SWEET HOMEMAKING

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I love being a housewife, homemaker, or domestic manager! No matter what you call it, taking care of my lovely home, my wonderful husband, and two adorable kitties is my passion. Homemaking is a skill that anyone can acquire. It's really just common sense accented by some basic knowledge. Over the years, I have come across some pretty amazing tips that make household chores a breeze. Click on to one of the links below to learn my secrets to making a house into a home, sweet home! 

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Mrs. Z's Top 10 Gadgets for the Kitchen

Every kitchen needs certain basic items in order to function well. My kitchen is no exception. In my experience and years in the kitchen, I have found these 10 items to be a critical part of my cooking regime.

 

Silpat Baking Mat

  • Developed in 1965 in France by Monsieur Guy Demarle an experienced French baker, set out to develop a better way to prepare and bake baguettes.

  • His invention, a new baking mat, began a revolution in professional baking.

  • And he rapidly acquired a reputation for the best baguettes in France.

  • Guy called his mats Silpat™, because of the unique silicon and fiber manufacturing process. 

  • His original silicone non-stick baguette mat became the blueprint for all Silpat™ products used in professional kitchens around the world today.

  • Thanks to him, our range of classic mats and moulds make all types of baking, cleaner, quicker, easier as well as producing more consistent results.

  • Now, as part of Sasa (SAAA SA) Demarle Incorporated, Silpat™ still sets the international standard in the pastry and bakery industries.

 

Spider Strainer

  • Can be used as a strainer for larger pieces of food.

  • Most often it is used as a skimming tool to add or remove foods from hot liquids such as water or oil.

 

Dough Scraper

  • A dough scraper is a tool used by professional bakers to manipulate dough and to clean surfaces on which dough has been worked. I

  • It is generally a small sheet of stainless steel with a handle of wood, plastic, or simply a roll in the steel blade along one of the long sides.

  • Bakers and pastry chefs use this tool to help pick up, turn, and portion dough.

  • When finished, the dough scraper can be used to scrape up the little bits of dough that have dried onto the kneading surface during the forming process.

  • It can also be used in a more generic kitchen role to transfer sliced or diced foods from cutting board to pan. This tool is known by a variety of names, including dough scraper, dough cutter, dough knife, pastry cutter, bench scraper, board scraper, and bench knife.

 

Microplane Rasp Grater and Zester

  • Rasp-style graters are known to be long and narrow and is perfect for zesting citrus fruits and grating hard cheeses such as Parmesan. 

  • Most people like the rasp-style as its more compact than a regular grater. 

  • The rounded edges are preferred for zesting various fruits or shaving burnt areas of a cookies and pie crusts.  

 

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

  • A Dutch oven creates an ideal environment for bread baking and simulates a steam-injected oven typically used by artisan bakeries.

  • Steam from the wet dough is trapped inside the heavy pot, and helps the dough to rise and form a loaf that has a crispy crust and tender interior crumb.

 

Cut Resistant Gloves

  • The concept of mesh gloves goes back to the middle ages, when European knights wore gloves made of chain mail.

  • Historical and mythical depictions of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table showed garments of metal, including chain mail that evolved into today’s steel mesh safety glove.

  • Mesh gloves provide different protection from knit cut resistant gloves.

  • Knit cut resistant gloves can offer some cut protection, but some of the fibers used can abrade over time.

  • Additionally, cut resistant gloves offer no puncture protection, as knife points can easily find their way in between the knit fibers.

  • Metal mesh gloves offer the ultimate in cut protection and also puncture protection. Only the smallest point of knife can penetrate a mesh glove, as the rings have an inside ring diameter of only 3.1mm.

  • In the “food” industry, anyone who uses a hand knife or cleans/moves a slicer blade can (should) wear a metal mesh glove.

  • Why? Just like the Knights of the Round Table learned, there is no product better at protecting from cut and puncture.

  • But it is very important to note that even metal mesh gloves are neither cut-proof nor puncture-proof. They are cut-resistant and puncture-resistant, and they are the most cut-resistant and puncture resistant option available.

