Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kitchen tools I can't live without

I believe that for the most part, you shouldn't have any "one trick ponies" in your kitchen - every tool that you have should be able to serve at least a couple of different roles, with a couple of exceptions (citrus reamer comes to mind). With that said, here's a list of tools that I can't imagine not having in my kitchen:
  • Digital kitchen scale - this is the one scale I love to have around! It's a must for accuracy in portion control. Eri gave me one for my birthday last year and it's hands down, my favorite and most used kitchen tool!
  • Salad spinner - this one does double duty on lettuces and fresh herbs, taking the once onerous and tedious task of washing your lettuce and making it fun. That's right, fun.
  • Kitchen Aid stand mixer - I have the "lowly" Artisan model (my sister has the bigger, better model), but this is my prized kitchen possession. I have the citrus juicer attachment as well as the shredder / slicer attachment, and these both make life so easy - especially when you don't want to drag the Cuisinart out. The attachments are so easy to clean, too!
  • Parchment paper - no, it's not "green" per se, though you can buy recycled parchment paper, but this makes cleanup very easy. I use it when baking cookies and anything else that tends to make a mess on baking sheets.
  • Kitchen gloves - these are disposable rubber gloves that you can use when dealing with smelly or gross food (think onions, garlic, raw meat and seafood, etc.). They help keep your hands clean, and keep them from retaining smells that are hard to get rid of.
  • Electric griddle - OK, I use this only for pancakes, but I like it better than the stove top griddle because a) it's got a larger surface area, b) it holds heat more evenly, and c) I can control the temperature by selecting it on the dial, instead of checking my front and back burners to see that the flames are about even.
  • Wooden spoons - there's just something nice about using a wooden spoon instead of a plastic or metal one. I feel like I'm "connecting" better with the food that I'm making when I use a wooden spoon: it's not going to bend like a plastic one, and it's not going to scratch your bowls like a metal one.
  • Nonstick skillet - this is used for frying eggs, sauteing onions, making shrimp arrabbiata, and so much more. The trick to keeping the nonstick skillet nonstick is to ensure you're not scrubbing it with anything too scratchy. If something does happen to stick to it, soak the skillet until the food can be removed easily with a rubber spatula.
  • Meat thermometer - sure, you can use your senses of touch and sight to tell whether meat has cooked properly, but wouldn't you like to know for sure?
  • Rubber spatula / spoonula - I love that I'm not leaving too much behind in the baking dish or the mixing bowl, because the spatula will scrape it all up. The one I use most now was a giftie from my BFF Eri, so I'm not sure who made it, but I absolutely love it.
  • Immersion blender - this one is excellent for those of us who want the results of a blender or food processor for soups / sauces, but hate to clean. They're pretty inexpensive, too! Mine has a cute little attachment that you can use to chop and nearly pulverize things like nuts or frozen cranberries!

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