Last weekend I wrote about some of my favorite ingredients. Today I’m thinking about my favorite gadgets–things I use around the kitchen that make life easier, or prettier, or just better. Mind you, I’m not a big fan of gadgets in general. For years I was convinced any cook worth her salt could make a fab meal with nothing more than a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a cutting board. But these are things that I’ve found to be really, truly useful. Some of them I’d go so far as to call indispensable; others are just cool. So, in no particular order:
- Pancake Rings: S and I were in Vermont on our honeymoon, and (of course) stopped at the King Arthur Flour store in Norwich. While I was busy salivating over the cool ingredients they carry, he came running up like a six-year-old clutching these and asking, “Can we? Can we?” I thought they were a little silly at first, but now I’ve come to really like them. The pancakes don’t spread until they’re too thin, and it’s fun watching them rise in their little holders. FYI, favorite pancake recipe: the Oatmeal Pancake Mix in the The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. Fitting, don’t you think?
- My 30-year-old Kitchenaid stand mixer, a hand-me-down from my mom
- Microplane grater
- Ingredient scooper-thingy: Another find from the King Arthur store, although I’ve also seen it elsewhere. I bought it for my mom, but the lady behind the register raved about it so much I kept it for myself. It’s great when you’re trying to get a lot of chopped-up stuff into the pot.
- Silpat baking mats
- Locking tongs
- Squadle: I suck at geometry so I can’t possibly explain why this works, but did you ever notice that when you’re trying to get soup out of a round pot, your round ladle leaves a lot behind? The square ladle (I call it a squadle, of course) DOES NOT DO THAT. Seriously, I made soup last night and it got out every last drop.
- Mini-prep food processor
- Lemon zester
- Cookie scoop: a small ice-cream scoop; makes cookie-baking so much faster and the cookies bake more evenly since they’re all the same size
- Offset spatulas
- Oxo vegetable peeler
- Banana tree: another item I scoffed at until my husband begged to get one. Sometimes these silly-looking things really do make a difference! No more long black bruises running down the sides of the bananas…
- Spaghetti server
- Bench scraper: I use it to cut brownies and bars, and it’s indispensable if you work with dough–gets every last bit off your counter.
- Homer Simpson bottle opener: Homer says “Mmm, beer,” when you open a bottle. I don’t even like beer, but Homer makes me wish I did.
- Freaky OXO measuring cup: another geometry thing I can’t explain, but you can see from above how much you’ve put in while you’re pouring. No need to stop and look at it from the side, and no pesky meniscus to worry about!
- 2-cup dry measuring cup: If you bake a lot, this is surprisingly handy.
Anything you use that I should add to my collection?