Chef’s little helpers . . . KITCHEN gadgets 101
Disclaimer – This blog is about sharing knowledge – not brand loyalty.
No company or brand is profiting from the advice or products mentioned here. With (4) decades of cooking in my repertoire, these are simple items that aid in that process.
Loads of unique kitchen toys are available. I’ll be the first to admit they are a weakness of mine. Mainly because spending time in my kitchen is a joy. For holidays and birthdays, there are always new helpful kitchen tools in my gift pile that feed my obsession. Now that I have grown kids who also love to wear the chef’s hat, it’s worse or better – depending on my current cabinet space’s point of view.
This year’s tested kitchen gadgets:
Dual-handed oven mitts
I saw these on The Great British Baking Show and after watching all 6 Netflix seasons, I craved a pair of my own. My family was smart and bought TWO sets. The mitts are wonderfully deep so any sized hand can find a safe haven and there is an ample selection of colors to fit any kitchen décor (and budget) Nice thing – they hang over oven door handles, or the nearest cabinet door so none of the dreaded kitchen space purging was required. (When searching online: check under ‘1 piece’ oven mitts; ‘double’ oven mitts or gloves, or even ‘quilted long’ oven mitts. It’s a bit of an adventure depending on your neck of the Internet woods what will show up. As I’m in the Deep South, BBQ gloves populated the most frequently. My search browser required a small reckoning before it produced an ample selection.) Oh, and one of my gifted mitts had the silicone lining (VEEYOO), which makes them sturdy enough to handle really hot dishes. (Amazon seems to be heading the charge in offering this valuable kitchen device. For those who prefer brick and mortar, I found them in retail locations as well.)
Hand blender or kitchen emulsifier
Several brands/versions/models are available. Several have been in my kitchen. Lesson learned: don’t skimp here. Purchase one of better quality; just wait for a sale. Mine is a Cuisinart –not with all the extra gear, not necessary in my house – but the basic high quality means it will work each time and work well. So as plain Janes go, this one gets the ‘emulsifying’ job done, and it’s easy to disassemble for washing.
Again, mine is a Cuisinart and a simplified version, but this kitchen tool was brilliantly effective at slicing. The scale-down version was a breeze for clean-up. Confession time: I did watch a YouTube on how to use the Mandoline slicer CORRECTLY before I was successful.
Herb storage kits
A friend, who knows me oh-so-well, purchased a set of refrigerator herb storage kits. Mine came with these fabulous herb nippers and an herb stripper as well. A great gift. I’ve utilized Mason jars in the past to hold my herbs . . . don’t get me wrong; they serve the purpose (and remember, we in the Deep South know our way around Mason jars) – except, those glass beauties can turn over in the fridge — and then it’s water, water, everywhere — and the herbs are more exposed to potential ‘refrigerator’ smells.
Several herb storage kits are available online – mine is: Prepara
Hands-free storage bag holder
Almost sounds like a ‘white elephant’ gift, right? Something your in-law, who doesn’t really like you, might slip under the Christmas tree. Well, if you’ve received one, left it in the box, and buried it in a kitchen cabinet – unearth it! This beauty is a saver for loading zippered storage bags (no brands mentioned, but you know to what I refer). The clips at the top are designed to hold the bag in place while you load. Mine has a dual purpose. For those who are readily green and don’t want the ‘plastic’ storage bags in their house, I utilize the silicone ‘reusable’ bags. The hands-free holder works fine on those and once I’ve washed my silicone bag clean, I turn it upside down on the hands-free holder to aid in drying. See, I told you that you wanted to find that box in your cabinet.
If you’re really a kitchen goddess, then go for the good stuff. Burt’s Bees smooths the chapping, but if that brand isn’t your favorite, check with your local Farmer’s Market or Feed Store. Hard-working folks know to slather on the salve for hand protection, and I’ve found ready, and reasonably-priced, products by shopping with the farmers and ranchers. Udder Butter or Bag Balm – no joke – the stuff is a miracle cure. Because hand-washing is a must, keeping skin from turning desert-dry is an everyday challenge.
If your guilty pleasure is collecting (and using) kitchen gadgets and tools, please feel free to share. I’m always in the market for the next ‘great’ kitchen gear discovery.
As the sun is finally shinning in Texas, it’s time to find the back porch with a Mason jar filled with sweet tea. Stop by again.