Friday, April 29, 2011

Cookbook Update & Immersion blenders

On Wednesday, my design editor and I finalized the cover for my cookbook.  I am very excited and looking forward to next week as we start the layout of the inside.  I hope to post my cookbook cover soon.

Immersion Blender
Yesterday in the recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup, it mentions an "Immersion Blender".  I'm sure many of you are wondering what is an immersion blender.  It is sometimes called a "Stick Blender" too.  Normally in recipes, it will tell you to puree something that you are making in the blender or food processor in small batches until you have it all done.  It takes time to do this, it can be messy and it can increase the chance for an accident.  Well the immersion blender solves that problem by allowing you to puree the food right in the pot.  You place the immersion blender in the pot and slowly move it around the pot as it operates.  You need to be careful not to raise it up as it is running because that could cause the hot food to explode out of the pot.  It is a great tool to have in your kitchen.  Just make sure you read and follow the operating directions.  I've included a photo of the one I use.  It comes apart to make cleaning much easier.  You can get these at  I've seen them on QVC, I believe, with "In the Kitchen with David" too.  The "Food Network" website sells them as well.

Until next week.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stock Pot or Dutch Oven

This week we are going to look at stock pots and/or Dutch ovens.  There is a difference between the two.  Typically a Dutch oven is wider than it is high.  They are usually 4 to 6 quart in size although they can be found smaller and larger.  They are normally made of cast iron or coated cast iron.  The Dutch oven is made to go inside an oven as well as to be used on top of a stove.

In contrast, a stock pot is usually higher than it is wide and made mostly of stainless steel.  The stock pot will range from 6 to 20 quarts in a home kitchen.  However, most cookware sets that are sold come with 6 or 8 quart stock pot sizes.  Because they are usually taller, using them in the oven is a little more difficult.

If you remember from an earlier blog on my personal cookware set from, I have an 8 quart stock pot.  However, with my set I have a 5 quart sauteuse pan with a lid.  It will work as a Dutch oven in most of my needs.  I also have a 20 quart stock pot that I use when I'm canning salsa and other things.

You should get and use what works for your needs and not worry about what it is called.  To simplify for the future, I will refer to them as stock pots throughout this blog.

What can you do with them?  Well, you can use it for any kind of meal that needs to be done or finished in an oven.  Some examples would be pot roast, braised short ribs or a corned beef and cabbage dinner for St. Patrick's Day.  I use my stock pot mainly for items that are done on a stove top.  Cooking pasta is a good one as you need a large pot of water to properly cook pasta.  You can use it in making a large batch of spaghetti sauce to freeze.  It is great for soups.  That is where mine gets most of its use.

My wife and I both love soup, all kinds of soup, and stews too.  We make them year round but winter is the prime season for soup.  It is truly a comfort food and it's filling.  My cookbook which is on schedule for this September has a dozen soup recipes in it.  Below is a recipe for a Spicy Black Bean Soup.  I hope you try it and please let me know how it turned out for you.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Spicy Black Bean Soup
(makes a little under half a gallon)


1 lb. Bag Dry Black Beans                                1 to 1 ½ Qt. Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp Olive Oil                                               2 Tsp. Cumin
1 Cup Diced Onion                                          ½ Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Diced Red Pepper                                         1 Tsp. Salt
½ Cup Diced Celery                                         ½ Tsp. Black Pepper
½ Cup Diced Carrot                                         4 Tsp. Fresh Lime Juice
1 Diced Jalapeno Pepper                                  ½ Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
(seeds and veins removed)


Soak bean overnight according to the package instructions.  Drain, rinse and drain the beans again before setting them aside.  Sauté onion, red pepper, celery, carrot and jalapeno until the onion is soft over medium heat.  Add the broth and beans and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 2 to 3 hours with a lid offset on the pot.  Remember to stir often.  Add seasoning and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Using an immersion blender, blend until soup is of a consistency you prefer.  Now add the cilantro and stir into the soup.  Serve with sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.

Note:               You can adjust the spiciness to meet your tastes by using more or less jalapeno.  You could also include the seeds and veins for more heat.

