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5 Kitchen Gadgets you can't live without???

As I reorganized my kitchen cupboards looking for food to donate to the annual food drive in my town, I was astonished at how many gadgets I've accrued over the years. All of them are important for one reason or another, but I began to wonder "hmmm... if I could only keep five, what would they be, and why??".

So here's my list (at least for today!):

1. Kitchen timer- Without it, my kitchen would be in a perpetual state of smokiness due to burned foods

2. Chef's Knife- Ok, so you expected this one... Slices, dices, chops, and essentially makes me feel like a "real chef"...

3. Baking Stone- Always in my oven, it regulates the oven temperature even when the door is opened to check on food. Baked goods rise super high, and get light texture, pizza gets a nice crispy crust

4. Microwave Oven- (does that count as a "gadget"?)- Plate warmer, re-heater, defroster and can be used to cook lots of quickie foods (nachos anyone?)

5. Grater- I used it to grate veggies, of course cheese, but also to grate whole nutmeg and other spices (the grater edged my coffee grinder out due to its versatility)

I'm eager to hear what other Chowhounders would choose and why... who knows, maybe we'll discover some new gadgets that might displace ones on our current lists!

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  1. In no particular order

    Instant read thermometer (Thermapen)


    Chef's knife

    Cutting board (not really a gadget)

    bench scraper

    5 Replies
    1. re: bnemes3343

      bnemes3343, I've been wanting one of those Thermapens for so long... are they expensive? Is it a digital readout or analog (I have a meat thermometer but it is analog and moves slowly; hence, it's easy to overcook things!)?

      1. re: ideabaker

        Yea, somewhat expensive. Close to $100. But so nice. digital readout that only takes a few seconds. Americas Test Kitchen rated a less expensive one fairly high too. Can't remember which one it was, but you might find it on their site. I just purchased a remote thermometer (probe in the meat and readout outside the oven on the counter); will try it for the first time next week at Christmas.

        1. re: bnemes3343

          I have an "AccuRite' instant read thermometer that runs off a tiny battery, has an off/on button, a F/C button, and comes with a pocket sleeve with clip for chef's. It's extremely accurate and fast. Got it at Walmart for under ten bucks.

          1. re: Caroline1

            I'm on my second AccuRite in under 2 years. It works alright, but it is not very durable. Just before Xmas ours went wonky, then stopped working and finally the battery holder thingie broke when we tried to put in a new battery. Consider it a disposable gadget - which you would expect for $10.

          2. re: bnemes3343

            Is America's Test Kitchen a reliable source for such things? A lot of their reviews are outdated. I think in general people have a Love/Hate relationship with Kimball and Crew.

      2. Spider (strainer thingy...)
        pasta rolling/ cutting attachment for my kitchenaid
        silicone spatula
        dutch oven (not really a gadget....guess we all have one on our lists) Adam

        7 Replies
        1. re: adamshoe

          adamshoe, a lot of folks are going for the microplane, I need to check that out. As for the Spider, I can't imagine what that must look like. Does it take up a lot of space?

          1. re: ideabaker

            I have two spiders (different sizes) and I love them. They sit in my utensil jug on my counter. There are a few different kinds out there, but mine look like woven wire baskets, roughly 4-5 in. across, attached to bamboo handles. (Some are all metl, and some have finer meshes than others.) They are terrific for removing fried food from hot oil, dumplings from their liquid, etc., anything where you need to remove solids from liquids quickly without draining the cooking liquid away. And because of their size and shape you get a lot of the food out at one sweep of the spider.

            1. re: flourgirl

              Flourgirl, I see those in my Chinese cookbooks a lot. Outside of frying, do they have other uses (I rarely fry in oil deep enough to use the spider)?

              1. re: ideabaker

                Useful to pull out things out of boiling water or stock, ie cooking dumplings, blanching vegetables, pasta

                1. re: chocolateman

                  Chocolateman, I usually steam dumplings... could I have been boiling them all this time without the whole steamer contraption? If so, I've gotta get a Spider...

              2. re: flourgirl

                I've got 3 spiders: wire/bamboo one used most often, nearly flat stainless one that is terrific for skimming foam from chicken broth, and a bowlpshaped one made of hard plastic that I guess was originally designed for pasta that I seldom use. I'd definitely go for the wire one--cheap and they really work!

            2. re: adamshoe

              Silicone spatula - amen. I have several and use them all the time.
              Kitchen Aid stand mixer
              Two ovens - don't know how I survived the holidays with only one

            3. Knives, pots, pans, cutting boards, and the like I exclude because they really aren't gadgets. We use the timer on our range, so no separate gadget required. Somehow survived lo these many years without a microwave. Toasters, blenders, mixers and coffemakers fall in the "too big to be a gadget" realm.

              Box grater
              Oxo Peeler
              Garlic Press
              Immersion blender
              Cast iron waffle irons

              5 Replies
              1. re: MikeB3542

                Agreeing w/re to non-gadgets, timer and small appiances.
                can opener

                1. re: MikeB3542

                  Mike B3542, what exactly is an immersion blender, and how do you use it in your kitchen?

                  1. re: ideabaker

                    An immersion blender is a small appliance that allows you to process (blend) things in a bowl or a pot that you would normally use a blender for, without needing to transfer to a special container. Say you have potato leek soup on the stove, you would blend the contents with an immersion blender in the pot on the stove. Sometimes it is also known as a stick blender.

                    There is talk about the best one here.

                    1. re: chocolateman

                      Thanks, chocolateman, I've seen those before, just didn't know what they'd be used for. I especially like the fact that with one it is not necessary to mess up a whole blender container. Thanks also for the link, would hate to be disappointed with the wrong one!

                  2. re: MikeB3542

                    Mike and Sarah, I need that separate timer (though I have one on the digital readout of the oven) because I tend to wander off, particularly when toasting bread in the oven for crostinis or other starters. Something interesting comes on tv, I decide to throw the wash in the dryer, etc. and the next thing I know smoke alarms are going off. If i use the detached timer, I just take it with me and when it goes off I can get back to the kitchen in time. Guess my screen name is wrong... should be "distractedcook" :-).

                  3. 1. One particularly beautiful, but more importantly *functional*, stainless steel sieve

                    2. My beloved whisks, collectively.

                    3. Curved OXO hand grater

                    4. 10" Chef's knife

                    5. (Three-way tie, sorry) My LC silicon spatulas, spoonulas (again, collectively); one especially durable hand can opener; my pour spouts for my EVOO and vinegar bottles

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Steady Habits

                      Steady Habits, I got a giggle with your three-way tie... I also had a hard time not putting my silicon spatulas and spoonulas on the list... I use them every day for something! I've been using a regular metal funnel to pour EVOO/vinegar and it is so messy. Maybe need to invest in those pour spouts. Are they the same ones that can be used with wine bottles?

                      1. re: ideabaker

                        And one of the gadgets I'm *missing*, idea, is a funnel to pour my EVOO from the tin into my bottles. Eek, you're right--what a mess, LOL. I'm looking for a funnel (casually), but I only seem to see plastic, melamine or collapsible silicon. I want stainless steel, in two or three sizes. I don't want to have to sell one of the kids to get them, but I am willing to pay a fair price so I can finally get the funnels of my dreams, buy 'em once, and forget about it.

                        I don't actually know if the pour spouts I have are used for wines. Are you talking about the liquor jigger tops (sorry, don't know what they're called) that allow out a pre-measured amount? If so, mine aren't that high tech. They all have one-sized fits many rubber gaskets that allow me to use them in a few different sized bottle openings. A couple of them have two different sized apertures in them, so that you can pour the condiment fairly quickly from one side, or drizzle it in smaller amounts from the other. Except for the rubber gasket, they are stainless steel. You can often get a freebee plastic, but metal-toned one when you purchase a boutique oil or vinegar, etc., but that metallic paint doesn't survive the dishwasher, and I wouldn't reuse them without running them through that. Hence, my preference for the SS.

                        Not to hijack your thread, idea, but if things are working better for you now that you've reorganized the cabinets, I'd love to hear if you any wonder solutions for...general mess, ha! No, it's really not that bad. I do have some designated pan drawers, which are great, and certain drawers that are outfitted nicely for their use (e.g., knife drawers, silver ware drawers)...but, OMG, my junk drawers. If they really *were* junk drawers, that would be fine, but they actually contain things I use often and they drive me crazy. I know I could fix 'em up by dispensing some of the universal cure-all (money), but I'd prefer to organize AND keep my right arm, if at all possible.

                        1. re: Steady Habits

                          Steady Habits, my funnels are all plastic, and while the one with a more squared off bowl is a little less messy, they both pose a problem because the oil forms a residue in the funnel itself and it is very hard to clean out (I end up soaking them in a basin of bleach/dishwashing liquid and hot water solution to loosen the oil up. I too would love to get a great set of affordable metal funnels.

                          As for your junk drawer, wish I could help... I have two of them full of gadgets and it takes an average of three attempts to open or close the drawers due to handles or oddly shaped implements poking out. I did get a large crockery utensil holder which made some space, but then I rapidly filled it up with other stuff. I'd be interested in how to better organize the gadgets (pizza cutter, apple corer, sushi paddle, rice spoon, onion holder (for slicing). Right now, mine are fitted around each other like an puzzle with no solution!

                          1. re: ideabaker

                            I have metal and plastic funnels and have never had a problem cleaning. I just toss them in with all the other hand washing stuff. Dawn and hot water. No problem

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I have a half dozen plastic funnels that run in size from very small to pretty large and have never had a problem cleaning them. I just put them in the top shelf of the dishwasher. Squeaky clean!

