October 14, 2010

Kitchen Gear I Don't Truly Need, But Would Really Miss

There are some things that are pretty much essential for anyone who plans to do much in the way of cooking.  A good knife set, for example, or some basic pans and a set of measuring spoons and cups.  Then there are those that aren't absolutely essential, but which sure come in awful handy.  A reliable vegetable peeler, for example.  Sure, you can get the same result with a knife, but unless you're really, really skilled with a knife, a good peeler is faster and safer.

Then there are the ones that really aren't essential - you could certainly do without them - but which you'd nonetheless really miss.  Here are three items that fall into that category for me.

Capresso Grinder, Oxo Mango Splitter and (in rear) Williams-Sonoma Cookbook Holder

First up is our cookbook holder.  There are a lot of different cookbook stands out there, and they all provide the same function:   they save counter space by holding upright whatever cookbook(s) you're using.  Many, including this model, also feature a transparent cover of some sort, to protect the cookbook from stains and spills.  We purchased this glass and stainless steel cookbook holder from Williams-Sonoma (http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/glass-and-stainless-steel-cookbook-holder/?pkey=e%7Ccookbook%20holder%7C1%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C24%7C%7C1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules ).  According to their website, they are the exclusive vendors for this model.  While I could get by without it, I really wouldn't want to.   It's big enough that I can have two recipes showing at once without having to flip pages, plus it is printed with conversion charts for standard measures.  If, like me, you have trouble remembering how many tablespoons are in a cup, or what the ounce to gram ratio is, you'll no doubt find this handy.

Next up is our Oxo Mango Splitter.  I don't know about you, but I've always found it a huge pain to slice up mangoes.  This thing works like a charm.  Place it atop the mango, press down, and just like that, you've taken out the pit and sliced what's left in halves, from which you can easily slice or scoop the mango flesh from the skin.  Whether you are using mango in a recipe or just want a quick and tasty breakfast, this tool is a winner.

Finally is our Capresso 501 Grinder.  Though designed and sold as a coffee grinder, I use it as a spice grinder.  I also have a marble mortar and pestle which has seen a lot of use and which continues to be the item of choice when I am grinding up a small amount of something (two or three bits of whole allspice, for example, or a teaspoon of dried rosemary).  But when I'm grinding up a lot of spices at once (to make a garam masala blend, for example) or simply grinding up a large amount of a single spice (as when I grinding hot, dried chili peppers into a hot chili powder) this is my go-to item.  It's a lot faster and a lot less messy than the mortar, and it holds a lot at once.  It cleans up really easily, and the clear cover lets you view the progress of the grinding as you go. 

So, those are three of my not-essential-but-I-sure-like-'em kitchen tools.  What are yours?

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