Note:               The soup freezes well, so you could double the recipe depending on your needs.

Note:               You could also use canned black beans in place of the dry beans.  I have not done it but I believe that two cans would do it.

Ideas for Future Efforts


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Publishing Process, continued

I forgot to mention yesterday that only 3 to 5 percent of the manuscripts submitted to publishers make it to book form.  There are a lot of books published each year.  Imagine how many must be written and submitted.

What is the publishing process?  Let's continue with using my current experience.  Remember that I signed in October but didn't start production on the cookbook until January.  Here is the process I'm going through with my publisher, Tate Publishing.

Prior to the start of production, I had to go through the manuscript and put it into the publisher's required format.  That format included: what font sizes were to be used throughout the book, the use of bold and italics, not using any manual line breaks, putting all the parts in a particular order, removing any headers, footers or page numbers and no indent or tab to start a paragraph.  This needed to be done by a set date to make sure we were able to get into the January production schedule.

The month of January was spent with the copy editors.  They went through the manuscript and checked for any technical/grammatical issues that needed to be addressed.  During this month, I needed to get any photos, graphics and/or charts turned into the design department.

In February, we began on the conceptual editing process.  Here the conceptual editor goes through the entire manuscript and checks for the flow and order of the book.  He makes suggestions for words, sentences or even paragraphs to be deleted or re-written.  This part of the process takes two months.  The first part is the editor doing their thing and the second month is you re-working the parts the need a little help.

When this part is done we move to the design editor.  During April the design editor creates the book's front cover with a lot of your input.  In fact, we just finalized my cookbook cover late yesterday afternoon.  I'm excited to see the cookbook start to take on it's own identity.

For my cookbook, the month of May will be working with the layout editor.  The layout editor will make the inside of the cookbook come to life.  We will start next week.  I can't wait to see how it improves on the ideas I have in my head for each recipe and chapter.  I believe the back cover of the cookbook will be completed in May too.

Once the layout and the back cover are finished, the publisher will print the first book.  This book will come to me.  I will go through and proof everything again.  Once any corrections are made, if needed, I will sign off on the book and it can get scheduled for production.  That first print should come to me sometime in late June or early July.

Now during the months of June, July and August, I will be working with the publishers marketing team.  We will be working on press releases, book signings and convincing book buyers to buy a lot of copies of my cookbook.

If everything stays on the timeline that has been set, the cookbook should be released sometime in September.  On that release date, anyone will be able to purchase the cookbook on-line.  They will be able to go to my publisher's website or my website to make this purchase.  I believe that other websites, like amazon, will have it available that day too.  Because of the time it takes to get books shipped out, it may be up to four weeks before the cookbook will be available in stores.

For me and this process, it will be around 27 months from when I penned the first words to it being on the market.  Some may think this was a long process.  I'm sure that many authors may be quicker.  Julia Child's first cookbook took around eight years.  I'm glad I didn't have to have her patience during this wonderful experience.

I hope this twp piece blog proved interesting to some of you.  Tomorrow we will get back to talking about cooking.  See you then.

The Publishing Process

I hope you will find this interesting.  Maybe some of you will write a book someday.  Good luck if you do and I hope this will help you in your endeavor.

The first thing you need to have is a idea for a book of some kind.  Mine was for a cookbook.  But I had to go further than just a cookbook.  What kind of cookbook and who was it going to be my market?  For others writing a novel or a children's book, what was their theme and/or story.  Who is going to buy such a book?

To write a book, you need to be organized.  Develop an outline of what you want to do.  Put things in the chronological order that will make sense for the book.  Develop your characters if you are telling a story.  Do your research, it is needed.  Once you have all this ready, review it again.  Most likely something will change.

Now write to your hearts content and re-write and re-organize, etc.  At some point you will finish and be happy with what you have created.

Now I waited until I had finished the cookbook and tested every recipe before even thinking about how do I get this published.  Really, there are three times to think about a publisher and/or a literary agent.  You can do this when you first have the idea for the book.  You can do it after you have started the book so you have something to show them.  You can wait until it is finished, like me, and then they would know exactly what you have written.

