Slow cookers! Simple the best.

Now granted this isn’t exactly a necessary addition to an organiclly minded kitchen, still it can be very useful. Slow cookers basically are meant for hard meats like beef or camel, yes I said camel. If you were to try and cook a sirloin steak on a pan you probably could, but when it comes to rump or rib or any of the harder meat parts then you’d find yourself waiting for hours before you got the inside part of it tender. This is where a slow-cooker comes in, you typically have a large pot like structure except you can close it from the top to build that pressure. Basically like a pressure cooker pot mix, sort of, kind of. Heres a picture:

slowcooker

 

So there it is. This is one made for the home but you can also get industrial slow cookers which are much larger and look more intimidating. If you leave your meat in this, along with some vegetables, and some chicken stock and leave it to cook for 40 minutes to an hour you will find it turn into the most wonderful smelling and tasting beef broth you have ever eaten. This is all thanks to the fact that when you cook beef slowly in a slow cooker, as opposed to frying it, you let all the real flavour and juices come out properly. And the meat basically dissolves into the water like a fine gravy. If that description had your mouth watering you should definitely get a slow cooker. Unlike traditional pressure cookers, you don’t need to turn the heat too high to get this thing working. This is gonna save you from heavy gas bills.

So which type of slow cooker should you buy? Well definitely not the industrial slow cooker not only is it too large it simply won’t fit in most kitchens not to mention it would literally drain the whole houses electricity supply. What you want to go for is a large, home slow cooker. Emphasis on the large since most slow cookers are best used in things like soups and broths, it is best to have them large in size because those kind of things are usually made in large portions. You want to buy it from a reputable brand, we suggest brands like West bend, Cuisine Art, and the one above in the picture is a crock pot. Get any colour you want although black looks newer for longer since you cant see the scratches and dirt marks easily on black.

Once you have a slow cooker then what? So you finally bought one, now… USE IT! At first it can seem a little daunting as most people don’t really use this device much. However in parts of Asia they are used constantly, to make rice to make soups. So be like Asians (unless you already are lol) and start to incorporate more meals in your diet routine that would be cooked by a slow cooker. We suggest stews, broths, soups, boiled rice, not to mention all these things are actually REALLY healthy. Start to mix it up as well, a slow cooker is a great tool to use to experiment, you can add different vegetables and spice into the mix and see how the final product will turn out it is kind of like throwing ingredients in a hat shaking it and seeing what comes out. Just be careful you don’t create a Godzilla or something.

What are some health hazards to watch out for in slow cookers? There is a simple one, don’t touch it on the outside when its cooking. These things are made of metal more often than not, if the inside is hot chances are so is the outside. Always use the handles on the side. Do not place them on the edge of the counter. You can imagine what would happen if it tipped over. Yes, not pretty. Always keep an eye on it and make sure you don’t forget about it, since its a SLOW cooker many people are likely to just go do something else while it cooks, and in that time it will have burnt your food. This is bad for the food, AND the device as well. We hope this article has been helpful to you in learning about and buying a slow cooker!

White Tuna Soup

tunasoupThis is one of the best soup dishes I know of, convenient, tasty and ofcourse healthy. What you need firstly:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

500 grams of Tuna (preferably line caught skip jack tuna, as this is the most tasty and environmentally friendlY)

2 full red onions

2 carrots

2 tomatos

1 tablespoons of cayan pepper

2 tablespoons of desi ghee

1 teaspoon of Oregano

lots of creativity ;)

2 cups campbell’s chicken stock

1 cup coconut milk

 

How to cook tuna soup

Now the process for this is pretty simple! First of all you fund a nice deep saucepan, if you have non-stick that is preferable as we don’t want the ingredients to stick to the wall, otherwise a normal one will do fine. Put the pan on a stove and set the fire to a medium heat, of if you have electric (up to full heat). Now add the desi ghee, the reason we use this instead of any other oil such as olive oil is simple. Most oils when put under high heat DENATURE after a certain point, you can tell this when you start to notice the pan smoking, when this happens the health value of the oil drops drastically. So you might think olive oil is the healthy choice, but stick with desi ghee.

Once the ghee has liquified add up the onions after slicing and dicing them to fairly small portions. Fry the onions with continuous stirring until they are lightly caramelised, you will know this when they get that beautiful golden brown colour. Now its time to add the tuna. Remember to drain the tuna! You want no water in the tuna as you put it in the pan otherwise it will mix with the hot oil and send it flying off in sparks creating a big oily mess on the stove. We emphasise the importance of a clean kitchen  so follow that! Let the tuna fry until it is also slightly browned, but not BURNED or overcooked. Now add in the carrots, you can chop them coarsely or fine, it’s up to you. Fry them until they are sightly softened and crispy.