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                I've always done the dishwasher in the past, however at this time I don't have access to one! But the hot soak in soapy water with the capful of bleach (a trick I learned twenty years ago when teaching pre-school) has always done the trick!

                            2. re: ideabaker

                              I'm one to talk, since I've never been there, but Ikea (and others), have all sorts of adjustable drawers, racks and specialized implement holders. I am planning the remodel of my kitchen and plan on having runners to hang our wine glasses from, wire racks for vertical storage of lids (that mount on the inside of a cabinet door) and then utilize bins and adjustable dividers to control the rest. Sounds like your drawers are too shallow.
                              At the moment, my biggest (minor), problem is when our maid comes, and like the absent-minded professor, puts things in the oddest places. Then it becomes like an Easter Egg hunt!

                      2. Chef knife
                        Can opener

                        Additional things that are important peeler, paring knife, thermometer, tongs, wine key

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: chocolateman

                          chocolateman, how do you use a wine key??

                          1. re: ideabaker

                            A winekey is another name for a corkscrew. Usually it comes with a foil-cutter and a bottle opener. They come in so many permutations, but I prefer the simple waiter's winekey. There are those that are gas powered, table mounted, double action, etc.

                            I tend to use a bit of wine in my cooking, in addition to the normal use.

                            1. re: chocolateman

                              Ah, chocolateman! I do have several of those around (they become harder to find the more glasses of wine one enjoys). Haven't needed one in a while as I've been drinking a lot of New Zealand wines which tend to be screw top. Now that you mention the winekey, I think I may stroll over to the cellar and see if I can make use of mine right now :-).

                              1. re: chocolateman

                                ""I tend to use a bit of wine in my cooking, in addition to the normal use.""

                                Zver zet zoaded? Zic! ;-)

                                (Ever get loaded? Hic!)

                          2. 1. Silicon Tipped Tongs
                            2. Digital Read Thermometer
                            3. Microplane Grater
                            4. MANUAL can opener (my overwhelming hatred toward electric can openers is best expressed elsewhere! :o)
                            5. Tie: Mini Spatula, Immersion Blender

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: kb8240

                              Re number 4...no, go ahead and express it. Animosity (toward electrical can openers only, I promise) loves company. (Although, I am certainly agreeable to offering dispensation for anyone who suffers from arthritis or other medical situations and for whom machines make thing easier.)

                              1. re: Steady Habits

                                Me too, me too :) I actively dislike small appliances that serve a single purpose - one that can be accomplished without electricity - like you, excepting those with medical issues.

                              2. re: kb8240

                                kb8240, I think Santa may have a bit longer list for me this year than originally thought... I'm seeing a theme here, the digital thermometer, the microplane and immersion blender. Question... the mini spatula; am I right to think it is just a spatula, only smaller? In what cases is a mini spatula indispensable?

                                1. re: ideabaker

                                  Getting every last bit out of your mustard/ mayo/ jelly jar or other small-necked vessels.

                                  1. re: adamshoe

                                    adamshoe, I've seen those and they are not expensive... will have to grab one the next time they show up at the market. Thank you!

                                  2. re: ideabaker

                                    The Dutch flessenschraper or flessenlikker is the ideal solution to get the last bit out!
                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottle_s... Yes, the Netherlands, like Switzerland and Scotland, was a hotbed (coldbed?) of Calvinism.

                                2. Setting aside all my various spatulas, knives of various sizes and functions, spoonulas, wooden spoon collection, spiders, ladles, tongs, etc. ..... my top five gadgets are:

                                  Steamer tray
                                  OXO veggie peeler
                                  Box Grater
                                  Swingaway manual can opener
                                  Garlic press

                                  another four are:
                                  citrus zester
                                  wooden reamer
                                  melon baller (for scooping out various seeds)
                                  nutmeg grater

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Gio

                                    I discovered my wooden reamer in the back of my gadget drawer the other day and it took me several minutes to remember what it was, and what it was for. I think we used it once to make mojitos, but do you have other uses?

                                    1. re: ideabaker

                                      Primarily I use my ancient reamer to juice citrus fruit when needed in various recipes. Very handy when a little bit of lemon or lime juice is needed.... other than that, I use my equally old glass citrus juicer that builds up muscles as you press down on the corregated thingy in the middle....on the glass tray that catches the juice.... Does any one know what I'm trying to describe?.......

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        Oh, I know that one, I have my gran's old one and use it for juice. I thought you were talking about the wooden stick that is slightly knobby on the end used to mush up stuff. Come to think of it, I think it is called a muddling stick or something like that, not a reamer... oops, my bad! I have hers, which catches the juice in the rim, and another that has the glass top with the reaming part that separates from a matching (rose depression-like glass) bowl on the bottom. Unfortunately the bowl got broken by an ex-boyfriend so now I use the top with whatever bowl fits. Great tool, and a classic!

                                        1. re: ideabaker

                                          Well - I did mean a wooden reamer thingy....

                                          But I also have an antique glass juicer:

                                          I use both regularly.

                                    2. re: Gio

                                      use my microplane for zesting citrus, and, grating nutmeg.

                                    3. -Water kettle (it's powered, does it qualfy as a gadget?)
                                      -Coffee press
                                      -A good peeler (Kyocera makes an awesome ceramic bladed peeler)
                                      -A good, sharp pizza cutter (better and faster than a knife at some jobs I do often, they're not just for pizza!)
                                      -Mortar and pestle

                                      Comments on others' choices:
                                      -Can opener: I prefer pull-top cans, but true, not having a can opener limits you, so I guess you could call one a must-have.
                                      -Microplane: Yeah, if you're going to get a grater, might as well make it a Microplane. And too, if you want grated or shredded cheese, you'd be hard pressed to make do with knife skills alone, so okay, another 'universal' must-have.
                                      -Knives: Another 'universal', shouldn't need to say it kinda thing. Like cutting boards. Imagine not having a cutting board.

                                      I tried to come up with the things that aren't totally necessary, but are the things in my kitchen I use a lot that I'd prefer not to give up using.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: ThreeGigs

                                        ThreeGigs, I laughed aloud at your comment on imagining life without a cutting board. In my first apartment, the countertops (and my dull knives) attested to the necessity of one. I'm curious to know how you use the pizza cutter, outside of for pizza. I use mine only for pizza (didn't think it had other uses) so it spends most of its life in its plastic sleeve in the utensils/junk drawer of my kitchen. Am sure it would be thrilled to come out and play more often!

                                        1. re: ideabaker

                                          Cutting quesadillas, or tortillas for chips. Cutting pastry. Roll it next to a pie pan and it cuts the crust at the edge. Roll it repeatedly over things that need to be minced, like herbs, or even scallions. Like a mezzaluna but better. It cuts brownies nicely, although it doesn't get to the edge of the pan (although my next time making brownies I'll be using a rectangular springform). I just used it the other day to trim the rind off of some store-sliced ham.

                                          I think it's just that once I got a half-decent pizza cutter, I stopped thinking of it as a pizza cutter, and instead think of it as a 'round knife'.

                                          1. re: ThreeGigs

                                            What great ideas ThreeGigs... I don't know if mine is a "half-decent" 'round knife'... it cost about fifteen bucks... but I will definitely be taking it out more often. I especially like the cutting tortillas part (I've been using a knife all these years, and ripping the tortillas or cutting my own fingers trying to hold the tortilla in place!). Thanks for the tips!

                                            1. re: ThreeGigs

                                              I have a good one too. Can they be sharpened?

                                        2. There have been days when I've almost wept with joy for my OXO peeler - it is the single most amazing kitchen utensil I own.

                                          I also have this massive Cuisinart stainless steel saute pan that I use nearly every day - 14", 5 1/2 quarts. I thought it would be too large to be practical... but I was wrong.

                                          Those are the only two kitchen items that make me weak - however, I have a whole host of UNuseful utensils (garlic press, assortment of whisks, grapefruit knife, Cuisinart mini-prep, 12" grill pan)... a story for another time :)

                                          1. Toad - o - matic
                                            Mike Tyson grill
                                            Lug wrench
                                            Salad shooter

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                              Toad - o - matic..... is that anything like a Vegematic?

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                i have a george foreman grill. your mike tyson grill and my george foreman grill should have themselves a little fight.

                                                1. re: cimui

                                                  Ha ha, I do feel like I'm watching an action flick (with lots of special effects) in my head when I read that list... :-)... am more of a romantic comedy kinda gal...

                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Um... hi Sam, love your posts, but Toad - o - matic and lug wrench??? Please expand on these. I know it's early but my brain isn't getting it. (Even if it is a joke?)

                                                3. maybe i'm a luddite, but i really don't do the high tech gadgets all that much. i frequently receive them as presents since my friends and family know i like to cook / bake, but to tell you the truth, i forget most of them in the cabinets...

                                                  the ones i do use frequently:

                                                  coffee grinder
                                                  mortar and pestle
                                                  knife sharpener
                                                  hot water pot

                                                  i don't use my apple peeler very often, but i want to! it's so much fun!

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      He he, Caroline, suspend your disbelief and give it a try... consider it a brain exercise! Though after reading other CH'er's posts, I'm starting to crave some new gadgets...

                                                      1. re: ideabaker

                                                        Well, let me think... Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house... Five cooking things... "Gadgetry?" Well... How about these?

                                                        Pate mold. Gotta have this guy to make my pate en croute for the first course. Wait! Not a good first course with beef Wellington! Well, maybe I'll do the chateaubraind in this for the Wellington. Yeah! I like that.
                                                        I paid 23.00 for mine so you figure out how old mine is.