I mentioned literary agent or publisher.  Most publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.  From my searching I'd say something like 80 to 90 percent do not.  All of those publishers require a literary agent.  The agent usually gets 10% of whatever you receive from the publisher.  Even with an agent, publishers only accept about 3 to 6% of what is presented to them for printing.

I found 3 publishers that did not require an agent and sent my book to them.  My research found that it would be 6 to 9 weeks before I would hear back from the publisher.  Of the three publishers sent the book, one said  no, one never replied and the third said yes.  O my lucky stars and they sent me a contract.

After having my lawyer review the contact and some more discussion with the publisher, I signed.  That was in October of 2010.  Now the publisher had to get me and my book into the production cycle.  For me that started the beginning of January, 2011.

Next blog I'll continue with what production cycle means and it's timetable.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower

Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower
(2 to 4 servings)


Medium size head Fresh Broccoli
To Taste Salt and Black Pepper
As Needed Butter


Place about 1 inch of water in a sauce pan with a steamer insert and put the insert in place.  Take your fresh broccoli and rinse under cold water.  Cut off most of the stem before cutting the broccoli into serving size pieces.  Place the fresh cut broccoli in the steamer insert and cover with the lid.  Place the sauce pan on the stove burner and turn to medium-high heat.  When the water begins to boil set the timer for 15minutes.  After the timer goes off, remove lid first and then remove the insert and pour the broccoli into a serving bowl.  Now season with a little butter, salt and black pepper and serve.

Note:            My dietitian would say to use a small amount of butter in this
                     recipe or none at all.  Hopefully she doesn't read the rest of
                     this because I'm sure that Paula Dean would use a whole
                     stick.  Everyone has their own personal tastes when it comes
                     to food, so season it to meet your own desires.

Note:            You can do the same recipe and just change out the fresh
                     vegetable.  Cauliflower, carrots and green beans come to
                     mind.  Brussels Sprouts would work too.  You might want
                     to peel the carrots before slicing them.  Remember to cut
                     the one end off the green beans and I would half the
                     Brussels sprouts.

Ideas for Future Efforts


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Steaming foods and steam burns:

When you steam food you are literally cooking the food in the steam of a liquid.  Usually that liquid is water.  You could use stock such as chicken, beef or vegetable or even a white wine.  I, personally, don't think it is worth the cost for what flavor you might receive from it.

3 qt. sauce pan w/steamer insert

The idea behind steaming food is to put a small amount of liquid in a pan and bring it to a boil with the food above the liquid.  This creates the steam as long as you have a lid on the pan.  I have inserted a picture of a pan that has a steamer insert and lid to give you a visual.  Just put the food to be steamed in the insert, place it on the pan with the liquid and put the lid on top of the insert.  Now turn your burner on medium-high to high and let the liquid come to a boil.  How long you need to steam the food depends on what you are steaming and how much.  An average head of broccoli or cauliflower will take about 15 minutes once the liquid has begun to boil.  It also depends on how done you like your vegetables in this case.  If the rest of your meal is not ready when this vegetable is about done, you can just turnoff the heat source and let it sit until the rest of the meal is done.

If you don't have a pan with a steamer insert, there are steamer pieces you can buy that can be set down into the pan.  This device will keep the food above the liquid for steaming.  It is just easier to use a pan with an insert steamer pan.

Remember that you want to use caution when steaming or boiling items.  Steam burns are not fun.  If you are steaming vegetables or cooking pasta in boiling water, remember to remove the lid away from yourself.  What I mean is to leave the front of the lid on the pot or pan and lift the back of the lid first.  This way the steam or heat escapes from the back of the pan and away from you.  Now set the lid down.  If you are using a steamer insert, remove it carefully and pour the contents into a serving bowl.  For pasta, place a colander in the sink and using 2 hands lift and pour the contents of the pot into the colander.  Again, pour away from yourself and keep your face back so the steam doesn't hit you.  Remember to use hot pads or oven mitts when you do these things.

