I like to keep a list in my bullet journal of the (mostly) little, everyday things bringing me a disproportionate amount of happiness these days. I’ve noticed lately—perhaps because we’ve been staying home so darn much?—that many of my everyday favorites are kitchen-related.
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1. Preserved lemons. I love anything citrus-y sour, and when the weather turned chilly I started craving these. We’re using them in tagines and salads; if you have more suggestions on how to use them I’d love to hear!
I know you can make your own, but I screwed up the process the first time I tried years ago, so this time I started by buying a jar, and now I keep refilling it with fresh lemons.
2. Delicata squash. I saw these for sale last year at Trader Joe’s, and wasn’t sure if they were for dinner or decoration! Now I know and I’m glad I do.
We gave delicata a try after my daughter requested “more fall produce” in the dinner rotation. Root vegetables and squashes are obvious candidates, but I’m not a fan of butternut and acorn. My search for alternatives led me here, and I liked what I read: that delicata is GREAT for home cooks because it’s easy to prep and tastes delicious.
So far we’ve enjoyed it roasted simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper (and sometimes a touch of maple syrup), as a component of this sheet pan recipe, and in this vegetarian chili. Now it’s a regular item on my grocery list.
3. Cinnamon almond butter. I impulse-bought this cinnamon almond butter months ago and have been buying it on repeat ever since. It’s gently sweet and super-tasty, delicious on crisp apples or toast (or, let’s be honest, right off the spoon).
4. Better Than Bouillon. I first learned about this from a chef friend; it is MAGIC. I used to be a homemade chicken stock purist, but one day last spring I was halfway through making a big batch of lentil soup when I realized we were all out, and I didn’t have time to make more. I subbed in Better Than Bouillon, and the results were so good I’ve never looked back, and have freely been using it to supplement or even replace the homemade stuff ever since.
I get mine at Costco but more flavors are available online.
5. Great new cookbooks. While I have my cherished go-to cookbooks, I’m so enjoying reading and cooking from some new 2020 offerings. My faves are Sweet Potato Soul, Vegetable Kingdom, and Modern Comfort Food.
I don’t know who I am anymore because I’m actually considering cooking my way through every recipe in Ina’s new one. Have you ever done something like this? Talk me into it (or out of it) in comments!
6. Korean chili paste. I’ve come across gochujang as a recipe ingredient for years and always skipped it or cobbled together a substitute. But after making and loving this sweet potato recipe several times without it, I finally decided to try the real thing. It’s sooo good and I’ve been looking for additional ways to use it ever since.
7. Parchment paper. I used to use this to line my pans for baked goods, while sticking to foil for roasting meats and veggies. I recently realized that I’d stopped reaching for foil altogether because I like the parchment results better. (We get ours from Grove; this is my referral link and it gets new customers a free Mrs Meyers set.)
8. Little bag clippies. Our chip clips tend to disappear (sometimes because my 10-year-old seizes them as a fort-making tool) so I got online and searched for good options. I’m really happy with these versatile Swedish bag clips, even though they’re different from the clothespin-style we’ve used in the past. And since they’re NOT good for fort-building, I can always find one in the drawer when I need one.
9. Coffee maker. What can I say? This is our pandemic splurge. After 15+ years of manual coffee making, we bought a Moccamaster coffee maker. We’d heard from trusted sources it brewed pour-over quality coffee in three mostly hands-off minutes.
Now that there’s a pandemic on we are always home, working from home, drinking coffee at home. No more traveling, no more coffee shop meetings. (What I would give right now for a great coffeeshop latté in an actual mug.) And since we’re always home, we didn’t want to spend so much time making coffee.
I love it. And I also appreciate one unanticipated development: because it’s easier to brew for two people than for one, Will has mostly cut the caffeine and joined me with the decaf. I never saw that coming, but I love how much it’s simplified our mornings.
What (mostly) little things are bringing YOU a disproportionate amount of happy in the kitchen lately? I’d love to hear in comments.