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How did I live without it?

  • d

I bought one of these stainless steel mesh drain screens last year and now I actually give them as gifts. If you don't have a disposal, try to pick one up. I get mine at a hardware store near me. They are MUCH better than the regular heavy metal kind with the stopper for catching scraps from pans and rice from washing the rice cooker.

What little kitchen item would hate to be without?

Link: http://www.plumbingsupply.com/stainle...

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  1. Did not know I needed one until my mom got me one a couple of years ago, from Chinatown (L.A.), probably $2. The one I have, the top flattened part is all metal, not screen, and the edge sits more flat on the sink so nothing gets between the edge and the sink and into the drain.

    1. my microplane grater...

      1. my mini whisks and rubber spatulas.

        I buy any mini (4") whisk I can find! I use them to stir my coffee and whisk small amounts of liquid (egg wash, etc). Use 3 or 4 times a day.

        I have a large jar of spatulas (9 at the current count) that I use all the time for mixing, folding, scaping, spreading, etc.

        Have 'em both at either side of the stove so it's grab 'n go.

        1. Stainless steel scrubing pads. I get them at
          the chinese grocery. They are like tight curls
          of stainless steel ribbons. They never wear out,
          don't rust and seem to be softer than other
          products make for cleaning pots and pans.


          1. I thought I was the only person who gave those as gifts! They are great and they really prevent potential clogged pipes. I accidentally tossed my strainer out and ended up using the old metal one, after about a week I had a clogged sink. I fixed the sink and got a new strainer and no more clogs.

            1. Amen to the microplane; also my wood lemon reamer.

              2 Replies
              1. re: doctor_mama

                ..slotted turner fish spatula...and sharp grapefruit knife!

                1. re: doctor_mama

                  As much as I liked my lemon reamer, do stop by your local mexi-market and pick up a squeezer, large if you can find it, small one too if you do a lot of limes.

                  Fast, easy and very effective. Just remember t put the fruit in cut side down, it's counter-intuitive, but otherwise you'll just spray your kitchen.

                2. d
                  Dave Westerberg

                  Also my little curved pairing knife. Lots of companies make them, but I buy them from Lehman's Amish hardware store (link below). They are the handiest little knives. You can slice a clove of garlic in half and pick out the shoot in half a second.

                  That knife and my Joyce Chen Chinese Cooking Knife (the classic rectangular Chinese cooking knife) are just about the only knives I use. I've had the Joyce Chen knife for 20 years, and it never gets put away. You can get them at World Market now ($20), or from Amazon.

                  Link: http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/produ...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Dave Westerberg

                    I couldn't manage without a LOT of paring knives. I buy them 4 for a dollar at the Dollarama and keep a bunch in the drawer, where I am always grabbing a clean one to chop celery or cut open a package or slice a sandwich. When I run the dishwasher I always have ten or fifteen in the rack.

                    1. re: Dave Westerberg

                      Does the Joyce Chen Chinese Cooking Knife rust or stain?

                    2. I haven't made fondue in years, but my fondue forks get a daily workout. They test food for doneness, flip things over, fish stuff out of the pot or the oven, push things around in the toaster oven, etc.

                      1. f

                        My citrus juicer, the kind that is in two pieces and turns the lemon or lime half almost inside out. It's great for maximizing the amount of juice from a lemon or lime (particularly for those without a lot of hand strength), and is a fast way to squeeze a bunch of lime juice for margaritas. They carry a fancy, painted one (yellow or green, with two different sizes) at Williams-Sonoma, but I got a plain, unpainted large sized one (you don't need two sizes, just get a big one) at a restaurant supply store about six years ago and use it frequently.

                        1. Tongs ... can't believe how long it took me to get a good pair ... use them all the time. Also micro plane grater.

                          1. I've had one of those drain screens in my bathtub ever since I saw it at my stepbrother's house in England about 12 years ago. Love it.

