Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hand me my tongs, Q!

So it wouldn't be a geek blog without a talk about kitchen gadgets.

I tend to be of Alton Brown mind when it comes to gadgets.  I wouldn't say I'm hard core about not having uni-taskers in my kitchen, but I understand the sentiment.  I live in an apartment with limited space.  If I'm going to bring something in that takes up space, it better have worthwhile use.

In my humble kitchen, I do have a few things I tend to favor and appreciate.

Waiter's Helper/Corkscrew

I know these days there is a love of the lever style corkscrews that come from all the finest makers of wine accessories.  Clamp it on, squeeze it down, and then lever it out.  But they just have never called to me.  I have friends who keep theirs in the fine wooden, felt or satin lined box in which it came, and it becomes quite a ceremony to open a bottle of wine.  While I appreciate the pomp and circumstance, when I'm cooking with it, I just really like to get into the wine.  For myself, I keep around a nice Waiter's corkscrew.  Designed to be operated predominantly with one hand, you can cut the foil, drive in the screw, and lever out the cork rather effortlessly.  And whats best about them is that not only are they not so expensive as their high end cousins, but they multitask as well, typically having a bottle opener built in.  Whether its wine with the ladies or beers with the guys, I've got it squared away in one simple tool.

KitchenAid mixer

I will admit, there is nothing wrong with a little elbow grease when it comes to cooking and baking.  Getting arm-deep into your ingredients and forming a connection with your concoction is half the fun.  That said, there are times when you just want to get it mixed, blended, or whisked, and you want to have the power and the finesse to pull it off.  My KitchenAid mixer was one of my most prized gifts.  Aside from the basics of whisking and mixing and even making dough, KitchenAid mixers come with an accessory port that can be host to all sorts of useful attachments including meat grinders, juicers, and pasta makers.  They are sturdy, powerful, die-hard, and are found in some of the greatest home kitchens in the world.  I can't speak highly enough, and wouldn't trade mine for anything.

Kitchen Computer

What true geek in the kitchen doesn't keep a computer around?  Not every one may have a dedicated computer, but no one can deny the usefulness of having one.  I have an old beater laptop that performs admirably. Between looking up new recipes or researching kitchen gadgets, or even researching ingredients for that next amazing dinner, having a window into the information age really brings a lot to the table.  Even just having your virtual cookbook open so you can follow as you cook is a wonderful thing.  And aside from those basics, you can even find more elaborate ideas that incorporate shopping lists and bar code readers that allow you to keep an inventory of your perishables and suggest recipes based on what you have on hand.  And when that's all said and done, you can even spin off a blog entry to immortalize your fun. :-)

Instant thermometer

In every good cookbook or recipe with regards to cooking a slab of animal protein, done-ness is never a function of time.  And how could it be?  Everybody's grills, ovens, and cook-tops are all different, each with their own eccentricities and quirks.   The true test recommended by chefs and health specialists alike is temperature.  Digital or analog, knowing how heated through your meat is can make the difference between a flavorful meal and a trip to the hospital. 

Condiment Squeeze Bottles

I never realized what I was missing until I finally bought a few of these.  These are generic versions of the bottles you see sometimes in restaurants for mustard and catsup.  They are very versatile and work for everything from homemade sauces to oils or dressings.  I keep a couple of them half-filled with my two favorite cooking oils so I have easy access when I need a squirt in the pan.  They are easy to fit on a shelf or on a stove ledge and even in the fridge as necessary, and I always feel like I have more control when it comes to putting what I want where I want it.

Cookie Scoops

This is another one I've been slow to adopt.  I've never been a fan of the ice cream version of these, but for things like cookies and batter, these rock.  Portions are always consistent, and with the wiper, I almost always get full release.  Makes lining up cookies on the cookie sheet fast and easy.  And with a spritz of non-stick spray, they work great for batters when filling molds and the like, or when you really need to keep control of how much you use.  Highly recommend these in a couple of sizes.


Whether metal, or bamboo, or plastic, tongs have a lot of uses in the kitchen.  I find them easier to use than any other utensil when frying and griling things.  They provide distance between your hand and hot or messy situations, and they can even be used for cutting in a limited capacity.  I keep a couple of sizes of metal ones for regular duty, and I have a pair of bamboo ones for working on the non-stick.

So those are a few of my favorites.  Like I say, I don't generally go for elaborate ones, which I know can take from my geek cred, but there is really something to be said for simplicity.  Both in cooking gear and in a meal itself, simple wins.

What are some of your favorite cooking gadgets?

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you 100% on the Kitchenaid mixer! I've got the pasta roller attachment and am now lusting after the meat grinder and ice cream maker attachments. Santa, are you paying attention? ;)

    I also couldn't live without my LeCreuset dutch oven. <3