by Karen De Coster
by Karen De Coster
Nowadays, we are besieged with decrees from the legions of health Nazis that want to take control of our lives. These interfering ninnies want to regulate what we put into our bodies. Many so-called crises are providing the basis for lifestyle fascism, with the most popular being the "obesity crisis." One only needs to observe that which is around him to know that obesity, indeed, is a huge problem. But it is an individual's problem, not a social welfare cause from which to bring forth countless totalitarian decrees punishing a majority for the alleged benefit of a minority.
Your kitchen is perhaps your first line of defense against the state. How so? Self-ownership is the axiom upon which libertarianism is built. You own yourself, and that means that no one else can own you — thus you have absolute jurisdiction over your body. Your body, then, is sustained through food and water. Food, however, must have nutritional value in order to have a positive effect on your body. Good nutrition oftentimes comes to mean good health, both mental and physical. The kitchen is the starting point for the provision of food which sustains us as healthy, robust, self-owned individuals.
Don't just say, "I don't know how to cook." Of course you do. Cooking is entirely instinctive and can be enhanced through easily obtainable knowledge. Preparing and cooking food can be therapeutic, so enjoy it. Don't look at it as drudgery. If your attitude shapes up that way, it will be a grind.
Eating for anarchy requires the right kitchen tools. Your kitchen is your haven for improving and sustaining a healthy life. Be mindful of it, and it will take care of all your nutritional needs. In essence, you want to be able to have several options for preparing each food. Also, you want to make cooking as efficient as possible, so as to minimize time spent maintaining a healthy diet. Here are some ideas for core equipment for your anarcho-kitchen:
- Microwave oven: A no-brainer and a real timesaver. Always needed for thawing foods and warming up the leftovers. Leftovers keep you prepared, and the microwave can be the vital link between you and quick-and-easy foods with high nutritional value.
- Multi-speed blender: One of the most useful items in the kitchen. You'll need this for making your own protein shakes or for "dressing up" pre-packaged shakes with perhaps some frozen or fresh fruit. Google for smoothie recipes, and make some smoothies. Blenders are also great for making sauces and gravies without messing up the stove. Don't buy an ultra-cheapie, if you can help it. Look for something that is powerful and runs smooth. Avoid plastic! Get one with a glass container. I happen to favor the Kitchen Aid models.
- Food processor: This comes in handy for everything. Using this, you can slice and dice and cut and shave and, basically, create anything on-the-spot. It's great for all veggies and fruits, and even nuts and cheese. For small tasks, like garlic or herbs, I like to have a mini-processor available.
- Grills — Indoor and outdoor: A most important item is an indoor grill — one where meat is cooked on both sides, with the grease run-off going into a drip tray. I like the George Foreman grills. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. Cooking with this type of grill will help you to avoid the greasy, unwanted fats. The great thing about these grills is that you can also grill vegetables as a tasty alternative to steaming.
An outdoor grill is great too, even in the North during winter. Just brush the snow off and fire it up. Meat and shellfish are best when broiled or grilled. Outdoor grilling is also grand when you use a rotisserie attachment for perfectly-cooked meats, especially whole chickens. Buy a grilling basket and throw a bunch of veggies on the grill for a crisp alternative to steaming.
- Slow cooker: A working person's favorite. You can be away all day and it'll do the cooking for you. They are especially useful for cooking lean meats. Cooking meat slowly, for several hours, makes it fall-off-the-fork tender, and it stays juicy as well. You can use these for cooking up random meals — just toss in any lean meat and assortment of veggies that you may have at your disposal. Made-up meals are a sort of spontaneous order that transcend ordinary recipes.
- Cutlery: A high-powered, quality cutlery set anchors your kitchen. Cheap knives don't last. I love Wal-Mart, but don't go there to buy your cutlery.
- Santoku: The santoku is "a good compromise between a Cleaver (knife) and a regular chef's knife. The flat edge is excellent for slicing and mincing, very good for dicing, and works fairly well for light chopping. It is especially popular among people with smaller hands, and is commonly seen on television in the hands of female chefs such as Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart." I do a lot of slicing, dicing, and mincing, as I am very much into cooking with creativity and flair. I cut vegetables almost daily. This knife is absolutely fabulous. It cuts veggies like nothing I have ever used before. No squashing, no mess. It cuts perfectly each time, including even the most delicate tomatoes.
- Toaster oven: This saves you the time of warming up the big oven when you are in a hurry. They heat up quickly and can cook almost anything — pork, beef, and poultry included.
- Cast iron pot: Have at least one of these around. They are the most versatile cookware available. I still have my French-made pot Mom bought for me. My pot is as heavy as the kitchen table, but iron lasts a long time, improves with age, and spreads heat more perfectly than any other kind of pot or pan. They are great for making soups, sauces, casseroles, and pilafs. If you're really enterprising, you'll own a few sizes of cast iron skillets as well.
- Silicone bake ware: You can make fiber-loaded baking goodies in these marvelous accessories. They take up almost no storage space, and they clean quickly and easily. They are also less likely to cause burning. You may want the following items to round out a good assortment of silicone bake ware: roasting sheet, bread loaf pan, cake pan, and muffin pan.
