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Friday, August 26, 2011

Kitchen Essentials: What I Fangirl Over

1. Kitchen Scale

This is my beloved Escali kitchen scale. I got it about six years ago from and I think I paid less than 20 bucks for it. I've never had to change the batteries although after a few instances of dropping it on the counter, Todd finally taped the battery cover to the bottom of it so it would stop falling off. Anyways, this bad boy helps me keep track of portion sized, specifically for pasta and veggies. Pasta is one thing we all underestimate and veggies are what we tend to overestimate. Anyways, it also helps when I'm cutting up Costco sized filletts of steelhead and I need to make sure I don't shortchange a serving size. It's WONDERFUL. Not just for calorie counters, but for making food last longer, and that saves you dollars as well as pounds.

2. Ramekins

Oh, oh how I love ramekins. I heat up Alex's food in them, since they're baby sized (and also since EVERY last baby bowl I bought her, the ones that come with lids, have since disappeared. I only know of one's location, and that is in Todd's little humidor, where it sits, half full of water, prolonging the lives of his cigars). I mix marinades and rubs in them. I measure shredded cheese in them. I use them while cooking to separate out smaller ingredients (like scallions and cilantro for pad thai). I store our salt and pepper shakers in them since those things shed S&P the way Patton sheds fur. I adore them. I think I got a set of 12 when we got married, and have since lost a few to God knows what, but I fully intend to get more. Perhaps even different sizes. Oh God, I have yet to wade into and fully immerse myself in the pleasures of multi-sized ramekins. Insert Homer Simpson gagging/drooling/ecstacy noise... here. And here. And here.

3. Rubber Tongs

These puppies have become more and more integral in my cooking experiences. They're of course great for flipping pieces of meat in a nonstick skillet (don't scratch that Teflon!), but lately I'm realizing just how wonderful they are for everything. Of course, pasta is BFF to tongs, especially when you transfer the pasta to your skillet of sauce/veggies/meat/all of the aforementioned and toss them all together to coat. But now I'm leaving my wooden and metal spoons behind in favor of these bad boys for sauteing, stir-frying, tossing roasted veggies while doing an oven check. They're wonderful, they're dishwasher safe, and they're gentle on Teflon as previously mentioned.

4. Cast Iron Skillets

I own two cast iron skillets, and a cast iron griddle and I LOVE them. First of all, they add iron to the food you cook with them! How rad is that, especially for pregnant women who want to avoid taking iron supplements (hello constipation), or for people just looking to bulk up on that mineral? Secondly, you don't have to wash them. Yes, I'm serious! The come seasoned and washing with soap and water strips the seasoning so it's best to just wipe them out with a cloth after using, or with just hot water and a naked (aka soapless) scrub brush. Thirdly whatever you cook in them can intensify the next meal you make, so if you cook bacon in the morning and simply dump out, then swipe out the excess grease with a paper towel, and then decide to cook up some chicken for dinner, that chicken is going to be infused with delicious baconness. And there is NOTHING wrong with bacon infusion. Nothing.

5. Hand-held Blender

Now, I don't use this guy a whole hell of a lot, but only because it's not soup season right now. But the things that are simplified thanks to this Smart Stick are many: soups, sauces, smoothies, baby purees, batters, etc. What I use it mostly for are sauces and smoothies. There's a delightful red pepper salmon dish that I should blog about, and its sauce once required a lot of steps and a big bulky blender, but now I just whip out the Smart Stick and its accompanying measuring cup thingy, blend it all, remove the business end of the blender and put it in the dishwasher. Done-zo! Smoothies are super easy too. We also have the Magic Bullet and in some strange sort of Brand War, Todd only makes his smoothies with the Bullet, and I only use the Smart Stick. The Bullet is tempermental with its two differently-shaped blades, and the size of the container matters for how smoothly the thing will work. None of that fussy bullshit from my darling Smart Stick.

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