Christina’s Cooking Basics ~ 1 of 5

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This week we welcome our good friend, Christina, from the PBS show “Christina Cooks,” to the Chop Talk blog. This is the first post of a five part series getting back to the basics in the kitchen – cooking, food prep, planning and more. In the final post, we’ll have an amazing meal plan prepared by Christina, especially for Ergo Chef.

How to Cook
It begins in the kitchen. You need to learn to cook. And while cooking classes are fun, entertaining and helpful and cookbooks are thrilling, fun and gorgeous, you can cook without any of it. You just have to understand what you are doing. You have to discover the ‘how’ in how to cook.

If you have never cooked before, it can be a daunting idea. But, with understanding and some basic skills, in a few short sessions in the kitchen, you will be whipping up meals as though you have been cooking all your life.

The Basics
For a stress-free life in the kitchen, you need tools…good tools…and it begins with a knife.

Knives
The tool that will serve you best, that is indispensible in the culinary world, is a knife. And not some little wussy, cheap-ass paring knife that you bought from some discount store. You don’t have to take out a second mortgage on the house to get a knife that will do the job you need to do. Good chef’s knives can cost as little as $30 or as much as $300 or more.

Look for a stainless or carbon steel blade, with a handle that balances well with the weight of the blade. Carbon steel will stain, but will hold its edge longer than stainless and is usually heavier. Depending on how you work and how much you cook, you can decide if you want a heavy knife or a light one.

I am a fan of the Ergo Chef 7-inch Santoku and love using it. It’s light, sleek and so sharp; one of the greatest investments you can make in your kitchen.

Steel
The second most important tool in your repertoire. Treat yourself to the steel that Ergo Chef makes for their knives to put an edge on your knife on a daily basis. It’s essential to the health of your knife. Each day, before you begin to cook, hone your blade on the steel to keep the edge sharp and your knife ready to go.

Cutting board
Next to a knife, you will need a board for prep. And not one of those 6-inch free cheese boards you got with a gift basket. Get a wooden cutting board. While I am a big board type of girl, you have to take your own kitchen counter space into account when choosing a board. Go as big as you can so you have room to work.

And go for a nice, thick board so you don’t have to worry about warping.

Bamboo boards are the newest darlings in the cutting board world. They are light, durable, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial (naturally) and they don’t warp.

And Now…The Cooking…
Going back to the kitchen is not a big deal; nothing to stress over. In fact, it should excite you: the thought of taking your health back in your own hands in your kitchen with the foods you choose to prepare each day. There are basics of cooking, just like any skill.

Not mastering those skills will leave you chronically flustered and at odds with creating meals.

Christina Pirello, MFN, CCN is a bright, free spirited, vivacious redhead who is one of America’s preeminent authorities on natural and whole foods with a radiant personality that only serves to make her message more powerful. She’s made it her purpose in life to show Americans that they can look their best and feel great too, by learning to eat natural, organic food. Learn more at her website and blog.
Mike StaibChristina’s Cooking Basics ~ 1 of 5

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