Recently on a trip to Leavenworth, we had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant named Sulla Vito. They served Brussell Sprouts with dried figs. It was amazing!
Here is a recipe I found that sounds similar:
8 ounces Pancetta (small dice)
2 pounds Brussels Sprouts (stems trimmed)
1/4 cup finely chopped Onion
2 cups Dried Figs
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
4 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar (or more to taste)
Put a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, then the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until the onion begins to color and the pancetta is medium-crisp.
Meanwhile, slice the sprouts as thinly as possible. Add sprouts, figs and 1/4 cup water to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Turn heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until sprouts and figs are nearly tender—adding more water as needed until tenderness is achieved—about 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until any remaining water evaporates, another 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, and adjust seasoning. Serve.
It’s hard to beat a simple sheet pan of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts; it’s a fall and winter side dish that goes with basically everything. And while roasted Brussels sprouts are great served plain and simple — with just olive oil, salt, and pepper — sometimes it’s fun to play around. Start with a basic recipe like this one and add a little bit of this and that from your pantry to give this wholesome side dish an upgrade. Here’s how to do it.
1. Finish with lemon and lots of Parm.
Sometimes the simplest upgrade can feel the fanciest. Toss roasted Brussels sprouts with a big squeeze of lemon juice and lots of grated Parmesan cheese to channel your inner Ina.
2. Toss in something crunchy.
Roasted Brussels sprouts are already nice and crispy, but adding extra crunch is never a bad idea. Finish them with whatever nut or seed you have on hand (toast them first) like pepitas, sliced almonds, pistachios, or chopped walnuts.
3. Bathe them in a balsamic glaze.
Tangy balsamic vinegar is arguably the best match for earthy Brussels sprouts. Toss them in a splash or two right after you take them out of the oven so they soak up the flavor.
4. Make them spicy.
Add a little heat if that’s your thing. Toss the sprouts in a bit of Asian chili-garlic sauce or sambal oelek along with olive oil, salt, and pepper to give them a fiery slant.
5. Just add bacon.
When in doubt, reach for bacon. Its fat will latch onto the sprouts as they roast and make them restaurant-worthy. Plus, it’s a sure way to win over those who usually turn their nose up at the vegetable.
6. Embrace honey mustard.
Honey mustard works well with pretty much everything, including Brussels sprouts. Honey’s sweetness tames the sprouts’ inherent bitterness, while mustard adds tang.
7. Pile them on a plate filled with something creamy.
Here’s the move: Spread a thin-ish layer of ricotta or plain Greek yogurt on a serving platter. Once the Brussels sprouts are roasted, pile them onto said plate. Then with each scoop of the sprouts, you’ll get some creamy richness. Plus, it makes for a fancy presentation.
8. Roast them with sausage to turn them into dinner.
Might as well make a sheet pan dinner if you already have a sheet pan of sprouts roasting in the oven! Toss some precooked sausage on the sheet pan to warm and crisp up at the same time.
9. Dig around your spice drawer.
There’s plenty to play around with in your spice drawer alone. Along with salt and pepper, sprinkle the sprouts with ground cumin or smoked paprika, or go for a spice blend like curry powder, garam masala, or za’atar.
10. Add little fish sauce.
Fish sauce might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about what to use to upgrade Brussels sprouts, but trust us on this one. Add a splash or two when you’re tossing the sprouts in olive oil; it will give them a Thai-inspired, umami richness that’s both surprising and wonderful.
Peer into your butcher’s case or roam the frigid aisles of Costco’s meat section, and you’ll encounter a whole world of confusing steak cuts. That doesn’t mean you should let all these admittedly confounding varieties get the best of you. We’re breaking down the differences between seven of our favorite steaks, including how to cook each of them to juicy perfection. With a little practice, we guarantee you’ll be showing up your favorite steakhouse.
① Filet Mignon
A staple of white-tablecloth steakhouses across the country, this tender muscle does barely, if any, of the heavy lifting on the cow, resulting in a soft, buttery texture that gives way in the mere presence of a steak knife. However, this cut is also nearly devoid of any fat, meaning the mild flavor has less of the lip-smacking juiciness meat eaters crave.
Can be Known As: filet de boeuf, tender steak, beef tenderloin, tenderloin steak.
When to Order: The classic Valentine’s Day offering, filets are perfect for diners who are a) more concerned with tenderness rather than flavor and b) have money to spare. Filets are also well suited for anyone on a diet who just really needs a steak.
How to Cook it: It’s versatile enough to be cooked via whichever method you prefer, from pan-roasting to grilling. There’s no fat to compensate for overcooking, so sous vide is a safe bet if you need extra security.
② Rib Eye
One of the most prized cuts of all, the rib eye comes boneless or with the rib bone still attached, in which case it’s frequently known as a cowboy steak. And while the bone might make it harder to navigate your knife and fork, gnawing on gristle and crispy fat is undoubtedly the best part of the steak-eating experience. Speaking of which, it’s that abundance of fat, both marbled within the meat and surrounding the edges via the white fat cap that makes rib eyes so intense and beefy in flavor. They’re not as meltingly soft as filets, but ribeyes have just enough of a chew to remind you why your experience as a vegan didn’t last.
Also Known As: cowboy steak, tomahawk steak, Spencer steak, Delmonico steak.
When to Order: If you’re a carnivore who wants the best beef-eating experience possible, and has a supply of Lipitor on hand.
How to Cook It: Rib eyes are equally at home over charcoal flames, in a cast-iron pan or under a screaming broiler. The high-fat content means, yes, you can get away with cooking them somewhat past medium without the meat turning into a chewy football.
③ New York Strip
It might not be as tender as it’s posh cousin (the filet) or as sumptuous as the always-fatty ribeye, but the New York strip is a solid jack-of-all-trades. A bit more chew and a little less marbling mean it’s less expensive so you won’t be picking your jaw up from the floor when it comes time to pay, making this the perfect midweek dinner for when you need a pick-me-up.
Also Known As: shell steak, Kansas City steak, sirloin steak.
When to Order: This is the all-around, crowd-pleasing steak star made specifically for Goldilocks in terms of flavor, tenderness, and price.
How to Cook It: Just like a ribeye, strip steaks are happy any way you cook them. Just be warned that some can run a little lean, making them less resilient to overcooking.
A porterhouse is simply a New York strip and delicate filet mignon separated by a T-shaped bone, hence another nickname, the mighty T-bone. This is the one time we suggest putting away the cast iron as meat shrinks as it cooks, meaning when seared, a porterhouse’s surface fails to make contact with the pan as the bone begins to jut out. And since the filet side is more prone to overcooking, it can be a challenge getting the entirety of the steak to finish at the same time.
Also Known As: T-bone steak.
When to Order: If you’re an experienced steak expert or part of a couple who doesn’t like to compromise (no judgment), or if you’re exceptionally hungry and prefer to spend your paycheck on steak versus rent.
How to Cook It: Grilling or broiling is your best bet. Just make sure the tenderloin side of the porterhouse is exposed to less heat, so it doesn’t overcook before the strip is finished.