  • But nothing is 100%, and mesh gloves are only designed to be used around hand knives, no powered blades or saws.

 

Digital Cooking Probes and Thermometers

  • The instant-read thermometer is a probe thermometer, available in both analog and digital styles, that allows a cook to take instant temperature readings of a food.

  • They're great for testing the doneness of a piece of meat or poultry while it cooks, but they're not meant to be left in during cooking.

  • You simply insert the probe into the food, check the temperature, and then remove it.

  • Instant-read thermometers also can be used to measure the temperature of hot food in a steam tray or chafing dish, as well as cold items in a salad bar, and to measure how quickly a soup or sauce is cooling (to ensure that it does not spend excessive time in the temperature danger zone).

 

Bamboo Cutting Board

  • Bamboo cutting boards inhibits deep cuts better than other materials such as wood and is durable than traditional wood cutting boards.

  • Bamboo boards are tough enough to endure for good easy cutting while soft-enough to not mutilate your kitchen knives.

  • Bacterial resistance. Bamboo cutting boards are more hygienic than those made of plastic. ...

  • Safe for knives. It’s hard to scar a bamboo cutting board with a knife. ...

  • Sustainable. ...

  • Low maintenance fee. ...

  • Superior Health and sanitation. ...

  • Bamboo looks good. ...

  • Easy to clean. ...

  • Green, renewable and earth-friendly. ...

 

Quality Cutting Knives

  • For all the fancy kitchen appliances a person can choose from today, one of the most important items for every kitchen remains a good kitchen knife.

  • If you do any cooking at all, a high-quality kitchen knife will do a lot to make the job go smoother.

  • Having one that’s sharp enough and has just the right weight and balance ensures that your chopping will be both faster and safer.

  • To those that have used a high-quality kitchen knife, the possibility of going back to cheaper, duller versions seems outrageous.

  • It’s the kind of kitchen addition that just feels right once you have it.

  • If you know it’s time to upgrade to a decent kitchen knife or replace one that’s seen better days, there’s a lot to consider to make the right choice. 

  • The most important knife for most home chefs is the chef’s knife.

  • This is the knife you turn to for chopping vegetables and most types of meat prep, and the one you’ll see chefs using the most often on TV shows or in restaurants.

  • It has a large, smooth blade that can be used for crushing items when needed (like garlic and olives), as well as slicing and dicing almost anything you could need to cut up in a kitchen.

  • If you’re only buying one knife at this time, then the chef’s knife is probably the most important for you to start with.

  • Good ones can be expensive – some of the top brands cost over $200 for just the one knife, but many chef’s knives under $100 also get decent reviews, so you can get by with spending less.

 

 

Spray Bottle

  • Ever wonder how professional bakers get those beautifully domed loaves a bread with glossy brown crusts? The secret – at least one of them – is steam…

  • In the first few minutes of baking, loaves of bread will rise rapidly as the gases trapped inside expand and the yeast has a final burst of activity (this is called “ovenspring“).

  • Steaming within this time helps keep the crust soft. This allows the bread to continue expanding freely.

  • The steam that has settled on the surface of the bread also dissolves sugars in the dough.

  • As the bread stops expanding and the steam begins to evaporate, the sugars are left behind to caramelize (yum!) and create a glossy crust.

  • Steaming is really only useful during the first 5-10 minutes of baking while the yeast is still active and the internal structure hasn’t set.

  • After this time, the crust needs its own time to set and dry out.

  • There are several different methods for getting steam inside your oven and the trick is always doing it without losing too much heat.

  • Personally, I advocate using a spritzer bottle to spray a mist of water into the oven, but some bakers feel that this lets out too much heat and doesn’t really generate the same amount of steam as using a pan with water or ice cubes.

  • Some bakers a prefer to set a metal pan on the oven floor and let it preheat along with the oven.

  • When the time comes, they slide the loaves in and then either quickly pour a cup of very hot tap water into the pan or toss in a handful of ice cubes.