Favorite Kitchen Tools & Gadgets

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Comments

  • edited February 2015
    @Toni
    Huge thanks. One of these days soon I'll treat myself. Americas Test Kitchen reviews are so reliable, I should have thought to check them. 
    I have learned to line my trays with foil. Makes all the difference. I need to get some other Silpat sizes as I have one that doesn't fit anything I own, but I use it anyway. I have a sprinkler tin of Barkeeper's Friend that is so old I think I had it when Cheers was still on, lol. Mebbe time to buy a new one?
  • -the Dutch oven handed down to me this Xmas by my brother and SIL (I'd been coveting it for years)
    -the garlic press handed down to me by my mother
    -wooden chopsticks
    -my (truly) nonstick baking trays

    I desperately want to get a microplane grater and a good mixer.
    I finally hit the "no, I REALLY want to get a mixer" before Christmas, so asked for cash towards one from the other half and my mum. I'd been half heartedly looking for a while, but then went looking properly and made my decision. I'd always been used to Kenwood Chef/Major machines growing up, though there's a lot more choice now than there was then. After much investigating and ruling out one that I wanted just because it was different but way more than I could justify and much bigger capacity than I needed (the Assistent - lovely looking machines), I went for a Kenwood kMix and it's one of the best things I've bought for some time. 
  • @Qitkat, @Toni, I'm sold on lining my pans with parchment paper.
  • My scan pan is the best freaking thing ever. I cook everything in it. 

    Second only to my digital temp gauge. I don't remember the name of it, I thought my fiance was crazy for wanting to spend the amount of money on it we did but its the best. 

    I also love all of the OXO stuff we have - spatulas, etc. 
  • altalinda said:
    @Qitkat, @Toni, I'm sold on lining my pans with parchment paper.
    I agree, only downside is parchment paper is so expensive, so I sub foil when possible. I do always have a roll in the drawer, and when you need it, you need it. It's a great help when making caramels.
  • If you use natural peanut butter, this is a great tool for mixing the oil into the peanut butter.  It is easy to use and clean.  Best $10 I have spent on a kitchen tool!

  • @Qitkat: oh, if I only remembered (or even knew) the brand. I bought a two-pan set at a sale about 12 years ago and they're still going strong.
  • Cast-iron skillets forever!  I use mine every single day.  But you have to take care of them.  I strongly recommend a chain mail scrubber, which will get off whatever you need to get off, but keep your lovely seasoned coating intact.

    I've also been having a lot of fun with my pizza stone and peel.  And between sourdough starter and 00 flour (Antimo Caputo)  I'm slowly closing in on the most perfect crust...I'm going to get there!
  • edited February 2015
    @fallsguy
    this is a great tool for mixing the oil into the peanut butter
    Aren't people clever! My husband will be getting one of these as a surprise really soon. 

    I have found parchment paper to be a necessity in my kitchen. One of my uses is to line a bamboo steamer for steamed Chinese dumplings (large lettuce leaves work also, but I usually only have chopped greens on hand). Since it has to be cut in a circle with waste, I let them dry and reuse a couple of times. I can't remember for what purpose right now, but for some things I think parchment works better than foil. There is also a double sided foil/parchment product available.

    That chain mail scrubber looks pretty nifty. Does it hold up for the long term? If I get in a stuck-on issue with my cast iron, I scrub it with coarse kosher salt, a little cooking oil, and elbow grease with a paper towel or cheap sponge. A quick rinse and thorough immediate drying and it remains good to go til a new deep seasoning needs to happen. (My husband is not so good with maintaining the coating). In that case I bake a few tablespoons of oil spread all over the skillet inside and out on a very low oven temp for an hour. Then cool and wipe clean.


  • @Qitkat I've had the chain mail scrubber for a few months and I swear by it, and I've been taking care of cast iron for decades now.  I use it with nothing but water, no soap, of course, and it really does get up the food particles but leave the coating intact.  And I don't see it wearing out any time soon.  I can't recommend it enough.
  • fallsguy said:
    If you use natural peanut butter, this is a great tool for mixing the oil into the peanut butter.  It is easy to use and clean.  Best $10 I have spent on a kitchen tool!

    I have never seen that before. j'adore!
  • This whole forum thing is fun but it's intense to want to respond to what everyone has said while also share my own thoughts.


