Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vegan MOFO Day 3-ish : Tools of the Cookin' Trade

I'm going to post twice today. I missed yesterday due to travel and sheer exhaustion.

For my first post, I thought I would ponder some of my favorite kitchen tools and how they make life in my kitchen joyful.

I have to start with my new stove of course. I have waited for quite a while to get her and she is a beauty. This model came with a double oven. We will use the smaller one a lot, especially in the hot summers here. It is a convection oven as well. The first batch of scones I made in it were flawless. The top boasts 5 burners with an iron griddle insert for the middle. I've been working or out of town since it was installed, so I haven't had much time to break it in. Rest assured my culinary friends, my next run of days off there is going to be some serious cooking and baking action! I can't tell you how excited I was to be able to bake without worrying about the darn thing keeping temperature. While any great cook can get away with a substandard stove and still produce kick ass dishes, a good stove makes for a much happier cook.
Last year for my birthday my lovely fiance, Fred, got me a heavy duty Kitchenaide mixer. Surprisingly, I don't use it as often as I thought I would. When the need does arrive, this thing is a wonder. I have wrist issues, so when I need to mix up large batches of icing, knead dough, juice citrus, etc. this baby works wonders. Each year for Christmas I make loads of cookies for the guys at work. The Kitchenaide makes this a much less cumbersome and much more fun task.
The next two tools I have to give mention to are the Vita-Mix and the Waring Juicer. Fred has really gotten into making smoothies. If you are a smoothie hound go out and get a Vita-Mix. They make it quick and easy to make a whole fruit/veg smoothie. Using the whole fruit gives you the full nutritional punch your body deserves. Vita-Mixes are pretty darn expensive, but they last forever. No longer do we need to drink processed smoothies or juices. We love to use the juicer to make cleansing green juices.
I must not forget the first pricey gadget I bought. When I first started recipe testing for Isa and Terry, I was using a small food processor a friend had given me. The darn quiche recipe almost put me over the edge. I had to process the recipe in three seperate batches. The job got done, but what a mess! After that experience, I bit the bullet and bought an 11 cup Cuisinart food processor. It was love at forst blend. I've never regretted that purchase. It has saved my gimpy wrist on more than one occassion.
Fred spoils me rotten in case you haven't been able to tell. Once he discovered that I had an almost sexual bond with my Global chef's knife, didn't he go out and get me matching paring and vegetable knives? I love the weight and feel of the handles. The steel is magnificent. They hold a beautifullly sharp edge. Love love love them!
OK, my ode to really expensive kitchen gadgets is over. Onto the more practical side of kitchen gadgetry. One tool I absolutely can no longer live without is my microplane grater. I think I paid $12.00 for it. It is hands down the most time saving tool in my kitchen. Nothing works better to mince garlic and ginger. It is also the best thing on the planet for zesting citrus. If you don't have one, run don't walk, to the store and get one. Go right now!
Another tool that gets a great amount of use in our kitchen is the citrus juicer. It is so great at getting out every last drop of juice without leaving a bunch of seeds behind in your juice. If your skin is sensitive to the acid in citrus, this tool will be a lifesaver. I no longer dread recipes that call for copious amounts of citrus juice.
Last but certainly not least, I must pay homage to good measuring untensils. Over the years I have gone through many styles of measuring cups and spoons. What is more frustrating than trying to scoop out a cup of flour only to have the darn handle on the measuring cup completely bend, spilling all of the conents onto your unsuspecting counter, floor, and lap. Ugh! Let us not forget the ones that loose their markings. While I am pretty good at eyeballing the sizes by now, some are not so fortunate. It only takes one time using 1/3 cup instead of 1/4 cup of a very powerful ingredient to realize the importance of stamped metal measuring cups. I now own two sets.
I've become a gadget-aholic to some extent. I have 5 sets of measuring spoons. Why you might ask? The first two sets were bargain sets. They bend if you look at them the wrong way, but they fit in most of my spice jars. The second two sets are much stronger, but they are very rounded and don't fit into all of my jars. When Fred and I merged households, we each had a set of this style. The most recent set I purchased are made of stainless steel and are rectangular. This set offers me the best of my four prior sets; strength and the ability to find their way into all of my spice jars. Yes, some might think this is overkill, but I always have a clean dry set for backup when I am in a baking and cooking frenzy.

Damn this working thing. I wanna be in my kitchen :(


  1. Ooh, I love my Vitamix, too. I thought I broke it the other day and I almost died.

  2. I know what you mean. I need to send mine in to be refurbished. I really don't want to send it in.