Getting Started

When I decide what is for dinner, it is usually about 4:48, the dishwasher either hasn’t been run or needs to be unloaded, the breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the lunches need to be unpacked, and the kids are being… ummm… not helpful.  In short, there is a reason why people call 5:00 the “hell hour” or the “bewitching hour” or in my case, “cocktail hour.”  Being prepared with a well stocked pantry and the right equipment will help you be able to pull off a real meal that is delicious, healthy, and served well before bedtime.

But I should add something here.  Don’t treat meal preparation like it is a chore (even though to many of us, it is).  Try to see it as an opportunity to be creative and as a way to unwind.  Chopping can be very therapeutic, you know.  And remember that all the best cooks usually pour themselves a glass of wine while they cook.  And the best cooks who are also moms turn on some TV for the kids while they get dinner on the table (or maybe that’s just me).  In my opinion, there is no reason to make everyone miserable while dinner is being cooked.  Everyone has had a long day and needs a little time to unwind — take solace in a bit of “cooking as relaxation” time.   And enjoy chopping the hell out of something…

Helpful Pantry Items

Aside from the regular pantry items that most of us have, many recipes from Cuizoo will utilize some of these ingredients:

  • Brown Rice
  • Arborio Rice
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Dried Beans and/or Lentils
  • White Whole Wheat Flour
  • Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • Good quality bittersweet chocolate
  • Stone Ground Corn Meal
  • Sprouted Spelt Flour
  • Old Fashioned Oats (not quick cooking or instant)
  • Whole Peppercorns for grinding
  • Fine Grain Sea Salt
  • Good quality Balsamic Vinegar
  • Good quality Olive Oil
  • Honey (local, if possible)
  • A good assortment of spices beyond the regular stuff:  cumin, smoked paprika (great for non-spicy kids cooking), good curry powders, italian herbs, fennel, saffron
  • Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame Oil
  • Dried fruit (many choices including cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries, apricots, etc.)
  • Dried mushrooms


There is a whole lot of equipment that is helpful to have and certainly it is not all essential, but your tools are very important.  Beyond some of the basics that you probably have, here are a few others:

  • A good quality chef’s knife, paring knife, and boning knife, a sharpening steel, AND a manual knife sharpener
  • A good wooden cutting board
  • Parchment Paper
  • Metal roasting pans (to include cookie sheets, jelly roll/half sheet pan, roasting pan)
  • Food Processor (sometimes having to clean it isn’t worth it, but it does make very quick work of certain things)
  • Immersion Blender (great for making sauces and soups without dirtying the whole blender)
  • Breadmaker (certainly not essential and somewhat blasphemous, but very helpful for doughs  and for controlling your ingredients without spending all day making bread)
  • Wooden Rolling Pin
  • Griddle (for pancakes, etc.)
  • Microplane grater, citrus zester

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