There are certain things in my kitchen that I just cannot live without. But this post is not about those things. This is a post about the things I could live without, and have lived without for most of my life, but don’t ever want to be without again. This post is about the little things that I’ve come to love because they make my time in the kitchen so much more pleasant (which usually means easier).
9. Silicone Egg Poacher
The instructions in The Joy of Cooking for poaching an egg call for cracking an egg into a small bowl, and then placing the bowl in a “mad vortex” of boiling water. (No, really. Look it up.) Luckily, it wasn’t difficult to find a solution that was much easier. Enter Poachie with his tiny eyes and beak. My hero in silicone. Now I can enjoy Eggs Benedict without the fear of splashing boiling water on my toes.
8. Silicone Tongs and Whisks
We have a lot of non-stick pans. For years when I was frying or sauteing things, I had to use a plastic spatula or very carefully use a fork so I wouldn’t scratch the surface of the skillet. But for some jobs, that was just awkward. One time I was even thoughtless enough to use a hand mixer in a Teflon® sauce pan. What was I thinking? It’s not I couldn’t do without either of these tools, but sometimes a pair of tongs or a whisk is what works best, and if I’m using a non-stick pan, I can’t use metal ones.
I recently commented on Thousandaire about my zester. Kevin McKee didn’t understand how a zester is different from a grater. How to explain? Well, first I must admit that it’s not really different. It’s just a grater for citrus peel. But when I use my zester, I can see what I’m doing, thus avoiding getting any of that yucky white rind in my zest and it saves my knuckles. Is a zester a necessity? No, but it sure is nice to have.
I received a regular Cuisinart® food processor as a gift many, many years ago, and I love it. I would never have shelled out the dough to buy one for myself, but it makes many things much easier. Still, there are some jobs that it’s just too big for….like chopping a single jalapeno. Could be done by hand, but if I use a mini-processor I don’t have to wear gloves, and it dices it up so nice and tiny. A single cup of bread crumbs? Who wants to break out (and clean) the Cuisinart® for that? (Or do it by hand like I used to…talk about tedious!)
5. Electric Skillet
This one’s not for everyone. We cook at least 8 servings whenever we cook, and there aren’t many regular skillets that can handle our work load. We do have some large skillets, but it’s hard to get the heat out to the edge without turning up the heat too high, and sometimes even the large skillets aren’t big enough for our meals.
4. Cookie Scoop
I think the kids can finally tell my cookie scoop from the ice cream scoops, but just in case, it’s in a different drawer, the drawer of “you’re not fancy enough to use this stuff” tools. This was another gift I received years and years ago. I had no idea such a thing existed, and in fact I probably wouldn’t have known what it was if it hadn’t been accompanied by cookie sheets. Is there any reason I can’t just use a teaspoon or tablespoon? No. But the scoop makes consistently-sized cookies, and the release mechanism makes it so much easier.
3. Stand Mixer
One holiday season after we visited a baking cousin, my husband bought me a Kitchen Aid® stand mixer. If you have a $30 hand mixer, you don’t need one, but I LOVE mine. I do. I cannot lie about such a thing. I love to throw things in the bowl and let the mixer beat them while I measure out the next ingredient. But my favorite thing to make in my stand mixer? Whipped cream! OMG. Doing that with a hand mixer was tedious and time-consuming. Now when we have a dinner party, I just toss the cream into the bowl with a little powdered sugar, affix the whisk attachment, turn it on, and go back to enjoying my guests while the machine does the work in the other room. Brilliant!
2. Electric Corkscrew
Yet another gift. I’ve never learned how to use the corkscrews the sommeliers use, and every time I try to use one of the travel ones, I have to have my oh-so-muscley husband come to my rescue. The butterfly corkscrew was my favorite until I got an electric one. Put it on top of the bottle, push a button. After the cork is removed from the bottle, push the other side of the button to release the cork. Viola!
And my favorite kitchen “tool”…..
My second W-2 job was working at The Steak Escape. Part of the uniform was a full-size red apron. I got in the habit of wiping my hands on the front of my thighs so that later when I was at home cooking, I had a hard time not wiping my hands on my pants. Rather than break myself of the habit, I started wearing aprons at home. For years after I left The Steak Escape, I couldn’t even do any cleaning without an apron. I am over that (mostly), but I still cannot cook without slipping an apron over my head, and tying the strings securely around my waist. It’s a ritual now, like brushing my teeth before bed. My Steak Escape apron was finally retired, long past the time it should have been, but I have plenty of others now to take its place.
What is your favorite kitchen tool?
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