Kitchen Wisdom

People have been asking me what I use to cook and create wonderful, gustatory creations. I am not saying I am an all around expert; I just love to read and experiment.

First off, let's start with the where I reside: much to your surprise I live in an apartment. We have a common kitchen and you get the idea that we don't have the luxury of keeping a big ass stove. Prior to moving in 7th heaven (where I live), I  already owned a butane stove. It was a huge leap from the usual rice cooker meals I cook on almost on a daily basis. I also have a new series called rice cooker meals or something to that effect which is still on its draft phase (for months now).

Okay, no stove but I begged my landlady to allow me to use my butane unit. I save quite a lot from preparing my own food and since I am on this perpetual need to lose weight, keeping track of my calories is a cinch. She couldn't resist my charm and she gave me a green light as long as there was no fire and everything is kept clean and tidy. Yes, my OC-ness will take care of that for ya!
All you need is oil, salt and pepper for a great tasting steak! Recipe to follow! :)
Cooking Equipment
  • If you live in an apartment or boarding house always ask permission to use it. Fire is something you'd rather not experience.
  • When buying a butane stove ensure that the equipment is made entirely of steel or any other hard material that is never and I SAY NEVER CLOSE TO PLASTIC! Chemistry states that a certain temperature, anything will eventually melt and plastic is one of those things. When plastic materials get to a certain temperature they melt and when they do you are Fudged! Buy something of great quality. Don't settle for the cheap ones and sacrifice burning your room/house in the long run. If you plan to cook on a daily basis then buy something that is up for the job.
  • Check the unit before buying. Check all nooks and crannies. See if the unit comes with a manual and it better be in English. Learn how to use and clean the unit.
  • Butane canisters can be bought anywhere! Never buy anything below Php70! The canisters sold at this price usually ranging from Php39 to Php50 is made of thin material and can't stand long hours of cooking and increasing temperature. We want the meat well done and not your face or your limb. Better safe than sorry.
  • It could be because of being a scout way back in my life that I have adapted the Always ready mentality. Hence, I always buy an extra butane when it's grocery time. You can never really say when you would need that extra can. An extra can is better than a half-assed carbonara right? 
  • I am still saving up for a quality non-stick pan which is a must for any kitchen.
No, I do not encourage hoarding all spices from the rack. Buy what you need.
The Pantry
Oil to use
  • Did you know that not all oils can be used for frying? Yes, not all oil types is suitable for cooking. Deep frying oil usually has a low flash point. What is a flash point you ask? Flash point is the highest temperature at which a combustible liquid ignites to flames. 
  • Having that in mind, always keep two oil types in your pantry. Any vegetable oil is best for frying and deep frying for this type of oil has a very low flash point. Best vegetable oil is peanut oil however this is very expensive. Canola or corn oil works best too. It's a matter of preference. Also, if you love Olive Oil you can have that too. Just be reminded that this oil is very volatile and tends to burn quickly. Always use it with caution. Never great when it comes to frying and deep frying. Great for salad dressing, sautéing vegetables and even drizzling over steamed veggies, soup and even bread.
Spices and Herbs

  • Keep a good quality salt on your pantry. I love sea salt. You can go for the typical Iodized or the rock salt. Either way, it's still salt. It's a matter of which you are more comfortable using.
  • I am a self confessed pepper slut! I love pepper so much that I use it to flavor anything. From pasta to steaks and hey even soup. Nothing beats than having a few dash of pepper to the mix. You don't really need to get a pepper mill but it never really hurts to feel like a Masterchef right? Buy something that fits your budget and you can even save on the peppercorns which are sold at Php15 for 500 grams! This could last you for almost a month. And trust me freshly ground pepper is truly foodgasmic! It's just not the same with the ground version.
  • If you are not sure what that spice is for, always read the label. There are spices that are best with certain proteins: rosemary goes perfectly well with chicken, beef is great with parsley, basil, chives and cilantro to name a few. For fish and seafood opt for garlic, anise or coriander and for vegetables you can just select olive, dill, tarragon. If you are not certain, just follow that recipe to a T or find some alternative for spices not grown and found locally.
  • Fresh herbs should be used immediately. If you don't plan to use fresh basil for your Pasta Friday then don't buy it on Monday just because it was on sale. Be smart when buying herbs. Keep everything fresh and clean. It never fails to ask assistance from your produce guy. If you don't have any, then ask the lady that sells chives in the market. I love chives by the way! :)
Important Equipment

You're pantry should have at least 6 of the following:
    • Coriander/strainer
    • Silicon/plastic food tongs
    • Mixing bowl
    • Soy sauce (We have Kikkoman for fish and the local soy sauce for flavoring.)
    • Worcestershire Sauce is very versatile, this not only enhances meat and seafood dishes but also vegetables. Great for stir fries, pan sauces and adds dimension to marinades.
    • Oyster Sauce - To achieve that Oriental flavor.
    • Mirin - A Japanese rice wine used for masking the smell of fish and seafood. Mirin also adds luster to ingredients and is a key ingredient in teriyaki sauce. Sample recipe: Sticky Pork Ribs
    • Phrik Nam Pla - Used as base for dipping condiments for seafood, pork and even chicken. Adds an umami flavor to any food. Sample recipe: Spicy Thai Salad
    • Ranch Dressing - This is really best for surprise: PIZZA! Trust me! It's soo good! Once you try it, you can come back and thank me. :)
    • Your choice of pasta: Based on the photo we have spaghetti, fusilli and lasagna. I love penne, great for cooking carbonara due to its cylindrical shape retains the sauce better.
    • Parmesan Cheese - not on the photo.
    • Pickles - For that random hotdog urge.
    • Maple syrup and that's a no brainer right? :)
Tell me which spice/herb and condiment you cannot live without on the comments below.

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