Top 5: Kitchen Gadgets
Let’s face it, as much as we like to keep our kitchens neat and tidy, it is hard with all of the gadgets we are told we need to buy. Specialty knifes for cheese, bread, boning, carving and fruit can really add up. Then there’s the avocado cutters, salad spinners and random storage containers. In an effort to share a few go-to gadgets, I am hoping to alleviate your panic at not having half of the kitchen section at Bed Bath and Beyond.
Being a good cook is not about having the latest instant pot or air fryer. Gadgets are great if you have the space and extra cash, but humans have been making healthy and satisfying meals without them for a long time. Relax! All you need are the basics; a sharp multi-purpose knife (I have been using a J.A. Henckels 6 inch chef’s knife for 15 years), a few pots and pans and some kitchen basics. When I started cooking, I had a hot plate with one small saute pan and one pot. I bought a few extra items like a strainer, wooden spoon, pepper grinder and cheese grater from the thrift store. I still use the strainer I bought 20 years ago when I was in grad school.
The other thing that vastly improved my cooking skills was trying new recipes. I bought vegetarian cookbooks at the thrift store and challenged myself to try something new every week. Sometimes I loved what I made and other times, the food went in the trash. Learning what spices, vegetables and ingredients you enjoy is the first step in being a good cook. There are few vegetables or fruits that I will not eat, however; I do not like eggplant, okra, fennel or apricots. I do not like anise, clove or anything smoked. Knowing my dislikes allows me to substitute or omit the ingredients I dislike. Last weekend, I made a coffee cake from a recipe out of the Pennsylvania Grange that called for cloves and I simply left this spice out. The coffee cake was delicious and nobody missed the cloves.
Here are some of my favorite kitchen Gadgets!
If you love olives, you need one of these! Years ago it was difficult to find pitted olives. I would spend ages cutting the pits out for a tapenade that I liked to make (seriously, way to long). I bought a pitter and it made the process almost fun. Pitted olives work best in recipes where you are going to mash them or blend them with another ingredient (see Kalamata Aioli recipe). However, if you are serving them on their own, it is best to by olives with the pits and remove them before eating. Olives get mushy after the pits are removed because they are re-brined and packaged.
As the name suggest, you can also use this gadget on cherries. If you are making a pie from fresh cherries, the pitter will save you time prepping the fruit.
#4 Nutribullet, $49.88
I use my Nutribullet to make hummus, smoothies, pesto and soups. Unlike my large Jamba Juice blender, the Nutribullet is much easier to use and clean. It has one speed (high) and can wiz together a smooth puree in no time. I use it most of the year for blending and save the large and tedious job of pureeing my tomatoes in the fall for the Jamba Juice blender. It is small and easy to store and has two sizes of cups for smaller and larger recipes.
#3 Citrus Squeezer, $7.95
The first time that I saw a citrus squeezer on TV I knew I wanted one. Before I bought my own, I had one of those old school hand juicers that I never used because it was a pain in ass. This gadget is so easy to use and can be stored in a kitchen drawer! If you do not have one and use lemon in recipes as much as I do, run out and get one now.
#2 Spiralizer, $14.68
Veggie noodles are quite popular right now, and with good reason. They allow you to cut back on the carbs and unwanted calories. Plus, you eat more vegetables! I love zucchini noodles as a replacement for spaghetti. The trouble is, unless you have a spiralizer, you are in for a lot of work. With a spiralizer, you can make noodles out of a zucchini in less than a minute. They take less time to cook than pasta, so you are saving time and eating healthy. My spiralizer takes up a bit of real estate in the kitchen, but I think that it is worth it! See my favorite spiralized recipe.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, Greg and I are trying to reduce the amount of waste we create. We started composting this spring. I have wanted to start for years, but was unsure of where to start. I bought this super cute compost bin that sits on our counter and collects kitchen scraps. When the bucket is full the scraps go out to the backyard composter. I have been pleasantly surprised by how little effort it takes and the fact that so far the scraps are not stinky. This compost bin has a charcoal filter to keep the rotten veg smell from escaping into the kitchen. We add dead leaves and egg shells to the backyard mixture. I am hoping to get some quality compost for our garden in a few months.
If you have any suggestions on what else I should do, please leave a comment below.