Sunday, May 17, 2009

Efficiency = Equals = Exciting.

Times are tough. You know it and I know it. Kate knows it, but look, she's happier. Why? Must be because she knows that though the financial pinch is squeezing us all, there are crafty and inventive ways to get through cooking healthy and on the cheap. I would be lying if I said I didn't have any handy kitchen tools to get me through the daily process. Fact is, some items are worth the investment because they do save you effort, stress, energy, and of course, time in the long run. TwinYolks wouldn't be here without loads of literary inspiration (which I would like to share), nor would my kitchen experiments be effective without these basic products. Please bear in mind that I would only recommend the highest quality to you, because I love my readers, and that all of which are owned by yours truly. The goal here is to make you feel happy, yes, even this (blurry) happy:

Preface: I am very skeptical of gadgets & gizmos, and have purchased many a dud product claiming to help ease a process but ended up stressing me out. Listed below are the ones that made the cut - and are available where recommended and also on my (temporary) sidebar, courtesy of and elsewhere.

Here's to eating slow and cooking fast:
  • Microplane Rasp Grater - This little tool will give you feather-light wisps of cheese, or zest the skin right off a lemon. It's designed to give more results per stroke and is only $14.95 at Williams Sonoma.
  • Pepper Grinder - It doesn't have to be ugly, either. Check out this cutie from Crate & Barrel. This is the best flavor enhancer for your food, especially your eggie weggs.
  • Iron Skillet - I am beginning to collect antique iron skillets. I found one yesterday, a small size for $9.00. Note that when you use them, they retain flavor so you don't want to wash them with soap, just water and a rag and/or paper towel. Also, the iron from the pan enters your food, which sounds scary but is great! A delicious replacement for taking iron supplements.
  • Swissmar Peelers - a blessing to work with. These come with different texture capabilities. I shave radishes, carrots, apples, cucumbers, cheese and more for salads in seconds and the veggies retain a thin-yet-crisp texture. Bliss.
  • Calphalon Contemporary Multi Pot - wow, a mouthful, and it's not "inexpensive", but view it as an investment, if you will. This pot has a pasta insert and a steamer basket so you can cook pasta and steam your veggies all in one go. We boil everything with it, from chili to garbanzo beans for hummus. You save time and use less water. A good idea.
  • The Rabbit - Nothing opens wine more easily than this. A great gift, and a necessity if you labor and almost knock over wine bottles trying to open them. Prior to owning The Rabbit, I always made my husband open wine. Pitiful, I know.
Obviously there are many, many other handy tips, like always keep your kitchen knives sharp. Don't put them in the dishwasher (they warp), etc. However, these two culprits below are worth the accusations. Here's what you shouldn't buy.

  • Leifheit Food Chopper - no, no, no. What a waste of time. It is a pain to clean and has so many pieces that I don't want to bother. You are asking to lose a finger in a gruesome, medieval manner. Get out your knife and cutting board. Done and done.
  • Leifheit Cheese Grater - do not trust.
  • This may seem harsh, as I'm all about affordable, but I've rarely owned an OXO product that was efficient and/or didn't break. My few exceptions are their plastic bowls, measuring cups and whisks. Choose their products wisely. The fancier they seem, the more skeptical you should be.
Now that we have the basics covered, we can get back to focusing on food. I can't wait, and believe me, we have a lot going on. John is curing a pork-side as we speak, and I've been busy as ever in the kitchen. I really hope these tips help you out. And please, if you have any awesome or awful products, comment and advise or warn other readers (and me!). Thank you for reading and good luck shopping!


Anonymous said...

nice job annie...I am getting that some of that stuff!!! especially the pepper grinder!

MYDell83 said...

Annie you are awesome :)

kim said...

YOU read my mind! i was planning on asking you about your culinary tools. so helpful. thank you!

Anonymous said...

Now, I may be criticized here, but I'm just gonna put myself out there on this mentioned the Leifheit chopper. I've never heard of that one before, nor have I used one, but I have heard of the Pampered Chef food chopper. I own it and I LOVE it. It all comes apart for easy clean up in the dish washer! It's also a great way to take out any frustrations from the day :)

anna j said...

Thanks, Annie . . . and I had to laugh [appreciatively], as I have not yet found a wine bottle opener I seem to be able to master: and I always end up handing bottle and opener to the closest person now, explaining that I'm a known failure at the job :-)

A.Kelley said...

You guys are all so great - I love the comments. I really hope you at least snag The Kitchen Bible if you have the extra $. It's on my website and it's an incredible book.

Glad someone else can relate to my pitiful wine- opening skills... well, now that i have the rabbit they are no more!

APettit - My food chopper was so loud I knew the banging noise was bothering John as he studied... however, it probably wasn't as high quality as the papered chef one. :)

A.Kelley said...

*Pampered - ah you know what I mean, I hope.

Lauren Anne Mackay said...

Great advice. We were just at Williams Sonoma yesterday and I was lost! I know what to get when I go back.

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