                                                        Larding needle, just in case. It looks like this:

                                                        Canape cutters. I use mine to cut the puff pastry to decorate the top of the pate mold.

                                                        My plum pudding mold. Can't make a figgy pudding without this guy!

                                                        And finally, this guy. Couldn't do any of the above without it!
                                                        Mine is at least three decades older than this puppy, but the capacity and power are the same.

                                                        Come the 26th, I will be putting them all away. Well, except for the last guy. If there's cooking in the next life, I wanna take him with me! Merry Christmas, ho ho ho...

                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          Caroline1, wish I was having Christmas dinner at your place! Everything sounds scrumptious and I can see why your Christmas dinner gadgets would be essential. (Can you imagine trying to get an attractive pate without that mold??). I've never had a great need for the food processor, though I have one somewhere in storage just in case...

                                                          I love the canape cutters, which I'd use for cutting pretty sandwiches at parties.

                                                          You sound like a very adventurous cook, bet you have me beat on the number of gadgets in your kitchen!

                                                          Thanks for sharing your "top five"!

                                                    2. aside from knives, boards and spatulas (wooden spoons) I will add
                                                      - mixing bowls
                                                      - board scraper (actually a pastry scraper but i don't make pastry)
                                                      - tongs
                                                      - grater
                                                      - potato masher (i rarely use for potatoes but i rach for it far more often than i would think)

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: qwerty78

                                                        Qwerty78, what else do you mash with the potato masher?

                                                        I used to have a pastry scraper but you just reminded me that I haven't seen it for a while. Very handy for getting everything off the cutting board and into the pot or pan. Mine was somewhat flexible so that it could "scoop" the food into itself for easy transport across the kitchen to the vessel I needed to place it in. Maybe it fell behind the utensils drawer at some point... need to crawl under the cabinet and see if it is back there!

                                                        1. re: ideabaker

                                                          I often use my potato masher to break up whole peeled tomatoes in the pan when I want a little texture left in the sauce. I also mash other vegetables besides regular potatoes.

                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                            Flourgirl, I didn't think about mashing other things. I usually use my hands for breaking up tomatoes when I make pasta sauce, and sweet potato cooks down so softly that I can use a fork. I can see how the masher would be great for turnips, parsnips, butternut squash and other hard winter veggies... thanks for the idea!

                                                      2. 1. Mandolin. Many people are scared to use them, but when you get used to one - my current fave is a simple OXO - they become immense time savers. They also extend food, meaning a few potatoes or a zucchini run through the mandolin makes an elegant gratin.
                                                        2. Immersion blender. Noted before. Indispensable for making soup or for beating egg whites. I have a Cuisinart one that adjusts speed.
                                                        3. Knife sharpener. Most people use dull knives. Sharp knives are totally different.
                                                        4. Microplane for zesting.
                                                        5. Silicone tipped tongs that lock.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: lergnom

                                                          lergnom, I once had a Mandolin which was never used because I was afraid I'd slice off a chunk of my finger, so I know what you mean! Maybe will work up the courage to try one in the future. (Wonder if there is a YouTube or other video out there that shows the proper use with safety tips?)

                                                          I have a sharpening stone that I use on my knives, do you mean the electric one in which you push the knife into the slot to sharpen?

                                                          Tonight, while cooking Turkey Scallopini, I was wishing I had silicone tipped tongs as I tried to flip the cutlets with a spatula (removing the light panko crust on most of them in the process). That's a tool I'll definitely be on the lookout for!

                                                        2. Raytek Minitemp laser guided instant thermometer
                                                          Bread dough flattener/spreader (AKA scraper), for cleaning cutting boards
                                                          Kitchenaid tongs
                                                          Thin plastic cutting sheets (used in lieu of a cutting board or placed on top of board)
                                                          silicone baking sheets

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                            Scargod, why are silicone baking sheets preferable to regular metal ones? (Sorry if my question is silly, it is just born out of ignorance...)

                                                            1. re: ideabaker

                                                              In theory, food does not stick to the silicone mats. Try telling this to tomatoes...
                                                              Really, they work pretty well unless you get them too hot, at which point the silicone is toast (metaphorically). They do fine at normal baking temperatures but probably deterioriate at over 450. Their size is designed to be layed inside a large cookie sheet, though they could be placed on a baking stone.
                                                              They conveniently roll up and are also a good surface for rollling out dough though they tend to lift with the dough.

                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                You read my mind when you mentioned the baking stone, since I never take mine out of the oven. Will make sure not to roast tomatoes on it when I get one. I like the idea that it can be rolled up (takes up less space, and can travel easily). Thanks for expanding on the mats!

                                                                I have a few half-size metal cookie sheets (so I can roast two things at once without them touching each other...) is the silicone mat thin enough to cut it down to size with scissors?

                                                                1. re: ideabaker

                                                                  Absolutely! Scissors or razor blade. Here is dumb Chow tip with an idea or two. http://www.chow.com/videos/most_recen...
                                                                  I like this brand, too. Some are not so good.

                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                    Scargod, thank you so much for the link... I am going to order some of these in the next week... cut the ones for the smaller cookie sheets to size and it will be perfect! I always appreciate your posts, thank you once again!

                                                          2. Only five? Hmmmm, let's see:
                                                            1 - Microwave
                                                            1.5 - Thermapen
                                                            2 - Kitchen tweezers
                                                            2.5 - Chantry sharpener
                                                            3 - Timer
                                                            3.5 - Long handled jar scraper
                                                            4 - Manual can opener
                                                            4.5 - box grater
                                                            5 - small stainless prep bowls
                                                            5.5 - Kyocera Adjustable Ceramic Slicer

                                                            1. trying to stick with stuff not or barely mentioned so far:

                                                              salad spinner (!) - seriously

                                                              thai granite mortar and pestle

                                                              add to that the oft mentioned tongs, microplane, and knives.

                                                              too big and expensive and luxury item to be a gadget that i use every day:
                                                              high end superautomatic espresso machine (i have a jura/capresso)

                                                              things mentioned i really don't see needing :
                                                              garlic press
                                                              bench scraper
                                                              pour spouts

                                                              47 Replies
                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                Yay Jura Capresso! If I had to give one of them up, I don't know if I'd keep the coffee machine or the refrigerator!

                                                                I always need at least one pouring spout. I use dry vermouth in cooking a lot, and I keep a big fat bottle of Noilly Prat with a pouring spout right next to the cook top.

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  What do you use vermouth for? You keep it at room temp? For martinis (!!!) I always have it in the fridge. Is that not necessary?

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    anything i would deglaze with white wine, for the most part. i never have white wine in the house - i always have vermouth

                                                                    i assume you saw my snarkyassed attempt at humor below already

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      I can't remember the last time I made a martini at home! I have an assortment of cooking "condiments" that sit on the island right next to the cooktop in easy reach. 2 kinds of olive oil, peanut oil, salt mill, pepper mill, salt box with kosher salt in it, flour dredger, sugar caster, and the big old bottle of Noilly Prat!

                                                                      I use the vermouth for all sorts of things. Finishing a sauce, deglazing a pan, flambeing something, whatever. Vermouth is one of many fortified wines and don't require refrigeration. I just keep mine where I can reach it when I need it.

                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                        I'm right there with you on the Vermouth thing. Always have a bottle in the cupboard (and I'm not a martini drinker...). It's the perfect alternative to opening a new bottle of sauvignon blanc when a recipe calls for white wine. I usually get Martini & Rossi; is Noilly Prat significantly different/ better? Might have to upgrade... Adam

                                                                        1. re: adamshoe

                                                                          A terrifice idea and I thank all of you for this tip. Yeah, Caroline, let us know about the Noilly Prat, ok?

                                                                          1. re: adamshoe

                                                                            I did use Martini & Rossi for a while a couple of decades or so when I couldn't find Noilly Prat, but I don't remember if there was any major difference between the two. I've been basically using NP forever! I was amused when I found out Julia Child used the same brand. It comes in a smaller bottle -- half liter? -- so you could do a side by side taste the next time you make something that calls for wine. Food is always a matter of personal preference.

                                                                            Sometimes, when I'm making a sauce or something (not an Italian or tomato based sauce) that calls for red wine, if I don't want to open a fresh bottle of red I use a dash or three of dry vermouth and a little cognac. doesn't taste identical but it does taste good.

                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                Caroline, I finally got a bottle of Noilly Prat (just used up my Cinzano Rosso) and re-read your posts... did you say that you leave the pour spout in your vermouth all the time? It doesn't oxidize the wine at all? (Or like Julia, do you use it up so fast there is no time for oxidization ;-)? )

                                                                                1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                  The pour spout I use has a little "cap" that closes when the bottle is upright, flops open when the bottle is in a pour position. Since vermouth is a fortified wine, meaning it has stronger alcohols and such added to stabilize it against turning to vinegar, I just keep mine on the counter withing easy reach when I'm cooking. It's shielded from radiant heat because it sits behind my knife block, which "cuddles close" to my cooktop.

                                                                                  Have you tried the Noilly Prat yet, and how do you think it compares to the Cinzano? I do like Cinzano bistro umbrellas, but it's been a really long time since I used their white vermouth. Sometimes I do like a glass of their sweet with a twist though.... '-)

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    Caroline1, firstly, Happy New Year! Just got back from cooking a full course of starters and then a full meal for a group of friends while nursing a very bad cold. Took the Sudafed and cough syrup (so no one would be worried about eating the food... it's respiratory, they can't catch it, and anyway I am very careful-- a compulsive handwasher!), so didn't even want the champagne when they lowered the ball on T.V. Just got back.

