Thursday, July 17, 2008

Knives, etc.

Yesterday, as I was visiting with a friend about recipes, kitchen tools, and handy appliances, I realized that it's helpful for people to know what gadgets others use and how they use them. So I thought about my most frequently used items, and I snapped a shot of them.

Here are some of my best friends in the kitchen.

I'm certainly no cooking expert. I'm just a busy mom who enjoys cooking homemade meals frequently for our family of six. So, I can tell you what I use the most. For me, it's gotta be functional and efficient (read--easy to find/use/clean).

I'm pretty basic when it comes to kitchen tools--probably because I can never find all those cute gadgets when I need them. That lemon wedge squeezer and that apple corer and the egg seperater are alway hiding in the back of my gadget drawer when I need them so I don't use them...then I forget I have them. I know you must have a drawer like that, don't you? Additionally, I don't really like to do dishes, so I try to minimize using more things that I will have to clean later.

Wusthof 7-inch Santoku knife
Thanks, Big Brother!
Do you all have a big, sharp knife in your kitchen? It really doesn't matter what brand as long as it's sharp and will rock as you slice and dice. If you cook often and don't use one, you're probably wasting a lot of time. You know what I mean if you've ever tried to dice a big onion with a paring knife! If you're afraid to use one, just give it a try. Just slice one thing a day--something fairly soft like a cucumber or zuchini. You'll be amazed how fun and easy it is...and how much time you save.

Paring/steak kniveParing knives have a very necessary place in the kitchen. You don't see one in the picture because I lost mine a while ago. (It's probably in that drawer!) As an alternative, I'm now using a nice, sharp steak knife...for slicing fruit and other smaller items that need more precision (cutting out apple cores, etc.).

My bread knifeA sharp, serrated gem. Even if we're not making and eating as much bread these days (due to gluten intolerant husband), I still use it quite a bit for tomatoes and when I make my kids a Pepperoni Roll, Stromboli Romano, or Spiced Pumpkin Bread. I also have a really long bread knife that I used when I made a lot of bread in the bread machine--before gluten intolerance struck our home...and before our bread maching broke!

I frequently use a pastry scraper--though not for scraping pastry.Since I chop a lot of veggies, I use the scraper to scoop up all the chopped goodies to place them either in the cooking pan or the serving bowl. It's sure better than having to constantly pick up and scrape off my big cutting board...or grabbing it all with your hands and getting your hands too messy to continue chopping with your knife.

I also use a few cutting boards each day: 1 to make lunches, and usually 2 for dinner (1 for meats; 1 for veggies, etc.). Let me not forget to mention my kitchen shears I use constantly. My kids are well trained to never EVER take use these scissors. (Do your things disappear also?) They're so well trained that they even remind Joe not to use them! ("Daddy, you're not supposed to use Mommy's kitchen scissors.)

Although I have a wonderful blender/food processor combo unit that I love (Thanks again, Big Brother!), I rarely use it to slice vegetables. If I'm going to use this unit, I'm going to make it worth my while to clean it...since you don't want to put this stuff in your dish washer.

I use the blender topper to make smoothies, Orange Julius, my Caramelized Espresso Frappe, and I think I'm even going to make this Pots de Creme tonight! I use the food processor attachment to make Hummus, Pesto, Fresh Cranberry Compote (I haven't posted that recipe yet), etc.

Since I only use the unit about once a week, I store it in a cabinet. I'm not one who uses it every day like a couple of friends of mine who have one of these. These Blendtec blenders are handy since they're also guaranteed to crush ice. If I make smoothies or frappes, I just use my good 'ol hand crank ice crusher.

What are your favorite kitchen tools and gadgets?