It’s time to add the water, no we like to mix the water with chicken stock as it gives the soup a great tang, however you can also use fish stock or vegetable stock. Mix the 2 cups of chicken stock with 2 cups of water and add to the saucepan. You will notice everything to cool down, that’s fine, put the heat on low, place the lid on and let it boil for 25-30 minutes. Check every 5 minutes or so to see if the carrots have softened, using a knife to poke them all the way through.

After it is done boiling, lift the lid and add the Cayan pepper and oregano, this is the secret twist to our tuna soup, the mixture of spiciness and herbiness really gives it a kick. Mix the spices well into the broth by stirring for 5 or so minutes. To finish off, a little something extra we recommend is adding some coconut milk, or full cream milk (if you cant find coconut milk), 4 or 5 tablespoons will do, it also gives the soup a nice opaque colour.

And there, you’re done! This is a great recipe for the family and we recommend everyone to try it! It can serve up to 5 people using the portion sizes we used, but feel free to double or half it depending on your needs.

Top 5 kitchen design tips!

When designing your new kitchen there are many considerations to take into account. In the hands of a bad designer a perfectly good kitchen can be ruined instantly. So we’ve come up with a list of the top 5 tips whhen it comes to kitchen design.

1. It’s all about the lighting

Ofcourse one of the major considerations when designing anything is aesthetics. Things have to look aesthetic, clean, spacious and alluring. And to do this you don’t necessarily have to have expensive equipment or tacky wall paper. More than anything, the secret to an aesthetic looking kitchen is the lighting. You will want to have roof imbedded light bulbs, since classic fluorescent bulbs are now out of fashion, get 2 or 3 24 watt energy savers and these will be your major lighting source. These should be bright enough so you can see everything clearly, not only does this result in a brighter looking better feeling kitchen but also it makes looking at what you’re doing much easier. Last thing you want is to cut your finger under dim lighting. Besides these main lights we recommend you add some smaller warm light bulbs right over the stove and sitting area. This gives the kitchen a very warm authentic and hearty look. Its not complete without it.

kitchens

2. Make your kitchen spacious.

Remember to spread your kitchen out over a larger area. This has so many benefits you wouldn’t believe, ofcourse we are talking about doing this in the design phase if you have already designed it then there is not much you can do to change a clamped up kitchen. We will get to quick fixes in another article. When you spread the kitchen area you get more room to move around and work, this makes it much more comfortable and inviting. Imagine a tight kitchen stacked with dirty dishes, does that feel appealing to you? Is that a place you’d want to go? No right. Exactly. Apart from this when you spread your work space it’s easier to maintain and looks more expensive than it actually is. So remember to make your kitchen as spacious as possible.

 

3. Don’t clutter it with dishes.

This is a given, if you want a good kitchen you have to keep it clean and well maintained. If you want to avoid that dreaded pile of dirty dishes then we suggest that you don’t even keep that many dishes to begin with. Some people over do it with five sets of plates and 20 different cups. This is really not necessary, store those away in a nice storage place and only keep those dishes that you need. And if you have any extra food lying around the counter top, put it in a fridge. Too many times do people just leave their bread and butter out after making toast. To solve this you really have to develop better habits but its not easy once you commit yourself. And trust me this will reflect positively on all other areas of your life.

 

4. Buy good appliances.

So often we find that people have amazing kitchen design, only to have a dinky old fridge… This is not good for the overall look of a kitchen. Now this doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money, it just means be weary of how appliances will match with each other when someone sees them. You’ve all seen the designer kitchens in magazines, do you ever see one with a black fridge white toaster and red microwave? NO. It’s all colour matched. This simple fix can do wonders for your kitchens aesthetic appeal.

 

5. Be different.

Remember that personality and spirit always strikes people more than impressiveness. So don’t be afraid to add your own twist to your kitchen, you might want to add a little cherry tomato pot in the window, or you might want to paint the walls lime green, this is not off limits. It can be refreshing and even inspiring to create in this way. Dare to be unique and different, think of the designs you see in magazines each kitchen setting has a certain feel and aura, this was intended by the designers, do the same, but add your own unique twist.

With these tips your kitchen is sure to keep you and your family happy and to make every onlooker look on with awe! ;) if you have any suggestions of your own leave them in the comments we would love to hear from you.