                                                                                    As was mentioned about using the NP all the time and not noticing differences, I have always just picked up the Cinzano. (And yes, their umbrellas [to date] scream "Relax! You're on vacation!" in a very tasteful way. But I haven't used vermouth in quite a while (just throw in some of the Sauv. Blanc I'm enjoying with dinner). Unearthed my Cinzano while cleaning out the cupboards the other day.

                                                                                    To cut to the chase... I will have to cook with both again and get back to you. Yet you got me so mesmerized by the flexibility and stability of Vermouth, and interested in the differences between different ones, that I'll likely do my next deglazing with it.

                                                                                    As for drinking vermouth? I grew up in TX and Oklahoma... until ten years ago, I only thought it was for cooking :-). Sweet with a twist? Please tell me it is chilled first!

                                                                                    1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                      Either way. The twist can be lemon, orange, mandarin, whatever is handy. I don't care much for a twist of lime with sweet vermouth, but who knows, you might? For whatever personal idiosyncrasies, I like to sip it with an orange twist at room temp when cooking beef dishes. Nooooo idea why.

                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                        Well now, you have made me very curious about the "why"... so now my first Noilly Pratt experience may be straight up, room temp, with a twist of lemon.

                                                                                        Though, I may just have to chill it to enjoy the changes in the bouquet and texture on the tongue as it warms and develops...but hey, I see an orange in the kitchen, so maybe tomorrow your recipe will be made real in my life :-).

                                                                                        1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                          No no no no...! I drink SWEET (red) vermouth with a twist. The dry (white) is for cooking. And a tiny bit of it with gin or vodka for a martini. Don't know of anyone who drinks dry vermouth straight up. But hey, if people can drink Fernet Branca, dry vermouth must be a Godiva chocolate by comparison!

                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                            LOL, thanks for correcting me before I got myself (more) sick (nursing a cold)!

                                                                                            I was trying to imagine what drinking that white stuff would be like. It seems very heavy and cloying, that's why I thought about the ice... Do you mean to tell me that you are using a RED Noilly Pratt? If so, I bought the wrong one, but will get the right one once I know which you have praised (for cooking... and drinking?).

                                                                                            1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                              WAIT...!!! I COOK with dry (white) Noilly Prat. Keep it (with a pourer spout) on the island counter near the cooktop. I occasionally (don't have any on-hand at the moment) DRINK Cinzano sweet (red) vermouth with a twist.

                                                                                              But hey, if this is too late, let us all know how you like dry vermouth with a twist.... '-)

                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                He he he... I am way too tired to drink right now. Will pick up the Cinzano sweet red vermouth and try it... in 2009. Wait, it IS 2009 :-).

                                                                                                Am glad I can still cook with the dry Noilly Prat that I have. I am a wine and water drinker and was having a hard time figuring out how to (literally) swallow it straight up. Glad the confusion was dissipated! So sorry, no dry vermouth with a twist reports coming from this computer! ;-)

                                                                                                Thanks for everything, I'm going to order the Sweet Vermouth tomorrow. For drinking, that is! Happy New Year!

                                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                  Do you use it up that fast? I thought I read where Vermouth went bad fast... (once opened). I keep it sealed in the fridge. Don't know what to believe... just askin'!

                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                    i've never had vermouth go bad on me.

                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                      Well, now you've got me wondering whether I would recognize "bad" vermouth if I tasted it! I've never had a bottle go bad on me, at least not that I recognized as such. I never refrigerate either sweet or dry vermouth once opened, just as I don't refrigerate port or sherry or any other fortified wine. I've been single for about fifteen years now, and how fast I use a bottle of vermouth depends on how much entertaining/cooking I do that calls for it. a 750ml bottle can last me from a couple of months to a year or more, but it's always good when I reach for it!

                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                        "What we would like to advocate is that you place your bottle in the fridge. Pump if you have the time, but by chilling it, you'll be able to enjoy that spirit for almost six months, if you don't happen to drink it first."
                                                                                                        All about it: http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/06/yo...

                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                          LOL! I've been doing it my way for about48 years. Just tasted the bottle in the kitchen snuggled behind the knife block and it tastes fine. I just tasted it. But my taste buds could be a bit off as I'm having a dish of chicken and dumplins and Bavarian saurkraut, so I'll taste it again later. The Bavarian saurkraut makes te vermouth taste fruity. Might be an interesting combination in the future.

                                                                                                          I'm not impressed with the mussels recipe at that website. Celery or thyme don't come bursting to mine for me when I think of mussels. Both too strong, but hey, it's all subjective....

                                                                                                          So I'm curious... Does anyone here reading this keep any of their fortified wines in the refrigerator? Have I been living on the wrong side of the tracks all these years?

                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                            Darlin', you may be on the wrong side but it looks like a good side to me. You could feed me anytime.
                                                                                                            I keep my opened port and vermouth in the fridge. I don't know about others but I think these two matter, at least. Probably would apply to any fortified wine.
                                                                                                            I'd put a little celery and thyme in with mussels. I just put a little thyme and dill on my salmon.

                                                                          2. re: thew

                                                                            Thew, while I was reorganizing the cupboards I came across my salad spinner and put it in a more prominent position... actually was wondering if I really need it. My salad greens are usually "triple washed"... do you have other uses for your spinner?

                                                                            1. re: ideabaker

                                                                              caroline - i use vermouth all the time. seems to pour right out fo the bottle when i tilt it w/out a spout no problem ;)

                                                                              IdeaB- it no only cleans but "refreshes" salads and veggies. i wash more than just salad in there i guess. but i usually put washed lettuce in there too - it seems to help the crunch.

                                                                              also good if you water soak your french fries before you cook them (which i recommend), and want them not to splatter when u put them in the hot oil.....

                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                Had a surprising turn of events with frozen French fries the other day. I was cleaning out the small freezer (side by side) and came across about a half bag of large crinkle cut fries, possibly from around 1906? When I checked them, they were all wrapped in a coat of ice. I was about to drop them in the trash when I thought, whoa! why not try something here. So I shook all of the ice off them I could, then spread them on paper towels and nuked them until the ice was gone, then deep fried them in a cast iron skillet. It was amazing! They browned very quickly, had great exterior crunch with creamy interior, and no trace of "freezer flavor" at all. Next time I make fries from scratch, I'll give your method a try. Thanks!

                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                  a 10-15 minute soak of the potatoes before drying and frying brings sugars to the surface and enhances crispness and GBD-ness

                                                                              2. re: ideabaker

                                                                                Use a clean and dedicated pillow case: fill with lettuce, go outside, and swing around your head.

                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                  yeah. tried that once. spinner works better

                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                    Side by side comparison: Did salad for 50 the other day. One of the other cooks used a spinner. I used the pillowcase. I did more than 3/4 of the lettuce to the same dryness. One thing about the pillow case is that you have to stop and turn the lettuce in the case at least once before another twirl.

                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                      I love it! And the pillowcase takes up way less space!

                                                                                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                    Sam, do you yell "Yee HA!" as you twirl that thang around? Do you perform fancy tricks? I have this picture in my mind.....

                                                                                    There are very few gadgets that couldn't live without if I HAD to. I'm a diehard McGyver. Not having a microwave would probably throw me into a tizzy because I have come to depend upon it so much. I also depend on food storage items (plasic containers & bags.

                                                                                    I love my food processor and my Kitchen Aid, but I could live without them if I had too. Give me some knives, a cutting board, a few pots/pans, wooden spoons, a stove/oven and a fridge & I'm cool.

                                                                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                      Either that or make helicopter take off sounds. Much to my daughter's delight I can actually throw a good loop. Can't perform rope tricks, but can calf rope.

                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                        Calf roping is a pretty impressive trick. Love my rodeos...especially if food can be involved (even if it is just salad).

                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                          Sam, you continue to amaze!

                                                                                          How about some very low-tech gadgets that are either very useful, or that can be McGyvered to do mutiple tasks in a pinch? For instance, I love love love strawberries, but would have a hard time dealing with them if I didn't have my little 50 cent strawberry hull pincher thingie. I also think an old-fashioned church key is essential -- anything from opening cans to opening oysters. My hubby keeps a Swiss Army knife in a kitchen drawer. My low-tech metal meat pounder is great for driving a nail into the wall when I'm too lazy to go find a hammer; it's also good smashing ice or scaring the crap out of the dog when she's under foot in the kitchen. And how about all of those things you can do with chop sticks? I even keep a few in my sewing room.

                                                                                        2. re: PattiCakes

                                                                                          Two mini ones that you attach to your nipples and then put on "Brass in Pocket" by The Pretenders... you know the drill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79Rr63...
                                                                                          That's the picture I have in my mind.

                                                                                    2. re: thew

                                                                                      EDIT: This was supposed to post as a reply to thew's post regarding not seeing a need for a bench scraper. (I hate it when this happens...)

                                                                                      I use a bench scraper all the time: for transferring large amounts of chopped stuff to the pan (smaller amounts I just use my knife, but for larger amounts the scraper is much more efficient.) And I also use it... as a scraper. Especially helpful if working with wet sticky doughs.

                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                        Exactly. I have two! A King Arthur Flour model with wooden handle and square end and an OXO with sharp (relatively speaking), edge. I throw the OXO in the dishwasher...
                                                                                        I forgot I have this very cool retro looking KAF hand mixing tool. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/d...
                                                                                        Don't use it much...

