How to steam vegetables

Steaming vegetables is a quick and easy option for getting vegetables onto your plate. 

Steaming your vegetables is a great way of keeping some of the crunch in your vegetables, none of us likes soggy broccoli with dinner. 

Here are some things you may need to know about how you can get perfect steamed vegetables every time. 

One important factor in steaming vegetables is keeping your vegetables the same size, if vegetables are cut to the same size they will cook at the same rate, this means you will be getting consistent texture in the finished vegetables.

Do not overfill the steamer, too much in one batch will mean some vegetables will overcook and others will barely be heated through.

Steam the dense vegetables first; things like carrots take slightly longer to cook than things like broccoli, if you are steaming a mix of vegetables try adding the dense first and tender vegetables towards the end. 

If you do not want mushy vegetables set a timer, steaming is quick so try checking your veggies after 3 minutes; you should be able to tell how much longer they need to cook.

Take the vegetables out just before they are done, this means you will not overcook them and end up with a mushy mess but perfectly cooked vegetables.

Different vegetables take different lengths of time to steam; this is a rough idea of how long some commonly used vegetables take to steam 

  • Spinach and Rocket: 3 minutes 
  • Peas: 3 minutes 
  • Broccoli Florets, Cauliflower Florets, Green Beans: 5 to 7 minutes 
  • Carrots, Potatoes, Turnips, Squash: 8 to 20 minutes 
  • Kale and Collards: 10 minutes 

How to Steam Vegetables 

Ingredients 

  • Any vegetables you want to steam 

Equipment 

  • Chopping board 
  • Chef’s knife 
  • Small saucepan with lid 
  • Steamer basket or colander 

Instructions

Cut the vegetables into uniformly sized pieces. The smaller the pieces the faster they will cook. 

Add 2-3cm of water to the pan and place the steamer basket or colander on top of the pan, the basket or colander should not touch the water. 

Bring the water to a boil, when you can see steam rising from the pot it is ready to use. 

Add your vegetables to the steamer basket or colander and cover with a lid. 

Check on the vegetables after approximately 3 minutes, vegetables will be ready when they are just tender and often look vibrantly and brightly coloured when they are ready. 

Remove the vegetables when they have a little crunch left, they will continue to cook even when they come out of the steamer 

Freshly steamed vegetables are great served with a little olive oil or some butter. 

Instructions

  1. Cut the vegetables into uniformly sized pieces. The smaller the pieces the faster they will cook. 
  2. Add 2-3cm of water to the pan and place the steamer basket or colander on top of the pan, the basket or colander should not touch the water. 
  3. Bring the water to a boil, when you can see steam rising from the pot it is ready to use. 
  4. Add your vegetables to the steamer basket or colander and cover with a lid. 
  5. Check on the vegetables after approximately 3 minutes, vegetables will be ready when they are just tender and often look vibrantly and brightly coloured when they are ready. 
  6. Remove the vegetables when they have a little crunch left, they will continue to cook even when they come out of the steamer 
  7. Freshly steamed vegetables are great served with a little olive oil or some butter. 

Cold brew coffee

Easy cold brew coffee

I’m a bit lover of coffee. That is actually an understatement; coffee keeps me going, I may have more coffee than water in my body. It upsets me to say this, but there are times when it is too hot to drink a hot coffee; fear not as the solution is to have cold brew coffee. 

So what is cold brew coffee? 

I can tell you that cold brew coffee is not an espresso poured over ice or left to go cold. That is bad coffee. It will be bitter and acidic; trust me, you do not want this kind of coffee. What you want is coffee that is made cold and stays that way. 

Cold brew coffee is made using cold water and good quality coffee grounds, it takes a long time to brew, but the flavour profile is fantastic. 

Interested? Keep reading to find out what you need

Equipment 

  • Large jar (2-litre capacity)
  • 2 large coffee filters or two cloths
  • 2 rubber bands
  • 200g Coffee beans/grounds

Instructions 

Take your jar and fill it to 3/4 full with cold water, set it to one side. 

