To Cook or Not To in progress

You really selected the mother lode here.  I hope you don't get bored, but here it goes.

In my kitchen and the recipes I post and/or use:

*everything is always organic and natural if I can.  If it is in the summer a majority will come from either my garden or from an organic producer at the Farmer's Market.  Off season it is usually items I have canned or those that I can get from my co-op, then organic.  I realize that sometimes I have to use non-organic, but that is usually a small percentage of the food I use.

*There is an exception to organic: GOOD olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

A random sampling of my oils and vinegars

*When a recipe calls for salt I always use fleur de sel or kosher salt and fresh ground pepper is a must.  I really like a multi pepper blend.
I do, however, have quite a variety of salts that I use for finishing a dish.


*I only use real butter.  There is NO substitution...period.

*I try, try not to use sugar.  I prefer to use honey, real maple syrup or agave.

*Milk is whole unless otherwise noted.  Cream is heavy unless noted.

*I do not use "fake" items...examples include maple flavored syrup, whipped topping in a container that, mind you, doesn't even have any dairy ingredients, get the picture.

*I really try minimalize the amount of processed foods in my home.  I always check the ingredients first and make sure the number listed is limited.  But people, I am not perfect, and I do have kids and a husband who claims he was deprived growing up so once in a while we have crap food in our home.

*I love kitchen goods.  I have around 30 pieces of All-Clad, a set of Le Creuset, knives, multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons, more wooden spoons, whisks and spatulas than you can shake a stick at, a plethora of serving utensils and numerous "make life a little easier" gadgets.  I KNOW you can get away with not having them, but why?

*A set of GREAT quality knives...a costly purchase, but a worth while investment.

*Multiple cutting boards and cutting sheets.

*I always have a few basic staples on hand besides oils and spices:  lemons, limes, garlic, onions, ginger and fresh herbs.

*Buttermilk is the secret to a moist....anything!

*To properly cook pork and beef (the ONLY exception is ground of both) they need to be at room temperature.

*When baking, all cold ingredients should be at room temperature.

*You can cook even if you don't make up the recipe.  I have over 130 cookbooks.  I have a meal plan for 5 days, two days are for leftovers.  Of the 5 days, 1-2 are from cookbooks (usually adapted a bit) and the rest are my creations.  Don't feel as if you have to be creative, there are a lot of good and great recipes out there.  Cooks Illustrated epitomizes greatness.