Got Enough Gadgets?
A well-stocked kitchen doesn’t require a massive amount of gear. You don’t need an egg scrambler, a fondue pot or even an omelet pan. Here are the 10 simple essentials that will empower you to get most any meal on the table with a minimum of fuss.
• Knives. You can get by with just three good, steel-bladed knives: a solid chef’s knife, a smallish paring knife and a serrated bread knife (which will do double duty as a tomato slicer). A sharpening steel is also good to have for regular maintenance, but professional sharpenings (annually, at minimum) will restore your knives to greatness.
• Cutting boards. Wood boards are pretty and can double as serving trays (try bamboo or teak from a reliable resource); plastic ones can go in the dishwasher.
• Spatulas. A flexible spatula with a thin metal blade (or a thin nonstick blade, if you use nonstick pans) is invaluable for turning fish, eggs and so forth.
• Cast-iron pans. A well-seasoned (that is, well-used and oiled) 15-inch cast-iron skillet is the workhorse of the kitchen. You can use it for everything from frying a single egg or searing a steak to baking cornbread or braising a whole chicken. Get a lid for it to quadruple its uses.
• Pots. A small saucepan is great for cooking things like sauces, but a 3- or 4-quart saucepan will be the pot you use for simmering, steaming, reheating and more. Heavy-bottom, straight-sided pans are the most versatile.
• French oven. Sometimes called a Dutch oven or soup pot, a good 6-, 9- or 12-quart cast-iron pot is a kitchen necessity that can move from stovetop to oven. Use it to make chili, stew, soup and even bread. The best are the enamel-coated ones from Le Creuset — if you can afford one, their heat control is unparalleled, and they’ll last a lifetime.
• Spoons. Chefs use big spoons for sauces, for plating, for everything. If you want only one, get one with a flat-edge that will allow you to clear the bottom of a pot effectively.
• Rasps. Rasps have moved out of the woodshop and into the kitchen. Choose a tiny-holed rasp for grating fresh nutmeg, get a medium-holed version for zesting citrus, and an even larger-holed one for grating hard cheeses.
• Strainers. Some people like colanders, and some prefer strainers — which are you? A colander can also double as a decorative serving basket for fruit. You can use your strainer when cleaning veggies, but if you buy your greens unpackaged, then a salad spinner will come in handy, too.
• Vegetable Peelers. The classic U-shaped ones are preferred by chefs, though the most important thing in a vegetable peeler (as with most kitchen gear) is that you’re comfortable using it. Because, after all, the whole point of a well-appointed kitchen is to help you cook contentedly.
Tips For Working Out (Without Burning Out)
• Have a plan. An unorganized, sporadic or overly intense exercise schedule can put undue stress on your body and rob you of fitness results.
•Mix it up. Periodic harder workouts (called “functional overreaching”), followed by periods of reduced training (called deloading), can lead to terrific fitness gains.
• Go hard, not long. Excessive volume (spending too much time exercising) is more likely to cause overtraining than excessive intensity.
• Embrace variety. Cross-train and adjust variables (like distance, speed, weight lifted, and sets, reps and exercises performed) in your workouts.
• Nourish yourself. The quantity and quality of the food, sleep, and social support you get can make or break the best fitness program.
• Recoup. A single “overreaching” workout can require days of recovery. Recovering from an extended period of “overdoing” may require a few weeks to a few months to bounce back. A serious case of overtraining can take several months (or even years) to repair.
• Seek balance. Remember that any and all forms of stress affect your body’s ability to recover from exercise.
• Don’t worry. Overtraining is unlikely unless you’ve been doing the same repetitive activity for years with no breaks. When in doubt, consult a trainer.