21 July 2011

thursday things - kitchen love


a friend & i were chatting recently about kitchen gadgets that we simply could not live without. i thought i would share a few of the (thursday)things on my must-have-list with you. when possible, i've linked to the actual brand i use.

* (pictured above) i am absolutely in love with my apple peeler. my sweet friend soap turned me on to this wonder a few years ago, & i bought one as soon as i got home. you clamp it onto a counter, table, or some such, shove an apple onto the prongs, & turn the crank. that is really it! in seconds you have a peeled, cored, & spiraled apple. it takes mere minutes to crank out enough apples for a pie! by the way, if you don't want it peeled, you simply pull back the blade & flip the safety lock thing. kids love this peeler - both using it, & eating the spirals it creates. oh! it does the same with potatoes too. in all honesty, i have yet to try it on a potato, but that's what it said on the box, so i suppose it's true.

* a few times a week, at least, i use my japanese mandoline. this isn't the exact one i have. i bought mine about 4 years ago, at a shop in little tokyo. it didn't come in a package of any sort, & there isn't a label on it, so i have no brand to google for you. this is basically what mine looks like, though. it's a small thing, much smaller than my  full-sized mandoline. i like it for that reason. if i need to thinly (& we are talking see-through-thin) slice only a handful of veggies, i don't want to bother hauling out the full-sized contraption. this dinky guy works perfectly, most especially for making cucumber sammiches.

* how did i ever live without my rice cooker? ok, it isn't technically my rice cooker, my mother-in-law bought it for thehobbit, but he is sweet enough to let me pretend it's mine. i had always poo-pooed electronic kitchen gadgets, insisting they were more time-consuming than doing things the old-fashioned way. & in some cases this is true. not so the rice cooker. perfect rice every time, & as easy to clean as a pot & lid. one day i'll need to buy a larger cooker (elfling is as rice-crazy as the rest of us, it seems), but for now the small one suits perfectly.

* i am having an affair with my baker sheets. just before the holidays, i saw these recommended on america's test kitchen. as my sheets were utter crap, i added them to my wish list. manlyman made me swoony by giving me both the half & quarter sheets! this brand really is as marvelous as the people on a.s.t. claimed. things rarely stick, & i suspect that when they have, the fault has been mine. my favorite use is for baking marinated tofu. oh my. oh, oh my! one day soon i shall have to share my recipe with you. the sheet makes the tofu crispy, but not quickly enough to burn it, before the insides have firmed enough. now that is a baker sheet! fyi: i have a slightly smaller-than-average oven, & can fit one half, or two quarters on one rack. hey! i just realized! i have not seen the lids to my sheets in ages. hmm.

well, that's it for the list of biggies. there are many things i love too much to do without, but the above i love beyond what is seemly. here are some of the other things that i love:

* electric ice cream maker. my heart years for an old-fashioned crank machine, but in all honesty? my electric maker is quick & easy. those of you with wee ones understand why that trumps yearning. i don't know that i've ever made actual ice cream, come to think on it. when the machine was given to us, thehobbit was unable to eat dairy & soy. we have made various ice liquids, instead. i have tried most of the milks: rice, almond, oat, etc. he loved the creations fine. i, not so much. i am an ice cream purist. i want the real deal, please. over time i did discover the best substitute: coconut milk. not the watery stuff - the thick, white, creamy kind. i blend a can of coconut milk with fruit, & pour it into the machine. the kids go insane for the stuff.

* popsicle molds. a must-have if you are a mama. hmmm, perhaps this should have been included in the biggie list. ah well, too lazy to move it up & hunt for a photo. i don't think brand matters here. you find the one you like best, & keep it handy. i make pops out of left over juice, tea, smoothies, whatever. other great pop ingredients: pudding, blended melon, yogurt, you get the idea. OH! when thehobbit has been quite ill, i've frozen diluted herbal teas. sucking on those pops kept him hydrated, & brought his fever down. i'd keep a flat of that frozen at all times, just in case, if i didn't have the smallest freezer in all the land.

* pan scraper. i included a link to this, because i'm not sure how to describe it well enough. all i can tell you is that you must buy one today.

* prep bowls another link, for the same reason. my mother bought me this set, & i use the bowls all the time. more so since elfling began eating solids. i would love to say that i use them as prep bowls, but, sadly, i am not  as fancy in the kitchen as i'd like. mostly i keep meals for elfling in them. i'll make a double batch of something he can eat (we still have chewing issues), plop half into one of my bowls, snap the lid on, & pop the whole shebang in the fridge for the next day. the website says you can reheat them in the oven or microwave, but i have not tried either.

i do have a few other things i wanted to babble on about, but elfling decided to cut his nap short today. why don't you tell me what kitchen items you cannot live without? i'd love to know.


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