Formerly the butcher’s hidden gem, the once-humble hanger has exploded in popularity over the years. It might not be as affordable as it used to be, but the cut, taken from the front of the cow’s belly, is still a bargain considering it’s astonishingly savory flavor and relative tenderness. When taken right off the cow, hangers tend to be covered in a blanket of tough sinew and silver skin, though most butchers will sell it already trimmed.
Also Known As: onglet, butcher’s steak, hanging tender.
When to Order: If you’re looking for maximum payoff with little effort; or a carnivore who prefers to spend only half their paycheck on steak.
How to Cook It: A loose, soft texture makes hanger steak perfect for soaking up sticky marinades and dry rubs. Keep in mind there’s a sweet spot when it comes to cooking this cut: Too rare, and it remains unpleasantly toothsome; too overdone, and it will dry out just like any other steak.
Long, hardworking muscle fibers make flank steak relatively tough to chew on when improperly prepared. After cooking to medium rare, be sure to slice the meat thinly against the grain. (On the plus side, it’s easy to get a large number of servings from this square cut, making it perfect fodder for a summer buffet.)
Also Known As: London broil.
When to Order: Because of the flank steak’s low quality in terms of texture, you’d be wise to skip ordering this one in a restaurant.
How to Cook It: As long as it doesn’t go past medium rare, flank steak is happy whichever way you cook it. It’s one of the few “steak” cuts that do well when braised.
⑦ Skirt Steak
The go-to choice when it comes to carne asada and fajitas, this flavorful, well-marbled cut is just as savory and succulent as a ribeye, while remaining one of the cheapest cuts behind the counter (at least, for now). You can bolster the naturally beefy flavor with a quick marinade, but the most important thing is to cook skirt steak as fast as possible and cut it thinly against the grain.
Also Known As: fajita meat, Philadelphia steak.
When to Order: Like flank steak, skirt steak is best cooked at home (and not ordered when out) if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck or just happen to be throwing a fajita party.
How to Cook It: These steaks are naturally thin, so blistering heat is required to make sure the outside is charred before the interior becomes overcooked.
Many home cooks may not realize the simple, but potentially dangerous mistakes they’re making with raw chicken. If not handled correctly, you may set yourself and your family up for some seriously sad tummy troubles.
These are 10 potential mistakes even experienced home cooks make with raw chicken.
Storing chicken improperly
The tiny drawing of a turkey on your refrigerator shelf may seem like a helpful hint for picking where you should store your cellophane-wrapped packages of poultry. That’s not always the best indicator.
Chicken juices tend to leak and drip from packages, which means if it’s stored on a shelf above ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables, you could contaminate a great deal of the food in your fridge.
Solution: Place chicken packages on a plate or in a casserole dish, and store them on the bottom shelf or in the bottom drawer of your fridge. The plate will capture any juices that leak, protecting everything else you have stored.
We don’t mean to go all food safety police here, but this is one of the most dangerous and most common mistakes you can make with your raw chicken. At room temperature, the bacteria in these birds can quickly multiply. Salmonella is especially prolific at these warmer temps. If you leave the chicken out too long such as you might when you’re thawing it for tonight’s dinner you could set up camp for bacteria that will result in foodborne illness (i.e. food poisoning).
Solution: Don’t put the frozen chicken on the counter or in the sink to thaw. While the center of the chicken is ice cold, the outer portions will be too warm to stop bacterial growth. Instead, thaw the chicken in your fridge up to two days ahead of when you plan to cook with it. That will give the chicken’s thickest parts plenty of time to de-ice while keeping the outside portions chilled and more importantly, safe.
Not letting chicken warm up a bit
After the last raw chicken mistake, this may seem counterintuitive, but hear us out: You don’t want to leave the chicken out too long (remember, food poisoning), but you also don’t want to cook it straight from the fridge.
Leaving the chicken out at room temperature for 15 minutes will make the chicken cook more evenly, helping you avoid a brown outside with a raw, undercooked inside.
Solution: When you’re gathering all of the ingredients for dinner, go ahead and take the chicken (in the plate or dish where it’s stored) out of the fridge. Let it sit for no more than 15 minutes.
Rinsing chicken before you cook it
If you give your birds a bath before you bake them, it’s time to stop. Raw chicken doesn’t need to be and should not be rinsed before cooking. You may think you’re rinsing away bacteria—salmonella is a big concern with chicken—but you may actually just be spreading it. In fact, research suggests you may splash bacteria as far as three feet from your sink when you rinse poultry.
Solution: Skip the bath. Cook chicken directly from the package, and you’ll cut down on possible contamination around your kitchen.
Not drying your chicken
Didn’t we just tell you not to wash chicken? We did. But you should definitely dry your chicken before you cook it.
That’s because fluids from processing and packaging chicken are often washed in a saline solution to keep it looking moist when on the shelf can make your chicken soggy when you put it right into the pan. A dry bird gets more beautiful browning and a wonderfully crisp sear.
Solution: Before you put the chicken in the pan or on the grill, give it a quick dab with paper towels. Better yet, let the chicken air-dry in the refrigerator for a few hours. To do this, you’ll place the chicken on a tray or platter and leave it, uncovered, in your fridge. The air will wick away moisture from the skin of the chicken, leaving it nice and dry for crisp searing. (Dry brining is a popular technique for getting really crispy turkey skin at Thanksgiving.)
Marinating your chicken the wrong way
Marinating is a great technique for adding flavor with minimal effort. You need only combine your chicken pieces with your homemade marinade and let it rest for several hours before it’s time to cook it.
However, you’re making a big mistake if you leave your chicken on the counter to marinate while you prepare all the other components for your meal. You could set yourself up for a foodborne illness.
Solution: Once you have your marinade, pour it into a zip-top bag or container that closes. (A lidded container is fine as long as the lid won’t fly off.) Then, add your chicken. Toss gently to coat the chicken in the marinade, and immediately put it back into the fridge. Toss or flip the chicken a few more times to get all pieces of chicken evenly coated.
When you’re finished with the marinade, throw the bag right into the trash or empty it from the container down the sink. Marinade that has come into contact with raw chicken is not reusable, even if you boil it. It’s just too risky. Instead, save some of your marinade before you combine it with the chicken, and use it for a last-second brushing before serving.
The raw chicken comes into contact with other foods
If space is at a premium in your petite kitchen, you may be tempted to reuse surfaces (i.e. cutting boards) to keep from dirtying up extra dishes. Don’t do it.
Chop raw chicken on a separate prep board from other ingredients you might be slicing or mincing for your meal. If you chop kale on the same board you sliced chicken, you could cross-contaminate the leafy greens with juices from the bird. That’s possible even if you wipe the board down with a sanitizing towel. Bacteria are just too difficult to eliminate without a high-temperature wash, like that of a dishwasher.
Reusing kitchen tools without washing
If you use the same tongs to flip raw chicken as you do to toss the side salad you’ve prepared, you may be cross contaminating your raw ingredients with the bacteria from your raw chicken. This increases your risk for foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.
