Resources for a Happy Cook
What I Love
Hi. This is Lois, but I’m not in the kitchen right now, because I’m telling you about our Resources for Happy Cooks. On this page, I share my favorite resources for a happy cook. I’m also giving you a little glimpse into what makes me happy.
Everything I include here is something I own, have used, or would love to own. Since I review products, books and cookbooks, public relations people often send me free books and products, hoping that I will review them. I am not obligated to write a review and they don’t pay me for my reviews. Generally, if I review them, I like them. Since I’m a happy person, I rarely write a negative review. I believe in the philosophy, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So I don’t review books and products I don’t like.
Note: Many of the links included on this Resources page (and throughout the website) are affiliate links, which means if you follow them and you buy something, I will get a small commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, and you can still use your Amazon Prime account to buy. Don and I love our Amazon Prime account.
What Makes Me Happy?
I love spending time with friends and family—especially grandkids. I love coffee, cooking, eating, entertaining, sharing my food with others, learning new things, helping people, and providing a source of inspiration to women. I love to walk—particularly in nature where I can observe the plants and animals—and sit by a lake, river or ocean. I like most animals, especially dogs and cats. (I cannot go to the shelter because it makes me sad that I can’t rescue all of the animals.) And I love to show my grandkids bugs, worms and plants and teach them how to catch frogs.
I love reading, coloring, making earrings, doing counted cross-stitch, doing yoga and doing science experiments with my grandkids. Sitting on the porch, listening to the birds and crickets, drinking a glass of wine and conversing with my husband is relaxing. I love playing games or putting a puzzle together with others.
I love hosting people from other cultures and I generally do it once a year for multiple weeks through a program at Eastern Mennonite University’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute. Don and I have hosted several people from Kenya, Pakistan and Burundi (a Hutu and Tutsi at the same time!), as well as many from different parts of the United States. We have learned a lot and made many friends around the world.
Resources for a Happy Cook
Here are a few of my favorite things…
I love the Moosewood Collective cookbooks. The recipes all have unique flavors, delicious combinations of ingredients, and are generally simple to make. I look for vegetarian or vegan recipes and Moosewood has some of the best ones. You won’t even notice you are eating a vegetarian meal. Ever time I make something from one of these cookbooks, people rave about it. Truly ANY Moosewood cookbook is worth buying, but these are some of my favorites.
This is not a Moosewood cookbook, but there are such tasty and inventive recipes in this French cookbook!
Michele Anna Jordan’s Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings is the best vinaigrette cookbook I have ever seen. I have loved every vinaigrette I have made!
A good set of knives is essential for any kitchen. My favorite is a chef’s knife. I like this Paksh/Cuisinart Wooden Kitchen Knife Block Set set because they are sleek, the set comes with a storage block, a lot of knives, scissors and a knife sharpener. Plus, the knives are forged as “all in one” knives and don’t have handles that can come off. Unfortunately, this happens to some knife sets. Remember, NEVER put your knives in the dishwasher (even if they don’t have wooden handles—you do know wood can’t go in the dishwasher, right?)
I absolutely love this Conair Double Belgian Waffle Maker. It is so easy to use. Just like at a hotel. Pour in the batter, turn the waffle maker over. Pour in the batter for another waffle, and turn it over. It times the waffle so it is perfectly done. My Light and Fluffy Gluten Free Waffles is the best recipe (not humble, am I?) I have found. My kids and grandkids don’t even know they are eating gluten free. And you can also make omelets in this waffle maker.
The George Foreman Indoor Grill is one of my favorite kitchen “tools.” It heats up quickly, grills meat or fish in less than 8 minutes (even if frozen), and makes scrumptious grilled veggies. In addition, the grill plates are removable so clean-up is easy. This is what mine looks like (except mine is white):
George Foreman GRP 1060B 4 Removable Plate Grill, Black
I have had mine for years and it works great!
Don is our grill master. He does a fab job grilling and he loves his Char-Broil Performance TRU Infared 3-Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner and Cabinet. The infrared cooking keeps everything you cook moister.
This is my all-time favorite coffee. Mayorga Cafe Cubano is a dark, robust roasted coffee. No matter how strong I make it, it is never bitter. Read about why I call Recipe Idea Shop’s email newsletter “Smell the Coffee” here. And if you haven’t subscribed to Smell the Coffee, please sign up to receive your free gifts.
I think Bob’s Red Mill makes the best gluten-free flour. I prefer the Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour because it measures the same as wheat flour and has the best flavor and texture after baking. It is excellent for baking gluten free because it has fantastic texture. (Can you tell texture is the biggest concern for me when I bake gluten-free?). This product is super for cookies. Try my Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. You won’t be able to tell they are gluten free.
The Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour has a little lighter flavor than the Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, but I find the texture is a tad grainy. If you are making a lightly flavored cake, like the yellow cake in a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, you might want to use this one instead of the Baking Flour. Separate the eggs, and add the yokes first. Whip the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them in to the batter to get the best results.