Some people like to offset the lid on the pan or pot and using both hands, hold the lid on as they pour the liquid out.  This is not the best way to remove hot liquid.  As your one arm straddles the pot it is possibly in the way of the steaming coming out the back of the pot and thus getting burned.  It would be better to pour the food and liquid into a colander in the sink than do the above.  Remember it just takes a little common sense to be safe.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stove Tops:

Typically you are stuck with either a gas or electric stove top on which to cook.  I will talk a little about both but will mainly deal with the electric one today.

Let's start with gas as it is much easier to control while you cook.  By control, I mean adjust the temperature quickly during the cooking process.  When you turn on a gas burner, the flame can be adjusted from barely there to going up the sides of the pan.  The difficulty with gas is getting accustomed to the flame and how much of it you need to reach a particular temperature for cooking.  Recipes will call for medium heat.  How much flame will give you medium heat?  Each burner is a little different in its setting, much less each stove top.  We'll talk more on gas burners in another blog.

For this one, I mainly want to talk about electric burners.  The opposite is true for electric burners when it comes to adjusting temperature quickly.  The electric burner holds it's heat for a much longer time then its gas counterpart.  So when a recipe tells you to bring something to a boil and then reduce the to simmer, the heat of the burner does not drop quickly.  Because of this, you need to pay a little more attention to your cooking process.  There are times when I will move the pan slightly off the burner to get the temperature down quicker.

I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that you need to get to know and understand your equipment.  Learn how to make it work for you and what you are doing.  The control dial for each burner usually look identical even if the burner size may be different.  I'll use my electric stove top as an example.  Each dial is a circle and it has words and numbers going around it.  It also has a line or something that shows you where the dial is turned to for the heat you desire.  Thinking of this dial as a clock, my dial's line is at straight up 12 o'clock and it says "OFF" above the dial.  Going counter-clock wise around the dial, the next is the word "LO" for low temperature.  It is followed by the word "SIM" which is for "simmer".  My dial then starts with the number "2" and continues with "3" and then "4" before reaching the straight down 6 o'clock.  There the word "MED" for "medium" heat is used.  We then continue around with the numbers "6", "7" and "8" until we finally reach the word "HI" for "high" heat.

If you would turn the dial to 9 o'clock, which is between the numbers 2 and 3, you would be at medium-low heat.  I already mentioned that straight down 6 o;clock would give you medium heat.  If you go to 3 o'clock, which is between the numbers 7 and 8, you would have medium-high heat.

I would have to say that LO, SIM, 5, 6, 7 and HI are the settings used most when I cook.  Again, it goes back to knowing your piece of equipment and all it's idiosyncrasies.  Play with your settings a little and learn what works best for you and your cooking process.

The topic for tomorrow will be steaming foods and steam burns.  We will do a simple recipe of steaming fresh vegetables too.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sauce Pans:

Yesterday I mentioned that you needed at least one sauce pan to get by in cooking.  I also said that most cookware sets come with 2 pans.  I actually have three pans.  My set came with the usual two.  But I added a double boiler to give me more flexibility in my kitchen.  The double boiler came with a steamer insert, too.  I now have 2 pans in which to steam food items if the occasion requires.  But let's get back to the other sauce pans first.

1 1/2 qt. sauce pan

Typically you want to have a small sauce pan with a capacity of at least 1 quart and no bigger than 2 quart.  Your second sauce pan should then be at least 2 quarts and up to 3 quarts in size.  I really like my 1 1/2 and 3 quart pans.  They seem to handle all my needs until I get to making soups and other large batch recipes.  You need to remember that the size stated for the pan is if it is filled to the rim.  So that 1 1/2 pan of mine is good for anything from a cup to a full quart of product without making a mess.  It's hard to stir something that is all the way up to the rim and not have a disaster.