Solution: You need to set aside all utensils that come into contact with raw meat, and don’t use them for other foods. Then, you should wash them thoroughly after each use so as to prevent the spread of poultry juices.
Not washing your hands after handling raw chicken
Your hands are the most useful tool you have in your kitchen. They’re also the most likely to spread bacteria.
Indeed, you may easily cross-contaminate your entire kitchen if you use your dirty hands to handle chicken, turn on a sink, grab a fork from the drawer, and open the refrigerator. Each surface you come into contact with may now harbor potentially deadly bacteria.
Solution: Take extra care to notice what and where you touch after handling raw chicken. Better yet, “save” one hand for non-chicken related tasks. As soon as you’ve flipped the chicken or put it in the bag for marinating, use your non-chicken hand to turn on the faucet at the sink and pump some soap. Wash your hands thoroughly, and dry with a clean towel. Don’t use a towel you’ve used to wipe down surfaces around your kitchen, or you could pick up any bacteria the towel is hiding.
Ripping skin off the meat with your hands
If you’ve tried tugging chicken skin off breasts, thighs, or drumsticks before cooking them, you know how slippery those pieces can be. One stuck-on piece of sinew and your main course may be sent flying into the floor.
It’s also smart to leave the skin on cuts like thighs and drumsticks because the fat can infuse the meat with flavor during the cooking process. You can just remove the skin before serving.
Solution: Give your grippers a rest and use a paring knife instead. The short knives are easy to grip and quickly cut away at the tough tissue. They can also be easier to handle, which reduces the risk of losing any precious meat during the trimming process.
From spicy to sweet, these are the peppers that flavor dishes around the world.
All types of peppers are part of the genus Capsicum, which includes hot varieties, known as chile peppers, and sweet varieties, such as the bell pepper. Up until the arrival of Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the New World, peppers grew only in Latin America. Along with corn, tomatoes, and beans, the Europeans brought back some of the peppers and on their travels introduced the plant to the rest of the world, where it took off like wildfire.
Truly international in their appeal, peppers have become integral to cuisines across the world, from Mexico to Thailand, the Congo to India, and from Hungary to Tunisia. If you are unable to find fresh or dried chiles in your local grocery store, try an online source like Amazon, Happy Quail Farms, Despaña, La Tienda, or Zocalito.
The heat of a pepper is measured using Scoville units: The scale ranges from 0 (as in bell peppers) all the way to 3,000,000 (as in the spiciest chile in the world, the Pepper X). Most dried chiles you will encounter fall somewhere in the middle but can still be pretty hot! The Scoville scale is a good base for knowing how hot your chiles are but know that the heat can vary according to climate and vegetation. The relatively mild poblano weighs in at about 1,500 Scoville heat units (SHU), while the super-hot habañero packs a whopping 250,000 SHUs (or more).
If you want the flavor without the mouth-scorching fire, remove the seeds and interior ribs from a chile before cooking it. It’s a good idea to have dairy products, such as milk or yogurt, on hand, they contain casein, which helps neutralize capsaicin, the chemical that gives chiles their heat. And remember: Always protect your skin by wearing gloves and never touch your eyes when handling hot peppers.
Discover 20 popular types of peppers and how to cook with them.
1. Bell Pepper
Alternate Names: Green pepper, red pepper, sweet bell pepper, capsicum
Characteristics: Relatively large in size, the bell-shaped pepper in its immature state is green with a slightly bitter flavor. As it matures, it turns bright red and becomes sweeter. You can find yellow, orange, white, pink, and even purple varieties. With their high water content, bell peppers will add moisture to any dish. They’re great for adding color.
Scoville heat units: 0
2. Poblano Pepper
Alternate Name: Ancho
Characteristics: Somewhat large and heart-shaped, the poblano is common in Mexican dishes such as chiles rellenos. Are poblano peppers spicy? Yes, but only mildly spicy. At maturity, the poblano turns dark red-brown and can be dried, at which point it’s referred to as an ancho or mulato. Anchos have a rich, raisin-like sweetness. The high yield of flesh to skin makes anchos great for sauces.
Scoville heat units: 1,000 to 2,000
3. Anaheim Pepper
Alternate Names: California green chile, Chile Verde, New Mexican chile
Characteristics: This long pepper is relatively mild and very versatile. When mature, the Anaheim turns deep red and are referred to a chile Colorado or California red chile. Anaheims are popular in salsas and dishes from the American Southwest.
Scoville heat units: 500 to 2,500
4. Serrano Pepper
Characteristics: Just a couple of inches long, with a tapered end, this small pepper packs quite a bit of heat. Beware: The smaller the pepper, the hotter it is. When ripe, serranos are red or yellowish orange—they can be cooked in both their ripe and unripe states. Serranos are common in Mexican and Thai cooking.
Scoville heat units: 6,000 to 23,000
5. Habañero Pepper
Characteristics: Small and bulbous, this chile, in the same family as the Scotch bonnet, is one of the hottest on the Scoville scale. If you can get past the heat, habañeros have a fruity flavor. They’re popular on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and in the Caribbean, where they’re used to make hot sauces.
Scoville heat units: 150,000 to 350,000
6. Cayenne Pepper
Alternate Names: Finger chile, Ginnie pepper, and bird pepper
Characteristics: Slender and tapered, this chile is probably most familiar in its dried, ground form—the powder known as cayenne pepper. Ground cayenne pepper is the main ingredient in the chili powder that flavors Tex-Mex dishes such as chili con carne. It’s one of the spiciest types of peppers!
Scoville heat units: 30,000 to 50,000
7. Rocoto Pepper
Alternate names: Ají rocoto, hairy pepper, and locoto
Characteristics: This South American pepper looks like a miniature bell pepper, and, like a bell pepper, can come in shades of orange, yellow and red. The hottest rocotos are typically yellow, but red rocotos are the most common. Inside, the pepper has unique black seeds. It’s sometimes referred to as the hairy pepper thanks to its furry leaves. Rocoto has a crisp and fruity flavor, and are commonly used in salsa.
Scoville heat units: 100,000 to 250,000
8. Piri Piri
Alternate Names: Peri Peri, African bird’s-eye pepper and African red devil pepper
Characteristics: When Portuguese sailors made a port of call in what’s now South Africa and Mozambique, they brought ashore little chile peppers called bird’s eyes, or peri-peri in Swahili. The name came to refer to the piquant sauce made from these chiles, as well as to the Portuguese-African method of cooking prawns, chicken, or anything else in this sauce. Nando’s bottled version is a mainstay for those who don’t want to make it from scratch. Though it’s a relatively small pepper, growing only one to two inches, it packs quite a punch.
Scoville Heat Units: 50,000 to 175,000
9. Mirasol Chili
Alternate Names: Guajillo
Characteristics: Bright red and pointed upward, these peppers grow toward the sun, which is why they were given the name mirasol (which means “looking at the sun” in Spanish). In their dried form, they are called guajillo. Guajillos are fruity, tangy, and mildly acidic, and are a common ingredient in traditional al pastor. They are one of the main chilis used in mole sauce.
