Thursday 13: Kitchen gadgets and gizmos

Earlier this year, I showed you my favorite basic cooking tools. Well, today is frivolity central. I’m going to share my favorite gadgets and gizmos—things I could absolutely live without, but am so grateful I don’t have to. Unlike the many trinkets that have gathered dust in my kitchen (maybe that’s another post entirely), here are Thursday 13 items I actually use on a regular basis.

With an ice cream maker, you too can make this
creamy blueberry goodness.

1. Ice cream maker. Perhaps one of my all-time favorite birthday gifts, my sister Emily bestowed upon me a Cuisinart happiness maker a couple years ago. My life, and waistline, have not been the same since. Best/easiest vanilla ice cream recipe from my dear friend Shannon: 1 cup whole milk, 2 cups heavy cream, ¾ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla. (I usually add a bit more vanilla.) Mix in a blender, then add to an ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes. Heaven.

2. Graters. I have three (small, medium and large) and use them all on a regular basis. The standard box grater is handy for mass quantities of cheddar while the dainty versions allow me to shred bits of parmesan that are meant to melt quickly or zest lemons in a flash.

3. Electronic kitchen scale. I will admit, I procured a kitchen scale when I started doing personal training many moons ago, but I still find it helpful despite not counting calories anymore (yay!). For instance, many cooking magazines and blogs now incorporate precise weight measurements in recipes, especially in regard to baking. I also use the scale when dividing up hamburger or stew meat bought in bulk.

A healthy Egg McMuffin? Yes, please. I use egg whites and whole wheat
English muffins. Delish. Photo credit.

4. Egg McMuffin Machine. The egg mcmuffin machine appeared in my life years ago, thanks to my lovely mother. Happily, I report hundreds of tasty “eggmit” sandwiches (as T calls them, borrowing the term from Noah’s Bagels) have been enjoyed thanks to the contraption’s dual toaster/egg poacher capabilities. I am devastated that the “egg” part of the machine recently kicked off though. (Santa T, if you’re reading: They now make double-egg poacher versions!)

5. Egg separator. As a yolk hater, this simple tool is invaluable to help parse the edible white part from the ickle yolk part to make egg dishes.

If my white one dies, I’m getting the hot pink version!
Photo credit.

6. Immersion blender. While I do use the regular blender from time to time, I cannot say enough about the hand-held, wand-style immersion blender that my dear friend Heather gave me for my birthday a number of years ago. I use this sucker constantly to puree soups in the pot instead of going through the messy process of transferring it to a blender and back again. I hear that immersion blenders are great for milkshakes, but surprisingly, I’ve never tried to make one.

5. Oven thermometer. This gadget registers low on the frivolity scale and well, the fun scale, but it’s now a vital part of my cooking process, especially for low-temp cooking.

Photo credit.

6. Juicer. No, not the Vitamix variety. Mr. T won’t let me buy one of those (because he is justified in knowing I will use it once and put it away from years). I’m talking about a juice press. We have a commercial grade Hamilton Beach type, perfect for squeezing fresh orange juice, that I LOVE.

9. Air Popper. Confession: I’ve been on a popcorn kick for more than a year now. I blame my friend Geeta for getting me hooked on Pop Secret. My gateway substance, I moved quickly from bagged kernels to stovetop kettle-style cooking. The crunchy goodness! The calories! Wanting to get back to a healthier snack, I asked my inlaws for an airpopper for Christmas last year. I love the thing and use it several times a month at least.

7. Food processor. Okay, so I’m new enough to the food processor that I often forget to use it. But when I remember, I love it. Chopping onions? A breeze. Shaking up salsa? Simple. Crushing nuts? Piece of cake.

Photo credit.

11. Garlic peeler. I’m typically skeptical of “As seen on TV” products, but our little silicone tube garlic peeler thing is a real deal. Just insert the garlic in the tube and roll on the counter. Bam, peeled garlic. (Or you could be me lately and just buy pre-peeled garlic!)

12. Cookie scoop. Want uniform cookies? (Or if you’re me, the hope of uniform cookies?) You need a cookie scoop. Having broken quite a few, I recommend spending a few extra bucks on a heavy duty version (or one with a good warranty!).

13. Slow cooker. When my former roomie brought home a Crockpot after Christmas break, dinner time was never the same. Embracing the motto “Set it and forget it,” we enjoyed quite a bit of “Slow Cooker Magic” in our time together. Lately I’ve been busting out the Crockpot with increasingly regularity but I find it problematic as a work-from-home telecommuter… Spending all day inhaling the delicious aromas makes me want to eat my house half the time.

Any must-have gadgets that I missed?


More cooking posts you might like:
– The Case for Cooking
– Essential Cooking Tools
– Epic Baking Fails and How to Avoid Them
– Culinary Forays and Failures: Know Your Ingredients and Do Doubling Right!

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