    My initial reactions to essential kitchen tools:
    wood cutting board. 
    ceramic knives (I have a weak wrist so the consistently sharp blade is critical)
    garlic press
    dutch oven
    parchment paper
    kitchen aid

    I recently bought a simple meat thermometer that I leave in the roast in the oven while it cooks. It's an old school marvel.

    And since the topic of dishes was brought up: the only reason I cook regularly, bake up a storm and feel compelled to take pretty pictures of it to share it all on a blog is because I have the best boyfriend who will clean the kitchen between my adventures. He even cleaned it 3 times in one day when I made a layered cake and then a full meal for my mom's birthday. I am a lucky, lucky girl.
  • @fallsguy - That's clever! Thanks for the link.

    I have a lot of love for my immersion blender, Vitamix, and sheet pans. You can cook anything on a sheet pan. 
  • @Mefein
    chain mail scrubber
    Thanks, I really think I will get one of these. Good endorsement.
  • edited February 2015
    @JenniferJuniper, I'm interested that you love your garlic press.  I stopped using them a long time ago because it seemed like most of the garlic stayed in the press and it is a bear to clean.  I just smash the clove with the side of a knife, take off the papery exterior and throw the smashed clove in the pot.  What do you like about your garlic press?
  • My spouse brought pyrex pie plates into our marriage, and I love them.  No more soggy pie crusts!
  • GeoDiva said:

    I love kitchen tools that have only one use.  Like a shrimp deveiner, my avocado tool, garlic press, etc...  My husband is amazed that with all the multitasking that I do, I still love something that has one function only.   

    I have a small kitchen, and one of the organizing tips I've read is to get rid of kitchen tools that only do one thing.  However, I can't bear to part with my apple corer, egg separator, citrus reamer, or pie crust covers that keep crusts from getting burnt.  The one thing that each one does is so stinkin' useful!

    Other essentials that have been mentioned already: food processor, mandolin slicer, immersion blender, and dutch oven.

    I don't think anyone has mentioned these: wooden spoons, slow cooker / crockpot, programmable coffee maker, and silicone oven mitts.  I have an oven mitt shaped like a monkey's head that I use probably every day.  I absolutely love it, and have never been able to find it a mate.  I found a frog head one, but it's thinner and thus less effective at heat protection.
  • @GeoDiva @kimmeister ; I tend to like one use tools because most of those that claim to do multiple functions don't do any of them really well.

    @JenniferJuniper ; I've seen the ceramic knives in the store, but didn't know if they were just a gimmick.  Do they really stay sharp?  Do they need any special maintenance?  (weak wrist here too).
  • Have to agree with with everyone else on parchment paper. I stock up on it when its on sale and realized last week I have like 6 rolls in the cabinet!
  • @altalinda

    I suppose love is too strong of an emotion to describe my relationship with the garlic press- it is a begrudging respect. I hate the smell of garlic on my fingers and/or the scrubbing required to get it off. I have also heard that garlic dulls knives even if it is rinsed right away. When I smash the garlic as you describe to get the skin off I don't think it gets minced enough- I am not the strongest person. So I am hesitant to run my knife through it at that point and therefore opt for the press.

    The moral of the story is that using the garlic press is better than using jarred or tube minced garlic and that's good enough for me right now. 

    They were a gift from my boyfriend otherwise I was dubious as well. They stay incredibly sharp. I cook A LOT and the 2 smaller blades I've had for almost 2 years without having to sharpen them. I ran the larger chef's knife around a peach pit one time recently and tried to do the wrist action to pop the flesh off the pit and ended up chipping the knife- but I bought a new one and still love them. They are hand wash only (like any knife probably) and I don't know of any special maintenance.

    here is the exact set: 


    (I love them so much that I've thought about giving the set away as a giveaway on my food blog but I would HATE to give someone a knife set that they then cut themselves with in the kitchen. I would feel responsible.)
  • @JenniferJuniper Thanks for the info!
  • Silpat devotees unite!  Besides baking and roasting, they're also great for candy making, and while I definitely agree with @Toni that foil is fabulous, silpats are a simple rinse and re-use forever choice.

    I agree with @kittyhateface about inexpensive paring knives and that at some point for all of us, there's such a thing as too much knife.  I received a ginormous one as a gift and it's so big it's unwieldy.

    I have a beaker for liquids that has just about every conceivable measure marked and I use it all the time.

    I'm also a fan of the heavy-duty food storage containers from restaurant suppliers, since they don't warp after a trip through the dishwasher and travel very securely.




