Cooking Utensils: the Truth Behind the Hype

Using the most suitable cooking utensils can make the difference between a wonderfully planned gastronomic banquet and an awkwardly made excuse-for-food. Or so the celebrity chefs who are sponsored by the major kitchenware companies would have us believe. The question we novice chefs have to ask is, ‘Do the correct tools genuinely make all the difference?’ ‘Does the way you chop, slice, dice and dish out your meat and two veg physically affect the flavour?’

Okay, granted, if you lack the appropriate utensils, it may be tricky to drain your pasta without picking up a couple of third degree burns, and you might find those curly radishes to top your salad bowl difficult to pull off, but is there really an optimal shape and size for food intended for the human mouth? To get a short answer to this question, we need to take a look at Chinese cuisine.

Chinese recipes emphasize the importance of presentation. Eating is a sensory experience. If the food looks, smells and even sounds good (think of sizzling woks wheeled to your table in a good restaurant) we’re salivating even before the first morsel gets anywhere near our mouths. Chinese chefs have long understood that your senses are connected. Your senses all lead to the same place – your brain. And it’s your brain that makes the final assessment. As innumerable sponsored-up-to-their-eyeballs master chefs will fall over each other to inform you, the way you prepare your veggies and present your dishes will have an enormous affect on the way your meal will taste The other definitive feature of Chinese cooking is the way the vegetables and meat are cut. There are strict rules concerning the size and shape of the food on the plate. Each dish should be easy to handle – it should invite you to pick it up… but then again you’ll have to use chopsticks.

Cooking utensils, it would seem, really can transform a mundane meal into a feast… if you know how to use them. Owning the appropriate set of knives to chop and cut, nip and tuck, is one thing; owning the skills to use them is another. However, to develop your technique, you need to own the utensils in the first place. You have to start somewhere, and leafing through a kitchenware brochure at the behest of some celebrity chef or other is as good a place to start as any – the best place to start is from the recipe. After all, the recipe is what you are interested in, and what you and your family is going to end up eating.

What makes a cook into a master chef? The salient factor is their ability to shower their creations with loving care and attention, as anyone who has read an Isabelle Allende novel will testify. Once you have your tools and skills, the possibilities for experimentation and gastronomic exploration are boundless. And you can bet there is a specially designed set of cooking utensils to cope with any culinary creation you might dream up. For the majority of us, one appliance can be adapted to manage a diverse range kitchen tasks, but for the experts there is a specific tool for each and every kitchen task.

This apparently trivial distinction between the two ways of thinking about cooking can have a profound affect on your meals. Take an onion, for example. According to the experts, it should be sliced a particular way to enhance the flavour, although, as we have learnt from the Chinese, the visual result is at least as big a factor in determining how the food will taste. Viewed in this way, slicing the onion ‘after the book’ becomes as important as, say, the amount of oil you add to the pan. It would seem that using the right kitchen utensil in the chef’s domain is imperative. In short, prepping your ingredients by following someone’s mealtime master plan can transform the appearance and flavour of the final dish. Get this right and you are no longer a cook. You are a chef

Selecting The Best Utensil

Selecting the right set of cooking utensils is dependent on the content of each individual recipe. Suggestions for cooking utensils are very often presented within the cooking book or online recipe page and, traditionally, they are accompanied by clear instructions to enable you to choose the right utensil for the right job. Cooking utensils, it would seem, do have a central role to play. Your family is certain to enjoy the excellence of your cooking if it is prepared with skill and loving care, but if not, they may reach for an entirely different set of utensils.

There are many companies that produce fine cooking utensils, but on balance, it is better to start from the recipe book and build up a collection of what you need as needs arise before you start leafing through the pages of glossy catalogues.

Happiness Or Housework – Get Organized For Both!

If you are like most women with a family, you are still at work on your “free” time. Time off is not for rest or play, but for trudging up that steep hill of never-ending chores. Housework organization is necessary, but remember as Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project says, “The days are long but the years are short!”

How do we master the tricky balance of keeping our sanity while having a reasonably clean and organized home?

Delegate

Many working women, including “stay at home” Moms, still do more than their fair share of work. Think about this: if someone had to pay for that family maintenance work, the estimate runs upwards towards $100,000 yearly!

Want to see your time? Get some paper and divide the page into three columns. In the first column, list all of the weekly household tasks. In the next column, the approximate time it takes per week. In the third column, who’s doing it. Now add up everyone’s time, and get delegating!

Even young children can put clothes away, pick up after themselves and help with simple chores. My six year old granddaughter can run the vacuum through the high traffic areas. Encouraging kids in positive ways from a young age saves countless hours spent arguing later on! My Mother was always stressed over doing housework on her day off. I don’t blame her, but it didn’t help motivate me much!

Get Organized With The 4 B’s

Life Coach and author Martha Beck created a prioritizing tool called The 4 B’s: Bag It, Barter It, Better It and Batch It.