3 qt. sauce pan w/steamer insert

If you look at a recipe and it seems like the pan is going to be to full, move up to your next size pan.  Another thing to consider is time.  There are times when it makes sense to use the 3 qt. pan with a small recipe.  The larger pan usually has a wider base which covers more of the burner on your stove top.  That wider base makes something like a white sauce heat a little quicker for you.  Remember that every one's life is different and there are times you need to make adjustments to your cooking.  Sometimes it is because of time and other times it is because of ingredients.  Just adjust as your life requires and enjoy what you're doing.

double boiler w/steamer insert
A double boiler pan was mentioned before and I'm sure some of you are wondering what it is and how it works.  The typical double boiler has 2 pans and a lid.  Mine has that plus the steamer insert.  Probably the most common use for a double boiler is to melt chocolate or other items.  You do this by placing a small amount of water in the bottom pan and then placing the second pan into or on the bottom pan.  The pans are made so you can do this and it is obvious which pan is the bottom and which is the insert.  You can see the grooves in the insert pans so they fit properly in the bottom pan.  What happens is the water is heated to a boil and for this example the chocolate is placed in the insert pan.  The chocolate will melt in this pan without burning.  If you didn't use this method the and only used a single pan the chocolate would most likely burn.  Now you can melt chocolate in the microwave but the double boiler is a better way to do it in my opinion.

How many, what sizes and what material your equipment is made from are only questions that you can answer.  You have to make decisions on what is best for your desired life style and budget.  Have fun with your decisions and don't let them stress you out.  Life is too short not to enjoy.

On the next blog, stove tops will be the topic of discussion.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Buying pots and pans for your kitchen:

I thought since we started this blog last week talking about skillets, frying and saute pans, it might be good to discuss equipping your kitchen with these pieces.  The following is my opinion on how to go about stocking your kitchen with what you need and/or want for equipment.  This is not the only way to think about it but it is a way to get started.

The first thing you have to do is determine what the minimum pieces of equipment needed to just get by with for your cooking.  I'd make the minimum at least 3 pieces.  I believe you need a skillet, fry or saute pan.  If I was going to go with just one, it would be a covered saute pan of 4 or 5 quart size.  The second item you would need is a covered sauce pan.  If you only have the one, I would make it at least 2 and possibly a 3 quart pan.  Lastly, you will need a stock pot or dutch oven with a capacity of 6 to 8 quarts.  If you are only going to have the minimum, it is best to go big when it comes to size.  It is easier to make a small amount in a large piece than it is to do a large amount in small equipment.

The above is the minimum number of pieces required.  the desired amount should be a complete set of pots and pans.  A set of pots and pans usually include 2 sizes of skillets, 2 sizes of covered sauce pans, a covered saute pan and a stock pot or dutch oven.  This would be a 10 piece set.  You will normally find sets that range from 10 to 13 pieces.  It is possible to find them with fewer and with more pieces.  You just need to determine which set meets your personal needs, style and price.

I'm going to recommend the set that I own and use every day.  I looked for some time before I bought this set.  I believe the sizes of all the pieces best met my personal needs.  The only thing that I would change on the set is a the small skillet.  It is a 9 1/4 inch skillet and I believe that a smaller one of 8 inches would be more helpful to me.  That is the thing about every set of pots and pans that are out there for your consideration.  There always seems to be one piece that you would like to be bigger or smaller in the set.

My set is from Kohl's.  It is the Food Network 11-piece Hard Anodized Cookware Set.  The set includes the following pieces; 1 1/2 qt. covered sauce pan, 3 qt. covered sauce pan w/steamer insert, 9 1/4 inch skillet, 12 inch skillet/saute pan, 8 qt. covered stock pot and a 5 qt. covered sauteuse pan.  I really like and use my set all the time.  I have a few other pots and pans; their use has diminished greatly since I bought this set.

Let's talk about acquiring the pots and pans needed in your kitchen.  The first place to start is your mom and dad's kitchen.  Do they have any pots and pans that don't get used?  Do they need new pots and pans?  It would probably be easier to get them to buy a new set for themselves then a new set for you.  But you may be able to get started from their unneeded equipment.  It would certainly help your budget.

If that doesn't work, let's try area Thrift Stores and see if they have any good pieces for a reasonable price.  They may not be new but most will fit your budget and may give you a little extra money for other needs.