  • Question for the Silpat users: Do y'all use actual Silpat brand or a different brand or does it make any difference? I bake cookies nearly every weekend, and even though I love parchment paper (never leave me, parchment paper!) I feel like Silpat would be less expensive in the long run. I just don't know what to get.

    I recently bought a kitchen scale, and I am amazed I've lived this long without it. I love that thing.
  • Several folks here have endorsed scales for portion control.  What kind/brand/style do you use and how do you use it?  Recommendations greatly appreciated.

    Most of my faves have already been mentioned here: silpat, immersion blender, vitamix.  I squeeze lemons into pretty much everything, and LOVE my silicone reamer:
    image

    Also loved my ceramic knives while they lasted (before I broke them, the key problem with ceramics).  I still have a ceramic knife peeler that I love.

    Does anyone use a drip coffee maker that they actually like, that doesn't cost zillions?  I'm in the market for a new one.
  • edited February 2015
    #1 by far, my garlic press, aluminum (?) with metal prongs on the reverse to self clean.  Had it for years, don't remember the brand, if it ever breaks I'll be on the hunt because I haven't seen one like it in a while. I use it for garlic and ginger, mostly. My last one broke over some very woody ginger so I'm careful now.

    Other than that, mini (maybe 2.5-3 cup?) Cuisinart blender/chopper, Oxo tongs, spatulas in all sorts and sizes. I have an Oxo vegetable scraper that is nice because it scrapes both directions, but I don't love the handle.

    Good knives would be on the list, but for various reasons I'm down to only one of those, serrated bread knife of unknown origin. (I use it for everything except heavy duty chopping.) Saving up.

    Oh, and my stove top moka pot. (We call it an espresso pot but know better.) Bialetti brand, I think, anyway one of the Italian ones that are nice and heavy. It makes the perfect amount to get me from getting up to leaving for work, and is faster than my coffeemaker.
  • Question for the Silpat users: Do y'all use actual Silpat brand or a different brand or does it make any difference? I bake cookies nearly every weekend, and even though I love parchment paper (never leave me, parchment paper!) I feel like Silpat would be less expensive in the long run. I just don't know what to get.
    Mine are actual Silpat, but I suspect that others are similarly good.  However, for something that I use CONSTANTLY, I'd say pay the difference (if any) and get the real thing, since they last forever.
  • edited February 2015
    @Fabulosity - My preference is for things that are cheap and basic and reliable, as I find I don't always get my money's worth of use out of fancy features. 

    My nonnegotiable need in the way of coffee is strong, preferably dark roast. I buy cheap, expendable drip coffee makers - no programmable timers or anything else - the current one is a 12 cup Mr. Coffee, bought for well under 20 bucks and when it dies I'll replace it.  In the meantime I run a water/vinegar mix through it a couple of times a year, followed by a plain water rinse and pretend that is adequate cleaning. When I want more emphasis on taste vs. the mere presence of the coffee, I have both a french press and the aforementioned stove top moka/espresso pot.  

    My digital scale is a flat EatSmart Precision Pro, I think it was under 15.00 from Amazon (several years ago.) It's supposed to be accurate up to 10 lbs, but I've never used it for such quantities. It switches between english & metric units (lbs/oz. & kilo/grams) and seems internally consistent anyway. (Meaning it will call the same chunk of something the same weight consistently, through re-zeroing and turning on/off.) I'm happy with it.


  • Question for the Silpat users: Do y'all use actual Silpat brand or a different brand or does it make any difference? I bake cookies nearly every weekend, and even though I love parchment paper (never leave me, parchment paper!) I feel like Silpat would be less expensive in the long run. I just don't know what to get. I have both brand and s generic, only difference I notice is one fits my pan better so I would measure pan and mat and buy the one that is the best fit.
  • #1 by far, my garlic press, aluminum (?) with metal prongs on the reverse to self clean.  Had it for years, don't remember the brand, if it ever breaks I'll be on the hunt because I haven't seen one like it in a while. I use it for garlic and ginger, mostly. My last one broke over some very woody ginger so I'm careful now.
    That sounds exactly like the garlic press my mother has and has had for years. It's brilliant because it makes it so easy to clean. My current one is from Ikea, and also easy to clean because it opens out. I've never used it for ginger, though, after breaking a previous one on it. Instead I have a miniature grater that I use for it, and makes such quick work that I don't miss the press for it.
  • Odd-sized measuring cups from Williams Sonoma.  Damn, I love those things.  The set on their site is not the one I bought years ago, but it has  2/3, 3/4  and 1.5 cup sizes.  
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