I hate junk! I think I've made that perfectly clear in several of my posts exonerating my frustrations in simplifying my life and organizing my clutter. But the kitchen is just one of those areas that's a total crap magnet! I mean there's a million gadgets and gizmos, right? Yet, ya have to eat. More importantly, ya have to feed your kids and you have to feed them good stuff, otherwise they get sick or have horrible health habits or both.
Personally, I'm probably a bit more granola than average. I LOVE the whole food movement. Except I'm not the most prodigious cook. My Mom wasn't really a cook, so there was no example, and my mind it's not wired for meal planning. Still we muddle through, mostly thanks to my amazing cook of a husband. Ok, so I'd probably eat a lot worse without him and so would the kids. Still, cooking is everyone's job and the kitchen is full of stuff that may or may not get used. As we try to add more and more whole fresh foods, one item that has been absolutely indispensable has been our Helen Chen bamboo steamer basket.
I'm sure, even if you've never used one, you've seen what I'm talking about. They are the vital prop in any Asian food scene! But don't let that limit the usefulness for you. I mean, oh they are awesome for heating frozen sticky buns, and red bean paste buns, mmmm, but really what mine gets the most use with is vegetables. Most vegetables, especially if they are going to be a main dish or side (not stir fried/casseroled) spend some quality time with the bamboo steam baskets. Steaming is one of the healthiest ways to cook vegetables and fruits. The only way to get more nutrients is to eat them raw. When over-steaming for making baby food we even use the liquid that drains from the baskets to thin the baby food getting back some of those otherwise lost nutrients. I don't know if that's the reason, but none of my kids are picky eaters!
So why bamboo? Why not a metal steamer that seem so popular? I don't know if I can really put it into words, there is just something, when you cook with the bamboo that brings out the flavor, the earthiness. The metal reminds me of my grandma's boiling vegetables and things. To the point where the food had no flavor. It's no wonder my Grandad used so much salt! I like that you can layer cook with them. You can boil in the pan below (if you want) and stack different veggies into the different baskets. I'm not a big fish eater, but I've seen great recipes for fish on the bottom and steam veggies up top. Sure the flavors mix a bit, but in reality it adds to the flavor of the food. Do keep in mind though, the more you stack the less steam makes it to the top layer. It's an awesome way to flavor rice too! Boiling rice in the pan on the bottom and steaming fish or veg on top.
The space they take up in storage is minimal (if they ever make it out of the drying rack). They are super easy to clean and you just rinse and reuse. No soap, no dishwasher space, no work! The only thing they don't do that a metal steamer can do for you is: they do not work as homemade directional antennas.
So if you want to improve your eating habits head on over to cooking.com and check out their bamboo steamer or any of their other kitchen gadgets. You can also follow cooking.com on facebook and twitter (if you are insane enough to be on twitter, then you have my utmost condolences - as if facebook isn't bad enough!!!)