- Airtight freezer wrap machine: These are effective for helping you to sort your foods ahead of time and freeze them, knowing that the food will stay fresh. It allows for fewer trips to the store for busy folks.
- Stainless steel storage containers: These are great for storing all of your flours (no white please), flax, bulgur, whey protein, and corn meal. They are easily accessible, more so than cupboards or a pantry. Keep your overflow in the pantry but keep the containers handy for time-saving access.
- Rotisserie. Yes, Ronco is still making products and selling them on TV. The Showtime rotisserie is indispensable because it produces perfectly-juicy meats — especially chicken — on the rotisserie rod or in the basket flipper. It's cheap, and mine has lasted a long time.
- Brown Betty: Tea bags are boring after a while. Brew loose tea for a change. An English-style Brown Betty, made from red terracotta clay, makes the best tea in the world. If you can find one that has been handcrafted in Staffordshire, England, all the better.
- Steamer. You throw a bunch of water into a pan, toss the veggies in, and let ‘em cook that way? What?! The essential vitamins and minerals are headed into the water, not into you. Plus, you turn the veggies into water-logged, rubberized, inedible things. Steaming veggies is a must unless you are roasting or grilling them. My favorite is the stainless steel basket that just drops right into one of my pots.
- Last and most important — the wok! I bought a new wok recently, after having the same one for 15 years. My old wok still looks good, but it has seen its better days, and besides, it doesn't match my new kitchen. Sigh. I had been searching for the right wok for many months, and it finally found me.
So why is this important at all? The wok is perhaps the single greatest piece you can have in your kitchen. The wok is far too underrated by Westerners, and deserves its place in every kitchen. The wok is the staple of all cooking, except perhaps a stunning knife set. Woks cook quickly, efficiently, and cleanly. The heat is spread evenly and hence food is less likely to burn. Carbon steel tops them all. The affordable, carbon steel Joyce Chen wok is as beautiful as it is useful.
After all, how can one subsist without the most perfect of meals — stir frys? If you stir fry, you must do it in a wok. I stir fry anything and everything, and usually it's a throw-it-in-as-you-go sort of recipe. Chicken, fish, beef, pork, tofu — all can spearhead a stir fry meal. Don't feel you have to have "recipes" for your wok. Create your own. For veggies, a wok cooks them and keeps them crispy, without the sagging, as long as you don't cook them too long. Get a wok, and keep around the following items:
- Kikkoman's light sodium soy sauce. Have a few jars handy at all times.
- Kitchen Bouquet or Gravymaster, both of which are staples for non-soy sauce stir frys, and especially fried rice.
- Wok oil
- Roma tomatoes. Tomatoes are a healthy, tasty addition to almost every stir fry. Though homegrown is tastier, romas are usually smaller, harder, and more texture consistent. They hold up better under heat and get less soggy.
- Bamboo utensils. Don't ever use the plastic stuff in your non-stick carbon steel wok. They will nick the surface.
- Tofu. Don't laugh unless you have mastered it. Tofu takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. Buy the "extra firm" for stir fry meals. Cube it, and use it along with the meat you add. It's a great protein splurge.
- Minced garlic in a bottle in case you have run out of the fresh stuff.
- Napa cabbage, an underrated and not-so-commonly-used veggie. Tear the leaves, and dice the stems. Don't cook napa more than a minute or two. Add it last.
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Breasts are great, yes, but for a stir fry, thighs are king. Thigh meat is juicier, and so it doesn't dry out as much. When you warm up the leftovers, a breast dries out while thigh meat stays moist. Yeah, you have to fuss with it more: you have to cut all the little pockets of fat off the boneless thighs before you cube it up, but it's worth the extra time. Try mixing breast and thigh.
- Oftentimes, I heat up my wok with cooking oil, and add minced garlic and red pepper flakes. This is a good staple for a spicy flavor, no matter what you are cooking. Then you cook your meat (if you have a meat stir fry), take out the meat, and cook your veggies. Then you throw in more spices. Then you begin to pile on, and the fun begins.
- A tofu-chicken stir fry can be 40—50 grams of protein per serving, for all you protein people out there. Try some sliced steak for a ravenous appetite. Tilapia fish fillets also hold up well — flake it and mix it with cabbage and tomatoes.
And last, don't forget the egg poacher. To heck with the cholesterol Nazis — eat your eggs. Cholesterol is an important provider of mental functioning, allowing you to think for yourself and maintain an anarcho-you.
September 12, 2006
Karen De Coster, CPA, [send her mail] is an accounting and finance professional, freelance writer, and has an MA in Economics. She is fond of motorcycles, guns, Delirium Tremens, fresh lake perch, Stillwater (Minnesota), deadlifting, old barns, road trips through the Ohio Valley, magazine racks, general stores, cigars, iTunes, martini bars, Beethoven, Kid Rock, and articles defending Martha Stewart. She enjoys pissing off the extroverts by listening to her iPod in public. This is her LewRockwell.com archive and her Mises.org archive. Check out her website, along with her blog.
Copyright © 2006 Karen De Coster