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Since having our fourth baby earlier this year, pretty much all I've done is sat and around and nursed the baby. I've nursed and nursed … and nursed… and nursed some more. And I don't mind telling you that after I'm “done” (Ha! Am I ever “done”?) nursing the baby, there not much time for anything else. I'm not getting a whole lot done these days. This is not the season for big projects, and that's ok because I'm full-force in Survival Mode over here! For this season in life, if I can get the basics tended to, I'm happy.
Right now, anything that makes my life simple and easier is my friend. If we ate a standard American diet we'd probably be eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and convenience foods, but since we're vegan and gluten-free, that's not an option. So I've made 5 friends in my kitchen. These friends make my life so much easier and I'd like to introduce them to you!
#1 – My Crock Pot
I fell in love with my crock pot back in my college days. I lived in Canada so I would chop everything up in the morning, turn the crock pot on, go to school and come home to a warm meal and a deliciously fragrant house! Now I've discovered that I can throw grains (like oats or millet) in the crock pot at night and when I wake up a hot breakfast will be waiting for me! Cooking beans over night in the crock pot is also a great way to prepare them without boiling them on your stove for hours and hours on end.
#2 – My Pressure Cooker
My crock pot is wonderful, but it only helps me when I've planned ahead (at least a few hours). Sometimes I'm just not that organized and on those days my Pressure Cooker bails me out! If I decide I want to have chick peas (garbanzo beans) for example, I can throw them in my pressure cooker and be eating thoroughly cooked legumes 45 minutes later. Chick peas take the longest to cook…. Most beans will cook thoroughly in the pressure cooker in under 20 minutes. If you're new to the world of Pressure Cookers, you might want to start with a great cookbook to guide you. My favorite is Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass.
#3 – My Hot Air Popcorn Popper
Popcorn is a favorite treat around here! I like to pop it on the stove, but that takes a lot of heated oil and that's not healthy. A hot air popcorn popper is a fabulous and healthy way to make popcorn. Once the popcorn is ready we simply spray olive oil on it with a spray bottle and add a little salt. Serve it with smoothie or fruit and nuts for a quick breakfast or add nutritional yeast, onion, garlic, parsley, basil and oregano for a savory treat.
#4 – Blender
Blenders for smoothies and protein shakes! We make a lot of these in the summer time when it's hot outside! And lately we've been drinking our own variation of “Good Girl Moonshine” (made from lemon instead of vinegar) so I use my blender a lot! Can I recommend a good one for you? Well… I'm hard on blenders. I once burnt a blender out within 20 minutes of opening the box. Still, I am skeptical about paying $500 for a top-of-the-line model. I settled on using a Kitchen Aid blender and that was a good blender that did last me for 4 years. I really liked it, but recently it died, too. So right now I'm back to using a garage sale blender that we have to shake in order to get it to blend anything. But even a bad blender is better than no blender! If you have a good blender recommendation I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
#5 – Rice Cooker
My friend Sara from Your Thriving Family gave me her rice cooker. At first I thought, “Hmm. Ok. I guess I'll try this out.” I wasn't enthusiastic about it until we'd tried it. Oh. My. Word. Even Papa the Farmer couldn't stop talking about our new rice cooker for the first week we had it. “Tell Sara this is the best kitchen appliance EVER,” he said. “It doesn't burn or boil over and it cooks the rice perfectly.” Hmmm… Apparently someone in this house has been regularly burning the rice and letting it boil over. We can also cook other grains in it and it includes a steamer basket for veggies, so we use our rice cooker multiple times a week.
Which appliance is your best friend in the kitchen? Tell me in the comments!