Scoville Heat Units: 2,500 to 5,000
10. Tabasco Pepper
Characteristics: Best known for the sauce that has its name, this pepper grows throughout the world. At maturity, the pepper measures one to two inches and is bright red. To create the famous Tabasco sauce, the pepper is smashed and combined with salt and vinegar, which tempers the pepper’s heat (the Scoville rating of Tabasco sauce is 2,500 to 5,000, a mere fraction of its rating as a pepper.
Scoville heat units: 30,000 to 60,000
11. Jalapeño Pepper
Alternate Names: Chipotle
Scoville heat units: 3,500 to 8,000
Characteristics: This Mexican pepper is typically plucked from the vine while still green. If allowed to ripen more, they will turn red and take on a slightly fruity flavored. Jalapeños are a tasty ingredient commonly used to in salsa and sauces. When dried, a jalapeño is called a chipotle. Smoke-dried chipotles come in two varieties: Meco (mellow) and moritas (spicier). Smoky, woodsy, and spicy, chipotles are the perfect ingredient for salsas, sauces, escabeche, and adobo.
12. Cherry Pepper
Alternate names: Pimiento and pimento
Characteristics: This lovely pepper is sweet on the outside and the inside. Bright red and shaped like a heart, this large pepper barely registers on the Scoville scale but makes up for its lack of spice with a sweet, succulent flavor. You’ll commonly find cherry peppers chopped and stuffed into green olives, in pimento loaves and pimento cheese.
Scoville heat units: 500
Alternate Names: Pasilla and chile negro
Characteristics: Black and wrinkly, chilacas boast a prune-like flavor with a hint a hint of licorice. “Chilaca” is an Aztec term meaning old or gray-haired, which is fitting given the pepper’s wrinkly appearance. When dried, the chilaca is called a pasilla or chile negro, and is toasted or soaked and blended into sauces, often combined with fruit.
Scoville heat units: 1,500 to 2,500
14. Banana Pepper
Alternate Names: Yellow wax pepper and banana chili
Characteristics: This mild yet tangy pepper adds a kick to pizza or sandwiches. This pepper usually takes on a bright yellow hue as it ripens, but occasionally grows to be red, orange or green instead.
Scoville heat units: 0–500
Alternate Names: Little beak pepper
Characteristics: This mild, sweet pepper hails from northern Spain and features a smokey, tart flavor that’s ideal for sandwiches and sauces, and thrives as a compliment to meat and cheese. You’ll often find them jarred in your grocer’s gourmet section. As they mature, they grow from green to red. They measure three to four inches long and are slightly curved at the end, resembling a little beak.
Scoville heat units: 500 to 1,000
Characteristics: Harvested while still green, these thin-walled peppers can be pan-seared and eaten on their own. They can be added to pizza or to flavor dishes. The riper the shishito, the spicier the pepper.
Scoville heat units: 50 to 200
17. Basque Fryer
Alternate Names: Doux long des Landes, doux de Landes, and piment basque
Characteristics: Located on the border of France and Spain, the Basque region boasts six official types of peppers. The most popular type is the Basque Fryer pepper, known as the doux de Landes, meaning “sweet from Landes.” (Landes is located in southwest France). As the name suggests, the pepper is sweet. The Basque fryer is can be eaten raw, roasted or sautéed.
Scoville heat units: 0
18. Scotch Bonnet
Alternate Names: Bonney peppers, ball of fire peppers, cachucha and Caribbean red peppers
Characteristics: This spicy pepper is called a scotch bonnet thanks to its resemblance to the caps men wear in Scotland (Tam o’ shanter hats, to be precise). It’s the hottest pepper in the Caribbean and used to flavor all sorts of island dishes, including jerk chicken. Though the pepper is most often spicy, you will occasionally find a sweet variety, called cachucha.
Scoville heat units: 80,000–400,000
19. Padrón Peppers
Characteristics: Padrón peppers are typically sweet and mild, but occasionally, this pepper packs quite a bit of spice. The eponymous pepper grows in Padrón in northwestern Spain and is often served, fried, as a tapa. They can be served grilled.
Scoville heat units: 500 – 2,500
20. Ghost Pepper
Alternate names: Bhut Naga Jolokia, bhut jolokia, Naga Jolokia, ghost chili, U-morok, ghost Jolokia and red naga
Characteristics: Sometimes called Bhut Naga Jolokia (bhut means ghost, naga means snake, and Jolokia is chile), the name alone sounds daunting. This chile has a venomous bite! The ghost pepper hails from Northeastern India and is cultivated in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. So how hot is this hair-raiser? With more than 1 million Scoville units, it’s approximately half as hot as the pepper spray used by law enforcement but 100 times hotter than a jalapeño. One of the hottest (edible) peppers in the world, ghost peppers are used sparingly in chutney and curry.
Scoville heat units: 1,000,000+
No matter what pepper you choose, you’ll reap powerful health benefits thanks to peppers’ unique nutritional profiles. Not only are peppers are a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, they’re rich in folate and potassium, low in sodium, low in carbohydrates, and high in minerals. Because they contain capsaicin, they have been studied for their ability to stimulate circulation and as a way to medicate arthritis.
Warm and inviting means different things to different people. There’s one test I apply when it comes to kitchens. Is this the kind of room I’d like to spend the morning in drinking coffee with friends and family after a late night? To me, that means lots of sunshine, plenty of countertop space and comfortable seating for others to chat while I cook breakfast.
I found it interesting in reading through these that even though “Granite” is supposedly on it’s way out, a number of these kitchens are inspired with granite. I still love it in a kitchen, as it adds such life!
1. Beckoning Barn
It’s easy to see why this has been the most popular kitchen photo uploaded to Houzz since July 1. Designers used timber framing, a wood ceiling and reclaimed pine on the floor and island top to put anyone lucky enough to belly up to that countertop in a sandwich of coziness. Cream-colored cabinets, stone countertops, and a green-covered view make this barn kitchen worth getting out of bed.
2. Sunny Side Up
Something magical happens when sunlight hits brass fixtures, light wood floors, and creamy cabinets. This is a winning recipe for this welcoming vibe. Even the gray-tiled backsplash and granite countertop add to the visual softness.
3. Lakeside Lightness
Hard to imagine a more blissful moment than raising a steaming cup of coffee to your lips as you watch the sun rise over the lake through this kitchen’s wall-to-wall windows.
Meanwhile, ash wood cabinets and brass hardware and shelving rods give off a subtle golden aura, waking up the light and airy design.
4. Farm Fresh
Many of us have been fortunate to spend time in a home that just has good vibes, maybe it was a vacation cabin, a best friend’s house, your grandparents’ place or your own. The designernailed that feeling with this farmhouse kitchen. The approach included an antique sink, a mix of refinished oak and painted cabinets, beadboard paneling on the island, rich wood floors and dark granite countertops.
