Eating in January is tricky. On one hand, you want to live your #bestlife in 2018 and eating sexy, delicious looking food is a big part of that. On the other hand, you have big #fitnessgoals for the New Year.
The solution? Well fam, it’s easy: Cook. Your. Own. Meals.
Cooking for yourself will change the game up, health wise. First of all, you’re eliminating the need for preservatives, stabilizers, additives, etc. Second of all, cook enough and you become your own sort of litmus test: You know there’s no added sugar in the pasta sauce (a VERY common practice) because you didn’t add it.
This year, up your game with one of these kitchen toys. Even if you have to return the huge tub of nacho cheese that your aunt sent you to pay for them.
Every chef on earth raves about having a cast iron pan. It’s true, cast iron is king — for steaks. But you don’t want to fry an egg on cast iron, it’s too much hassle. I got these pans as a wedding gift and they’re the best non-stick pans I’ve ever come across.
How do I know? Well, I rate all cookware by a very scientific metric called the: “I F*cking Hate To Clean” scale. These things are impossibly simple to clean. Dishwasher. Sink. Dry paper towel. They’re simple. Also, they heat evenly and are durable enough to endure the dishwasher. Done and done.
I don’t know much about how hand mixers have evolved in the past 50 years, I just know that I moved into a new place and needed one. My old one was legit 40 years old, handed down from grandma, and still sorta worked. When I lost it and found myself in the market for a new mixer, that’s what I wanted to get — one that would last another 40 years. After all, you shouldn’t need too many hand mixers in this life, who are you Nadiya Hussain? (Obviously, I could have used Duff Goldman or Paul Hollywood in that joke, but it’s 2018 and we’ve gotta up our baking references, yo!)
This has ten speeds, which is probably about twice as many as I know what to do with, but I like it for the timer. Certain doughs ought not be over-mixed and this is a helpful tool — especially because I plan on making lots of choux pastry this year (for no other reason than it’s delicious).
Here we are at the third item on the list and a theme is emerging: Our author wants things easy. Truth is, 2017 was insanely packed for me and I burnt out a little near the end. Most of the items on this list are either valued for ease of use or ease of cleanup.
I never drank coffee before this last year. Not that I was diametrically opposed to it (I fired down Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy like any basic bro), just that it wasn’t a part of my routine. This year it was and I realized something big: Coffee is as expensive as all hell.
Damn. Mochas cost a mint. So I started to make my own but I needed a product that was literally just going to make everything impossibly easy for me.
- I don’t have filters! It’s cool, this machine doesn’t need them.
- I don’t like complicated tech! All good, this is clearly a product for dummies.
- I don’t even know how much to make! Dude, we’ll tell you how many cups you’re brewing.
Sold. 2018 mantra: Just make my life easy and I will be eternally grateful.
If you want to cook, you need cast iron. Not ten of them. Just a few. They’ll last forever and nothing heats more evenly. I got this one because here’s a truism about grilling: It’s a hassle. It’s hard to keep a grill clean. Besides, unless you’re cooking with wood, you’re not really “barbecuing”, you’re just using propane-based flame, same as on the stove. So I’m more than happy to get my char and grill marks from a pan like this that’s easier to clean and gives me perfectly distributed heat. The fact that it’s a pan allows me to capture juices for making sauce.
This isn’t for everything. I use it for meats where I want the “grilled effect” but not all steaks (I still cook fillets on a flat cast iron). But for some big tomahawk steak, this is a win every time.
2017 was the year that we all mocked Juicero for being literally the most ridiculous juicer in history. But that doesn’t mean all juicers are bad. In fact, as a longtime juicer (I live in Laguna Beach, surf, do yoga, and like festivals — juicing is part of my rental agreement), I’ve come across a few great ones.
This juicer from Hurom might be the best. It’s slow — so you aren’t heating up the fruit and veggies you’re hoping to extract nutrients from. It’s also far more intuitive than the other market leaders. Is it pricey? A little. But I’ve had mine for four months and it seems pretty durable, too.
Look, if you’re not into juice, you don’t need a juicer. I get that and will accept your scorn for my penchant for liquid fruit and vegetables willingly. Mock me, I’m here for it. But if you do juice, you need something quiet, efficient (produce gets pricey, especially if it’s organic), and — once again — easy to use. This is the one, in my book. (Also, the dang thing makes ice cream too, which is the best.)
Steve’s Juice Recipe:
- 3 bunches of kale
- 2 bunches of spinach
- 1 head of celery
- 1 bunch of parsely
- 2 oranges
- 2 apples
- 2 large pieces of ginger
You’ll poop for days, but that feels very healthy, in this context.
You want to be all 2018? Start putting weed in you food. I don’t mean insane amounts, like when you were in college and dosed yourself so hard that you couldn’t even talk for six hours. I’m talking about sensible amounts of weed, chosen because it fits your menu.
This infuser can turn your weed into coconut oil, butter, olive oil… you get the idea. It can also infuse herbs — I use mine to make a mean parsley olive oil for tossing pasta in and a basil coconut oil for Thai cooking. Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the weed is the real draw here. The Levo lets you choose your strength and heat levels, and does everything on a timer. The website will tell you how long to heat the herbs and oils you’re mixing and all of the messy parts can slide right into the dishwasher.
Plus, it’s pretty freaking fun. Cooking with weed is the future culinary playground — this infuser puts you way ahead of the game!
Just one. That’s all you need. One good knife. One knife that shows that you take your food seriously. This knife brand — launched in Orange County, CA by a few friends in a garage — is the pick of some of California’s best chefs. Also, me.
I borrowed an Aura II from the Aura team in September and they practically had to beat down my door to get it back (sorry guys). It’s just so… cool. The blade has a built in rocker, so that it dices easily and naturally. It also stays wicked sharp and the grip is full, to fit a large hand like mine.
Like cast iron, the point of a chef’s knife isn’t to buy one every year. It’s to buy one, ever. That’s it. Then pass it down. Take care of it. Be proud of it. And this is a knife to be proud of.
Our own Zach Johsnton and Vince Mancini have been trying to get me hooked on sous vide for a long time. At some point, it became almost a joke — I started resisting the trend and mocking their favorite tool just so it didn’t seem like I’d readily join the cult. But… it’s a nice cult, once you’re in it.
Sous vide really does allow for an insane amount of precision. You’re able to heat something at a perfectly steady temp without any variance. There’s a lot of dishes that lend themselves to that — from creme brulee to turkey legs.
After a few weeks with having this tool in my toolbox, here’s what I have to say: ultimately, I’m still a pot, pan, flame guy. Cooking for me is about modifying my dishes mid-stream and this product isn’t great for that. But when I want true precision, when I need delicate flavors that don’t feel overwrought, when I want to seems truly “cheffy” this thing is perfect.