Thursday, December 10, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: My Essential Holiday Kitchen Tools

From Pinterest

When it comes to kitchen utensils, I am very low-tech.  I prefer to do most of my prep work by hand, or purchase pre-prepped ingredients, such as chopped vegetables, from the grocery store.  I never use my stand mixer, rarely use the food processor or blender, and generally tend to avoid any of the numerous gadgets we own that plug in or need batteries.  I do, however, have a few tools in my kitchen that I consider indispensable, especially during the holidays.  Some of them are rarely used, and some used all the time, but I would hate to be without any of them in my kitchen!  Here is my list of essential kitchen tools:

From UPC Index

1) Immersion Blender

Back before the immersion blender was introduced, puréeing anything involved scooping hot food out of a pot, putting it into a blender or food processor, puréeing it, and then returning it to the pot.  Even worse, if you had to purée in batches, the puréed food had to be placed in a second container until everything was done, and then returned to the pot.  Needless to say, because I am a lazy cook, I almost never made anything that had to be puréed.  With the purchase of an immersion blender, my cooking life changed forever!  Now the process is effortless -- just place the business end of the stick in your pot, press a button, and almost instantly you have perfectly smooth liquid food.  Immersion blenders come in a range of prices, but my $20 Hamilton Beach version has been with me for years and still works great for my needs.  The type I bought is no longer available, but the Hamilton Beach 59770 Turbo-Twister 2-Speed Hand Blender ($23.00 plus free shipping on Amazon) looks similar and even comes with a whisk attachment for whipping and beating.

2) Wooden Spoon

The only tool you need for sautéing, browning, or even blending when cooking in a skillet is that old standby, the wooden spoon.  The one I use has a point at one end, similar to the one on the right in the picture above, but honestly I don't think it makes any difference (it just happened to be the one that my husband had when I met him decades ago, and I've been using it ever since).  The Good Cook Classic Set of 3 Wood Spoons ($5.32 plus free shipping on Amazon) is a good basic set, but shop around online or locally and you may be able to find some you like better for even less money.

3) Oval Blending Spoon

A wooden spoon is necessary for skillet cooking, but for me my Gourmac 13" Melamine Oval Blending Spoon (set of 2 for $17.95 plus free shipping on Amazon) is far more useful, as it can be used for liquid or dry ingredients, and for hot or cold stirring.  Whether mixing up baked goods or stirring pasta, I find myself reaching for this spoon more than any other utensil.  I have had mine for decades and it has literally stood the test of time.  I keep thinking I should buy another one or two for backup, but so far have not needed to do so.  I think this is probably my very favorite kitchen tool.

4) Pie Crust Shield

I rarely bake pies, but pumpkin pie is a must at our house for Thanksgiving, and a pie crust shield is a lifesaver (or should I say pie saver?) for me.  Before I found this simple device, my crust always burned around the edges by the time the pie was done.  I like the silicone Talisman Designs Adjustable Pie Crust Shield (only $5.00 plus free shipping at Signatures!), but there are many options available.

5) Roasting Rack

I also rarely make roasts, but of course no Thanksgiving (and/or sometimes Christmas), is complete without one.  While you can roast a turkey without a rack (and I have in the past), the results are so much better with a rack that now I always use one.  If you do not yet have a roasting pan and are thinking of buying one, try to get one with a rack included.  If you are just looking for a rack to use in a pan you already have, there are many types available.  Most are metal racks with handles so you can lift the whole bird out of the pan, rack and all, but I just found the intriguing silicone roasting racks shown above and will probably get a set.  The Easy Made Silicone Roasting Rack can be purchased as a set of 2 ($26.97 plus free shipping on Amazon) and I would recommend getting two for a variety of pan sizes (use one in small pans, and both in larger ones).  Silicone is so easy to clean, and roasts are notorious for leaving difficult messes in pans.  And if you prefer multi-task gadgets, the racks can also be used as trivets!

Everyone has different cooking preferences, so many people may find some of my essentials to be unnecessary in their kitchens, but I hope these tools have given you some ideas for ways to make cooking easier!

From Phoenix New Times

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