Essential Kitchen Skills

Some tasks should never be done in the home kitchen. This is a list of the opposite, things you should try. Some things, you’ll just never make as well as the masters can, whether because you can’t get your stove hot enough (for stir-fries in a wok), you lack the temperature control (to deep fry french fries twice at two different temperatures), or your oven doesn’t have steam injection (to make the perfect baguette). Yes, I have quick fixes, like stir frying on a barbecue fire or spraying my oven with water five minutes into baking bread, but it isn’t worth while. These are a few things not to miss out on. These are the things that changed my cooking when I started to do them.

  • Making your own pasta For me, this is number one. The texture, the flavor, theĀ  meaning of pasta can only be felt when you are mixing, kneading and rolling pasta using your own hands. Truly makes for a much better noodle too. You also get to add your own little twists, my personal favorite being whole wheat noodles. 30 minutes of time from start to finish, this is actually on our list of quick dinners.
  • Making your own cheese Like pasta, cheese is enhanced by special little twists. Using a simple cheese recipe, three ingredients can become a blank, cheese canvas. Start by mixing in the basics: Herbs, pepper, etc. but then you can get creative. Bacon cheese, anyone? Impress your friends at parties or drain and cut into blocks and add to a vegetarian dish.
  • Butcher a bird You can save a ridiculous amount of money by purchasing your chickens whole, but you also have the added advantage of getting to divide it up. Grill the breasts on the barbecue, serve them over a salad. Turn the drumsticks into chicken curry and the wings into jerks. You’ll still have enough meat and bones leftover to make a soul-warming, cold-curing chicken soup.

There are oh so many more, but for me, these were the things that changed my kitchen life. I’d love to hear what your essential kitchen skills are!


From Seattle, Washington.

Being a GastroGnome is not about sitting idly on the front lawn of culinary cottages, but rather, it is about exploration into the wide world of culinary creations. The GastroGnome is an adventure seeker, always on the look out for something new. There is no animal part too scary, no dining method to exotic. And after The GastroGnome eats, The GastroGnome tells. The GastroGnome is a daring cook as much as she is a daring eater, and after many delicious meals, she tries to recreate them in her home kitchen.

Since 2006 the GastroGnome has kept the world appraised of her adventures at, as well as writing for a variety of magazines (WINO, BeerNW) and websites (Citysearch,,, Wanderfeet). From khao soi in Chiang Mai to Liberian food in Queens, you can follow the GastroGnome as she eats her way around the world, both physically and through a grand variety of cuisines.

As her day job, the GastroGnome is a social media marketing consultant, and can be found at

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