Sorry for the silence lately, life with a three and a half year-old and a three month-old means that I rarely have my hands free to cook, or to write. Our sweet little baby sleeps a lot, but only if you hold him. Once we can start putting him down to nap, I expect to start getting a lot more done!
In the meantime, I wanted to share this little round-up of the five kitchen tools and gadgets that have had the biggest impact on my culinary life in lieu of one of the super-detailed holiday gift guides I've written in years past (though I've included all the past ones at the end of this post in case you feel like browsing -- they're still good!) If someone you care about likes to cook or bake and does not yet have all of these things, they make great holiday gifts.
1. Microplane Zester - the perfect tool for grating cheese and spices, zesting citrus, shaving chocolate, and more. They're light and easy to wield and produce very fine shavings although there are various sizes of these should you prefer one that does coarser grating. And it's stocking-shaped, to boot. They cost between $8 and $20, in general. Read more about it in my Gifts from the Kitchen Gods post.
2. Mandoline - this little tool takes all the tedium and inconsistency out of slicing. There are two kinds -- adjustable and fixed. The adjustable ones allow you to slice thick or thin or anywhere in between and often include attachments that let you julienne, shred, or crinkle cut but even the cheaper, non-adjustable kind is awesome - I actually have both and I mostly use the cheaper, non-adjustable one (shown below making quick work of some celeriac) because it is lighter and easier to handle. You can get a non-adjustable one for under $20 and the adjustable kind for roughly $35 and up, depending on the brand and attachments.
3. Silpat Baking Mat - every baker's best friend. I love making cookies and scones and free-form breads and even fruit leathers on this thing since it lets you bake without any fear of sticking whatsoever. It's also very easy to clean. Read more about it in my earlier post.
4. Kitchen Scale - cooking is really a science and a reliable kitchen scale that takes the guesswork out of amounts is a must for your baking and preserving experiments. I love my little OXO digital scale - it's small and simple and lets me know how many ounces of flour or tomatoes or strawberries or sugar or whatnot I am dealing with. At just $30, it's pretty affordable, too.
5. Immersion Blender - I've said it many times before but I'll just say it again... I think this is the single most useful kitchen gadget I own. This handy little wand blender allows you to puree sauces, soups, jams and more right in the pot or bowl without having to deal with pouring hot (or cold) liquids into a blender or food processor. And it makes the clean up wonderfully easy, too -- no need to mess with the Cuisinart's millions of hard to clean parts or cut your fingers dealing with the blade on your blender. Prices vary widely by brand with the cheapest coming in at under $20 and the priciest at around $200 but if my own experience is any guide, you probably don't need one of the expensive ones. Read more about it in my Gifts from the Kitchen Gods post.
You might also like:
- Yummy Holiday Gifts
- Green Gifts For Foodies
- Books You'll Want To Devour
- Gadgets, Gear & Gee-Gaws For Food-Lovers