Whether you’re cooking gourmet meals a lá Julia Child or simply “chef-ing” macaroni and cheese for your kids, every cook has tools that they favor in the kitchen. My husband calls them “gadgets” and is on a constant rant about how they’ve consumed our kitchen; cabinets, drawers, countertops. Up until I cleaned out our kitchen a few weeks ago, I disagreed. Three tubs of “gadgets” that I absolutely “neeeeeeded” now in storage later…
I am sure my love of kitchen thingamabobs comes from my Grandma Chris. Every year after we visit her home in Florida, I always end up falling in love with whatever new “toy” she’s using; avocado slicer/pitter, tomato knife, etc. (both of which now sit in my countertop utensil basket used regularly!) Small to big, easy to complex, for a chef, these tools are like IPads to a teen, addictive and exciting. Here’s a list of my top five kitchen gadgets, in no particular order because I love them all and use them all the time!
1. Crock Pot/Slow Cooker: I love, love, love my crock pot! It really is the easiest dinner one pot wonder. From chili’s to stews to whole chickens, I have cooked everything in my slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or all day 8 hours, either way flavors are deep, rich, and layered. It’s easy (pretty much husband proof! I’ve left prepped ingredients out for my husband John and he was able to turn on, add, stir, and forget. 8 hours later, delicious dinner!), minimal mess which leads to minimal clean up, and you basically can’t screw it up! Hellooooo, non-foodies! Here’s a before and after of the last Real Simple (who always has great slow cooker recipes, again, thanks Grandma Chris for the subscription!) Soy-Braised Short Ribs with Sugar Snap Peas recipe. Save money on take out with this great Chinese fake out!
2. Tomato Knife and Lemon Juicer: I group these two together because they are both top drawer utensil must haves. Inexpensive tools that make every kitchen gourmet. They help say good bye to squished, juice-less tomatoes, and out with bottled, shelved lemon juice. Hello robust tomatoes and fresh squeezed tangy citrus-y lemon.
3. Salad Spinner: Friends tease me when I say I crave salad and although this baby is alllll Italian with the pizza cravings I’ve been having, I really do crave salad! Especially now when I am overly concerned with healthy eating for our little one, fresh and particularly clean bites are key. I use my salad spinner every time I’m cleaning lettuce. Although it may seem like an extra tool, it really get’s salad spotless and dry, no one likes a soggy salad!
4. Splatter Guard: This is is one of the few items I kept from my husbands bachelor kitchen. Anyone who has ever thrown chicken into a screaming hot pan knows what a pain scrubbing splatters off the stove can be! This will save you the time and elbow grease (hehe)! So go ahead, toss in the bacon, the onions, and whatever other spitting food you may have and enjoy the easy clean up!
5. Lastly, my newest kitchen addition, the Food Saver. I am a freezer nut. Since (for the time being!), it’s only the two of us, we’re normally not consuming an entire loaf of bread or big buy of chicken or ground beef. I use to wrap up left overs in saran wrap, toss them in the freezer, and when I pulled them out, freezer burn, yuck. So, after some convincing, my husband agreed to purchase the Food Saver (hence the cleaning of the kitchen counters to make room, it was a deal!). Welllllll worth the money. It’s easy, amazon sells inexpensive bags for it, and it keeps your freezer food fresh.
With all this left over Italian bread from a recent family gathering, I made…
crusty, garlicky, homemade Italian croutons! Slice bread into bite size pieces, toss in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil for those non-Rachael Ray-ers!), garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Lots of garlic for my house! Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until toasted brown, tossing a few times throughout baking. Store in an air tight container. Add them as a salad accent or make them the main star, delicious!
Whatever kitchen gadgets you decide to purchase, make sure they are ones that are useful for your chef style. An olive pitter doesn’t make sense for a family who doesn’t eat olives! I’ve tried them all; rice cookers, waffle makers, hand blenders, a lot of which I do use, I just keep tucked neatly away for the few times a month they get pulled out. When summer comes along, the juicer comes out for all the great farmer’s market purchases I make, but for the snowy, store bought fruit months, it lives in the cabinet. So enjoy my favorite suggestions or the ones that “make” your kitchen, I’d love to hear about them! But shhh, don’t tell my husband, because the last thing I need, is another kitchen “gadget.” But we know better, Foodies, don’t we? 😉
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian