Expert Interview Series: Carole Jones Of My Kitchen Escapades About Kitchen Gadgets That Make your Life Less Stressful

Cooking a homemade meal from scratch can be stressful at the best times. Now imagine doing that - day in and day out - every day for a family of eight! This is daily life for Carole Jones, mother...

Kitchen gadgets

Cooking a homemade meal from scratch can be stressful at the best times. Now imagine doing that - day in and day out - every day for a family of eight!

This is daily life for Carole Jones, mother of six. Carole cooks to unwind, and shares her joy and wisdom on her food blog My Kitchen Escapades.

With six kids, Carole doesn't need any more anxiety in her life. We thought she would be the perfect person to ask about kitchen gadgets that make life less stressful. Here's what she had to say:

You've talked about how baking, cooking and blogging are wonderful outlets for you when life's stress gets to be too much. What are some ways these things relieve stress for you and why is it important for your life?

I wish I could say that anytime I am in my kitchen preparing food is a stress reliever but that would be completely dishonest! When you have six kids, you often throw together whatever you can that is fast and will offend the least amount of picky palettes.

However, if I need some time to unplug and come down from whatever has me running around crazy that day, I usually pull out my mixer. A batch of homemade french bread or chocolate chip cookies smooths down the edges of my burly mood and helps extend my patience until it is time to tuck my little ones in bed. There is just something about throwing a bunch of random ingredients into a pan or mixer and creating something amazing that calms my emotions.

The other half of that stress relieving experience comes by sharing that food I made with those I love. Making food from scratch is a sacrifice of that which is most precious in all of our days - our time! However, providing a healthy, home-cooked meal brings me a level of personal satisfaction I can't repeat in other areas of my life. I began blogging at My Kitchen Escapades as an extension of sharing that experience with family and friends who were always asking for my recipes. Eight years later, the goal is still the same but now my circle of friends is just much bigger than I could have ever imagined!

You've talked about how after school snack time at your house can be a loud and stressful time. How can having healthier snacks around make your life a little less stressful?

When it comes to snack time, I am very specific about what constitutes an appropriate snack for my kids. I have one shelf in a cupboard that has healthy snacks, as well as a spot in my fridge. If it doesn't come from one of those two spots, then it is not open for snack time. It makes it easy for me because I've already stocked the snack areas with healthy options and they can choose for themselves.

Are there any kitchen gadgets you can recommend to help get snacks ready for when the kids come home?

If you ask my kiddos, they would easily tell you their favorite gadget for snack time is my spiral apple corer, slicer and peeler. I bought it years ago to can apple pie filling, but my kids view it as their own personal toy.

Paying for good food can be one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of eating well. Do you know of any kitchen gadgets that can help someone enjoy gourmet food on a more modest budget?

I've never been comfortable with the word gourmet, because that is so subjective from one person to another. I do love good food, no matter if it takes three hours or three minutes to prepare.

For me, I love the simple tools and gadgets that make a difference in the end result of my dishes. The main one I wish more people would use is a simple cheese grater. Freshly grated cheese makes such an impact with both taste and texture of a finished dish, whether it is a fancy parmigiano reggiano or a simple cheddar. Pull out that cheese grater and take a few extra minutes to make your dish the best it can be.

What is the one time-saving device you've discovered, that you absolutely can't live without?

This one might surprise you, but we can't live without our panini press. My six kids do most of their own meal prep outside of dinner, especially on the weekends and summer break. They adore the panini press because it takes a boring sandwich to the next level. They even use it to make breakfast paninis using english muffins, or panini wraps for lunch using a tortilla and leftover chicken. It is amazing to me how much more they love a certain food if you grill it with those cool grill marks across it!

Can you list two or three surprisingly simple gadgets to make someone's life less stressful, and why they're so useful?

This one is a no-brainer for me: My microplane grater. I love mine so much that I gift it all the time as a wedding present. I use it at least once a day to grate up garlic cloves instead of mincing it with a knife. Plus, it is hands down the easiest tool to grate hard cheeses with quickly. It is just so dang sharp that it gets the job done so much quicker than a standard grater.

Secondly, I would never survive in my kitchen without my assorted sizes of bag clips. I have a ton of them and use them constantly. As a cook who is constantly trying new recipes and new ingredients, I often have unused portions leftover. I love that I can seal the bags closed easily with a clip and toss them in the pantry, fridge or freezer. Unfortunately, these precious clips also suffer from the same symptom as all the socks in our house - they just mysteriously disappear from one use to the next.

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