                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                          "I use a bench scraper all the time: for transferring large amounts of chopped stuff to the pan (smaller amounts I just use my knife, but for larger amounts the scraper is much more efficient."

                                                                                          A Chinese cleaver serves that function, too, as well as many others.

                                                                                          1. re: werewolf

                                                                                            I only read about the bench scraper here for this use. I'd trust myself more with hat than the cleaver!

                                                                                            1. re: werewolf

                                                                                              Oh, I have one of those, except for separating legs of lamb (from a rack) didn't know it had many other uses. Thanks for the tip!

                                                                                              1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                It's the all-purpose super-knife of China!

                                                                                                1. re: werewolf

                                                                                                  Suppose I should pull mine out more often... it's just that when I do, I hear daunting music in my head, like those axe-horror films :-).

                                                                                            2. re: flourgirl

                                                                                              Following Alton Brown's lead, I bought a wide stainless steel dry wall knife at Home Depot for about 5 bucks instead of a "bench scraper." Does the trick!

                                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                Al b. darned, love your screen name! Are those knives flexible or stiff (the blade)?


                                                                                                1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                  You can get either, but mine is stiff. As an added bonus, it has a good handle with a hanging hole in it.

                                                                                                  1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                    An excellent bonus. Have been checking out bench scrapers from cooking suppliers but have yet to find one with a hole for hanging (drawers in kitchen are way overcrowded, so have moved to hanging up implements).

                                                                                          2. Mine---

                                                                                            1) Various knives
                                                                                            2) My food processor
                                                                                            3) Various strainers/steam baskets
                                                                                            4) My square Rubbermaid Space Saver storage containers 2-8 quart assortments.
                                                                                            5) Various serving spoons/tongs/turners.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: RShea78

                                                                                              RShea78, I crave those square storage containers, particularly for the fridge... friends laugh when they look inside mine, which to the untrained eye looks like a jumbled mess of plastic baggies (big on produce) and assorted tupperware containers. The larger storage containers would be perfect for flours and sugars and grains. Santa didn't bring me any this year, so will have to seek them out at the after-Christmas sales!

                                                                                              1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                ""The larger storage containers would be perfect for flours and sugars and grains.""

                                                                                                I much prefer my Buddeez storage containers (link below) over my Rubbermaid Space Savers, for those dry goods.

                                                                                                I use my Rubbermaid containers mostly for refrigerated items like salads, veggies, meats or leftovers.


                                                                                                EDIT: I got to give Lock & Lock honorable mention, as I am not all to impressed with Tupperware lately.

                                                                                            2. Electric kettle. I use it several times a day.
                                                                                              Silicone whisk and silicone tipped tongs from the dollar store
                                                                                              George Foreman grill--almost daily
                                                                                              Rubber/silicone scrapers

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Kinnexa

                                                                                                Kinnexa, you use the George Foreman grill several times a week... I'm curious, what dishes do you use it for? I have used mine to make burgers a couple of times when it was raining out, but I find that I miss that smoky flavor from "real" grilling outdoors. I think I tried chicken once, but preferred it baked. Any special tricks you use to get food coming out of your George Foreman with flavor and character (because I have not mastered that!)?

                                                                                                1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                  "Any special tricks you use to get food coming out of your George Foreman with flavor and character (because I have not mastered that!)"

                                                                                                  I either marinate in or splash-n-sizzle on any of those dark colored liquid sauces. (Teriyaki, Soy, Winchester, various liquid steak seasonings...)

                                                                                                  My Dad prefers the no salt/MSG approach of dry seasonings like onion powder or specific seasonings. Best seasoned while still raw or partially cooked to get that cooked in taste.

                                                                                                  1. re: RShea78

                                                                                                    Hmmm... I have a lot of "Soy Vay" Teriyaki sauce... (six bottles) maybe I'll marinate Turkey Cutlets in it and try them on the grill tonight. Looking for something light, considering all I ate at Christmas and the heavy French meal I had last night...thanks for reminding me about my old George Foreman!

                                                                                              2. As gadgets, I’m listing my top choices in kitchen tools that are not truly essential but make kitchen chores so much easier and pleasant.

                                                                                                Kitchen Timers (I have 3)
                                                                                                Fruit & Vegetable peeler
                                                                                                Grater / Zester
                                                                                                10" polypropylene drywall taping knife ($1.29 from Home Depot)

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Sam D.

                                                                                                  Sam D., finally someone else who finds their kitchen timers indispensable! Now you know I'm now curious about the drywall taping knife... kitchen uses???

                                                                                                  1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                    I use the taping knife in a similar way that I previously used a pastry scraper. I just find it to be so much better because of its extra width, convenient handle shape and slight flexibility. I do a lot of baking so I use it when working with dough for turning dividing and cutting. It also is perfect for spreading masa dough onto corn husks when making tamales. And of course for scraping and cleaning up the work surface or cutting board.

                                                                                                    1. re: Sam D.

                                                                                                      Sam D, I need to get one of those! If only for the tamale masa spreading, which can be a wielding task! Thanks for expanding on its use. It has so many uses and the price is right!

                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                      Scargod, perfect! Thanks so much for the link!

                                                                                                  2. spring-loaded tongs
                                                                                                    salad tossing/chopping scissors
                                                                                                    salad spinner
                                                                                                    and best of all - one of those chopping things like you see at the state fair (spring loaded, with the accordion shaped blade that goes up and down and round and round)

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Cowprintrabbit

                                                                                                      Cowprintrabbit... the accordion shaped chopper... pray tell... what in the world do you use it for at home? (Am imagining very large salads... but that can't possibly be all!)

                                                                                                      1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                        It's actually pretty small, it will effectively do about 1/2 cup of something at a time. What i use it for the most is to mince garlic; I've got a bad shoulder on the my knife hand arm so the less I have to use a knife repetitvely the better. A garlic press is too much force, too.

                                                                                                        I have the Williams Sonoma version of the as-seen-on-TV veggie chopper, too, but it didn't really make my list because, while better than hand chopping, it requires my whole body weight to get tomatoes and cucumbers through. And that I do make large salads with - we go through several gallons of Israeli salad a week!

                                                                                                        1. re: Cowprintrabbit

                                                                                                          I wonder what ever happened to my 1060s Veg-O-Matic? I once completely decorated my kitchen with 1squashed and squirted tomato using that thing! Never got that much mileage from a single tomato before or since!

                                                                                                    2. 1. Serrated vegetable peeler (even peels ripe peaches and tomatoes without squishing)
                                                                                                      2. My new Bamix stick blender that has immediately taken the place of the cuisinart and blender for small jobs
                                                                                                      3. An ancient carbon steel paring knife that fits my hand perfectly
                                                                                                      4. A large silpat for rolling dough and my silicone rolling pin that goes with it
                                                                                                      5. My radio so I can listen to WFUV and NPR while I cook

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                        Roxlet, I didn't even think about my radio on which I listen to talk shows the whole time I cook anything! Though I do think of it as an essential household gadget :-). Am curious about the Serrated Vegetable Peeler, never saw a serrated one... does it have advantages over the normal veggie peeler?

                                                                                                      2. Apple corer, which can also be a really, really thick larding device.
                                                                                                        English muffin rings, which have a whole bunch of other uses.
                                                                                                        Stick blender
                                                                                                        5 gal. ziplock bags--I could live without the others, but these are very dear to me. Kneading, freezing, storing, cooling something down quickly (when filled with ice), and so handy to scream into.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Ideefixed

                                                                                                          I am more than interested in using the apple corer for larding. Please do expand on this.

                                                                                                          Am totally with you on the ziplock bags, particularly the larger ones. I freeze soups and layers of chicken pieces on a cutting board in them, then they stack so nicely in the deep freezer. In fact, they are difficult to find in many countries, so I actually ship them to my international destinations prior to my arrival so I won't have to do without them! They are also good for putting clothes in when in wet places, like a boat.

                                                                                                          1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                            Larding might be a bit of a stretch, but I have used it to insert slivers of garlic in a slab of meat, etc. I keep it pretty sharp, and since it can convey something in the tube, you can dig in, deposit and remove. Which sounds vaguely obscene.

                                                                                                            1. re: Ideefixed

                                                                                                              "Which sounds vaguely obscene."

                                                                                                              Ha ha! It really does. Sends tingles through the body, that description :-).

                                                                                                              I very much like the idea of using it for inserting garlic and/or I suppose any flavour enhancer into meat (my corer is also extremely sharp and would definitely work for that). But do you actually pull out the tube of meat then push in the garlic, and if so do you replace some of the meat to seal it after inserting garlic? (Already considering a meat specific corer...)

                                                                                                        2. wooden spoons
                                                                                                          sauce spoons
                                                                                                          grandmas pasta machine
                                                                                                          fish spatula

                                                                                                          1. I don't know about the can't live without part, but my latest favorite gadget is the stoopid-looking, but amazingly great, Fasta Pasta (~ $10)!

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: werewolf

                                                                                                              Fasta Pasta? What does it do and what does it look like?

                                                                                                              1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                                Look at the reviews for it on amazon, which is where i bought it.

                                                                                                                1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                                  Just use a little wrist action.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                    LOL, Scargod, I could actually use that tool when people stand in the kitchen between the stove and sink just during my final stages in cooking a complex dish!

                                                                                                              2. Whisk

                                                                                                                Small not electric juicer

                                                                                                                Parchment paper (I use it for so many things)

                                                                                                                French press

                                                                                                                microplane grater

                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: BelleJo

                                                                                                                  BelleJo, parchment paper has myriad uses, I only use it for a couple of things... to put under something that is being baked (so it doesn't stick to the baking sheet or stone I am using), and to put under the lid of my Dutch Oven when braising (to make a tighter seal and reduce the amount of space between the lid and the meat). What else do you use your parchment paper for? (Would like to get more bang for my parchment buck...)

