Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My favorite kitchen tools - part 1

Our shared affinity for kitchen adventures has been some of our favorite marital glue from the start.  And as we've become pickier and more discerning in our cooking and baking, we've developed some favorite tools that neither Mr Renn nor I grew up with, but which we find ourselves using constantly.  We are not experts, but we are surely enthusiasts.

1. Kitchen scale - once you start baking by weight instead of volume you will never go back.  It is so much easier and so much more accurate.  Once I finally broke down and bought a scale (we have this model) I was surprised to find I use it so much, and for so many applications!  Didn't take long to wonder how I managed without one.

kitchen favs

2. Milk Frother - I know almost every mormon girl claims to be a hot chocolate/hot cocoa affectionado. But unless she's rattling off her favorite drinking chocolates (solid, not powdered), or confessing her love of her milk frother , I have a hard time believing her.  In my world hot cocoa should always be made with milk, not water, and mixed with one of these.  There's no going back.  Add some drinking chocolate in to enhance the powdered cocoa, and you're beginning to speak my language.  Add some peppermint stick ice cream on top, and we can be best buds.   I also use this tool pretty much anytime I need to mix a powder into a liquid.  It makes quick and thorough work of that sort of task.

kitchen favs

3. Enameled citrus juicer - I confess I first started picking these up because I thought they were so pretty, but they are such marvelously effective tools.  And just about everything calls for lemon juice these days.  Wouldn't you rather use fresh when you can have it in about 2 seconds?

  kitchen favs

4. Condiment Cups

I have become a huge convert to the concept of mise en place in the kitchen.  I find it saves me loads of time and energy to get all of my ingredients measured and put away before I begin.  (It helps me get familiar with the recipe before diving in, and eliminates that  sinking feeling you get when you're halfway in and realize you're out of something.)   These little condiment cups are awesome for small measurements - herbs, spices, baking powder, vanilla, or salt.   Plus they are pretty handy as, um, condiment cups.

kitchen favs

5. Microplane - I can't remember which application I first wanted a microplane zester for (grating parmesan maybe?)  But I use it for all kinds of things.  We don't have a rotary grater, so we use it at the table for adding cheese to garnish meals (sorry - I won't buy the shelf-stable cardboard pre-grated stuff) I use it for zesting citrus, and for grating spices like nutmeg.  You wouldn't believe how often I find myself grating nutmeg.  It's good on everything, (cauliflower!) and grating a fresh one is so much more potent than buying the pre-ground nutmeg.

kitchen favs

There's a good start.  I've got a few more to share.  Please don't think we're elitist food snobs.  We just really enjoy good food and making it ourselves;   And doing it as a family;  And buying each other kitchen tools.  Really, food-centric family bonding is a big thing around here.

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