Waffle Irons – Not Just for Waffles Any More

Let’s say you wake up on a weekend day and decide you want to have a special breakfast for you, or maybe even your family. You get out your old familiar box of pancake mix and realize you want something a little fancier, so you get out your grandmother’s waffle iron. Now you can have a special breakfast and everyone gets to pick out their favourite toppings. But have you ever wondered what else you can do with a waffle iron? Keep reading – we’ll tell you more.

waffleiron

History of the waffle iron

Waffle irons started out as metal racks attached to a handle that were put in the fireplace to cook the waffle. Many had lovely designs including coats of arms or religious symbols on them. Believe it or not, they date to the 1300s in Belgium – no kidding! This is why you will hear the term Belgian waffles – this now refers to waffles that are as much as an inch thick and that have deep pockets.

Waffles came to America in the 1860s when Cornelius Swarthout took out a patent for a waffle iron that would be able to be used over a stove. The design kept the Belgian metal plates, but it added a hinge that let users turn the waffle over easily to cook the other side.

The classic electric ones we know and love today were developed in the 1910s by General Electric. People started asking for decorative lids, and today there are people who collect the beautiful throwbacks to another time.

Modern waffle irons cost about $20-$30 to start and can go up to $100 or more. They typically come with a non-stick coating on the inside which makes them easier to clean. It also means that food cooked in them is lower in fat. You don’t have to butter the inside or even spray with cooking spray, and you don’t have to do any seasoning to get them ready to use, even though the pro models are made from cast iron.

 

What else can a waffle iron do?

You of course know and love the waffles they make, but have you ever thought about using them for sandwiches? They make a perfect panini press! You can also use a waffle iron for everything else you want for breakfast, like eggs. They cook nicely and evenly in a waffle iron. You can then turn them into a breakfast sandwich using waffles instead of English muffins.

How about cooking bacon? They make for an ideal bacon cooker. Bacon cooks perfectly on both sides and the fat flows into the pockets in the base, ready for you to just drain it out. You might also want to make French toast in your waffle iron. All that cinnamony-eggy goodness cooks perfectly while the interior stays fluffy and light.

 

Making shoes

Yes, you read that correctly. Shoes were once made in a waffle iron, or more exactly, the soles were. University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman famously used his wife’s good waffle iron to make a new rubber sole for his athletes to use on their shoes. The track team was a success, and the waffle sole design launched a legendary athletic shoe and apparel company – Nike.

Whether you want to start an international company or just have a complete breakfast, your waffle iron can do it all for you. You won’t look at that small appliance the same way again.

Easy Coq au Vin – Recipe

CoqauvinHave you thought about making coq au vin, the classic French chicken and wine stew? Has every recipe you have come across been complicated and taken several steps to prepare? This one should be much easier to make, and much of the cooking takes place in a slow cooker, so you can set it and forget it.

 

Ingredients:

8 skinless chicken thighs*

4 slices of bacon, diced

12 ounces (.34 kg) of white or crimini mushrooms (criminis have more flavour), cleaned and quartered

1 onion, chopped

2 medium-sized cloves of garlic, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1-3 Tbsp butter or olive oil

3 Tbsp flour

Salt and pepper

120 ml chicken stock or broth

355 ml red wine**

2 sprigs of thyme (or 1 tsp dried)

 

Directions:

Spread the chicken out on a tray covered by wax paper or parchment paper. Season the pieces liberally with the salt and pepper, making sure to coat all sides. Sprinkle with the flour and set to the side.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook gently and stir often until the bacon is crispy and thoroughly cooked. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

If there are not enough bacon drippings to make 2 Tbsp, add oil or butter as needed and raise the temperature to medium high. Add the chicken thighs and brown lightly all over, turning as needed, approximately 3 minutes on each side. When done, remove the chicken, put on a platter or plate, and set aside.

If you need additional fat to have 1 Tbsp worth, melt a pat of butter or add some oil to the skillet. Add the mushroom quarters and cook them until they slightly brown in colour, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the onions, garlic, and carrots to the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook the vegetables until they start to soften.

Add the vegetables to the vessel of a slow cooker, then add the chicken back in and pour the broth and wine over the top. Top with the bacon*** and thyme.

Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 6 or 7 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot over noodles.

Serves 4.

Now you can impress your friends and family with a classic French meal that took minimal effort to prepare. Plus, it tastes really good. Bon appetit!

 

Note:

*The choice is yours if you want to use boneless or bone in chicken. Deboned thighs are much easier to serve and eat at the end of the day, but bone in thighs will allow all of the flavour from the bones to stay in the meal.

