Tips & Tools

Tips & Tools: 

Broth Making

If you make your own broth, I recommend straining it through a cloth as well as a fine metal sieve to get it clear.  I've found the more clear the broth, the more sip-able it is and the better it tastes in the recipes I use it in.  After making many broths, I've found a great basket strainer and have made a straining cloth that make the process of straining broth easier and safer.

The advantage of using a strainer basket is that you don't need a hand to steady it/hold it as you strain. This frees you to think more about the hot liquid you are transferring from your cooking vessel to your storage vessel.

In conjunction with the strainer basket, I made an extra large straining cloth. The advantage of this cloth is that it is larger than the basket and you don't have to worry about it slipping or falling down while your transferring your broth.  

You can get the strainer I use here:

I've made a few of the straining cloths and have listed them at my Etsy Store Cavegirl Couture.  If you'd like to support me and the blog, go take a look, perhaps pick up a cloth to complete you're broth straining system, or shop for an apron.

Recommended Kitchen Essentials

If you are just starting to cook and haven’t stocked your kitchen, here is a list of essential tools that I routinely use.  I tried to keep it at a top 10, but there were a few more than 10.   I've selected the items that I have in my kitchen.  I've built up my kitchen over years.  Do what you can when you can.  If you really are just starting to cook for the first time, check out the dollar and discount stores in your area- I always do.  Sometimes you can find some good deals there.  

12” Covered Saute Pan -  I use this pan nearly everyday.  My personal favorite is this one from ScanPan.  I have also used this pan from Bialetti.  The Bialetti pan performed well for about 6 months before it seemed to lose all nonstick properties.  I’ve tried re-seasoning it, but it didn’t help.  

Vegetable Peeler -  I have two vegetable peelers as one of them always seems to be in the dish washer.  I like this one from OXO.  Whichever one you purchase, make sure its sharp or peeling carrots will be agony.  Consider getting a julienne peeler as well to make vegetable “noodles.”  

A sharp Santoku or Chef’s Knife.  I have a great set of  5 Star Henckels that I purchased years ago and have been discontinued.  I only hand wash them.  There are times that I’m really feeling lazy and just want to put everything in the dishwasher, so I’ve gotten a few inexpensive knives that I don’t mind putting in the dishwasher.  Putting knives expensive or cheap will cause them to become dull quicker and you risk rust, but they didn’t cost much so I don’t mind.  These knives have performed fairly well for me.  Whichever knives you get, make sure you keep them sharp.  Either take them to a professional knife sharpener or invest in home sharpener.  I have this sharpener and love it.  There is nothing worse or more dangerous than a dull knife.  If you are nervous about sharp knives and/or graters, which I sometimes am, get a glove like this to protect your hand.  

Measuring Spoons - I have many sets of measuring spoons as they always seem to be in the dishwasher.  I like this set, but any set will do. 

Measuring cups-  I have 2 - 2 cup measuring cups as one is usually in the dishwasher.  I also recently got an 8- cup one and have found it super useful especially for defrosting broth or making broth or any recipe that calls for X cups of an ingredient (like carrots).  

Cutting Board-  Get the largest cutting board that will fit on your counter and then also fit in your dishwasher.  I have quite a few boards that I’ve accumulated over the years.  I like this board from Epicurian best.  

Slow Cooker-  If you’ve read the blog, you know that I love my slow cooker.  I have a few of them and I might need a 12 step program at some point for slow cooker ownership.  My favorite slow cooker doesn't seem to be sold anymore but this is my second favorite.  I recommend at least 5-6 quarts even if you are single.  If you are new to cooking your meals, a slow cooker frees you up to make very flavorful meals without much active time commitment on your part.  I’ve seen 5-6 quart slow cookers for as little as $20- they weren’t programable, but thats not a necessary thing, but very convenient.  

Garlic Press-  Nearly every recipe I cook calls for minced garlic.  Having a garlic press is a great time saver for minced garlic.  I have this one but certainly anyone you like will work. 