Take the coffee beans and grind them coarsely; get the plunger ground coffee if you are using pre-ground beans. 

Lay out the coffee filters or cloth.

Divide the ground coffee between the two filters or cloths.

Fold the edges of the filter up over the coffee grounds and secure the top with a rubber band. 

You should have two coffee bombs. 

Place the coffee bombs into the jar with the cold water and top up the jar with more cold water. 

Let the coffee brew for at least 14 hours, but if you want a strong brew to leave it for 24 hours. 

When your coffee is at a strength right for you, remove the coffee bombs from the jar. 

Store your coffee in the fridge for up to one week; if you don’t drink it all at once. 

Serve over ice when you need a cold coffee boost. 

  1. Take your jar and fill it to 3/4 full with cold water, set it to one side. 
  2. Take the coffee beans and grind them coarsely; get the plunger ground coffee if you are using pre-ground beans. 
  3. Lay out the coffee filters or cloth.
  4. Divide the ground coffee between the two filters or cloths.
  5. Fold the edges of the filter up over the coffee grounds and secure the top with a rubber band. 
  6. You should have two coffee bombs. 
  7. Place the coffee bombs into the jar with the cold water and top up the jar with more cold water. 
  8. Let the coffee brew for at least 14 hours, but if you want a strong brew to leave it for 24 hours. 
  9. When your coffee is at a strength right for you, remove the coffee bombs from the jar. 
  10. Store your coffee in the fridge for up to one week; if you don’t drink it all at once. 
  11. Serve over ice when you need a cold coffee boost. 

Nutritional disclaimer

Nutrition information is provided as an estimate based on the ingredients used and available in my area (New Zealand). The nutritional information is here to help you understand the recipe; I use MyFitnessPal to generate my estimates. For more accurate nutritional information, please use a nutritional calculator with the ingredients in your area.


A pepper

Working with peppers

Working with peppers doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t need to spend your time scraping seeds from the inside of the peppers.  Here is the best method I have found for preparing peppers 

Equipment  

A pepper
A pepper
  • A chopping board
  • A sharp knife 
  • A pepper 

What to do 

Firstly, cut off the top of the pepper
Firstly, cut off the top of the pepper

Firstly, cut off the top of the pepper, I recommend you slice about 1-2 cm below the stalk of the pepper. 

Put the top of the pepper to one side.
Put the top of the pepper to one side. 

Put the top of the pepper to one side. 

Using your fingers pull out the clump of seeds out of the centre of the pepper.
Using your fingers pull out the clump of seeds out of the centre of the pepper.

Using your fingers pull out the clump of seeds out of the centre of the pepper. 

Take the top of the pepper and push out the stem using your thumbs, this way you don’t waste any of the pepper. 

Pepper cut in half
Pepper cut in half

Slice as you wish 

Slice as you wish
Slice as you wish 

Strips, cubes, finely diced, rings 


How to Care for a Chopping Board

Wooden chopping board
Wooden chopping board

Basic kitchen skills caring for a chopping board

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking to learn new skills that make life easy in the kitchen. Sharing is caring so I’m sharing my little tips, tricks and hacks with you.

While taking good care of your knives is important, taking good care of your chopping boards and surfaces are just as important. 

The first step in caring for your chopping board is to wash it regularly, wash it with soap and water after every use, it does not matter what your board is made of, you should not need to soak your chopping board in water. 

Different chopping boards will require different care; it will all depend on what your board is made of. 

Here’s what you need to know for each type of cutting surface: 

Wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks 

Clean after every use with dish soap and water. Once a month you can give the board a deeper clean with lemon and salt, or baking soda and water. 

Cut a lemon in half and add some salt to the lemon and scrub the board, rinse with hot water and let it dry. 

Lemon

Or 

Clean the board with hot water then scrub the board with baking soda then rinse it again. 

To keep your board in top condition you can rub it down with a fine grit sandpaper to remove any nicks or deeper cuts on the board. 