If you have to end up buying new pots and pans, there are many options out there for you.  I'm going to push one of my favorites,  I love this store because they have very good product with good pricing.  But the clincher for me is their credit card and some of the benefits that come with it.  Now you MUST be careful with your use of credit cards.  I believe that you can do a lot to help yourself with credit cards.  Just remember, don't buy anything with a credit card unless you can pay the FULL balance each statement.  If you do that each time you use a credit card, you're helping build a very good credit score.  In this day and age, your credit score means more than it probably should but that is the world we live in today.  Remember to work hard at keeping your credit score as high as possible.  The main reason I like the Kohl's credit card is the extras.  At least once a month I receive an envelope from Kohl's that gives me the opportunity to take an extra 15, 20 or 30% off everything I buy on the credit card during a limited number of days.  That is on top of their sale prices.  This pot and pan set above is normally $299.99 but is on sale often for $199.99.  I bought mine when I had a 30% card and only paid $139.99.  This is the kind of deals you need to be looking for when you really need something.  I try to look for deals on the things I need or want.  However, I only buy when I get the deal and have the money to pay for it.  Be wise in your shopping.

Back to the equipment you need and/or want for your kitchen.  It is best to buy the best if you can.  It is especially true if you are only starting with the minimum pieces needed.  Remember, if you buy the best, they need to be treated the best.  Even if they say they are dishwasher safe, wash them by hand.  They will last you much longer and perform much better for you if you take good care of them.

Tomorrow we will talk about sauce pans and electric stove top dials and temperatures.

PS   I don't get anything from Kohl's for what I said above, although I wouldn't mind.  I just believe in some
       things and believe you should pass that information on to others if it might help them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cookbook Process Update:

First, I'm sorry that this post is a day late.  Unlike the kitchen, I'm a novice when it comes to blog technology.  I had a few learning opportunities as I set up the blogs for this week.  As my learning curve has improved, I should be on time in the future.

For those of you that do not know, I am in the process of publishing a cookbook.  The cookbook is primarily for young people that are just getting out on their own and need help with cooking.  If everything continues on schedule, the cookbook should be out in September.

I have been working with the Design Editor this month on the cover of the cookbook.  We have decided the cookbook will be a "soft" cover book with dimensions of just less than 8 inches high by just less than 9 inches wide.  This size should make the cookbook more user friendly and stay open as it lies on the counter during use.  Later this week I should be receiving several cover proofs to review.  We will then pick the one that will become the cover.  In addition, I'll be having a professional photo taken next week for the back cover.  We should start working with the Layout Editor the first week of May.

I think it would be interesting for many of you to know a little about the book publishing process.  So in next week's blog, I plan to go through the process.  I will go from the idea of writing a book of some kind to getting it out on the market as a book for sale.

The Blog Itself:

I had comments from several readers that I am putting too much out at one time.  The blog is too long for one sitting.  So starting with this week, the blog will be broken up into several days (4 or 5 days).  The new blog will start on Tuesday and continue each day through Friday or Saturday of that week.  I'm just trying to help you set your schedule for viewing the blog.  Please continue to send me your comments so that I can continue to improve the blog and meet your needs.

Enough for today.  Tomorrow we'll discuss ways to get some of the equipment you need to help make your cooking more enjoyable.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Have pictures now!

9 1/2 & 11 inch Skillets
I had some feedback on wanting to see pictures of the pans I mentioned in the last blog.  I think that I've mastered the photo piece and will try to add them here.  The first photo is of a 9 1/2 and 11 inch skillet.  They are hard anodized cookware and you can notice how the sides slant.  The second photo is of a 5 quart covered saute or sauteuse pan.  Here you will notice the walls are more straight up and down.  I'd have to say this is my favorite pan. Our third photo is of a cast iron frying pan.  I had also mentioned that one could use a wok pan for many of the same needs as any of the pans already discussed.  So the last photo today is of a 12 inch wok pan.

