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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tools of the Trade

"I think every woman should have a blowtorch."
-Julia Child

The right tools in the kitchen make life easier.  When I was growing up, my mom used this juicer.  I remember making orange juice with it and it worked well.  When I got married I never got around to buying one; instead I squeezed my citrus inefficiently by hand.  When my mom passed away, I inherited this old juicer. I was amazed by how much juice I could get out of an orange or lemon using it.  I had been missing out on a lot of good juice over the years because I didn't have the right tools.

That got me thinking about my favorite kitchen tools.  Here are some of the best instruments in my kitchen:

 1.  Every cook needs good, sharp knives.  A good knife speeds the work of chopping and makes it easier to cut food to proper size.  Sharp knifes are actually safer than dull knives--they are more likely to cut through food, less likely to slip and cut hands.

2. I've owned the vegetable peeler on the left for 30 years or so.  It's cheap, flimsy, and has never been very sharp.  After using it at Thanksgiving one year, one of my kids bought me the one on the right for Christmas.  It's sturdy, cushioned, and sharp. It cuts peeling time dramatically.  I learned it sometimes pays to spend a little more. Buy the best quality you can afford!

 3. I love this well-used food chopper.  It chops an onion or some nuts in a few seconds.

 4. Kichen shears are a must for every cook. 

5.  This is a fairly new tool to me: an immersion blender.  You can stick in right into things like soup or shakes and mix.  The top part comes off and cleans in the dishwasher.

6. This scoop is perfect for cookie dough.  It helps make your cookies uniform in size and is easier than using a spoon.  I have a set with three different sizes that I use all the time

 7. Silicone brush, used for basting or brushing food.  It is heat resistant and cleans up wonderfully in the dishwasher.

8. Can strainer. 

Just right for setting on top of an open can and easily draining the liquid.

9. Citrus zester.  Did you know you should only use the very, very outside of citrus when a recipe calls for zest?  The colored part adds a wonderful flavor.  The white part is bitter and will ruin your recipe.  This zester makes it easy to use just that outer part for perfect zest. It's like a rasp or file with little holes and it's very sharp.

 10. Kitchen scale.  I use this a lot.  If I want uniform bread size I weigh the pieces to make sure they are even.  Have you ever had a recipe that calls for 2 lbs of fruit?  How much is that?  This scale will  tell you.  You can even find recipes that give ingredient amounts by weight--a much more accurate way to cook.  It can also be used by dieters wanting to control portion size.

11.  I'm not sure what this is called--dough scrapper?  I use it to cut dough into pieces or clean off my counter after rolling out dough.
The list of wonderful, clever tools is endless. Do you have a favorite kitchen tool?

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