As inspired by my friend, Wayles, “gadget list” over at the Waxed Bean, I thought I’d take some time to talk about some of my favorite kitchen tools and gadgets. Let me begin by saying that I will never, EVER own one of these. I overheard a woman at Target the other day saying that she’d been dying to get one of them. For what? For who? Hmmm…perhaps another blog post is in the works “Useless Kitchen Gadgets.” What do you think? Anyhoo, here are some of my faves, in no particular order.
1. Immersion Blender-There are countless uses for this tool. I use it in the fall and weather to make soups and it’s a pesto-making machine during the height of basil season. In fact, I have even been known to use the main function in lieu of a hand mixer for my famous maple cream cheese icing. A few tips–don’t use the whisk attachment. It’s pretty useless and your (w0)manpower is just as good. Be sure to get the version with the detachable mixing attachment. It’s the bomb.
2. Wooden spoons- There’s something romantic about wooden spoons. Once they wear down a bit or get blackened in certain sections, they have potential to become a cherished heirloom passed from grandmother to grandchild. Sometimes I even forget that my grandmom used hers as a paddle when we got in trouble. Yikes. Although I have tons of spatulas, tongs and other utensils, I always find myself migrating to the simple wooden spoon when cooking soups, stews, stir fries and much, much more.
3. Apple corer– I did not own an apple corer until recently. Let me just say this: if you go to Linvilla Orchards and come home with 20 lbs. of apples, you’ll quickly learn the necessity of an apple corer. ‘Nuff said.
4. Safe Edge Can Opener– Although this took a few tries to master, this Zyliss can opener has seriously changed my life. Although I don’t use many canned items, I do stock up on canned diced and crushed tomatoes for use throughout the winter months. This can opener allows me to use just part of the contents and then place the top neatly back on the can for refrigerator storage. No more dirtying another container, no more precariously placing a bent top back onto the can. Love this!
5. Le Creuset– I will not tell a lie. I am a LC whore and everybody knows it. I have a number of pieces but my absolute favorite is my 5 1/2 quart dutch oven. I use that weekly for soups, stews, chilis and the works. If you have to invest in just one piece–or find something good for your wedding registry, as Wayles would say–go big or go home. I have a frying pan and baking dish too, but there’s just nothing like a Le Creuset dutch oven.
6. Silpat– This is the most amazing, non-stick, professional grade piece of kitchen equipment you could ever own. Once you get one, you will never go back. Items that would normally stick like crazy to a baking pan or cookie sheet will slide off a silpat like butter, baby. My relationship with silpats is still new, but they’re simply a phenomenal tool. Extra points for easy storage.
7. Cuisinart Chopper– I rescued my chopper from my grandmother’s yard sale. It was priced at $5.00. I can’t find mine online (because it’s probably at least 30 years old) but it’s smaller than the one I linked. It’s awesome for mixing or chopping smaller items–in fact, it’s my other go-to pesto maker. I actually own a full-sized Cuisinart and love it but I rarely take it out because it’s such a pain in the butt to take out of storage, put together, use, clean, put back into storage, etc, etc. When I only need to process small amounts of food, the mini-chopper is the perfect tool!
8. Microplane– Couldn’t write a post about kitchen tools and omit the holy microplane. This is a perfect tool for baby fine shreds of fruit zest, parmiggiano or anything else that you want finely shredded. I bet those weird moms who sneak healthy food into brownies use microplanes. Please never let me become one of those weird moms. My children WILL like vegetables (my dog likes broccoli and cauliflower.)
9. Rice cooker– Flame away but I love my rice cooker. It allows me to toss in the rice, cover it with water and press go. I bought my rice cooker in college for about $10 on ebay. There are fancier rice cookers these days that do things like steam your vegetables and walk your dogs. I wouldn’t mind a fancier rice cooker, but in the meantime, this does exactly what I need it to do–cooks my rice. In fact, I happened to make rice without the rice cooker just last week and my stovetop is still stained with the crusty rice water spill over. I love my rice cooker.
10. Angled measuring cups- I bought my 4-cup angled measuring cup from the Philadelphia Home Show about five yeards ago and have been thanking myself ever since. No more squatting down to eye level with your measuring cup to see if you have exACTLY 2.5 cups of flour. There is a handy little angled edge with the measurements written on the top so you can simply look down into the cup to see if you are on target.
I think I’ll leave the list at 10 for now. Of course, it goes without saying that any home cook required halfway decent knives, salt and pepper grinders, a few solid cookbooks and can never have enough dish towels. And my grandmother’s “scrubbies,” of course. Readers, please comment away with your own additions to my simple list.
Potential future posts: Useless Kitchen Gadgets; Favorite Cookbooks; New Uses for Old Things