Real Food Kitchen

Living Real Food Starts in the Kitchen

By | Real Food, Real Food Kitchen | No Comments

Living real food starts in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a lot of high-end gear. High-tech gadgets like food processors, stand mixers, and high-powered blenders are great to have, and many of them save time and effort in the kitchen, but rest assured that none of these is necessary in order to start living real food.


All you need are a few essential tools.

Following are the 10 essentials of a real food kitchen:

  1. A good quality, sharp, 6- to 8-inch chef’s knife.

Buy the best knife you can afford on your budget (we like the mid-range offerings from Henckels, Wustoff, and Shun) and choose one that feels good in your hand. A small paring knife and a serrated bread knife also come in handy, but neither is essential.

chef's knife

A good, sharp chef’s knife is number one on our list of essential tools.

  1. A cutting board.

The purpose of a cutting board is to protect the countertop from your knife. Sure, you can spend a small fortune on a stunning, 3-inch-thick walnut beauty that will be a centerpiece of your kitchen for years to come, but a simple plastic rectangle from Ikea will serve you perfectly well for now.

  1. A 6- to 8-quart stockpot with a well-fitting lid.

You’ll use this for cooking pasta, beans, soups, or stews.

  1. A 2- to 4-quart saucepan, also with a well-fitting lid.

For making sauces, reductions, reheating soup, or steaming or boiling vegetables.

  1. A 10-inch skillet.

Useful for sautéing, stir-frying, steaming, omelets, and more. For this and the two pots mentioned above, invest in hard-anodized aluminum versions if you can. They are extremely durable, conduct heat well, are nonstick and easy to care for, and most can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven (makes sure the versions you buy are oven-safe since some brands have non-oven-safe handles or lids).

  1. A box grater with multiple hole sizes.

Use it for grating cheese, potatoes, carrots, squash, citrus zest, onions, ginger, or garlic.

  1. A vegetable peeler.

This will only set you back a couple of dollars, and you’ll use it often to peel potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. It can also be used for making paper-thin slices of hard cheeses like Parmesan or thinly slicing vegetables for salads and other preparations.

baking pans

Baking pans are inexpensive, so you can afford an assortment of shapes and sizes.

  1. A large, rimmed baking sheet (or two).

You don’t need to spend a lot of cash on these, but they’ll be useful for everything from roasting vegetables to baking cookies.

  1. A 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

You can use this for baking cakes, brownies, or casseroles.

  1. A few basic cooking utensils

A spatula, a wooden spoon, a whisk, and a good pair of tongs

San Marzano Tomatoes for Sauce

Peel Tomatoes the Easy Way

By | Good Tools, Real Food Kitchen | One Comment

First, you’re probably wondering, “Why do I even need to peel my tomatoes?” Actually,  most of the time, you don’t. For salads and other raw preparations, there is absolutely no need to peel tomatoes. Even for soups and sauces where the tomatoes will be finely pureed, leaving the peel on is just fine. For chunky salsas, too, the peel won’t bother anyone. But for certain things, like a traditional marinara or Bolognese sauce, where whole tomatoes are cooked down until they fall apart into a rich sauce, bits of peel really are unwelcome.

san marzanos with an x

Cutting an X into the bottoms of the tomatoes makes them easy to peel

While it may sound like a big hassle to peel tomatoes, it’s actually easy if you follow a few simple steps. First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice water bath by putting a bunch of ice in a large bowl of cold water. Then cut an “x” in the skins of the tomatoes (see photo above) at the bottom. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and let them cook for about 45 seconds. Pull the tomatoes out of the water with a slotted spoon and drop them directly into the ice water bath. Leave them in the ice water for a minute or two until they are cooled. Remove them from the ice water and the skins should slip off easily.