5 qt. Covered Saute or Suateuse Pan

What pan or pans you get for your kitchen depends a lot on your budget or what may have been given to you by a family member or a friend.  I received a comment on the first blog from a relative that stated one good pan is much better than three poor pans.  I have to agree.  Go for the best quality of a pan or pans that you can afford.  If you take good care of them over time, then they will take good care of you and your cooking.  The pans in these photos are my personal pans.  I hand clean them and they never see the inside of a dishwasher.  They are very easy to clean.  Just use a little soap, water and a dishcloth on them and be  
Cast Iron Frying Pan
sure to dry them good.  The cast iron frying pan takes a little more work in the drying part.  Cast iron will rust on you if you don't get them completely dry.  The best way to dry cast iron is to set them on the stove and turn on the burner.  As they heat up the cast iron drys.  Remember to let them cool down before putting them away.  Cast iron also needs to be seasoned before you ever use one and may occasionally need to be seasoned again.  An easy way to season a new pan is to pour a little oil in the pan.  Using a paper towel, spread the oil all over the pan and that includes inside and out. Once you have the pan well oiled, place it in the oven at 300 degrees for about an hour.  Carefully remove and let cool.  You may want to repeat the process one or two more times before using the pan for cooking.

12 inch Wok Pan

I hope the photos have helped give you a better understanding of the different styles of pans.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sauted Fresh Mushrooms

 Sauted Fresh Mushrooms
(2 to 4 servings)


1 8 oz. Container White Button Mushrooms
4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
To Taste Garlic Salt


Clean mushrooms as needed.  Since we are going to use immediately, it is alright to rinse any dirt off them.  Depending on the size of the mushrooms, they may need to be halved or quartered.  Small ones may be left whole.  Using a skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and then add mushrooms to the pan.  Using a wooden spoon or a heat resistant spatula, stir the mushrooms while you saute for 5 to 8 minutes.  Time will vary due to equipment, size of mushrooms and desired doneness.  Once the mushrooms are done, sprinkle with the garlic salt to personal taste and toss.  Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.

Note:          The portions stated above are for 2 as a side item and 4 if putting
                   over say a steak for something extra.

Note:          You could use something other than garlic salt for a seasoning.  It
                   is personal preference on these kind of things.  Use the
                   seasoning that fits your tastes.

Ideas for Future Efforts


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting Started -- A blog for inexperienced cooks

I'm Barry Beacom and I'm starting this blog for a multitude of reasons.  The main one, however, is to help the inexperienced or new cook to grow in confidence and to enjoy the art of cooking.  This blog will cater to mainly young people just getting started on their own.  Hopefully the blog will also help other more experienced cooks too.

My plan is to blog once a week on a variety of cooking subjects and related topics.  After the main subject has been covered, I will also touch base on the following items.  Each week we will talk about a piece of equipment, small-ware or utensils that are used in the prep or cooking process.  We will discuss the need for the item and how to best use it and how safety and/or sanitation come into play with the item.  We will cover a process or technique that can be done with the item.  Then we will have a recipe that uses this item, process or technique.  The recipe may be simple and easy to more complex.  I will try and vary that as we work through the blogs.

I will try to have a question that may run for a few blogs to get feedback from followers of this blog.  I will be looking for questions or comments from you on where you would like help as we go through this process together.

Blogging is new to me.  I plan to continue to learn about the blogging site and all the tools they offer to help me put forward a first class site.  As that happens the "Cabana Boy Cooks" blog will continue to evolve.  Any suggestions on things you would like to see are welcomed.

It is my intent to try and help or give advice in what I call life lessons.  I want to help you to be the very best person you can be throughout your life and to also help you be successful and happy in your career or field of endeavor.  I want to see you have a rewarding and enjoyable personal life too.

Another reason behind the blog is a cookbook.  I am in the middle of the publishing process right now on a cookbook that I have written.  The cookbook is again for young people just getting started on their own and need help with learning to cook.  The cookbook is titled "More Than Your First Cookbook" and covers many things pertaining to cooking as well as 125 recipes.  My intent is to keep you updated on the cookbook's process as it works its way to release.

I guess the next thing to tell you is "Who is Barry Beacom and what gives him the experience on this subject". I retired in 2009 after around 40 years of managing, owning or working in the food industry.  I worked for national chains, independent restaurants and companies that manage the food operations on college and university campuses all across this nation of ours.  Over 25 years of the experience was working with young people.  That is where I saw a need for the cookbook that I have written.  So I'm taking my passion for cooking and my desire to pay forward the things that were taught to me in regards to cooking and life.

