Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kitchen Gadgets I Won't Be Without

Let's face it. We could all get along perfectly well in the kitchen with a few basic pots, pans and utensils. But of course, we always accumulate more things. So after you invest in the basics and you purge the misfit toys, what are the kitchen gadgets you won't be without?

Here are mine:

1. Good knives

Wusthof knives are the best in my book. Elegantly designed and beautifully balanced. I have more, but I only need two: the cook's knife shown above and a paring knife.

2. Mini-Prep Processor

Every kitchen needs a good food processor. It makes short work of  many tasks; but I recently learned first-hand how valuable the mini-prep food processor. I broke the blade and decided to do nothing about it just to see how often I missed it.  A lot. It's a must-have for salad dressings.

3. Slow Cooker

This is not a kitchen tool I'll cart around the south of France when I go on holiday, but after using one for over a year, I wonder why it took me so long to get on board the slow-cooking train. A 3.5 quart, programmable slow cooker has proved essential for everything that I need to cook low and slow: herbal oil infusions, red beans, stew.

4. Citrus Juicer

Norpro Citrus Juicer

I've used the Norpro Citrus Juicer almost every day since I purchased it 15 years ago for 7 bucks. Enough said.

5. Microplane Graters


Oh I know the old-fashioned box grater does it all, but for sheer utility, the microplane grater beats the box hands down. I have one each for fine and medium grated foods.

6. Wine Saver Vacuum Pump

Anyone who knew me way back when would find this amusing. I never finish a bottle of wine in one evening.  Of course, there are other more expensive gadgets for saving wine after the bottle has been opened, but the vacuum pump is inexpensive, space-saving and effective.

7. Nested Bowls

I didn't know how much I appreciate this set of nested bowls until they broke at Christmas in what can only be described as combustion by chaos. I dropped a pork roast into my Dutch oven; the jolt broke the nested bowls in the cabinet opposite the stove. From the smallest to the largest, they are indispensable to food preparation.

8. Chemex Coffee Pot

Stuart will love this. After I spent 30 years evolving from Mr. Coffee to Bunn - he demonstrated that there is no substitute for knowledge, patience and the Chemex coffee pot.  (The French press coffee pot is a close second.)

9. Marble Mortar & Pestle

I'm having a ball with my newly discovered mortar and pestle. I've also been on the hunt for an inversion blender that works and wears well.

Don't get me wrong. There is a long list of gadgets essential to every kitchen - things like measuring spoons, measuring cups, spatulas, wooden spoons, a vegetable steamer and many others are necessary basics. Then there are a host of electronic tools that are nice to have like a food processor, blender, hand-mixer, burr-grinder. A few very specialized gadgets to peel potatoes, core apples and pineapples are also nice to have.

But the list above are the nice-to-have gadgets I'd be lost without.

What kitchen gadgets would you be lost without?
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