**If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. It’s alright to use the leftovers from a couple of bottles of wine, but avoid cooking wine. Cooking wine is inexpensive and has a very vinegary taste

***It’s not traditional, but you can hold off on adding the bacon until you are ready to serve if you want it to be crispy, or you can cook some additional slices right before serving. That will enable you to have the smoky flavour while cooking and still enjoy some crispy bacon with dinner.

Welcome to soilkitchen, live an organic life!

These days the modern world has become full of chemical pollutants, and other toxic waste. Despite our “modern” society we are beat on this criteria by countries like india and nepal, although they don’t have the same technology that we do their eating is healthier, their diets and thus they live longer healthier lives.  But it is not entirely your fault. So here at soilkitchen we aim to reveal how you can once again return to your organic healthy lifestyle. We will mainly cover food and kitchen related topics, why kitchen you ask? because what you surround yourself with is what you become. Fact. Therefore make your kitchen decorative and make your food healthy, don’t buy any of that canned stuff. Go straight for the home grown and fresh fruits and vegetables. The health benefits of this have been prove time and again, as of 2015 there are more than a 100 studies showing exactly how healthy it is to eat your own garden grown produce as opposed to buying genetically modified chemically sprayed food from a supermarket.

I know it can be hard to do everything for yourself, but once you develop a system of grown, cultivating, cleaning, cutting and cooking your own food from scratch, you will never have to rely on a supermarket again. Once you do this you will start to see your energy levels rise and your general health and emotions to improve. We have seen this pattern almost every time from anyone who made the switch from supermarket to home grown.

Also equally important is to have a very clean and tidy kitchen with the latest appliances because this in itself will give you a therapeutical benefit where you will be able to think better. Having a clean kitchen with the correct equipment is absolutely vital to living a healthy life. Scientists have proven that a persons work environment can drastically affect their overall health. People who live in a bad work environment will always suffer from tardiness and lack of motivation, where as if your kitchen has the latest knife set and top notch toaster you will feel motivated to cook. This will translate into all areas of your life. Trust me when I say, no one spends more time in any room of the house than the kitchen, and the bathroom if you have diorreah ;) but that is off the point.

Let me ask you this… how many times have you woken up at night and decided to have a little midnight “snack”… yep you’re not alone this phenomena is common all over the western world. Its because our dinner is so non nutritious that we almost never feel full from our normal meals, and are constantly forced to eat more and more junk to quench the empty feeling.

Now imagine that you cooked your own dinner, you dug the ground and planted tomato seed, waited, for the 2 weeks (some plants can grow and bear fruit that fast). Picked them, took them inside to your clean organised kitchen, where you had a tomato crusher easily accessible right in front of you, and within minutes you made your own homemade tomato puree. Not a bad image is it? Compared to buying some who-knows-what-is-in-this-can supposed “tomato sauce”. Well we hope you reach a point where you are fully self-sustainable.

tomatoes

Also here at soilkitchen we will mention which appliances are the best for use, because even though it is technology, it is not consumed. Electronics greatly reduce the workload you’d have to do manually, and thus save you TIME, which is KEY if you want to live a balanced life. No one wants to manually make dough, for that we have dough makers now. Remember, we promote healthy organic eating, and recipes, not complete amish life (although theres nothing wrong with that if thats what you prefer).

To start off with make sure you have a an energy saver fridge, I cant stress this enough. One of the most power consuming appliances out there is the fridge. The energy it takes to maintain a certain temperature in the environment even when the external temperature is changing is quiet massive. Fridges keep your food cool so you absolutely need it, after all if you harvest your food and it rots in the heat it will be a while till you get the next batch. Also it would be awesome to buy a water filter for your kitchen sink. Water often has fluoride added to it which despite what governments will have you believe is not healthy for your skin, teeth, health or anything. Many filters out there filter out fluoride, but make sure to read the back of the box to see if it’s listed as such.

Those are the basics besides that you’d also want to buy some kitchen tomatoes, which are small tomatoes you can plant in a pot and leave in the window, it looks marvellous, and they taste even better than they look. Clean up your backyard and make room for your up coming garden. A 5 by 10 meter space should grow enough to survive you another world war. Don’t be too pick on which toaster or blender to buy, appliances are important, but ultimately you just need something that will get the job done. Save your money from all the flashy ones out there, because unlike fridges the smaller appliances almost always use very minimal energy.

Last but not least never buy canned food, canned food is like the devil, it will literally cut years from your life. Never mind the fact that its almost always loaded with preservatives, and some studies have shown trace metals floating about inside them… yeah, you heard that right. You’re eating with along with the food every time you open a can. So leave the can, get a good fridge, clean your kitchen up and we’ll fill you in on the rest!