Monday, June 28, 2010

Kitchen Gadgets

Yesterday my rice cooker got a little bit of blog attention, but it's not the first fancy kitchen gadget I've discovered I absolutely love, nor will it be the last!  Here are some others that I've come across, since I started cooking for myself while having a real paycheque, to the joy of the kitchen store owners.

on Rubber-Ended Cutting Boards
As a rule in this household, our plastic cutting boards are used for meat, and the bamboo ones are used for vegetables only.  In a pinch, since we frequently live more slovenly than I would like to admit, the plastic cutting boards are dual-purpose, here-this-board-is-clean-just-use-it backups, but generally not.  When we moved down and were setting up, we basically lived in an IKEA showroom, and nearly all of our cooking utensils were gloriously "Swede."  But cheap plastic cutting boards warp a lot when used and washed over and over, and we ended up with a convex board which would spin and leave trails of chicken juice all over the counter, whenever I tried to prepare dinner.  This irritated me to no end; I broke down into countless swearing fits while trying to chop chicken.  Since I picked up an OXO Good Grips cutting board with rubber on the ends, this has not happened.  The plastic is thick enough that it won't warp for a much longer time, and the rubber on the ends keep the board still.  I probably still swear while cooking ("Ahhhh shit I burned my chicken!"), but at least not at the cutting board.

on 3-cup Food Processors
I forget why I bought my Cuisinart 3-cup Mini Prep food processor, as I got it a very long time ago, and rarely used it.  But then we started doing "Nom Bowls," which is a variant of the home-made Yumm Bowl, and I also started experimenting with chicken marinades.  Now I use it so often that the lettering on the buttons are completely worn off, and unlike many other items in the kitchen, it never has enough time to let dust settle on it.  Mostly, I use it for chopping up nuts and beans, and the 3-cup size is perfect for the 2 of us; very likely I will break it down long before there are 3 of us.  I had been toying with the idea of getting a larger one, so that I could also grind up vegetables for yummy soups, but the last time we visited Vancouver, I made some Nom Sauce in my mother's 14-cup food processor, and it is seriously a pain to clean all the parts involved.  Not so with the 3-cup!  We're literally bonded by blood, those little blades and I.

on Citrus Juicers
My mother also has an electric citrus juicer which is apparently older than both my brother and me, which is extremely easy to use, and very efficient.  I think it's similar to this one, only it was made in the 70's and therefore will last much longer than that one will.  But if I had not picked up my manual Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer, I would definitely consider getting one anyway.  As it is, I love that citrus juicer.  Lemon halves go in, juice comes out, and the things that remain are unrecognizable as anything but plant matter.

on Silicone Spatulas
Though I used to only use them for baking, silicone spatulas are fantastic for everything else, too.  Plastic cooking tools have been one of many banes in my few years thus far, and the prospect of eating little plastic bits in my scrambled eggs is never appealing.  There are many silicone spatulas around in my kitchen, in various sizes (little silicone spatulas are better in my food processor than the tiny plastic scraper it comes with), and my current favourite has a very nice stainless steel handle.  Some day I am going to add this silicone-coated thin metal spatula to my collection, and perhaps I will know nirvana.

on Cherry Pitters
My most recent acquisition was this OXO cherry pitter, which I used on Sunday to bake a yummy cherry pie. As a side note, said pie was made in a glass pie plate, which I also required recently, and though this is no revelation to me, it is a far cry from the metal pie tins that come with the frozen shells I buy (I am lazy, okay).  Given that I can't ever have fresh cherries, even organic, pesticide-free ones, without having my lips, tongue, throat, and occasionally gums (??) swell up, cherry preparation requires cooking, which generally includes pitting.  But until this weekend, pitting cherries meant cutting them in half and digging the pits out with my fingernails, resulting in itchy, red fingers.  It finally dawned on me that I could buy a specialized tool to help me with this, and what a difference!  A pound or so of cherries, minus fresh ones set aside for Ben to steal, pitted in no time.  Mmm, pie.

There are likely others I could add to this list, like my rice spatula, which is perfectly shaped for fluffing and serving, and there are more I have my sights set on, like the cookie dough scoop I always look at and invariably decide against buying. But doubtless I could continue on in this vein for a very, very long time.


  1. My cherry pitter needs a splatter shield.

    Brown rice congee takes approximately forever and doesn't taste as good.

    Also, for vegetable soups, immersion blenders rock.

  2. The splatter shield helps, but I still splattered stuff everywhere. I think a splatter cone would be better--the type they put on animals to keep them from licking their wounds.

    According to my rice cooker's manual, brown rice is not recommended for congee, although it doesn't explain why.

    Oh yeah, you've mentioned the immersion blender before! I should look into that... though maybe next month, as I may or may not have just spent a lot of money on a paper crafting device...