Cooking Utensils: the Truth Behind the Hype

Using the most suitable cooking utensils can make the difference between a wonderfully planned gastronomic banquet and an awkwardly made excuse-for-food. Or so the celebrity chefs who are sponsored by the major kitchenware companies would have us believe. The question we novice chefs have to ask is, ‘Do the correct tools genuinely make all the difference?’ ‘Does the way you chop, slice, dice and dish out your meat and two veg physically affect the flavour?’

Okay, granted, if you lack the appropriate utensils, it may be tricky to drain your pasta without picking up a couple of third degree burns, and you might find those curly radishes to top your salad bowl difficult to pull off, but is there really an optimal shape and size for food intended for the human mouth? To get a short answer to this question, we need to take a look at Chinese cuisine.

Chinese recipes emphasize the importance of presentation. Eating is a sensory experience. If the food looks, smells and even sounds good (think of sizzling woks wheeled to your table in a good restaurant) we’re salivating even before the first morsel gets anywhere near our mouths. Chinese chefs have long understood that your senses are connected. Your senses all lead to the same place – your brain. And it’s your brain that makes the final assessment. As innumerable sponsored-up-to-their-eyeballs master chefs will fall over each other to inform you, the way you prepare your veggies and present your dishes will have an enormous affect on the way your meal will taste The other definitive feature of Chinese cooking is the way the vegetables and meat are cut. There are strict rules concerning the size and shape of the food on the plate. Each dish should be easy to handle – it should invite you to pick it up… but then again you’ll have to use chopsticks.

Cooking utensils, it would seem, really can transform a mundane meal into a feast… if you know how to use them. Owning the appropriate set of knives to chop and cut, nip and tuck, is one thing; owning the skills to use them is another. However, to develop your technique, you need to own the utensils in the first place. You have to start somewhere, and leafing through a kitchenware brochure at the behest of some celebrity chef or other is as good a place to start as any – the best place to start is from the recipe. After all, the recipe is what you are interested in, and what you and your family is going to end up eating.

What makes a cook into a master chef? The salient factor is their ability to shower their creations with loving care and attention, as anyone who has read an Isabelle Allende novel will testify. Once you have your tools and skills, the possibilities for experimentation and gastronomic exploration are boundless. And you can bet there is a specially designed set of cooking utensils to cope with any culinary creation you might dream up. For the majority of us, one appliance can be adapted to manage a diverse range kitchen tasks, but for the experts there is a specific tool for each and every kitchen task.

This apparently trivial distinction between the two ways of thinking about cooking can have a profound affect on your meals. Take an onion, for example. According to the experts, it should be sliced a particular way to enhance the flavour, although, as we have learnt from the Chinese, the visual result is at least as big a factor in determining how the food will taste. Viewed in this way, slicing the onion ‘after the book’ becomes as important as, say, the amount of oil you add to the pan. It would seem that using the right kitchen utensil in the chef’s domain is imperative. In short, prepping your ingredients by following someone’s mealtime master plan can transform the appearance and flavour of the final dish. Get this right and you are no longer a cook. You are a chef

Selecting The Best Utensil

Selecting the right set of cooking utensils is dependent on the content of each individual recipe. Suggestions for cooking utensils are very often presented within the cooking book or online recipe page and, traditionally, they are accompanied by clear instructions to enable you to choose the right utensil for the right job. Cooking utensils, it would seem, do have a central role to play. Your family is certain to enjoy the excellence of your cooking if it is prepared with skill and loving care, but if not, they may reach for an entirely different set of utensils.

There are many companies that produce fine cooking utensils, but on balance, it is better to start from the recipe book and build up a collection of what you need as needs arise before you start leafing through the pages of glossy catalogues.

Pitlochry Vacations – What To Do When Visiting Pitlochry

Pitlochry vacations are now becoming increasingly popular not only with those who live in the UK, but also with tourists from around the world. Not only does this area of ​​Scotland offer some really stunning scenery but also there are plenty of other things that one can do while staying here.

In this article, we take a look at some of the attractions that you may want to consider visiting during a stay in Pitlochry. Surely, you may find that you need to stay more than a few days in order to enjoy everything that this town and the surrounding area have to offer.

