My Favourite Kitchen Gadgets

At any given moment of the day when I’m home, there’s a pretty good chance that I am in the kitchen.  Or in the dining room which our kitchen spills into.  I pretty much live in these 2 rooms when I’m not sleeping, nursing the Bean, or at work.

There are a few things that make my life in the kitchen more efficient, more effective, and ultimately more pleasant.  Here they are in no particular order.

– my cast iron pan: I got this for xmas longer ago than I can remember, maybe 10 years ago.  I can’t really remember what I did before I had it.  It’s amazing for heat distribution, holding huge stir frys, and keeping an even low-ish heat for pancakes.  It goes from stove-top to oven which makes it perfect for omelettes and certain chicken dishes that start with browning and end with a braise.  I honestly don’t know what I would do without it.

– my salad spinner: For some odd reason I left my last salad spinner in Toronto when we moved here almost 3 years ago.  It was bulky, and I guess I wasn’t using it much at the time.  But I hated living without it!  I wanted to make salads, but my lettuce was always soggy, or I dampened all my tea towels drying each leaf by hand (my mother has been doing this all her life!  I don’t know how she doesn’t go insane.  On the other hand, maybe that explains a few things . . .).  So I began my quest for a new one.  I figured I could pick one up for maybe $15 tops, around Centretown somewhere.  I was astonished to find nothing under $25!  So I held out.  And held out.  And held out.  Until one trip to Canadian Tire with a gift card in hand, when I found lovely little salad spinners for only ten bucks!  Of course, since then I’ve seen them for as low as $8 at Hartmann’s, and I hear Ikea has them cheap too, but ten bucks still ain’t bad.  So now I have my salad spinner, and we eat salad almost every day.  I’m experimenting with beautiful things like kale, and my little girl is actually eating things that aren’t beige.  

– my slow cooker: A recent purchase, again from Canadian Tire, but I am very happy with the decision.  So far I’ve used it for spaghetti, b-b-q ribs and veggie chili, and my sister-in-law used it for pulled pork.  It really is great to throw a bunch of stuff into it, turn it on, and leave it for 6 hours without worrying about burning the house down.  I can do this either in the morning or at lunch when I come home from work, and dinner is ready when we want it.  Nice.

– my red kitchenaid mixer: Okay, this is the one bank-breaker of the list.  I got this at my wedding shower 4 years ago, but I wanted it since I was old enough to toddle around Sears lusting after kitchen gadgets.  It’s red, it’s powerful, and it makes goooood cookies.  I thought I would use it to make bread, but I find it better for cookies, quick breads, pancakes, and other batter-like things.  I don’t think I “need” this one to live, but it sure makes my kitchen sunny.  Red is Best.

– cheap-as-free baking stone: Another useful item left willy-nilly in our old apartment in Toronto, but this one was because my old one was broken.  Of course it still worked great, but I got really lazy in the last stages of packing.  This was another thing I lived without for the last almost 3 years, until I had a brilliant insight.  We’ve got all these white ceramic tiles sitting at the top of our closet (goodness knows what from because we have no such tiles installed anywhere in our apartment!), and I just thought one day, “What the heck is the difference between a white ceramic tile and a baking stone?!”  It turns out that 6 tiles fit my oven rack precisely, making a brilliant, and free, replacement baking stone.  I have the porous side up, and I never bake directly on the surface, but this one ensures my bottoms don’t burn before the tops are cooked, it gives me beautiful, magical pizza crusts, and beautifully browned loaves of bread.  If you want to try it too, email me and I can give you some tiles.  You won’t regret it!

– my hand blender: For some reason my sister-in-law didn’t want her hand blender so she gave it to me.  I now use it *all the time* for creamy blended soups.  I used to ladle everything into the blender, but now it’s a one-pot affair.  It works like magic for butternut squash soup, tomato soup, carrot-ginger soup, zucchini-cilantro soup . . . mmmmmm soup 🙂

– my “good” knife: A wedding present, this knife is featured on the opening credits of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.  Or is it Kitchen Nightmares?  I can’t remember, but it is a knife of TV fame.  I once read a kitchen tip that people should beware kitchen gadgets that simply replace a knife, for someone with good enough knife skillz will be able to match the gadget’s performance without all the extra storage and fiddly clean-up time.  I’ve minced onion in a food processor and know this to be true.  My “good” chef’s knife is my right hand in the kitchen, and though my skillz aren’t quite chef-standard (ha!) I do okay, and am still convinced that I’m better off with a good knife than a small food processor.

So there you have it: my round-up of kitchen amazingness.  What are your favourite kitchen tools?

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