                            As for what I couldn't do without, self-locking tongs (I got them at Kitchen Etc. before they went under - by Oneida, I think, although I see BB&B now has them online), Microplane grater, and my old wooden spoons. I collect them (usually from antique stores), as they were made with a harder wood than the flimsy pine ones nowadays.

                            Link: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...

                            1. the imersion blender- purees most soups easily when they are still hot( not splattering; you do not have to clean multiple pans), you can control the texture easily , too.( my son stirs his protein drinks with it)

                              1. I have the drain screen but what I wonder how I lived so long without them are funnels. Metal and plastic in different sizes. Also the odd sized measuring spoons and cups. Those things can save you so much time. I got mine at Williams Sonoma and actually having a 2/3 C. measure or 1.5 tsps. etc is terrific especially when i am doing some marathon cooking and baking.

                                1. I would say my colander (for years I lived with only a mesh strainer and cleaning a colander is much easier), my little offset spatula (just the things for spreading stuff on bread or frosting a cupcake or you name it), and tongs (I held off foolishly for years). For some stupid reason, I cooked without an apron for a number of years, but now I'm like a fifties housewife, never without my stylish-but-practical apron.

                                  Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: curiousbaker

                                    My favorite apron is a long, old-fashioned oilcloth apron from the Vermont Country Store. It keeps anything wet from permeating into your clothes, and wipes clean. I have stylish-but-practical aproms as well, but the blue gingham oilcloth is my go-to favorite.

                                  2. I second the tongs... I use them constantly. If I had to dispose of all my utensils except one, I could probably use the tongs for everything!
                                    Also my off-set metal spatula - excellent for levelling/swooshing the mashed potato top of sheperd's pie.

                                    1. I third the tongs, 18 inch ones not only work indoors, but are great on the BBQ, larger q's will reqire even longer ones.

                                      Keeps the cats in line too.

                                      1. My spider. I love it for fried foods, as well as scooping out pasta instead of messing up a colander.

                                        Definately tongs. Very important.

                                        1. Pads of paper with refrigerator magnets to keep track of what I'm low on and make an instant shopping list. These things are genius. Who ever invented them should get a Nobel Prize.

                                          1. The thoughtful housewarming gift which I greedily asked for: Peugeot Chili Pepper Mill. It just plain rocks! *Poof* eggs, cottage cheese and hot chocolate (just to name a few) are instantly perky and perfect.

                                            1. I have a little garlic slicer/mincer that I use all the time. It looks like a little mandoline and cost maybe $5. It is definitely my favorite little kitchen gadget.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Tom M of Durham NC

                                                Now, I have one of those and rarely use it. I think I can slice pretty thinly with a knife, and it's a pain looking for the silly thing (maybe that is the problem.) I'd really like to be convinced to use it, though! I'm sure I haven't explored its potential.

                                                1. re: mirage

                                                  I just like the consistency and speed at which it does both jobs--slicing thin and mincing. Very easy to slice multiple cloves to the exact same thickness. It lives in the drawer with the other cooking tools I use frequently: spatulas, slotted spoons, zester, grater, brush, juicer, that sort of thing. Always at hand and very easy to find that way. I'm sure I could live without it but I find it very easy to use so I use it a lot.

                                              2. thinking about this as it's corn season....anybody use one?


                                                oops! just saw an answer further down the board! thanks

                                                1. My Presto Pressure Cooker. I cook everything in that thing from soups and stews to complete chicken dinners and pot roasts...all within 15 minutes AND tastes like you simmered it all day. Buy the older ones off Ebay for $5-8, they last forever...replacement parts are easily purchased online.

                                                  1. Two items I never thought I would spend the money on but now I couldn't live without:
                                                    1) Wooden tongs to get hot items out of the hot toaster (about 10' long)
                                                    2) A bagel slicer

                                                    Amazing how much better the world is now.

                                                    1. I don't use it often, but when I need it nothing else will do. When I feel like making waffle chips or pommes anna, I bring out my heavy, stainless, French Mandoline. I have a Beringer (Japanese) and a cheap plastic one as well. Kind of weird, huh?