Ok, I have a confession to make.
You know that fabulous kitchen store we all love? The one with the prime mall location and the catalog that always has the perfectly decorated kitchen outfitted with the latest and greatest “must haves for your kitchen” on the cover? There’s a gravitational force that somehow activates whenever I walk by one of those stores. It pulls me in, and when I enter, and pass the perfectly organized rows of cast iron pans in every shape and size, and cookbooks displayed next to the gadget of the month, I find myself thinking, “I’ll just spend a few minutes looking and then I’ll leave.”
Yeah, right. That never happens.
Instead I usually find myself walking out of the store with at least one more thing to add to a drawer in my kitchen. Sometimes I buy something incredibly useful, like the time I finally invested in a microplane, but there other times my “can’t live without it” purchase winds up in the back of a drawer never to be seen, or used, ever.
And I know I’m not the only one this happens to. I have a girlfriend who hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she doesn’t love. Another girlfriend uses an antique glass juice press handed down from her grandmother.
So which gadgets are worth the investment, and which should you put in the donation bin? Donna and I have collected our list below, but feel free to add your list in the comment section! What are your “must haves” and “forget about its?”
- Mortar and Pestle -- I'll be completely honest on this one. It took me awhile to invest in one. Once I did, I was completely hooked. I used it to muddle herbs (to mix into marinades), make guacamole, and mash spices into a paste (perfect for Thai soup and curries).
- Microplane – Not just for zesting lemons, limes and oranges, you can also use this handy tool to grate cheese, ginger, garlic and I love using it to grate fresh nutmeg. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t use my microplane.
- Meat Tenderizer – Need to pound out some chicken for chicken piccata? This is the perfect tool. You can use it for any meat, from steak to pork, and the tenderizer not only makes the meat thinner for quicker cooking time, it also makes the meat tender.
- Spider – This long handled basket is essential when it comes to frying (to avoid splatters) and is the perfect gentle way to remove cooked ravioli from boiling water.
- Emulsion Blender – It’s almost soup season, which means it’s time for me to dust off my emulsion blender. If you’re not a fan of using multiple pots when making soup, then you will love this tool. Puree your soup in the same pot you cooked it, or use the blender to puree sauces, cooked veggies or anything else you want nice and smooth. I guarantee your giant blender will get a bit jealous.
- Ice cream scoop (different sizes) – I’m sure you already have this in your drawer, but did you know you could also use it for cookies? Scoop out the raw dough onto cookie sheets, or use it to scoop cooked mashed potatoes onto your plate for a fancy presentation.
- Silicone Brush – You will use this all the time for baking AND cooking, from brushing egg wash over raw dough before baking a pie or tart, to brushing marinade over steak on the grill or brushing herb butter over veggies.
- Lemon Juice Squeezer – Fresh juice, whether it’s lemon or lime, adds great flavor to most dishes. Digging out lemon seeds isn’t fun, so avoid this hassle and use a lemon juice squeezer. I also use it for limes because they don’t make a lime juice squeezer.
- Spiralizer – Peel veggies into thin ribbons you can sauté or add raw to salads. I love using this to make zucchini "noodles."
- Fish Spatula – There’s nothing worse than trying to get a piece of cooked fish out of the pan and having it disintegrate or break into pieces. A fish spatula is much thinner than a regular one, so it has the ability to remove your fish from the pan and keep it all in one beautiful piece.
FORGET ABOUT IT:
- Garlic press – A good knife will do the trick, and, added bonus, a knife is much easier to clean.
- Herb de-stemmer – Rosemary leaves are the toughest, but if you run your fingers down the stem in the opposite direction the leaves grow, they’ll come right off. Easy!
- Vegetable wash bag – A good rinse using a strainer (which you most likely already have) under the faucet is really all your veggies need.
- Apple slicer – See garlic press above. Really, a good knife is all you need.
- Oil Mister – I’ve never understood this one. Olive oil is to be drizzled. Never misted.
- Cheap plastic cutting boards -- I always keep one cutting board that is designated for raw meat, which is really important to avoid cross contamination. That said, a good cutting board is worth the investment because you want one that is durable, and will last.
Lisa and Donna