Monday, November 29, 2010

Mise en place

Mise en place is a basic technique employed by many cooks; some swear by it.  From the French, and meaning "set in place," mise en place can make food preparation a breeze.

I've always used this technique when baking, and sometimes when cooking.  But never have I appreciated it more than I do now, cooking in a tiny kitchen.  With very little counter space, there isn't room for excess, especially when preparing a meal.

So when cooking, as I just did over Thanksgiving, measuring and setting out all the ingredients before beginning made preparation easy. That meant that during preparation my precious countertop space wasn't crowded with unnecessary boxes or containers.  One part of the countertop was used for working, the other was used for my mise en place; when I reached for the ingredients, they were there, already set in place.

There are traditional mise en place bowls, like these cuties from Williams-Sonoma, or these from Bormioli, but any small bowls will do.  The end result will be the same: tidy and oh-so-efficient food preparation.

Do you use mise en place when cooking?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Week-end Simple: Savor a small dessert

No, I'm not advocating eating desserts, especially the day after Thanksgiving.  But the holiday is a reminder that we don't have to overindulge in order to enjoy, n'est ce pas?

With so much emphasis on food during holiday season, it's the perfect time to practice restraint and remind ourselves that a small bite tastes just as good as half the pie.

Like our chic French inspirations, there's no need to sacrifice pleasure, just portions.

Bon week-end!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Familiarity

Changes are hard, whether they're made by choice, or foisted upon us. At the moment, I'm in unfamiliar territory: new house, a new neighborhood, a different commute.  Some of my belongings are gone; no space for them here.  I search for the best place to put the sugar, the toothpaste, the dishtowels.  In my old house, everything had its place; here, I've moved the silverware three times because I can't decide which drawer works best.  Ah, changes.

Then yesterday, I was preparing a post about the French and the utility of  kitchen scissors.  I went to get my own kitchen shears, and when I spied them in the drawer, it was like seeing an old friend in a crowd of strangers.

These kitchen scissors have been in my family for as long as I can remember.  There's nothing special about them; they're a vintage Wiss with green handles, though the paint has all but worn away.  Holding them brought on a rush of familiarity, and strange comfort.  I started thinking of all the hands that had held those scissors--my parents, my sister and brother, my husband, my son.

Tomorrow I am hosting Thanksgiving;  in a few hours my house will be filled with familiar smells and sounds, with family and friends, and I believe my new house will begin to feel familiar.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Réentrée

Tomorrow will be one month since my last post, but it feels like much longer. 

My life has changed so much in the last thirty days, and I'm ready to begin settling into my new house, my old routines, and my blog.