are doing while they are helping out. My kids love to get involved in the cooking process and it fills me with pride. Many of my childhood memories are in the kitchen and maybe my kids will have similar positive memories of valuable family time.
Coffee Grinder. I have a small portable coffee grinder that is dedicated to grinding spices. When I'm making spice mixes, grinding fresh peppercorns, or pulverizing small batches of leftover bread into crumbs, my coffee grinder comes out of the cabinet. I have two separate colors; a red one for coffee and a black one for spices so that my coffee doesn't end up tasting like coriander seeds.
A Set of Really Sharp Knives. When I want to slice a tomato without turning it into tomato paste, a very sharp knife is critical. Or if I want to cut up a fine julienne of cucumber for a Leftover Turkey Taco recipe, a sharp knife will make your life much easier.
Give thanks for all the simple things in your kitchen that make your life easier and more comfortable in your workspace. Inspiration and creativity start with a space that allows you to do your best work as efficiently as possible – just ask any painter about their workshop!