Welcome to The Kitchen Hour!

I’m so excited to be writing the very first post for The Kitchen Hour! I’ve got lots of great content planned, but in case you’re curious what we’re doing here, let me tell you what it’s all about: The Kitchen Hour will offer community, entertainment, and tips and ideas to help keep you entertained and inspired in the kitchen.

Here are a few questions you might have about our mission here and what you can expect:

“What is a “kitchen hour” and why should I practice one?”

The Kitchen Hour was inspired by a blog post I wrote back in 2011, after realizing that regularly setting aside time in the kitchen to cook, clean, meal plan, hang out with my family and just putter, the rest of my evenings went much more smoothly. From that post:

After I set aside a block of time every day to focus – really focus – on the intersection of home and family, the entire household ambiance seemed to shift. The kitchen stayed cleaner. We ate better meals. Evenings felt less chaotic. I kept up better with meal planning and the family calendar. The kids lingered over their homework longer (at the dining-room table) and asked more questions. When the boys “interrupted” me, it didn’t feel like an interruption. It just felt like…life, and warmer and cozier and less fractured than before.

“Do I have to spend an hour in the kitchen every single day?”

No way! I don’t do that myself, at least not most weeks. Some days I order pizza and my “kitchen time” is limited to five minutes of frantic clean-up. Some weeks are slower, and I’m able to spend several hours at a time in the kitchen, baking or scrubbing the stove. I have found that putting in a full “kitchen hour” at least 2-3 times a week tends to help me keep the household functioning more smoothly, so that’s what I shoot for – but of course I have crazy weeks when that just doesn’t happen.

I just want to encourage people to treat family dinners – and the process that goes into getting them on the table  – with a bit more intention, and a “kitchen hour” – whether that’s actually 30 minutes every day, or an hour once a week –  is a simple ritual that can help you do that.

Will you be sharing fancy recipes? Do I have to be a great cook to enjoy this site?

I will share occasional recipes here – and will be announcing a great sponsor soon who will help with that – but expect simple and unfussy, because that’s how I tend to cook. And no, you don’t have to be a great cook – or even love cooking that much! – to enjoy this site. Cooks of all levels of skill and interest will find a home here! I’m less concerned with what you make, than I am in helping to make the process more fun and more manageable.

That said, I will be sharing occasional video tutorials highlighting simple cooking techniques that just might change your life – particularly if you are a newer or not-so-confident cook. I didn’t learn how to roast a vegetable until I was over 30 years old and never chose a cut of meat that wasn’t ground beef or boneless chicken breasts until I was well into my 20s, so believe me, you’re not alone if you have a case of kitchen insecurity.

If you, like me, reached adulthood without learning many cooking skills, you might appreciate that I’ve truly “been there, done that”. In fact, I’m planning a regular “mystery meat” feature in which I’ll choose one of those cuts of meat I used to avoid and figure out how to prepare and cook it.

I am a very practical cook. Sometimes I love pulling together a fancy meal, but the most of the time getting dinner on the table is just one of those “this is adulthood” tasks for me. Hey, we all have to eat, and so do our kids. The Kitchen Hour is all about simplifying the process and injecting it with a bit of fun.

On the other hand, if you are an excellent or enthusiastic gourmet cook, I very much welcome you to chime in on posts with your favorite recipes, tips, and techniques. We’re all in this together with the shared goal of setting aside family time and making dinner-prep time more enjoyable!

“Will you share meal-planning resources?”

Because meal planning is such a crucial part of having what you need on hand to make dinner, I will be posting about meal planning often. But don’t expect anything complicated: I am all about simple foods and meal-planning formulas that make getting dinner on the table easy.

This post will give you a good idea of how I approach meal planning: 

If you’re overwhelmed by all the choices, spices, recipes, and suggested meal plans you see on TV, in magazines and on the Internet from day to day, I want you to first embrace this idea: there’s nothing wrong with repetition. Yes, variety can be a great thing. I love cookbooks and cooking shows. But when you’re already struggling to make a meal plan and stock your fridge and pantry with enough basics to keep your fingers off the pizza-delivery speed dial button, choices aren’t always your friend.

I do mix up the “shuffle” depending on the time of year, my interests at the time, and how busy I am in that particular season, but I am all about keeping meals simple and predictable, especially for cooks who are still developing confidence in the kitchen. You can always jazz things up when you have time or inclination.

I hope this answers some of the questions you might have about The Kitchen Hour and what, exactly we’re doing here. In addition to regular posts, look for a podcast every Wednesday (this week’s podcast will be an interview with blogger and author Kelle Hampton) and 1-2 helpful videos per month. Subscribe to get new posts and updates delivered to your inbox so you won’t miss anything! And I look forward to spending many Kitchen Hours with you.

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