5. Spanish Revival
If someone described a kitchen as having soaring ceilings, tile floors, and a large cast-stone range hood, you might imagine that the kitchen would look cold.But that’s not the case for this kitchen design, where reclaimed wood beams, soothing white walls, and a dark, worn antique farm table make it just the kind of kitchen you’d want to stick around in for a second breakfast.
6. California Casual
The designers used white shiplap walls and cabinets to embrace the sunshine while wood-look tile flooring and a large custom maple island and table would have anyone clearing their calendar for the day to hang out here.
7. Into the Woods
If you want warm and welcoming, just think walnut. The designer used the wood extensively in this kitchen, making it a cozy destination even during the most blustery of winter mornings. A Fusion quartzite island countertop and range backsplash make the kitchen all the more dynamic and inviting.
8. Morning Ritual
Mixing wood tones and species is a juggling act, but the designer didn’t fumble in this kitchen. A rift-cut oak coffee cabinet on the right beckons guests to grab a cup and take a seat at the alder wood table while breakfast is laid out on the island.
9. Maine Catch
Imagine shuffling down that back staircase in the morning to this raw wood post-and-beam-framed kitchen overlooking Cape Elizabeth in Maine. Stained walnut and white cabinets and shiplap walls complete the casual coastal style.
10. Colorado Cozy
You can almost feel the warmth radiating off the rich wood floor, cherry cabinets, granite countertops and natural slate backsplash in Brazilian Multicolor.
11. Gather Around
This kitchen is full of warm wood surfaces. And the air circulating through a Dutch door would make for a fine morning almost any day of the year.
12. Log Lounge
If there’s a scale for determining the coziness of a home, a log cabin in Wyoming has to be at the top. This home features a kitchen ensconced in reclaimed-wood walls, hand-hewn timbers, standing dead-log beams, reclaimed-wood ceiling planks, antique oak flooring, and wormy chestnut cabinets.
13. Soft Side
Quarter-sawn white oak cabinets, stained in a finish with a bit of gray in it, soften the light pouring into one end of this kitchen. Warm white shiplap walls and ceiling also mute the light, creating a soothing atmosphere that never gets chilly.
This is an article (slightly revised) from “What’s Cooking America”. I thought the information was interesting and might answer some questions you might have. I added a little history and a couple more peppers.
Along with salt, pepper is on nearly every table. Historically significant, pepper is the most common spice in use. Nutritionally beneficial and medicinally positive, pepper offers a unique flavor and a variety of uses. It is the third most common ingredient behind water and salt. There are a variety of peppercorns commonly used.
This master spice is versatile in all forms. It offers up a vibrant flavor suitable for any dish. Historically, it has led an illustrious and full life-giving fortune and paying ransoms. Pepper is used daily by most people and offers health benefits along with adding its unique flavor. Reach for that pepper shaker or grinder and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer!
Types of Pepper
Peppercorns (piper nigrum) ground for use on the table and in cooking originally only came from India but is now also cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and South America. India is still the major producer of this spice with over half of the product coming from there.
A perennial bush, which often grows wild, is produced in mounds with trellises similar to grape vines. These mounds are usually about 8-feet tall but the bush itself can grow up to 33 feet in the proper climate. The bush has a round and smooth jointed stem; dark green leaves which are smooth, broad, and have seven nerves in them; and small white flowers. The flowers become the berries which are harvested. The flowers grow in clusters of up to 150. Grown from cuttings, the bush bears fruit at three to four years until about fifteen years. Typically the pepper bush grows within about 20 degrees of the equator some believe the closer to the equator the hotter the peppercorn.
From this bush, three types of peppercorn are harvested: black, green, and white. The difference in the peppercorns come from when the berry of the bush is harvested and how it is processed.
Black peppercorns are the dried berry and the most pungent and strongest in flavor of the three. The berries are picked just before they are ripe and are typically sun-dried. As they dry, an enzyme is released which darkens the hull of the berry to anywhere from dark brown to jet black. Within the hull is a lighter seed which causes a variance in the color of the ground pepper.
Black pepper comes in many forms; whole, cracked, and ground. The ground pepper has varying degrees of coarseness from fine to coarse.
Some of the uses are as follows:
whole pickling and stocks – cracked for meats and salads – ground for everything else
Currently, the Tellicherry pepper is the most popular. It is named after the port and region it is gathered from. It is the oldest source of black pepper, though Alleppey and Pandjung are longtime ports for the export of this spice. The Tellicherry peppercorn is larger and darker than others. It has a more complex flavor which is why it is more popular.
Tellicherry and Malabar come from the same region in Southwest India. The Tellicherry is picked slightly closer to being ripe and is considered to be slightly better than the Malabar. Malabar has a green hue with a strong flavor.
Green peppercorns are the green berry picked long before they are ripe, which can be freeze-dried to preserve the smooth texture and bright color. While the green peppercorn gives a strong tart punch of flavor to begin with, it does not linger long in the mouth. These can also be pickled for shipment. The berries for the green and black peppercorns are actually picked at about the same time but the green are not allowed to dry causing which prevents that enzyme from activating. Green peppers only come packed in brine, water, or freeze-dried.
Some of the uses are as follows:
meat sauces – poultry – vegetables – seafood
The United States is one of the largest consumers of black pepper and has a much higher demand for the black pepper compared to white pepper. However, Europeans prefer the white pepper over the black.
This peppercorn is the mature berries that are given a short water bath in order to remove the husks before the remaining seed is sun-dried. The removal of the husk prevents the dark color forming during the drying process. As the berry ripens, it becomes a bright red color. During the drying process, it becomes white. A second way for the white pepper to be harvested is to harvest the green berry, soak it for several days before rubbing off the outer layer. The remaining seed is then either dried for use whole or ground. This pepper has a long drawn out flavor which lingers.
White pepper has two forms: whole and ground. Generally white is preferred over black for any dish where the pepper might show like some of the following uses:
white sauces – cream soups – fish – poultry – grilled meats
These are rare and difficult to find, particularly in the United States. They are the red berries ripened on the vine. Instead of picking the berries, they are harvested with part of the vine. These are best used within a very short period of time. The red peppercorn has a sweet and mellow flavor in contrast to the pungent strong flavor of the black. Since these are rare in the United States, most recipes calling for red pepper are referring to ground cayenne or red chile’s.
A rare find, this is created from the red berries of the piper nigrum and are preserved in a brine. These are too soft to grind so are often put into a recipe whole. The best dishes to use these are egg dishes and salads.
Blends and Combinations:
Blending the three types of pepper doesn’t really enhance the flavors; however, there are two blends which can work nicely. Black and green combined add a bit more bite to a dish. Black and white combined makes the flavor linger longer. If pink peppercorns (see below), as opposed to the pink peppercorns (piper nigrum family) is added to a combination, its flavor is easily overpowered.
Blends of different kinds of peppercorns are typically called medleys.
Peppercorns can also be blended with other products like garlic, coriander, lemon, shallot, and chipotle.
Many people have had lemon pepper chicken or fish, the main spice in those dishes come from a combination of lemon and pepper.
