7 Reasons Every Kitchen Needs an Instant-Read Thermometer

When we first picked up an instant-read thermometer for our kitchen, we thought it'd be a handy gadget to measure the temperature of meat and seafood to help us get a better cook every time.

But, as it turns out, these devices are quite handy and can be used for an array of applications in the kitchen, and our thermometer has become one of our most used products.

So if you are thinking of picking up an instant-read thermometer but want more ideas of how to use it, we've got you covered!

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11 Foods to Prep Before a Kitchen Renovation to Eat Well

If you're like us, the thought of eating out three meals a day during a kitchen renovation makes you want to cry. Constantly eating out is hard on your wallet and waistline, and if you like to cook as much as we do, it takes a toll mentally, too.

That's why before our kitchen renovation, we developed a strategy for cooking and eating during this disruptive time.

As we were fortunate enough to have a refrigerator and deep freezer at home during our renovation, we were able to prep a number of meals before demo day to make cooking in our temporary kitchen setup as easy as possible. So in this one, we wanted to break down some of our favorite meals we prepared ahead of time and meal components we made in advance to make cooking during our renovation easier!

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10 of the Best Cookbooks to Improve Your Cooking at Home

What makes a good cookbook? As someone who reads cookbooks at bedtime like they're novels, my idea of a great cookbook is one that is more than just lists of ingredients and instructions- I love it when authors inject their personalities and ethos into the writing interspersed amongst the recipes. This truly helps convey their expertise and gives a sense of origin to each and every recipe.

A great cookbook also teaches you something, whether that is a new technique, a new ingredient, a new flavor combination, or a new way of thinking about a dish or ingredient. If we were simply relying on lists of ingredients, we have to admit we could probably figure out a recipe on our own- so learning anything beyond ingredient lists is key.

Finally, a great cookbook is one that I keep going back to time and time again until the pages are worn. These are the cookbooks in our house that have oil splatters, tomato sauce stains, worn spines, and countless dog-eared pages to name a few. If you're going to spend money on a cookbook, it better be one you reference all the time to get your money's worth! 

So, keeping all that in mind, we have ten cookbooks that we go back to again and again and consider must-haves in any kitchen!

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7 Pros and Cons for Buying Meat in Bulk from a Local Farm

At the start of the pandemic in early 2020, we decided to make a transition in how we shop for meats. Previously, we'd shop through the conventional process most shoppers are familiar with- namely, we'd go to the store or local butcher every time we need a specific cut of meat.

But as we were wanting to support more local farmers and also avoid going to the store to begin with, we decided to get into buying meat in bulk from local farmers. 

It was one of our best decisions yet.

While it would be easy for us to simply sit back and say this is the way, we do have to reflect on our experience as buying meats like beef, pork, duck, chicken, lamb, fish, and more in a bulk order has just as many cons as there are pros. So let's work through them in this one!

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How Long Does a Dehydrator Take to Pay Itself Off?

When we started to get into gardening and planting fruit trees, we knew we would have to look into preservation techniques for any of the excess we couldn't eat right away.

We had already been jamming fruits and preserving via water bath canning for years. We also had gotten into fermentation and pressure canning recently, too. But we wanted to try more techniques for preservation, so we decided to purchase a dehydrator to test out a different process altogether.

Dehydrators, to us at least, are simply fascinating. They work by running at low temperatures (sub-boiling) and low humidity to drive off excess water from fruits, vegetables, meats, and more. In the process of reducing the water content, these items become shelf-stable and can be stored longer-term at room temperature. 

Anyone who has tried a dried fig, strawberry, or even vegetables knows that these are quite delicious, and we were pretty excited to see what foods can be dehydrated.

But we had another question to go along with it- is a dehydrator a cost-effective purchase? So we decided to share the economics of buying a dehydrator in this one!

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5 Things to Do With a Food Dehydrator – Fruit to Yogurt

Whenever we want to buy a new appliance for our kitchen, we often have to take a good hard look at whether or not the benefit is worth the tradeoff of using the limited storage space we have.