                                                                                                                  1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                                    I love parchment paper for baking since it simplifies cleanup. I also use it when making cookie dough that has to be rolled into a log before slicing. The parchment helps keep the dough even. One of my favorite uses is to combine boneless chicken breast or a filet of fish with sliced summer squash, potatoes, and herbs and put them in a parchment package to bake in the oven. That way I can have a flavorful & nutritious meal when I don't have a lot of time for food prep.

                                                                                                                    Permalink | Report | Edit | Reply

                                                                                                                    1. re: BelleJo

                                                                                                                      BelleJo, that parchment package meal with the chicken and the vegetables sounds like a very good dinner... right now :-). I have three containers of parchment paper, never used. In fact (don't want to buy a "parchment paper" cookbook), but want to hear from other parchment cookers/chefs. Including you if you want to share your recipe !

                                                                                                                      Cooking fish,meat,chicken,beef,pork,veal,(which is really tiny beef)) recipes are very much invited.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                                        Ideabaker, here's a link to a recipe that I used recently for the parchment package dinner: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food...

                                                                                                                        I tnink Martha Stewart may also have some recipes using parchment cooking techniques.

                                                                                                                        Although I'm not a fan of frozen fish, I even made this recipe with cod I purchased from the Whole Foods line of frozen fish and it was delicious. Depending on the thickness of the fish, you may have to adjust the cooking time. Enjoy cooking with parchment!

                                                                                                                        1. re: BelleJo

                                                                                                                          Thanks for the link, BelleJo... perfect timing as I just found a couple of Trader Joe's Frozen Cod Fillets in the freezer. Will absolutely try this method out and search out more parchment paper recipes too!

                                                                                                                    2. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                                      I love parchment paper for baking since it simplifies cleanup. I also use it when making cookie dough that has to be rolled into a log before slicing. The parchment helps keep the dough even. One of my favorite uses is to combine boneless chicken breast or a filet of fish with sliced summer squash, potatoes, and herbs and put them in a parchment package to bake in the oven. That way I can have a flavorful & nutritious meal when I don't have a lot of time for food prep.

                                                                                                                  2. To the OP:

                                                                                                                    "3. Baking Stone- Always in my oven, it regulates the oven temperature even when the door is opened to check on food. Baked goods rise super high, and get light texture, pizza gets a nice crispy crust"

                                                                                                                    I used to do this but was advised against it by the oven repair guy. I had him come because my new Wolf oven took forever to pre-heat. He says, on average, it uses more energy to get the oven to temp. (in my case a full 10 minutes) and then prohibits the cool down when complete (which is OK in the winter but not great when it's warm outside and heats up the whole kitchen).

                                                                                                                    I agree that it's good for pizza but it is recommended that you remove it for every day use.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: MSK

                                                                                                                      I agree that, if you aren't baking or specifically using the stone, it might make sense to remove the stone during the summer. But otherwise, I'm keeping my stone in my oven. It might take a little longer to heat up (although I too have a new oven, and it heats up very quickly even with the stone in there) but it's worth it to me. My range is gas so I keep the stone in the oven to help maintain the temp., which is especially good for baking. (I chose all gas as opposed to duel fuel because I hate, hate, hate electric broilers....)

                                                                                                                    2. Back on topic (just to add items not already listed above):

                                                                                                                      Countertop deep cutting board (aka pastry board)
                                                                                                                      Microwave Steamer (steams vegi's)
                                                                                                                      Garlic Twist ( http://www.chow.com/pick/4017
                                                                                                                      )GE Advantium speed cook oven (in addition to cooking things fast, there is no preheating and doesn't heat up the kitchen)
                                                                                                                      Kitchen Shears

                                                                                                                      These are items that probably should not have a place in a cabinet/drawer as I take them out again as soon as they've been washed and put away.

                                                                                                                      1. 1. good chef's knife
                                                                                                                        2. baking stone
                                                                                                                        3. set of 3 Paderno ceramic mixing bowls
                                                                                                                        4. kitchen shears
                                                                                                                        5a. food processor (not an everyday thing, but when needed it's invaluable)
                                                                                                                        5b. glass of wine (definitely everyday thing and always needed)
                                                                                                                        5c. good wine opener (I can't believe I'm the only one here that feels this way)
                                                                                                                        5d. wine pourer (spouse or guest will do)

                                                                                                                        Most useless gadget...wine stopper ...pfft, I mean really, leftover wine?

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: dinin and dishin

                                                                                                                          You're absolutely right - a good wine opener is essential. I have the simplest cork remover in the world - it's a corkscrew with a perpendicular wood handle. For some odd reason this is the ONLY kind of cork remover I can use - and I have tried all kinds of cork removers. Mine disappeared for a while last year and I was completely freaking out. I can't tell you how relieved I was when it finally turned up again....

                                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                            flourgirl, you must have arms of steel. Any previous attempt to use such a simple device usually ends in total frustration. I am more likely to dislocate an arm than a cork with one of those.

                                                                                                                            But I know how you feel about misplacing a favouriite. I have a lever style opener that I obtained as a waitress some gazzillion years ago, and I when I misplace it, I rip the place apart. I also have one of those new fangled, Oprah-promoted devices that is really good for parties when the opening of bottles is fast and furious. But my old lever style one has a very sharp knife for cutting the foil, and more often than not, I end up opening bottles with my old standard rather than reaching for the fancy device. (which is also so big - complete space hog)

                                                                                                                          2. re: dinin and dishin

                                                                                                                            LOL, dinin and dishin... I'm with you on the wine and accoutrements. I never need the stopper either! I once purchased a "half bottle" container with a glass stopper for the wine left untouched... it is still sitting where I placed it years ago, gathering dust.

                                                                                                                            I realized today that somehow I have ended up with no mixing bowls. I do have some in storage (just don't know where) but they are SO important. My serving bowls just aren't doing the trick (not deep enough, or too wide at the brim, and highly breakable, so impossible to use with a mixer). Will have to make a trip to the kitchen store to replace...

                                                                                                                            1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                                              My grandmother had great advice regarding mixing bowls. She said always choose the biggest bowl you have for the job. And you know, she is right. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten part way into a recipe and realized I should have chosen the next size up and had to dirty two bowls or risk having the ingredients flying all over the place. Such common sense.
                                                                                                                              My Padernos are pretty enough to double as serving bowls in a pinch as well. Good luck finding a nce set.

                                                                                                                          3. Mandolin/V-slicer
                                                                                                                            Messermeister serrated vegetable peeler because it will peel a peach or tomato,and
                                                                                                                            wastes less when peeling carrots, taking off only a very thin layer.
                                                                                                                            Boerner/Börner grater - just a couple bucks, looks like junk but is perfect for making
                                                                                                                            latkes. One side of the 4x8" slab of beige plastic grid shreds and the other creates a
                                                                                                                            mush. Combining the two textures makes ideal latkes.
                                                                                                                            Rubbermaid spoonula, a high-heat rubber scraper that is concave on one side.
                                                                                                                            Collapsible steamer basket
                                                                                                                            4-quart lidded nonstick chef's pan (aka saucier) - if I could only have one pan, this would
                                                                                                                            be it.

                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                              Greygarious, I will have to check out that serrated veggie peeler. I just got a Kuhn Reiken Julienne peeler but don't think that is the same thing. I would imagine with your peeler that you get the maximum flesh for your cooking, less waste all around.

                                                                                                                              I too adore my saucier and use throughout every week when not traveling.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ideabaker

                                                                                                                                I learned about the Messermeister when it was Cooks Illustrated's top-rated peeler. I use it fairly often and it is still sharp after 4-5 years.

                                                                                                                            2. 1. Moulix / Food Mill
                                                                                                                              2. V-Slicer
                                                                                                                              3. Sillicone spatula
                                                                                                                              4. Bean slicer (i have no idea why i love this so much, i just really enjoy using it)
                                                                                                                              5. Microplane

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                                                                                                                                Samuelinthekitchen, is your Food Mill the big one (about the size of a small pot?). What do you use it for?

                                                                                                                                I've never used a bean slicer. Guess I've never considered slicing a bean, except crosswise. How often do you use yours?

                                                                                                                              2. My top 5 are:

                                                                                                                                Microplane grater
                                                                                                                                Kyocera ceramic vegetable peeler
                                                                                                                                silicone-tipped tongs
                                                                                                                                ceramic pepper mill

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                                                                                  I would say:

                                                                                                                                  Kyocera mandoline
                                                                                                                                  cheapy bamboo tongs
                                                                                                                                  tiny 6" cast iron pan and a wide-head pestle for toasting and grinding spices
                                                                                                                                  deep colander
                                                                                                                                  japanese tea strainer that fits down into the neck of a mason jar (I have several of these)

                                                                                                                                2. I'm adopting the approach that 'can't live without' means use-every-day-or-at-least-three-times-a-week.

                                                                                                                                  Zyliss potato peeler
                                                                                                                                  My Kyocera ceramic slicer and steel julienner
                                                                                                                                  Microplane collection. (It's like asking which child is your favourite.)
                                                                                                                                  Mason jar funnel
                                                                                                                                  Electric kettle - if that classifies as a gadget. If not, then my cast iron griddle.