Long pepper, generally absent from the modern culinary world is something of a culinary injustice we all owe to ourselves to try.
Like grains of paradise, long pepper was freely used alongside (and often confused with) common black pepper in kitchens from ancient Rome to Renaissance Europe. But the arrival of chiles from the New World and the rising popularity of black pepper shoved long pepper out of the culinary spotlight.
Its flavor is much more complex than black pepper, reminiscent of spice blends like garam masala more than a single spice. It possesses black pepper’s heat and musk, but in a less harsh, more nuanced way, tempered by sweet notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. Its finish lingers on the tongue with a tobacco-like coolness; where black pepper stings, long pepper balms.
There are actually two commercially grown species of long pepper: piper longum, from India, and the cheaper and wider-spread piper retrofactum, from Indonesia (the island of Java). Their flavors are similar enough as to be interchangeable, but they’re worth mentioning for inspiration about cuisines the spice works well with. South Indian cooks use long pepper in lentil stews and pickles, and its sweet heat works well with Southeast Asian-style roasted meats. Long pepper has been prized for its aphrodisiac properties. One recipe, from the Kama Sutra, calls for long pepper to be mixed with black pepper, other spices, and honey, with the promise to “utterly devastate your lady.” The concoction is applied externally.
Long pepper (piper longum) originates in central Africa but is now in India, Africa, and Eastern China. This is harvested in summer. The bud fruit is about an inch long and consists of lots of tiny black and gray seeds. The taste is like a mild pepper and ginger combination. This was commonly used during the Middle Ages. This one can substitute for common pepper and is best used in sweet hot recipes accenting the ginger flavor. Some suggestions for use are on fruit (particularly fresh) or in coleslaw, this prevents the flavor from being cooked away.
There are several varieties of peppercorns which do not belong to the piper nigrum family. These come from several different types of plants. The flavors of these are different from the piper nigrum plant so should not be used as a substitute. Some are as follows:
Pink peppercorns (shinus molle) is grown in Madagascar, Mexico, and Australia. The pale pink berries are harvested in the summer. Initially, this has a pepper flavor but ends tasting sweet. It is good for vegetables and seafood and is not a good replacement for regular pepper. This can cause an allergic reaction in children so follow the recipe precisely. The schinus terebinthifolius species is used as a pink pepper. The plant looks similar to a holly tree and it grows in parts of the US like the shinus molle. There is an additional pink peppercorn which comes from the Baies rose plant (euonymus phellomanus) which is also from Madagascar. Pink peppercorns (shinus molle) is grown in Madagascar, Mexico, and Australia.
Sichuan or Szechuan pepper is found commonly in China and used in many Chinese and Japanese dishes, but also adds a zing to chicken noodle soup. The pepper derives from the berries of a prickly Ash tree native to China. These are spicier than the regular pepper.
Negro Pepper (xylopia aethiopica) is grown in Ghana and Malawi. This one is harvested in the fall and when dried has dark brown seed pods. Like the piper nigrum, it is a fruit which is dried in the sun. Similar to piper nigrum, this has a strong flavor but it leaves a bitter aftertaste so is not a good substitute for regular pepper.
Pepperleaf (piper sanctum) is cultivated in Peru and Argentina. The leaves are harvested year round. The green leaf is plucked from a bush which is in the pepper family. It is very similar to cilantro and best used fresh. It has a little bite but mellows to a sweeter flavor.
History of Pepper
Like salt, this spice has a long and illustrious past. It has been popular for more than 4000 years; cultivation of pepper began about 1000 BC.
Pepper was actually the first spice used in Europe and helped to motivate the Spanish, English, and Dutch to find trade routes to India. It helped develop the relations among East, West, and Middle East countries. This spice was a luxury and only used by the upper class up until the early 1800s before average citizens could afford to use this spice. This spice is so valuable that even in some parts of Asia, poorer families hold peppercorns as a type of savings.
The spice dates back much further than these somewhat modern trade routes though. It was highly prized in ancient Greece, being given as an offering to the Gods, used for paying taxes, and even in paying ransoms. Some of the ransoms were paid to the Ottoman Tribes. Rome also utilized pepper for taxes. The famous Roman Centurions received peppercorns as part of their pay.
The Middle Ages saw the price of pepper equal that of gold. The upper class often kept stores of it and accepted it as payment for rent and other debts. One pound of peppercorns was worth three weeks of work during this time frame.
Pepper is known as the king or master spice because even today it makes up about a quarter of the spice trade. Historically, it was a popular spice to use because it flavored bland food and covered up any signs of spoilage.
Aside from culinary deliciousness, pepper has other uses. It is toxic to several insects so is an effective insecticide. You can sprinkle pepper around non-garden areas to keep insects out. Mix a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper to one quart of warm water and spray it on plants to kill ants, potato bugs, and silverfish.
Pepper has also been used as a brandy flavor and in perfumes.
The best way to determine the flavor of peppercorns is to smell them. To cleanse your nose and sense of smell try smelling coffee beans in between each sample.
Almost every recipe calls for a sprinkle or dash of pepper. For the novice, this can be a difficult measurement. Should you shake your pepper shaker once or twice? Should the grinder be turned five or six times? With the small measurements, it really doesn’t matter. However, if you are concerned about the intake of pepper, then five turns on your typical pepper grinder is about a 1/8 of a teaspoon.
Muffins and quick bread, dips, and pies almost always start with the same instruction: “Preheat the oven to 350°F.” Why?
Why is that?
What makes 350°F the magical temperature?
Why is it that so many types of baked foods from cake to bread go in a 350°F oven and come out perfectly after a relatively brief bake?
The answer to that is one part science and one part, well, human laziness.
Putting something in a hot oven sets off a series of chemical reactions that turn the gooey dough into a bouncing bread or sheets of puff pastry into flaky pastries. A temperature of around 350°F is hot enough to complete a lot of these steps quickly.
Step 1. At 90°F, fats begin to melt and combine with the gluten proteins (flour). Gases from the baking soda or baking powder are released, which helps make the baked good tender.
Step 2..At 140°F, the gluten proteins (flour) begin to swell and dry out. That’s when cake or cookies go from wet batter to dry food.
Step 3. At 300°F, sugar starts to caramelize.
Step 4. The Maillard Reaction, a point at which foods begin to brown and develop their distinctive flavor, happens around 320°F.
So why 350°F? It’s good enough to make all those necessary steps happen quickly, even if your oven runs a little cold and it’s not so hot you have to worry about burning.
But how did we decide to bake things at 350°F and not 340°F or 360°F?
That requires a trip back to the turn of the century.
Before we had ovens that could be warmed up in 5-degree increments like we do today, we had ovens that could bake at three settings: slow, moderate, or high. Recipes for baked goods often called for “moderate ovens.”
After World War II, oven manufacturers capitalized on some technological improvements from the war. Newer models of ovens gave cooks slightly more control by letting them set their gas and electric ovens in 25°F increments. Today, many modern ovens will let you set your oven in 5°F increments.