1. Pitlochry Dam – This was built because a power station was needed to provide electricity to the area. When it was built, a new loch was also created and because of this, they had to build a salmon ladder, which allowed the salmon to get upstream, where they would breed.

During your visit to the dam, you are able to see a portion of the ladder that has been enclosed in glass to view just how the salmon make their annual journey to their breeding grounds. This actual exhibition is open from Easter until the last Sunday of October from 10.00 to 17.30 each day.

2. Eradour Distillery – This is the smallest of all Scotland's distilleries and upon your visit will be provided with a wee dram (small glass) of the whiskey that they produce. Tours of the distillery take place regular through the year, but during the winter months (November through to February) there opening hours are different from those in the summer.

3. Killiecrankie Visitor Center – This is to be found outside Pitlochry on the A9 and it is here where you can learn about the Jacobite Rebellion that took place in 1689. It was this rebellion, which was harvested to gain independence for Scotland from England. However, the leader of the rebellion a gentleman called John Graham was killed at the battle, which occurred at Killiecrankie, and this rebellion was defeated by the English troops.

4. Loch Rannoch – This is one of the largest and longest lochs in Scotland and is a short drive away from Pitlochry. This loch is in fact famous as it is actually included in Robert Louis Stevenson's book Kidnapped because he was so impressed with the loch's setting.

Along with the attractions, we have mentioned above when it comes to Pitlochry vacations you will find that there are plenty of other things one can do. Why not spend some time exploring the surrounding countryside. Alternately, if you are feeling a little more adventurous then why not try some water sports which can be found at many of the surrounding lochs.

There are lots of hotels and guest houses in Pitlochry to make your stay a pleasant one. You can then relax and take in the joys of this beautiful part of Scotland.

Thunder Megaphone – A Glacial Valley Can Focus and Amplify Thunder Into a Most Extraordinary Sound

We’ve all heard thunder, and we all know what causes it. Many of us have heard two distinct kinds of thunder, but perhaps we never really noticed or thought about it. Recently, I heard a third kind of thunder.

“Ordinary” thunder – a thoroughly extraordinary sound, but the kind of thunder we hear most often – happens when lightning occurs at some distance from the observer. The initial sound of the lightning bolt echoes off surrounding objects and air masses. Because it is echoed so many times, the thunder stretches out into many, many seconds, even though the initial sound might have lasted a second or two at most. Moreover, because the initial sound echoes off soft things with indistinct surfaces – clouds, thermoclines, and weather fronts – and because many echoes reach the ears of the observer at different times, the original sound is greatly distorted. Almost all high frequency components are filtered out, and the observer hears mostly a low-pitched rumble.

When lightning strikes very close to the observer, within a few hundred feet, the sound is entirely different. The observer might not hear echoes of the thunder at all, but only the pure initial sound. It is a single, sharp, intense “POW!” It may be followed by a much quieter, but still loud, whistling or hissing sound.

But what about that third kind of lightning?

I was camping alone in Crawford Notch State Park in northern New Hampshire, when thunderstorms began rolling into the valley just after dinner. I tidied up my campsite just before the rain started, then retreated to my tent. One thunderstorm passed without much incident.

Darkness had fallen by the time the second thunderstorm rolled up from the south. I occupied myself by counting the time interval between lightning and thunder to track the movements of the storms. Fifteen seconds before the thunder rolled up from somewhere west of Mount Bemis, and I knew the storm was just under three miles southwest of me. Seven seconds between the flash and the rumble beyond Frankenstein Cliff, and I knew the storm was passing nearly a mile and a half to my west.

And then it happened!

A flash. I counted eleven seconds. And I heard a sound unlike any thunder I had ever heard before.

The cacophony included at least half a dozen rapid repetitions of the “POW!” of a nearby lightning strike. But at the same time, there was the rumbling and roaring of “ordinary” thunder, but much, much louder than usual.

Before I could figure out what that sound was, there was another flash somewhere to the north. Again I counted eleven seconds, and again I heard that utterly incredible crackling and powing and rumbling and roaring.