Plastic chopping boards 

Plastic chopping board
Plastic chopping board

Generally, plastic boards don’t require special care, a good clean after every use with soap and hot water. 

When you have used the board to chop strongly flavoured foods (like onion or garlic) or foods that stain (like beetroot) you can scrub the board down and let it dry. 

Lots of plastic boards are dishwasher safe so you can put your board in the dishwasher to sanitise it, be sure to check your board has the safe washer mark first. 

Glass, marble and other hard surfaces 

Firstly I will say that glass and marble surfaces are very hard on your knives so I would not recommend them as chopping boards. 

If you do have a marble, glass, or other hard cutting surfaces, then soap and hot water will do the trick, and a bleach solution (1% bleach) to sanitise. 

No matter what chopping board or surface you have it should not take long to clean, regular cleaning will keep it in good condition for years. 


Can you live without a slow cooker?

Seriously can you live without a slow cooker?

I can honestly say my answer is no. My slow cooker is one of the key pieces of gear that I rely on and use every week without fail. I think that a slow cooker is a must-have item for anyone wanting to make real food a part of their life, here are my reasons why;

  • It saves you time
  • You do not need to keep watch while it cooks
  • It is versatile

These reasons may seem basic, and honestly, they are but let me explain my reasons why you need one.

Slow cooker

Too busy for this

Cards on the table, I hate coming home from a busy day and knowing I have to walk into the kitchen at 7 pm, cook a full meal, and then clean up. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking, it gives me the joy to create a beautiful meal for my family. This is not the case when I have had an 8-hour day at work, an hour commute to the gym, and then a heavy workout. At this point I am usually borderline hangry, I want to get home, I want my food as fast as possible. 

This is where having a slow cooker comes into its own; I know that I can walk in and find a meal that is cooked, hot, and ready to serve. That means food is served as soon as we are willing to sit down, not 30 minutes later.

Life and time saver

With a little planning and preparation, you can put your meal in the slow cooker before you head out the door in the morning, time-saving and hangriness preventing.
Unlike other ways of cooking, you do not need to stand over the cooker and make sure that it does not burn/stick to the bottom/cooking evenly. You set the temperature, fill the pot, and put the on the lid. You do not need to stir, check that everything is covered with enough liquid, baste meat, or turn anything over. Worry-free cooking.

Get a big beast

I recently upgraded our slow cooker so now I have a little bit of a fancy one, it doubles as a sous vide cooker, which means my slow cooker can do two things. What you may not realise is a standard slow cooker is just as versatile, don’t believe me? Here are some of the things that I used our old slow cooker to make;

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Curry
  • Slow roast pork
  • Roast lamb
  • Roast chicken
  • Meatballs
  • Roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes, peppers, etc.)
  • Bread
  • Sauces
  • Stocks

I do not really think there is an end to the things you can do with your slow cooker; you just have to give it a go.

Reasons to get a slow cooker

If you are not convinced already here are a few more reasons that slow cookers are great;

  • Most slow cookers are large enough that you can cook food for six people, if you are not feeding that many people at once you are in the perfect zone of ‘cook once, eat twice’ and have leftovers for the freezer.
  • Cheaper cuts of meat are usually a little tougher; these meats are perfect for the slow cooker, so they are good for your budget
    They make for an easy clean up; you have one pot to wash up which is always a bonus in my book.
  • You will never get a dry roast again; the slow cooker keeps in all the moisture when it is on, so you do not have to worry about your meat drying out.

If you are looking to buy a slow cooker here are a few that may interest you

Here are some options

Slow cooker meal

Budget range

  • Kensington TWKSL150R
  • Sheffield PL390

A little bit fancy range

  • Sunbeam HP8555
  • Sunbeam MU4000

Very nice range

  • Cuisinart 3 in 1 Multi Slow Cooker 6 Litre

If you want to find out more about some essential kitchen tools check out my post Kitchen items to invest in