Attempting to adapt antiquated recipe instructions to match the modern day appliances, recipe writers converted a “moderate” temperature to 350°F, which was typically halfway between an oven’s lowest setting, around 200°F, and its highest, around 500°F.
Is 350°F really the best temperature for baking?
No, probably not. Ovens are notoriously unreliable, so setting your oven to 350°F promises you’ll land somewhere between 330-370°F. You’ll hit 350°F only if your oven is well-calibrated. That being said, most ovens have hot spots and cool spots, so it’s not a good bet that you’re really cooking at precisely 350°F.
Recipe writers and food marketers know that it’s better to err on the side of caution with the “moderate” temperature than to get very specific and have a failed recipe.
Some baked goods, like crusty baguettes, benefit from baking at a higher temperature, but a too-high temp could sink it. The higher heat will help the bread rise more quickly and set the crust before the gluten in the bread has a chance to dry out and stiffen.
The same can be true for muffins: the muffin tops rise taller in the higher heat, and you can lower the temp to finish baking them and prevent them from drying out.
Likewise, many chocolate chip cookie recipes bake at a higher temp as high as 425°F or start hot and finish at a lower temp. The hot start gets the dough to the caramelization and Maillard Reaction stages faster and then slows the cooking down to keep the cookies from drying out or burning.
Until ovens become almost foolproof and manufacturers can guarantee an oven really is the temp it says, we’ll stick with the magical 350°F. It’s good enough to get the job done.
I like keeping an oven thermometer close at hand to check my oven temperature from time to time.
This is an article I captured from Thrillist and rewrote a bit.
AMERICA’S FOOD OBSESSION has grown prodigiously in the last decade or so, and alongside that growth, many different strains of food snobbery have taken hold and flourished. Not all food snobs are created equal, so here is the list, ranked by varying levels of obnoxiousness. Is there one or more you identify with?
19. The Sourcing Stickler
Caring about where your food comes from is admirable, but not when it’s 6:30am and “The Sourcing Stickler” is drilling the barista on which region of Guatemala that morning’s cold brew comes from and whether or not the flour used in the banana nut muffins was milled within 30 miles of the shop.
18. The Self-Congratulatory Home Chef
When dining out with “The Self Congratulatory Home Chef”, every last detail of the meal is an opportunity for them to regale you with stories of their home cooking prowess (even if the evidence is already quite thoroughly available in their Facebook feed or they don’t really cook). You actually found yourself avoiding the braised pork shank with pickled onions just because you KNEW it would spur yet another conversation about how they’ve “gotten really into pickling lately.”
17. The Bourdain Disciple
The “Bourdain Disciple” used to be more into No Reservations but thinks Parts Unknown has really come into its own, and views every possible dining experience through the lens of whether or not Mr. Bourdain has dined there. Weirdly, he does not travel all that much (according to this article).
16. The Intrepid Forager
The grocery store is but a tool of the establishment according to “The Intrepid Forager”, who relishes in combing alleys, road shoulders, forests, and parks looking for dandelion leaves, mustard greens, or any other weed they can claim tastes “so incredibly bright and peppery.” What they don’t tell you is that they have been accused of trespassing on multiple occasions.
15. The Basic
It’s entirely possible “The Basic” subsists solely on avocado toast and a stockpile of pumpkin spice lattes meticulously hoarded during the autumn months. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.
14. The Trend Humper
Swears that Matcha Turmeric Jackfruit Poke Bowl tastes good, but you’re pretty sure The “Trend Humper” is just showing off as efficiently as possible.
13. The Customizer
Where a normal person sees a menu, “The Customizer” sees an abundance of opportunity to make bizarrely specific requests like taking the Bordelaise sauce from the short ribs and applying it to the duck breast, but then demanding that the roasted parsnips on the side be switched for the potato galette that comes with the chicken. If the server resists, “The Customizer” is not above citing an allergy that doesn’t actually exist.
12. The Offal Evangelist
More like “awful” evangelist? Right?! Actually, it’s important to honor the animal by consuming as much of it as possible, but at some point, you just have to accept that Aunt Maxine just isn’t going to be hopping on the duck tongue train anytime soon.
11. The Guilt-Tripping Vegan
It’s one thing to go vegan. It’s another thing to casually show everyone videos documenting the horrors of pork production while you’re checking out a hot new restaurant. that you suggested called Le Porcine. Was this your plan the whole time? Look, if there’s a pig on the sign, you don’t get to feign surprise when there’s bacon in everything.
10. The Repatriated Expat
It’s been two years since “The Repatriated Expat” moved back to the US after a magical six months residing in Spain. And yet, the backhanded comments about how “it’s so weird to be eating dinner before 10pm, the observations that the gin and tonics “just aren’t the same,” and the refusal to consume any red wine that isn’t Rioja have not lessened in the slightest.
9. The Over-Pronouncer
Adopts a strange accent for every single non-New American restaurant before entering, and insists on over-pronouncing every single menu item with the precision of a third-grader reading an English translation dictionary. In fact, “The Over-Pronouncer” is known to carry said dictionary, or at least a translation app that relays how to say “thank you” and “hello” (incorrectly) in the language of the cuisine’s origins, despite the fact that the joint is run by a white hipster who simply likes tikka masala.
8. The Insta Influencer
By the time each dish is carefully photographed and each hashtag is hashtagged, the food is cold, but the “Insta Influencer” doesn’t even notice because they’re too busy talking about how they’re really working to build their brand. They have followers.
7. The Expense Account
After a few years into a finance gig, “The Expense Account” became a little bit bored with steakhouses and began furiously checking off the city’s priciest tasting menus. He can rarely recall much in the way of details on a favorite dish, but can definitely inform you with zero sense of modesty how much $$$$$.
6. The Name Dropper
The minute you walk in the door with this human megaphone, “The Name Dropper” is already telling everybody within earshot about knowing the chef or the owner. This habit hits a wonderful crescendo at that magical moment when “The Name Dropper” tells the owner they know the owner.
5. Captain Irony
It’s all about the irony. He always suggests you eat at Applebee’s, because it’s ironic! He’ll show up at a fancy dinner party with a couple Totino’s Party Pizzas… FOR IRONY! Eventually, you find out that he’s super-broke and likes to eat garbage. And, he doesn’t know what ironic means.
4. The Breadless Wonder
Not celiac or anything, but experienced a huge life change after going gluten-free after self-diagnosing a gluten sensitivity via a 2013 copy of Cosmo that was at the dentist’s office. Somehow continues to express wide-eyed bewilderment that exchanging grilled cheeses and chicken fingers for salads have led to increased energy and weight loss.
3. The Authenticator
“The Authenticator” fancies himself the arbiter of “authenticity” when it comes to a wide range of cuisines that originate in countries he has never experienced outside of a half-assed viewing of Bizarre Foods during a hangover. This person brags “we were the only white people in the restaurant” with a frequency and fervor that kind of weirds everybody else out. Does not respond well to being corrected.