                                                                                                                                  1. My definition will be items I use that make life simple but could get on without them but wouldn’t want to, therefore you won’t see essentials such as pots, pans, knives, ovens, whisks, SS bowls, etc.

                                                                                                                                    Box grater
                                                                                                                                    Food Processor
                                                                                                                                    Hobart / Kitchen Aid mixer

                                                                                                                                    1. NIssan thermal cooker. Uses less energy. Put stainless double-wall pot on stove and heat water (for hot, whole grain cereal or for soup or stew) to boiling. Add grain or soup/stew ingredients. Bring to boil. Put pot (with lid on) into thermal insulated outer container. Dish cooks while you sleep (wake up to hot cereal) or start in the morning while making breakfast and have hot lunch or dinner waiting for you when you're ready to eat. Handle seals it closed. Take on the road with you also. Use it every day along with crock pots. Looking forward to new pressure cooker.

                                                                                                                                      1. my cast iron fry pan...use it all the time, from stove top to the oven, a great, cheap, kitchen gadget that's stood the test of time.

                                                                                                                                        1. Soapstone cookpot (photo attached), we can't imagine a better slow cooker
                                                                                                                                          Carbon steel French saute pan (37 years ago, seven bucks at the hardware store)
                                                                                                                                          Stand mixer
                                                                                                                                          Box grater
                                                                                                                                          Garlic press

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: UnoakedChardonnay

                                                                                                                                            Does that Soapstone cookpot come with a lid, and is it as heavy as a Dutch Oven?

                                                                                                                                          2. Digital timer, lemon squeezer (the yellow metal kind), Kuhn-Rikon garlic press, silicone garlic peel, salt pig, pepper grinder, olive oil bottle. I think I use these almost every single day although some aren't truly gadgets. Oh yeah, Chantal singing tea kettle, wine bottle opener and wine vacuum sealer are also indispensable.

                                                                                                                                            1. piano whisk, fine mesh strainer, lemon squeezer, immersion blender, kitchenaid

                                                                                                                                              1. My blue creuset dutch oven
                                                                                                                                                microplane grater
                                                                                                                                                Santoku knife
                                                                                                                                                old Cuisinart food processor
                                                                                                                                                large thick bottomed Wolfgang Puck Bistro skillet with lovely glass lid

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: shastadaisy

                                                                                                                                                  If your DO were anything other than blue, would it get the heave-ho? ;)

                                                                                                                                                2. 1. my magic bullet
                                                                                                                                                  2. kitchaid stand mixer (lime green in color, lol)
                                                                                                                                                  3. digital wine thermometer ( i use it for making creamy fudge and candy)
                                                                                                                                                  4. chef knife

                                                                                                                                                  1. I think a knife, board, pans are a given. I probably use these daily:

                                                                                                                                                    Timer : Since I tend to try to do too many things at the same time.
                                                                                                                                                    Bench Scraper : Moves food, crushes garlic, keeps board dry and clean, cuts dough
                                                                                                                                                    OXO Silicone Spatula
                                                                                                                                                    OXO Balloon Whisk
                                                                                                                                                    OXO Tongs

                                                                                                                                                    1. Santoku knife
                                                                                                                                                      Wooden spoon
                                                                                                                                                      Small spatula
                                                                                                                                                      Box grater.

                                                                                                                                                      Give me these, and ingredients, and I will feed you well.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Assuming "gadgets" do not include basics like knives, pan, wooden spoons and boards, my top five would be:

                                                                                                                                                        1. Timer. (2 small children = regular distractions)
                                                                                                                                                        2. Food Processor
                                                                                                                                                        3. Microplane
                                                                                                                                                        4. Bench scraper (a clean and organized work space is key for me)
                                                                                                                                                        5. Thermapen.

                                                                                                                                                        1. I just love Alton Brown's philosophy on kitchen gadgets. It's interesting too, that although sometimes his recipes can be a bit over the top, (bolognese sauce, for example...) he is a fierce minimalist when it comes to gear. NO UNITASKERS ALLOWED.

                                                                                                                                                          unfortunately, there are a few things that are unitaskers which I do use, but they are only there because they are pretty much the only thing that can do their particular job...

                                                                                                                                                          I'm pretty convinced you can make ALMOST anything with this list of 5 implements, along with forks and spoons.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Chef's Knife/Cutting Board (I rarely use any other kinfe)
                                                                                                                                                          2. Tongs (An enormous multitasker)
                                                                                                                                                          3. Metal Spatula (It would be impossible to cook certain things without it...)
                                                                                                                                                          4. Immersion Blender
                                                                                                                                                          5. Grater/Microplane

                                                                                                                                                          p.s. Although it is possible with a fork, mashing potatoes does suck without a potato masher :)

                                                                                                                                                          1. A santoku Chef's knife for cutting up vegetables
                                                                                                                                                            2 flexible cutting pads..I seldom use my wooden one anymore.
                                                                                                                                                            pepper mill
                                                                                                                                                            flat wood spoon for sweating veggies...well for everything
                                                                                                                                                            my electric can opener.. yeah yeah... let's hear for the dirtiest inch in the kitchen!
                                                                                                                                                            paring knife
                                                                                                                                                            Big slotted spoon
                                                                                                                                                            silicone spatula
                                                                                                                                                            I don't use it that often but when I do it is a lifesaver... my funnel
                                                                                                                                                            digital thermometer with alarm
                                                                                                                                                            a couple of timers
                                                                                                                                                            Immersion blender

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                                                              I have at least two funnels - a regular one for oil, wine etc and a "canning funnel" which I also use to transfer grains, legumes and such into jars and similar vessels.

                                                                                                                                                              I do like to also have a smaller knife. And hey, how about a bread knife? Sure you can use the chef's knife, but it won't make slices as pretty, and it dulls the knife edge quickly.

                                                                                                                                                              Wooden or bamboo spoons (flat and round) are essential.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Gadgets....

                                                                                                                                                              1. Swissmar Borner Mandoline - Life saver
                                                                                                                                                              2. Titan Veggie Peeler - Another life saver
                                                                                                                                                              3. Spice Grinder
                                                                                                                                                              4. Cuisinart Mixer (Hand or Stand-alone)
                                                                                                                                                              5. OXO Salad Spinner

                                                                                                                                                              1. I would like to recommend a foodsaver. I use mine all the time and have it out on the counter.

                                                                                                                                                                I often use a partial mylar chub of breakfast sausage or ground beef. I cut a chunk off then revacuum seal it. Block cheese lasts a lot longer when you can reseal it.

                                                                                                                                                                My meat doesn't have freezer burn and it thaws quickly because I can put it in a sink of water and put a grate over it to hold it down. Chops and steaks only take about 20 minutes to thaw.

                                                                                                                                                                Bottom line, I wouldn't want to do without my foodsaver. I have had one for 3-4 years now.

                                                                                                                                                                1. What a fun thread to stumble across...! (A little late... but better than never)

                                                                                                                                                                  Favorite 5 Gadgets:
                                                                                                                                                                  * Cast Iron Skillet (survives everything I do to it- and acts as a nifty little press for my cast iron grill)
                                                                                                                                                                  * Breville Countertop Convection Oven (rocks my little world- does a fantastic Thomas Keller perfect roasted chicken amongst other fabulous recipes and doesn't heat up my kitchen)
                                                                                                                                                                  * Global Knives (counting as one- because they're all amazing)
                                                                                                                                                                  * Silicon ended tongs (can't live without these... I have three because I use them so much)
                                                                                                                                                                  * Messermeister peeler & Microplaner (ok, I cheated and put two in one- the messermeister is truly the king of peelers, and I agree with the other Microplaner devotees- these are fantastic!)

                                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: wenster

                                                                                                                                                                    I love my countertop oven - couldn't imagine being without one - especially in the summer, because like you said, it doesn't heat up the whole kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                    But, unfortunately, my oven is just about dead and so I'm now on the search for a new one. Ive been checking out the Breville Smart Oven. It's a little more than I was hoping to spend but it seems like it might be worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                      It's definitely pricey- but even if we hadn't gotten it as a wedding gift last year, I would have absolutely gone to buy it myself. We use it daily- for toast, bagels, making pizza, roasting chicken/shrimp/beef/vegetables... it really is rather useful, especially when it's just usually two of us... although as our family grows, I can certainly see it being big enough for two adults and small children. Also has been a great lifesaver during Thanksgiving, since I don't have two ovens!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: wenster

                                                                                                                                                                        I ended up buying the oven yesterday. I went & checked it out in person & was really impressed with how large the interior is. I thought my last one was big (a Delonghii) but this one is enormous. I can easily fit just about any of my baking dishes in this - something I couldn't do with my last oven. I got a lot of use out my old one - but this one is so functional and versatile it is truly like having a second oven. (I have a second oven on my range, a ge cafe, but it's so close to the ground and so shallow that it's not really that functional. I use it mostly as a warming drawer. Which is still nice to have - but I couldn't do without a counter top oven.)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                          I hope you love it as much as I do! I really think it's a fabulous product. Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wenster

                                                                                                                                                                            I just had to come back and post this. I LOVE this oven! This was a great purchase. It even toasts well (and I've never had a toaster oven that actually made good toast.) My old toaster has now taken up residence in the basement until the next garage sale.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's been over a year since we got this as a gift, and it's still one of my absolute favorite appliances... (Burgeoningfoodie... definitely a great one to put on the registry!)

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                            What are the dimensions? I'm thinking about registry items..