Hopefully, what I have written above will get you interested in following this blog.  I will use the above as my main piece of this first blog.  Below I will continue with the equipment, safety, sanitation, process, technique and recipe.

Equipment, Small-ware or Utensil:

For our first blog, we will talk about something that has more than one name.  It is referred to as:

Frying Pan, Omelet Pan, Skillet or a Saute Pan.

This pan comes in various sizes and shapes.  It also comes made of various materials.  Typically the size ranges between 7 and 12 inches.  If you only have one of these pans, make it towards the larger end.  Three is probably the ideal number.  You want to have one of 7 or 8 inches and another in the 10 inch area.  The third one should be a covered saute pan and it should be in the 12 inch or 4 or 5 quart size.

I mentioned shapes above and by this I mean the sides of the pan.  When I think frying pan, I am usually referring to a cast-iron pan with basically straight sides.  The skillet or omelet pan comes with sides that slant out and make it easy to slide food out of the pan.  This type of side helps you run the egg mixture of an omelet a little ways up the side or wall of the pan.  A covered saute pan usually has the more straight side walls.  This type of pan is great for one pan meals because of it's lid.

Note:  A Wok pan could also be used for many of the same functions as the pans mentioned above.

All of these pans can be made from different materials and have different coatings.  I already mentioned the cast-iron skillet.  Other materials include stainless steel, aluminum, copper, hard anodized and enameled cast-iron.  They can come with a nonstick coating which is helpful for many.

I use hard anodized cookware with a nonstick surface.  I would recommend this for everyone just starting out in cooking.  There will be more about my recommendations in a future blog when we talk about buying the equipment, small-wares and utensils.

As I mentioned above this blog site setup is new to me.  It is a work in progress and as soon as I figure out how to add some photos of equipment, I will.  The plan is to master it by the next blog.

Safety and Sanitation:

When using this type of pan the first thing that comes to mind for safety is burns.  Because you typically use butter or oil when using these pans, one has to watch out for splattering hot fat while you cook.  Some of the causes of splattering fat are having the heat too high, placing product in the pan or even the removing of product.  Pouring any excess fat from the pan when you have finished cooking.  Another way to get burnt is using a pan that has a handle that conducts heat.  The cast-iron pan will do this and so you need to use hot pads or gloves.  There are a lot of different ones on the market.  So pick what works best for you and looks good in your kitchen too.

One of the best ways to be safe, no matter what you are doing, is to pay full attention to what you are doing and give it the respect that it deserves.  Remember that and you will keep accidents to a minimum in your life.

I state it in the cookbook, but it is good to have an Aloe Vera plant in your kitchen.  They are great for burns.


To saute is to cook in a small amount of fat while stirring the food used often.  This is usually done on heat that ranges from medium to high depending on what you are sauteing.  You want to preheat your pan and fat to be used before adding the food to be sauted.  If you are using a solid fat, it needs to melt completely before adding the food.  If you are using a liquid fat, then make sure you have a sheen on the fat before adding the food.

You need to pay attention to your heat and adjust the heat source as needed during the sauteing process.  Butter, which is a solid fat, burns at a much lower temperature than liquid fats.  It helps in the process to sometimes combine a solid fat (butter) with a liquid fat (olive oil) to give you a higher heat point for burning.  It also can help with flavor compared to just using a liquid fat.

I am just giving you the basics on sauteing.  You need to learn what works best for you as you gain more experience in cooking.

The layout of the recipes in the blog are very similar to the layout in the cookbook.  I will give you a name of the recipe, estimated servings, ingredients (in order of use), directions, notes (covers other things you can do in the recipe) and lines for your own person notes on a recipe.  Your notes may be changes you made to meet your own personal tastes, that you like or dislike the recipe or measurements needed to double of half the recipe in the future.  They are there to give you some flexibility as you cook.  Enjoy!

I hope that you enjoyed this first blog for "Cabana Boy Cooks".  Have a great day and best cooking.

Cabana Boy