So when we were considering buying a dehydrator, we wanted to make sure we could get good use out of it (note: some ovens have a dehydrator function which would be great, but ours does not). We thoroughly researched all the things you can do with a dehydrator and were convinced- and luckily it has lived up to all of our hopes and dreams.

So in this one, we thought we'd share some of our favorite uses for this magical appliance!

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Tempeh Recipe – How to Ferment Tempeh at Home

Tempeh is one of those foods that may elicit polarizing reactions- on one hand, it's white and fuzzy and doesn't seem like something you should be ingesting. But once you take your first bite of homemade tempeh, I guarantee you will be hooked: it's hauntingly floral, nutty, umami, and just plain delicious.

Tempeh can be really hard to find in grocery stores, and if you do find it, it tends to be quite pricey. It's cheaper to make tempeh yourself, with the added benefit that you can experiment with flavors and substrates. Whether you love tempeh or have never tried it but love fermented foods, we urge you to try your hand at making your own tempeh at home using our guide!

Note: This article shares our process on how to ferment tempeh at home; however, the exact proportions of spores-to-soybeans (or other substrates) and other ingredients (like vinegar) are typically outlined on your spore package and should be followed accordingly. As such, treat this article as more of a general process and follow your spore package recommendations above all others.

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5 Ways to Preserve Fruits and Vegetables at Home

If you garden at all, chances are you've been overwhelmed at one time or another with the volume of produce your garden has produced. Or perhaps you participate in a CSA and just can't figure out what to do with those five-pound zucchinis they keep giving you. Or maybe you've just been a little too ambitious with your farmer's market purchases.

We've all been there. However you got there, you've ended up with too many fruits, veggies, or herbs, and there's no way you'll be able to cook with them all before they go bad.

We've been in this position numerous times, and while it used to stress us out trying to figure out how to eat kale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we've come to realize that there are so many ways to preserve summer's bounty for future enjoyment.

In this one, we dive into an overview of five of our favorite ways to preserve fruits and vegetables- what they are, what equipment you'll need to get started, and some basic ideas to spark your creativity.

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Red Thai Curry Recipe – Recreating the Best Thai Food

When traveling around Thailand, we found ourselves not only eating everything the country had to offer but taking as many cooking classes as we could to learn how to make some of the country's best dishes at home.

Curry was one dish we couldn't get enough of, and Thai red curry with seafood was one we found ourselves ordering again and again.

Unfortunately, when it came to learning how to make Thai curry in cooking classes, most lessons involved making curry paste from scratch. This was a cumbersome process that, to be quite honest, most home cooks probably don't have the time or patience for.

So after we got back, we spent a great deal of time taking some of our favorite components from our various recipes and adapting them to use premade curry pastes that we could readily purchase at home. In this one, we wanted to share our red Thai curry recipe using Mae Ploy curry paste!

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How to Make Koji – A Step-by-Step Guide for Home Incubation

Koji is an enchanting fungus that is the secret superpower behind many delicious fermented foods worldwide. It's been used for centuries in different cultures to create products like miso and shoyu.

What exactly is koji and how is it used? Well, the word koji can refer to both the actual mold spores (Aspergillus Oryzae), as well as the final product that you get when you grow koji spores on a substrate. The basic premise is that you inoculate a cooked substrate (rice, barley, and soybeans are some of the most common) with koji spores and incubate for about two days. As koji reproduces, it generates enzymes like proteases and amylases.

The power of these enzymes can then be realized in a second fermentation step by combining the rice koji (or barley koji, soybean koji, etc.) with other ingredients (like soybeans to create miso, for example). In this second fermentation, the proteases and amylases break down carbohydrates and proteins in the fermenting product into their smaller building blocks. These smaller building blocks give the final product a sweeter and/or more umami flavor depending on what you're fermenting and can really do wonders to improve the taste of a meal!

So, if you are looking to make koji at home, you will want to follow these step-by-step procedures to get started.

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