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                Right I saw it at Macy's this weekend. It doesn't look overly large, but I like the fact that it is smart enough to regulate the temperature.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                  I personally wouldn't want anything much bigger than this. It would take up too much counter space.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Off the top of my head [give me some skin - man]

                                                                                                                                                                      A plastic Japanese thingy slicer with a double edged ceramic blade which makes perfect thin slices of cucumber or any other vegetable [cuts on the up and down strokes] - cheap too!

                                                                                                                                                                      Microplane box grater [planer?]

                                                                                                                                                                      My Kyocera ceramic peeler - had it for 15 years or so, the potato eye removers have long disentergrated, but the peeler works and is still sharp!

                                                                                                                                                                      An egg slicer - found a cast aluminium one at a garage sale which slices both axis of the egg, i.e. round slices and wedges.

                                                                                                                                                                      And lastly - a butcher's steel - try slicing a tomato without a really, really, sharp knife - either you'll need another gadget [stanless steel chain mail glove] or a set of really absorbent towels to wipe up the pulp on the far wall....

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Hmmmm this may change after I get married, but at the moment..

                                                                                                                                                                        Dough rising bucket
                                                                                                                                                                        Chefs Knife
                                                                                                                                                                        Salad Spinner

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I remember coming across this post a long time ago. (Did I post anything?...just checked, nope).

                                                                                                                                                                          Anyway, I wouldn't really put knives, skillets and cutting boards into a 'gadget' list, but here are 5 things I probably would rather not cook without: silicone tipped tongs, silicone spatula, vegetable peeler, instant read thermometer and a....canopener.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Well I got here years late, but this is too good a thread not to jump into! My five:

                                                                                                                                                                            - Small portable timer (the digital kind that counts down or up, or down and then up). Good because I multitask a lot and can keep track of rising or mixing dough while making a glaze or whatever; also helps me gauge whether I need to tweak a recipe. If I set a countdown and go over, it keeps counting and shows me how far over that time I've gone, so if something's not ready yet, I can make a note of how much more time it'll need on the next go. Doing a new recipe, I'll hit "start" on the timer and "stop" when the item is ready.

                                                                                                                                                                            - digital scale - I never get out measuring cups anymore. Just weigh, weigh, weigh. Takes a fraction of the time and only dirties the one bowl you set on it to hold ingredients. Plus, if I'm using a recipe that has metric measurements, pushing one button means I'm suddenly measuring in metric! Also a good way to divide ingredients equally - rather than eyeballing it or coming up a bit short, I just weigh the whole thing, divide by six or whatever, and then weigh out six of whatever that number is. Quick and super accurate.

                                                                                                                                                                            - Instant-read digital thermometer - this thing really ought to live on the counter. DH makes tea with it all the time (green teas and some others require a lower temp than boiling) and my pie and custard skills took a big leap when I began checking internal temp. Another one of those items that seems specialized until you realize how many situations it's useful in.

                                                                                                                                                                            - Peeler. This almost feels like a knife to me rather than a gadget, but I sure would hate to switch back to a plain knife. My favorite is the KitchenAid wide handled one that practically sits in my hand without my having to grip it. The thin scrawny ones give me a cramp after a few minutes, but I can peel ingredients for a huge root vegetable stew with my KA and never feel a thing.

                                                                                                                                                                            - Microplane. I use a lot of ginger, and nothing else makes grating ginger bearable - with this it's effortless. One of those gadgets that works so well that once you have it you start trying dishes you might have avoided before because of the prep nuisance. It cleans SO easily, and even though it's sharper than an old-fashioned grater, it's way easier to avoid injury. So well designed. You will pry this out of my cold, dead hands.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Does a knife count? I'm a knife junkie, so I really have to not count those.

                                                                                                                                                                              fish spatula--1 metal, 1 plastic (but with care I could probably leave off the plastic one)
                                                                                                                                                                              wooden spoon

                                                                                                                                                                              limiting yourself to 5 really cuts down on the appliances and most folk go for the hand tools, huh?

                                                                                                                                                                              if I could, I'd add the following five:

                                                                                                                                                                              can opener
                                                                                                                                                                              cutting mat
                                                                                                                                                                              lemon juicer (I've got my mom's old glass one) or reamer
                                                                                                                                                                              grater of some kind

                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1. Mortar and pestle
                                                                                                                                                                                2. tongs
                                                                                                                                                                                3. colander
                                                                                                                                                                                4. chef's knife
                                                                                                                                                                                5. electric rice steamer

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Lets see if I can keep this down to 5.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Silpat mats. I bake cookies on them, I broil veggies on them, and I make fruit leathers on them. And everything wipes and washes right off.
                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My chef's knife. Not really a gadget but after 2 years of living with a roommate who has crap knives I finally was able to dig into storage and pull out my Henckels. What a difference. I actually enjoy prep again. And finely dicing 10 lbs of tomatoes to make jam didn't make me want to run away screaming.
                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Scraper. This is a new addition to my kitchen but what a difference it makes. I use it mainly to scoop stuff off the cutting board and toss into the pan I'm cooking in. Saves me from scraping my good knife over the cutting board.
                                                                                                                                                                                  4. Microplane.
                                                                                                                                                                                  5. Kindle. Yup, it's a kitchen gadget. I cook a lot of recipes I find online so rather than printing them out I use a browser extension that sends the web page to my kindle. In the kitchen I stick the kindle in a ziplock baggie to keep it clean and use it as a cookbook. And when I'm stuck stirring a pot for an extended period of time, I can read a book without losing my place when I set it down. Since it's always with me when I leave the house, I can reference recipes when I'm at the grocery store to make sure I'm getting all the needed ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Bonus item: Melon baller. I've never once used it on a melon, but it gets used almost daily. It scoops out the seeds from an apple or pear after cutting it in half. It gets the tops of strawberries, gets bits of fruit/veggies that are starting to go soft. I'm constantly reaching for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JasFoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                    Out of curiosity, what makes Microplane so special ...and so expensive?

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My Farberware vegetable peeler, Cooks Knife, Bread Knife, Bread Machine (I have pain in my wrists and cannot knead bread dough), Cutting Boards

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Just had to sign up for this one, after having been a lurker for so long......
                                                                                                                                                                                      TUNES, music to my ears as I cook, so important to me at least.
                                                                                                                                                                                      The other four? The Hiebherr ref, Fagor cooktop, Knife assortment and
                                                                                                                                                                                      of course the Bacarat Crystal - for drinking to keep enthused!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I saw this Stainless Steel Garlic Mincer* (*see photo below) in the Sur La Table catalog and was intrigued by it's simplicity, plus the fact that it's made of SS. I had heard about holding SS as you wash your hands to get rid of the garlic smell after peeling or cutting, and it really does work. So I thought I would try the little mincer. Well, I am in love with it!

                                                                                                                                                                                        You simply place a peeled clove on your cutting board, position the mincer on top of the clove and press down. That's it! No cramming the clove into the little basket of a garlic press and then digging and scraping to retrieve the minced garlic, or to clean the contraption. You simply press down on the garlic. Then when you wash the mincer, make sure you have all your fingertips touching it while you rinse, and the SS will neutralize any garlic odor from your fingers! (That's if you buy the SS model. It also comes in colorful hard plastic.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ski_gpsy

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the picture! I can't find anything close on on the Sur Le Table website.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Eureka! Amazon has it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                            Glad you found it on Amazon Caroline1, especially if it qualifies for their Super Saver Shipping!

                                                                                                                                                                                            I also did locate it on SLT, item #787945.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. A chef's knife is not a gadget, it's a fundamental tool.

                                                                                                                                                                                          My five:

                                                                                                                                                                                          - stainless tongs,

                                                                                                                                                                                          - vegetable peeler (still like the old school kind, as the tip makes a great olive and cherry pitter; will probably go to cushy-handled version when this one dulls),

                                                                                                                                                                                          - instant-read digital thermometer,

                                                                                                                                                                                          - silicon spoonula,

                                                                                                                                                                                          - Microplane grater (would be hard pressed to choose between the fine, which is indispensible for zesting and nutmeg, and the medium, equally essential for Parmesan).

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Fork
                                                                                                                                                                                            Drinking glass
                                                                                                                                                                                            Chinese chef's cleaver

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. SORRY TO DOUBLE POST BUT I COULDN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO DELETE THIS INCORRECT POST. PLEASE SEE THE ONE BELOW.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I find I use the Sur La Table Yellow Citrus Juicer alot (*see photo). Its great for the small measured amounts of lemon or lime juice, or even orange or tangerine. Simply ream the juice into the measuring handle and you're done. No seeds to mess with, no measuring spoons, no separate reamer. Just rinse and put away. EeeZee!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Borner V-slicer and assorted other Borner slicer type thingies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reusable parchment - super parchment and Pan Pal Pan Liners
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zylis silicon stir fry spatula
                                                                                                                                                                                                  My mini wet grinder
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zo Bread machine = does darn near all my bread kneading (but no baking)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. A kitchen essential that hopefully I don't need often, but when I do, its indispensable. My multi-size jar opener.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I LOVE this Tupperware Grate 'n Measure. It stands upright like a box grater, and whatever you're grating drops into the built in measuring bin. So easy. Grate and measure all in one motion!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My must have gadgets;

                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Wine aerator (the before and after taste of red wine made me an instant believer)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Wine bottle vacuum sealer
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Smooth edge can opener (I don't even want to think about what gets gunked into the old style opener's mechanism)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Digital meat thermometer with alarm
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Rocker Garlic Mincer (see photo above)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Citrus Juicer Measurer (see photo above)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Tupperware's Grate 'n Measure grater (see photo above)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        -Multi size jar opener. I would hate to be without one when I need it! (see photo above)