Bag It means ditching it!. If you’re dusting once a week, can you Bag It and do it twice monthly? Let go of what you can. People that truly love you don’t care about a little dust on your end-table.

Barter It means trading, including with money, to have someone else do it. Women often say they can’t afford a cleaning person, but regularly spend it on a casual dinner out. Feel guilty paying someone to do “your” work? Think of it as a priceless investment, giving precious time back to you and your family!

Better It means adding something pleasurable to something dreadful. Hate doing dishes? Better It by making a playlist that rocks your energy! Make it a game and count the songs it takes to empty the sink. “Better it” for your kids and Google “games to get your kids to do chores!”

Batch It means doing similar tasks all at once. Pick one hour for family “just do it” time. Shut down the electronics and don’t do anything else during that time. Make it fun, and set up rewards for everyone, including yourself. Rewards are powerful motivators and don’t have to be complex or expensive.

Organize In Baby Steps

Break big jobs into small steps and start with the smallest one. Give yourself permission to stop after completing the first step. Telling ourselves we only have to take one baby step relieves motivation-sapping mental stress, and we may end up inspired to keep going!

Little things add up. Stash natural cleaning wipes in the bathroom and wipe surfaces a few times a week after your bathroom routine. You’re already in there and it takes 60 seconds to wipe out a sink. When you walk through a room, pick up a few things. (See next.)

Get in the habit of putting things in one place, even if it’s just in piles. Assign specific areas for papers, mail, dirty clothes, coats and shoes. Even a little bit of organization saves huge amounts of time looking for lost items, reduces clutter, and makes cleaning more efficient; sorting one pile is easier than finding it all over the place on cleaning day.

Well begun is half done. (Mary Poppins had it right!) Pick one thing, and just get started! It’s never as painful a task as we think and it’s usually done before we know it. Find a balance, make it fun, get it done and go on to live your life!

7 Questions to Ask Before Booking A DJ For Your Wedding

Scouting for an amazing disc jockey (DJ) for your wedding is not a stroll in the park since there are many things to put into consideration. However, before booking that DJ, he must be able to provide appropriate answers to the following questions in order to prove his competence.

1. Are you a full-time DJ?

It is important for you to know that the DJ you want to hire is not just a one-dimensional part timer who may not owe enough time to the job. He must be involved on a full-time basis with quality experience that cuts across various events. He must be a true performer that can handle tough audiences without stress and satisfy them.

2. How do you treat song requests?

You should engage a DJ that understands how to strike a balance between couple's song requests and those of the guests so that both parties are adequately satisfied.

3. How do you customize the music experience for each couple?

He should be able to provide a soundtrack for your wedding which is dependent on your taste, style and vision for the day. He should be able to willingly accept your must-play and do-not-play lists because you are supposed to be in control of the music that will be played on that day.

4. Can I hear some samples of mixing and blending of different tracks?

He should be able to blend between songs harmoniously to the point that you may not even be aware of it. There should not be artless silence between songs as this will make your party to be boring.

5. What sound equipment do you work with? Do you have back-up?

The equipment that a DJ makes use of is as important as musical instruments. His turntable, microphone, mixer, computer, etc., must be up-to-date in order to reel out the best mix for your party. It is also important to have back-up equipment to guard against unforeseen circumstances.

6. How do you get the crowd pumped?

DJs have a lot of baits to encourage guests to take on the dance floor. You can request for a video of past performances in order to gauge the skills of the DJ you want to hire in entertaining guests.

7. Why should I choose you as my wedding DJ?

Providing a satisfactory answer to this question will go a long way to prove that you are about to hire a competent DJ. He should be able to tell you what makes him unique in the industry and this will assist you in making a vital decision that will make your wedding successful.

Affiliate Programs To Sign Up With

Make money online with affiliate programs can be tough but it can be the most rewarding choice you have ever made. Choosing an affiliate program to start with is the most important part of your online business.

There are so many affiliate programs to choose from. It can be difficult to know which one to sign up with. I personally recommend Clickbank for a comprehensive list of top ranking and highest paying affiliate programs. You will receive a check from Clickbank for your contracts earned twice a month.

If you prefer to receive payments via PayPal, then go to PayDotCom. It is a huge affiliate center with marketplace of products you can promote.

When considering which affiliate programs are best for you, I recommend that you choose one that is specifically related to your site's content and target audience. You can also promote a variety of online digital products as an affiliate. I personally recommend that you choose an affiliate program or products that you are familiar with. This way, it is better for you to recommend these to other. Imagine you are selling something that you know nothing about, you are not going to convince someone to buy it from you.

Personally, I mostly use Clickbank and PayDotCom but I suggest you look around because most companies offered free affiliate programs. Some only allowed affiliates to sell their products after they have purchased it. Whichever websites you are viewing, just scroll down to the bottom and look for affiliate link. Some business owner does not like to display the link in the homepage for everyone to see, so sometimes the affiliate link could have been found in the "about us" page.