Polder Straining Basket-  If you’re making your own broth, and you should be, this straining basket will make the straining process easier and safer.  If you use the strainer in conjunction with an Extra Large Straining Cloth, you will find any straining job much easier and enjoyable.  

Wooden Spoons- I have many nylon utensils but recently got some wooden spoons and though they have to be hand washed, I love them.  The feel solid in my hand and make stirring thick stews and other dishes easy.  They also look pretty and make me feel like a better cook than I am.  

Turner-   You’ll be flipping many things if you’re going to start cooking.  

Tongs-  You will use these constantly.  I have a few sets.  I like these for use with my nonstick pans.  I also have a few from Sam’s club that were pretty inexpensive.  

Stock Pot -  If you are going to make your own broth or soups, you need a large stock pot.  I actually have this one that I bought at Walmart.  It has a heavy bottom and performs wonderfully for a great price.  

Sheet pan and cooling rack.  Cover one of these with foil and you'll use these for roasting vegetables and meat.  The cooling rack comes in handy when making thinks like fish sticks and fried chicken.  

Baking dishes-  I have some traditional white corningware pieces with lids that I use often.  I also have a few pyrex like baking dishes.  I found my pyrex like baking dishes at Big Lots (a discount store) fairly inexpensively.  

Salad Spinner:  If you like salads or cooking greens, a salad spinner will make cleaning and drying your greens far easier.  I have this one.  It has a stainless bowl.  It's more expensive but after cracking a few of the ones with a plastic bowl, I decided this was worth the investment.  

A Dutch Oven-  I use my dutch oven at least once a week.  I have a 5.5 quart Le Creuset that I got at the Le Cresuet outlet store near me.  While its a “second” it has the same warranty as a “first.”  Any Le Creuset is an investment, but one worth saving for.  I’ve read good things about Lodge’s dutch oven.  If I wasn’t out of storage space, I’d probably buy one because they look so pretty.  

Near Essentials: 

The next few items are not essential, but I consider near essential as I use them often and they make my life in the kitchen easier: 

Cuisinart 14 Cup Food Processor: This machine makes making cauliflower rice and grinding meat a breeze.  It's also great for chopping/slicing big batches of vegetables if you have cooking marathons for the week like I do.  This processor comes with smaller bowls that will nest in the 14 cup bowl.  I never use them.  If I didn't have a mini chopper, I might, but I've found the clean up is just as much as using a large bowl as liquids will seep and you'll end up having to clean the bigger bowls too.  

Cuisinart Mini Chopper:  When you have a small batch of something to make, this is awesome to have on your counter top.  Its nice not to have to dirty my large processor.  

Meat Thermometer:  I love my thermapen.  It takes the guess work out of knowing when my meat dishes are done.  You can get cheaper thermometers but they wont be as accurate.  It's worth saving for.  
Immersion Blender:  Want to make quick paleo mayo, sauces and soups.  An immersion blender is the tool you need.  I like the kinds with a removable blending end for easy clean up.  

Microplane Grater:  This is great for zesting lemons and limes and grating ginger.  If you don't get one of these, you're going to want a grater of some kind like this one or this one

Silicone Ice Trays:  If you make broth and freeze it in batches, I have found these trays to be a god send.  You end up with 1/2 cup cubes of broth that defrost quickly.  Because the trays are silicone, the cubes are easy to remove once they are frozen.  

Not Essential but a lot of fun!

Paderno Spiral Slicer:  I review this awesome device and have enjoyed the new textures it has given me with my vegetables.  

Sodastream-  If used without the nasty syrups, this is a great way to always have fresh club soda on hand for refreshing beverages like my Lime Green Tea Spritzer or (Virgin) Norcal Ritas.    

Recommended Vendors:

While blogging, I've tried various products that are marketed to the paleo community.  Here's a list of vendors I have had a good experience with.  

Paleo Powder- All Purpose Seasoning

Tropical Traditions- Coconut Oil, Coconut products, Grass-Fed Beef

Pure Indian Foods - Organic Grass-Fed Ghee

Cavegirl Couture (shameless plug)- Handmade Aprons & Kitchen Textiles

Efficient Exercise - HIIRT Training, Austin, Texas