This time, I figured it out.

It was a lightning strike right within the upper reaches of Crawford Notch just a couple of miles north of me. It was right within a gigantic stone megaphone formed by Webster Cliff on the east, Mount Field and Mount Willey on the west, and the old glacial cirque of Mount Willard for a backstop on the north.

And this 1,500 foot deep, three-mile-long granite megaphone was pointed right at Dry River Campground.

Yes, the beautiful U-shaped glacial valley of Crawford Notch is a nearly perfect megaphone, albeit open on top. The bare stone faces of Mount Willard and Webster Cliff echoed the initial “POW!” of the thunder almost undistorted. The western slope of the notch is a bit more heavily wooded, but there’s enough bare ledge and rockslide there to provide a pretty good echo. The open top of the notch was covered by the underbelly of the thunderstorm itself, which provided enough of a soft echoic surface to create the usual rumbling of thunder in addition to the clean “POW!” echoes off the rock faces.

But all of this sound was extraordinarily loud because of the megaphone that focused it all right on me and my campsite.

After I got this all figured out, there was a third lightning flash in the north. Yes, eleven second later, there was that glorious, unearthly sound again.

I wondered why I had never heard this kind of thunder before. I have probably experienced thunderstorms in Crawford Notch at least a dozen times over the years, but never heard the Thunder Megaphone.

My best guess is that I probably have heard it before, but never noticed it. Most of the times I’ve camped there, it was with a crowd of friends and family. Much goes on when a thunderstorm rolls in. Ponchos have to be broken out and put on, while at the same time, various disorderly what-nots need to get stashed into cars and tents before they get soaked. There is a bit of yelling and shouting to be done, and paradoxically among the mayhem, kids and dogs need to have their fears calmed. Meanwhile, tarps over the tents and picnic tables are flapping in the gales, making a poor imitation of thunder themselves.

In all my 25 years camping in Crawford Notch, this may have been the first time I experienced a thunderstorm while I was camping there alone. There was no tarp over the tent, and I had anticipated the thunderstorm well enough to get everything into the car long before the rain started.

So, when the lightning and thunder came, I had nothing to do but observe.

What a treat!

I half hope we get a thunderstorm the next time we go camping in the mouth of the Thunder Megaphone.

7 Questions to Ask Before Booking A DJ For Your Wedding

Scouting for an amazing disc jockey (DJ) for your wedding is not a stroll in the park since there are many things to put into consideration. However, before booking that DJ, he must be able to provide appropriate answers to the following questions in order to prove his competence.

1. Are you a full-time DJ?

It is important for you to know that the DJ you want to hire is not just a one-dimensional part timer who may not owe enough time to the job. He must be involved on a full-time basis with quality experience that cuts across various events. He must be a true performer that can handle tough audiences without stress and satisfy them.

2. How do you treat song requests?

You should engage a DJ that understands how to strike a balance between couple's song requests and those of the guests so that both parties are adequately satisfied.

3. How do you customize the music experience for each couple?

He should be able to provide a soundtrack for your wedding which is dependent on your taste, style and vision for the day. He should be able to willingly accept your must-play and do-not-play lists because you are supposed to be in control of the music that will be played on that day.

4. Can I hear some samples of mixing and blending of different tracks?

He should be able to blend between songs harmoniously to the point that you may not even be aware of it. There should not be artless silence between songs as this will make your party to be boring.

5. What sound equipment do you work with? Do you have back-up?

The equipment that a DJ makes use of is as important as musical instruments. His turntable, microphone, mixer, computer, etc., must be up-to-date in order to reel out the best mix for your party. It is also important to have back-up equipment to guard against unforeseen circumstances.

6. How do you get the crowd pumped?

DJs have a lot of baits to encourage guests to take on the dance floor. You can request for a video of past performances in order to gauge the skills of the DJ you want to hire in entertaining guests.

7. Why should I choose you as my wedding DJ?

Providing a satisfactory answer to this question will go a long way to prove that you are about to hire a competent DJ. He should be able to tell you what makes him unique in the industry and this will assist you in making a vital decision that will make your wedding successful.