Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

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Prof. Wagstaff
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Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:48 pm

I'm always on the lookout for better utensils, gadgets, and other cooking aids and I love to hear how others tackle their cooking chores.

Here's a few of my recent faves which I've found quite helpful (I just went with the first links I found for illustrative purposes, btw, so don't take them as endorsements of these sites specifically):

Universal Pot Lid
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This clever little devil is one of those things I can't believe I never knew existed until recently and that I wish I'd thought of myself. I've inherited a lot of my pots and pans over the years from a variety of sources and sometimes they lack lids. Works much better than the ol' overturned plate method, that's for sure.


Pineapple corer
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A lot of kitchen gadgets neither save you time nor produce very good results but this thing works fantastically. Super simple to use and pretty much guarantees perfect slices every time with very little waste (and when you're done, you've got a great hollowed-out pineapple to put exotic drinks in, if that's your bag.) You do lose a little more juice than cutting by hand but worth the saved time, IMHO. And it's super-easy to rinse off, to boot. Love it.

Angled Measuring Cup
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Why they even make non-angled ones anymore when these exist is a mystery to me. These things are soooooo much more convenient. They come in a variety of sizes, natch, not just the one I linked to here.

Rectangular Measuring Spoons
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Another "so simple I can't believe they even make the other kind" tool. Very helpful to be able to fit your measuring spoon directly into your spices. Less mess, no fuss.

What are some of your favorite kitchen tools that others might be unaware of? (And forgive me if these are all obvious to you, I've only really been cooking for real for a few years and none of these were in my mom's kitchen growing up, so they all seemed revelatory to me when I discovered them.) For that matter, what are the biggest losers you've encountered? It's as helpful to know what to avoid as it is to know what will make life a little easier, IMO.

O.J.
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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby O.J. » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:55 pm

I'm not a huge gadget fan, but I do have a similar measuring-spoon set and it's quite handy. Other than that, my mortar and pestle and microplane are the only other tools I use on a consistent basis.

Igor
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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby Igor » Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:41 pm

The Pampered Chef chopper, hands down.

On the other side of things, the mandolin slicer that took my fingertip is evil incarnate.

fennel
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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby fennel » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:49 am

The mandoline is ideal if you're making Potatoes Anna, but I do suggest wearing a cutting glove, just in case. The mandoline knows no mercy.

snoqueen
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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby snoqueen » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:55 am

Igor wrote:...the mandolin slicer that took my fingertip is evil incarnate.


That's why there's always two or three on the shelf at St Vincent's. Do not even think of buying one.

I'm from the opposite school of cooking. There are gadgets people, and there are zen people.

I mostly get by with an excellent Japanese knife I've had for years (along with a good sharpener). I also do a lot of things with chopsticks. This just evolved -- I never spent time in Asia. It's very convenient and uncluttered.

I like a grater, too. Lots of the things I make have grated ingredients.

I think a lot of this depends on the type of foods you like to make.

fennel
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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby fennel » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:11 am

Yes, a heavy box grater is indispensable. Much faster that a processor unless you're grating vast amounts. Grate some fennel (bulb) for your salad, for example.

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:15 am

snoqueen wrote:
Igor wrote:...the mandolin slicer that took my fingertip is evil incarnate.


That's why there's always two or three on the shelf at St Vincent's. Do not even think of buying one.

I love my mandoline for certain things, particularly potato slices, but when I do use it I just resign myself to the fact that I will be wasting some small amount of food. The risk-benefit ratio of slicing that last bit of tater compels me to just stop slicing at some point. And the guard that comes with (the cheapest ones, anyway) is frankly just useless.

snoqueen wrote:I'm from the opposite school of cooking. There are gadgets people, and there are zen people.

I'm not sure why I titled this thread as a I did given that only one of the items I highlighted (the pineapple corer) is really a "gadget". The other three are just useful cooking tools. No matter how you cook, everyone needs pot lids, and unless you're super comfortable with "a pinch of this and a dash of that", most everyone makes use of measuring cups and spoons too.

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby snoqueen » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:33 am

Well, I guess I'm a "bit of this" type cook. I do have little spoons and a pyrex measuring cup but they are pretty far to the back of the cupboard.

Lids: I somehow ended up with an assortment of those flat restaurant lids that, given three or four different ones, will fit pretty much any pot. And they all lie flat together like a bunch of old LPs. So that's my solution, although like you I have lots of pans that either never had their own lids or lost them by time they came to me. I never saw that multi lid thing before and it's pretty cool.

I have way more cast iron frying pans than any reasonable person needs. One of these days I'll find a home for the whole collection, which includes my mom's beautiful dutch oven I never use because I don't cook meat. Meanwhile, the largest pan makes a great pizza, and one of the smallest ones makes a nice little round cornbread.

No judgment on any of this, by the way. If people like gadgets they should use gadgets. It's like the thread about stick shift or automatic.
Last edited by snoqueen on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby jman111 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:34 am

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Splatter screen: Like the universal pot lid, but vented to allow steam to escape. We use it when making stir-fry at home (and a lot of other things in the frying pans)-- keeps the splatter down without inducing sogginess.

fennel
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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby fennel » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:48 am

Sno, that dutch oven is ideal for making no-knead bread. This book lays out the remarkably simple process for beautiful bread.

BTW, the author makes a good case for measurements by weight instead of volume, so a good kitchen scale is a worthwhile purchase.

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:50 am

snoqueen wrote:No judgment on any of this, by the way.

Indeed. Cooking is an art and everyone should use the tools they are most comfortable with in the fashion that produces the most desirous results.

I used to get frustrated by recipes that called for a specific size/type of pot/pan until I realized that the ingredients are the most important thing. There are very few dishes that "require" a medium saucepan that can't be made well in a deep skillet. I don't own a Dutch oven (although one has been on my Amazon wish list for two years now... Come on, Mom!) but that doesn't stop me from making recipes that call for one in my stock pot.

I use my measuring spoons/cups for a lot of stuff but I'm not gonna waste my time grinding the "correct" amount of pepper or making sure my minced garlic meets whatever exacting standards some particular recipe calls for (especially since I'm a firm believer in "there's no such thing as too much garlic.") The more comfortable I've become with knowing how various things will taste in the finished product the less I've needed to rely on exact measurements.

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby jman111 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:05 am

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Certainly not a "gadget", but this thing gets used so much it just lives on the kitchen counter.

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby jman111 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:12 am

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Hand juicer: This particular design seems to work significantly better than others. I think it's the gear mechanism (which reminds me of that on my favorite Fiskars lopper for the yard work) that makes extracting every last drop from halved citrus so easy.

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:21 am

I used to have a handheld juicer like that and didn't care for it but for the life of me, I can't remember why. I now have one similar to this:
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I really like the way it juices but it annoys me that the container doesn't have measurements on it. (Such a feature is available but I really can't justify spending money on a new one as long as the one I have works just fine.)

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Re: Favorite Cooking Gadgets And Such

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:24 am

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This small micro-cooker from Pampered Chef. Not really a gadget, but it's very handy to quickly steam veggies.


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