Friday, May 27, 2011

Indispensible Kitchen Gadgetry

My Essentials!
You’re in Hawaii for two weeks and have just checked into the condo, or maybe you’re house-sitting at your friend’s country home while she’s in Hawaii. Along the way you were lucky enough (or prepared enough) to find a farmers market and pick up some local veggies to prepare along with fish/meat/rice/pasta/other staple that your friend/husband/kids are picking up at the local store. You’re preparing to cook, but oh no! How could the kitchen be missing a (fill in the blank)? But luckily there’s a (fill in the blank), which you’ve been wanting to have but haven’t been able to buy.

What are your indispensable kitchen tools and gadgets? What would you never want to be without? What makes meal preparation so much easier that it’s worth 10 times what you paid for it? (I was going to say its weight in gold, but that could be prohibitive these days.) Anything you’ve been wanting to add to your kitchen?

More Essentials from Mom & Dad's
Even though I thought they were a silly gimmick when I first saw them, I like my high-heat-friendly spoonulas a lot. Yes, I have two (so far). The large one works great for scraping the last of the sauce onto the spaghetti, all the sautéed veggies into the casserole, scooping leftovers into storage containers, etc. The small one is great for scraping out jars for the last bit of delicious homemade jam on toast, or the last of the mayo into the coleslaw. I like my hefty wooden stirring spoons too. Delicate stirring spoons make me nervous, though I’ve never actually broken one. I recently "inherited" two more hefty spoons while cleaning out my deceased father's house, mostly used by myself and my mother.

I’ve also gotten quite attached to the fancy garlic press some friends gave us as a wedding present. Not only is it heavy duty and a time saver, eliminating the need to peel the garlic, it also flips open for easy cleaning. Cleaning my old garlic press was…the reason I used to mince a lot of garlic! I’d love to see someone invent a ginger press.

I also like my stainless steel measuring spoons and cups (wedding gift from the ladies and men I work with). They’re pretty indestructible and have a nice heft to them.

Black and Decker Convection and Toaster Oven
My Favorite Mini-Oven/Toaster/Broiler
My electric frying pan is something I really like using too, as regular readers know! It is almost impossible to burn something in it unless you completely forget the time. Speaking of which, a kitchen timer is also indispensable for me. And I recently remembered how versatile and well-used my convection oven/toaster/broiler is.

As far as kitchen “wants,” I would love to have an immersion blender. When pureeing hot soups, the blender is cumbersome and the food processor leaks. Plus, cleaning the blender is a drag. On a larger scale, I’d like to try out an electric mixer that isn’t hand held. I only use a mixer occasionally, but using the handheld one is never pretty. Unless one likes a nice potato texture on the walls. Going even bigger, I would love a gas stove…

Stainless Steel Steamer: Charred Again!
Whoa!! interrupted by some discouraging words from the kitchen, followed by a charred smell…I thought the timer was set only for final check on the baking fish, and forgot my husband put on broccoli to steam…and since the stovetop is separate from the oven, I didn't notice the broccoli steaming on the stove when I checked the fish at the oven…Ahem, as I was saying, I’d love a gas stove and oven in one freestanding unit. I rest my case!

Now I must add my recently-charred 1-quart 3-piece stainless steel steamer pot, given to me by a neighbor who didn’t want it anymore, to my list of kitchen indispensables. It is embarrassing how many times this has boiled dry and charred black, yet with a little steel wool, soap and a lot of elbow grease it always comes back to life. And maybe I’ll add a second timer (his and hers?) to that list of wants, too.

What tools would you never want to be without in the kitchen? Any tools you can’t wait to add?


  1. Hi Robin! This reminded me of my own problem(even with a gas stove), over-cooked soy or other milk, for favorite chai. I keep trying to remember(I will!)/recommending here: A heat-diffuser, which is a round flat hollow metal plate, with holes through-out and a handle. Allows you to lower whatever heat you have, reducing burnage. I really like your site, I must cook some of these some time! Or, you could show me how sometime! I miss dinner with you both, soon...Happy Summer, love Sis Lisa

  2. Thanks for the diffuser idea, Lisa. Wonder if it works on electric stoves too. Your brother Bruce gifted me (for my birthday) with the emersion blender I'd been wanting. I'm going to try it out on some potato-leek soup this week.