2. The Competitive Eater
No, not like the hot-dog-eating contest competitive. That dude’s cool! In this case, “The Competitive Eater” is that person who can’t let someone else talk about a trip they’ve taken, a dish they’ve cooked, or a restaurant they’ve tried without immediately pointing to something they’ve experienced that is undoubtedly superior. Gets weirdly upset when the table concludes someone else’s entree was better than theirs.
1. The Elite Yelper
Enters any beloved restaurant with an unspoken plan to “take them down a peg,” ready to pounce on the slightest misstep in service and levy unfounded complaints about the texture of the pasta. Of course, if the establishment in question caters to “The Elite Yelper’s” outsized ego when they casually let it slip that they’re a “restaurant critic,” things might play out differently. Re-reading particularly biting one-star reviews in the dark of night before falling asleep is the only thing that keeps the loneliness at bay.
Washing mugs in the tub and getting hooked on Pop-Tarts. Here’s what to expect if you stay at home during construction according to Houzz.
So you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen. Congratulations, and I cannot wait to see pictures of it when it’s done. But in the meantime, you need to know what to anticipate and how to handle it.
Home remodeling pros and those who have been through a kitchen remodel agree that the best way to get through it is to flee and stay somewhere else. But this option is not always viable, so here is what to expect if you have to live in your house through a remodel and how to prepare for it.
Be Fully Aware of What’s Going to Happen
It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be noisy. For about a full week, you’re going to walk into a gutted kitchen expecting to turn on the coffee maker and then realize that you are barefoot in a construction zone. (It’s OK; it happens to the best of us.)
There will likely be frustrating delays and unexpected change orders. Unable to fix anything else for breakfast, you may get addicted to Pop-Tarts. You will find yourself rinsing a dish in a small powder room sink or a bathtub. You won’t be able to imagine wanting to dine at a restaurant again, and you’re going to feel the hit of all that dining out on your wallet.
Concentrate on letting go of control because if you try to hold on to it, you’re toast. This would be a good time to take up yoga or learn to meditate. In addition to helping you find a calm place mentally, it’s a great excuse to get out of the house. Find some good classes or apps and head to the park.
Make Preparations and Get Organized
Plan to do the following before demolition begins:
Carve out time to pack up the kitchen properly or arrange for movers since it’s a big task.
Think about whether some sort of refrigeration will be possible. Perhaps there’s an old fridge in the garage you use for the beer or a minifridge elsewhere in the house. It’s worth renting a small one or buying one secondhand. Just be sure there is a place you can plug it in outside the kitchen.
Include takeout food and restaurant expenses in your overall renovation budget.
Change your attitude. Tell yourself and anyone who usually listens to you vent that you’re adopting a chic, healthy European lifestyle that involves stopping by the market every day for that night’s supper provisions. Note that these shopping trips will require some time management, but on the plus side, they will get you out of the construction zone.
Set Up a Makeshift Kitchenette
If possible, set up a mini kitchen in another room. Think about what equipment might come in handy for throwing together meals. Suggestions include:
Toaster or toaster oven
Portable electric grill
Electric frying pan (if you have a place to clean it)
Find portable appliances
If your house has a mini kitchen or a wet bar elsewhere, you’re in luck. This is a great spot to set up.
For the rest of us, it’s more of a challenge. The mini kitchen can go just about anywhere in your house, but cleanup is the catch. So think about how you’re going to handle a small-appliance cooking mess before you make it — this may involve the patio, a hose, and a dishwashing tub.
I didn’t include measuring cups or mixing bowls among the things to leave out of the packing boxes because making pancakes or anything else that requires them is not an easily cleaned-up meal and rinsing out a batter bowl in the small sink in your lovely master bathroom is a bad idea.
Now that you know better and other messy stuff is a no-go, get used to the reality of your new at-home menu. It will consist mostly of food you can toast indoors or grill outdoors, as well as soup, cereal, and cold sandwiches. You’re going to want to buy stuff at the grocery store that you can eaat with a spoon.
Clean Up Immediately
Keep dish detergent, a scrub brush and a dish towel at the sink you’ve designated as your cleanup site. The designated food trash can should have a lid to contain odors and keep pests away. Scrape dishes into the trash, wash them, dry them and put them back in their designated spots.
Make a List of Things to Leave Out
Figuring out what not to pack is key because once you box up your stuff, you won’t be able to find anything you need until after the kitchen is completed and the boxes are unpacked.
Suggestions from folks who have been through this recently:
Carving knife, bread knife, paring knife
Two or three platters
Coffee, tea, sweeteners, a few coffee mugs, and teacups
Paper plates and napkins
A set of silverware and a dish-and-glass place setting for everyone in the household
Large tray for carrying food from wherever it is prepared to wherever it will be served
A Word About Paper and Plastic
A lot of people go strictly paper and plastic for dishes and silverware, and if that’s what you need to do to get by, there’s no judgment here. But it’s bad for the environment, it’s expensive, and it gets old. You will need only one plate, bowl, mug, glass, fork, spoon, knife, and placemat for each family member because, without a kitchen, cleanup will be immediate.
And no extras are required; please know that no one else wants to be a dinner guest at a house undergoing a kitchen renovation. It’s like the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer revealed that he had prepared all the food in the shower.
Keep Paring Down
While packing up the kitchen, keep a donation bin nearby. As you touch each item, ask yourself if it is worth packing, storing, unpacking and then finding space for in the beautiful new kitchen. When was the last time you used it? Does it, spark joy? Where are you going to put it in the new kitchen? Can you imagine yourself using it in the new kitchen? The answers to these questions will let you know if you should wrap it up and pack it or pass it along to someone who needs it.
Designate a Room as a Construction-Free Zone
In the film Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes’ advice for surviving a renovation is to “pick one room and make it yours.” This concept is key to reno survival.
Designate one room as your sanity-saving space and be very clear with the contractor that it is off-limits for cutting through and for storing tools, supplies and the things that have come out of the kitchen.
The best options are rooms that are not bedrooms and not directly adjacent to or above the kitchen. Workers will want to spread into the closest spaces when they need to stash the new cabinets or boxes of tile, so if the room is kitchen-adjacent, be vigilant because it will be a slippery slope. One day, it’s one box of tile being stored there; the next day, it’s four major appliances.
Set Up a Table for Eating
Whether you’ll be eating takeout, using the grill or becoming an expert with the slow cooker, eating off TV trays from the sofa or picnicking on the living room floor will get old pretty fast. Some use their screened-in porches or patios during nice weather; others set up a card table or a drop-leaf table with a pretty tablecloth. Wherever it is, be vigilant about cleaning up crumbs after meals.
Get to Grilling
Camping and living without a kitchen have a lot of things in common, including cooking under the stars. If you’ve ever wanted to improve upon your grilling skills, this is your big opportunity.
Research recipes and techniques, follow inspirational grillers on social media and try cooking things you’ve never tried on the grill before. Keep the tools you’ll need out of the packed boxes, and the accompanying condiments in your makeshift kitchen.
Tell me: Have you made it to the other side of a kitchen remodel? What helped you get through it? Which kitchen items were must-haves? Please share your best tips with us in the Comments.