Resource Center – General Gadgets
As they say, the right tool makes the job easier. In the kitchen there is no shortage of tools and gadgets available. A lot of the gadgets just take up space, however, there are those that are actually very useful!
In this guide, I’m going to list told and gadgets that are useful in many situations. There are actually quite a few useful things out there, so I will divide some of the tools up across different disciplines and post them on a separate page.
If you have tools you find useful that I haven’t listed, but sure and let me know what you like to use!
If there is one item that I get asked about in classes, it would be the Perfect Beaker. This is one of the best measuring tools out there. I use this with recipes that have liquids and other hard to measure items like honey. The beaker is great at being able to add different ingredients together. For example, if you need 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup of honey, you put the cup of milk in the beaker, then you add honey until the top of the milk hits the 1 1/4 cup mark. You use the displacement of the liquid to determine how much you’ve put in.
If you haven’t been to a class and seen this in action – trust me – you’ll end up using this more than you think you would. In fact, I have 3 of them and could always use one more…..
Temperature is such an important factor in cooking and baking, that I have several different thermometers that I use on a regular basis.
The first one is a standard instant read thermometer. They are relatively inexpensive and are completely indispensable in the kitchen. I use my basic instant read constantly checking temperatures of meats, baked goods and liquids. This thermometer is a MUST in the kitchen. (Now, if you want the absolute top of the line really, really instant read thermometer, then the Thermapen is the product for you – this is literally the Rolls Royce of instant read thermometers.)
The second one is a probe thermometer that can go into the oven. I use this whenever I am roasting any type of meat. The probe goes into the meat and the wire comes out of the oven to a base. The kind I use has both a timer and the thermometer, so it does double duty. The best way to improve your roasting is to know what is going on inside the roast. Timing is great, but there are just too many variables.
The last one I use is my laser thermometer. Besides the cool/kitchen geeky factor, this measures the temperature of a surface. I use this to see when skillets are hot enough, measuring temperature of cooked sugar recipes and many other. I’ve linked to two different laser thermometers – they make a kitchen one that has a fold out instant read thermometer…or you can buy the cheaper model designed for HVAC folks (It is perfectly adequate for the using in the kitchen). Having one of the culinary ones (It was a gift….), I can tell you that you are better off having a separate instant read thermometer!
Another tool that I use all the time are my various Microplane graters. From zesting citrus to grating cheese, these are also indispensable in the kitchen. There are many different models available – I’m going to link the key ones that I use all the time.
I’m also going to include in this group a nutmeg grater. This particular design is grate (pun intended) because it collects the nutmeg as you grate it. With this, there is no reason NOT to use whole nutmegs and grate what you need when you need it.
There are other various prep tools that I use, so I am going to post an assortment of items that I have found valuable.
First is the Zyliss Garlic Press – my favorite thing about this garlic press is that you don’t have to peel the garlic first.
For citrus, I use a lemon juicer. This one will do both lemons and limes and will even juice oranges if you cut them up in quarters. These are great because they catch the seeds while you juice the fruit. One note – many people use these particular juicers incorrectly. You put the cut side down toward the holes and the top part presses against the peel.
Measuring is such a key part of cooking and baking that there are many, many tools that would be useful. I already put the Perfect Beaker above, but there are the basic items that any kitchen should have.
You must have a good set of measuring spoons and cups. I prefer the stainless steel variety. I have some plastic ones I was given and eventually, the little handle breaks off which is where the size of the cup is labeled. I also like the “odd-size” measuring spoon set, but you can live without it if you must…..
You also need a set of Pyrex glass measuring cups. Besides measuring, these are useful because they can go into the microwave. I use them all the time to warm up water or milk if a recipe calls for it.
I’m also including a cute set of small beaker style measuring cups from OXO. They actually come in handy when measuring smaller amounts of liquids. These are strictly a nice to have or one of those gifts for the “Cook that has EVERYTHING.”
Lastly, if you are a baker, weighing ingredients is a very important method that more and more recipe writers are using. It is much more accurate and a lot easier. An digital scale with a “tare” function is what you want for this.