Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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And now for something completely different: kitchen edition

So, I was thinking for no special reason of the things I have now in my kitchen that I did not have growing up. Some kitchen gizmos and gadgets fall under the heading Pretty But Useless, and others are useful maybe once a year, but some I reach for ALL THE TIME. I can’t believe I ever suffered along without them. So forthwith:

Top Ten Kitchen Gizmos and Gadgets that may not be necessary as such but that I’m glad I don’t have to live without. Some, as you see, are super easy to find and cheap. A few, not so much.

1. A wire whisk. I don’t know why my mother didn’t have even one whisk in the kitchen when I was growing up, but seriously, I reach for it all the time — to quickly whisk baking powder and so on into flour, say, or to combine yogurt and orange juice and an egg for Orange-Yogurt Pancakes (I add more sugar than this recipe suggests). A wire whisk does better with some tasks than a plastic whisk, but hey, any whisk is better than beating liquid ingredients together with a fork.

2. A pepper grinder. My mother still sees no point in freshly ground pepper. I think her taste buds must be peculiar, because there’s just no comparison between freshly ground pepper and pepper out of a box. I have two grinders, one for finely ground pepper and one for coarsely ground. And if I just want cracked peppercorns, I use my

3. Mortar and pestle. I have a pretty little marble mortar and pestle. I use it all the time, for cracking peppercorns or crushing coriander seeds or whatever small little task like that happens to turn up.

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4. A jar opener. Even before I started having joint issues, I encountered many, many jars that I couldn’t open. If you have a guy in the house, no problem! But spaniels are not much help for this task. I prefer this kind of jar opener:

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5. Mixing bowls with rubber bases. I detest mixing bowls that skid or leave marks on the counter. Rubber bases, people. And deep bowls! So that you can whisk or use a mixer and nothing spatters out of the bowl.

6. A garlic mincer. If you make Indian food, you often need to mince a lot of garlic. This gadget makes that super easy and fast.

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7. An immersion blender. Nothing is more tedious or prone to mishaps as pouring soup into a blender, blending, and pouring it back into the pot. I don’t reach for my immersion blender often, but when I want it, it is there and I am glad.

8. A food processor. I make roti / chapati dough in it, I chop nuts and carrots in it, I make hummus and pesto and, and, and … how does anybody tolerate doing all of those types of things by hand, anyway?

9. A Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. I just got it last year. It sure is a wonderful appliance.

10. A Preethi spice grinder.

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Thai curry pastes. Indian spice mixtures. Want to grind dried chilis into powder? Or turn cumin or coriander seeds into ground spices? Or hey, maybe you have oats but want oat flour. Your food processor will have a tough time with that task, but your spice grinder will take care of it no problem.

I haven’t actually been doing a lot of real cooking lately. I need to start reading one of my Indian cookbooks and go from there.

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3 Comments And now for something completely different: kitchen edition

  1. Elaine T

    oh, yes, immersion blenders are one of the most useful things around, although when someone gave one to us, my first thought was what use is it? I found out.

    I’ve had a Kitchen Aid stand mixer since I was a teen and started making bread. They’re wonderful gadgets.

    We have a garlic press with a handle and a cleaner-thingy that stores within the handle. I like it. The handle is easier on my hands than some alternatives.

    Those flat whisk-type things used for folding. Once upon a time I didn’t think it would make a difference, but fluffy desserts do come out fluffier if you use them instead of a wire whisk or the whisk on the KitchenAid.

  2. Pamela

    Grating large amounts of cheese and mincing vast quantities of onions (without crying!) definitely make washing all the food processor parts worthwhile.
    My #1 essential would be Microplane graters. Mostly for nutmeg (nutmeg muffins!), but also for zest, cheese, etc. My childhood was cursed with the dullest box grater in the world and mountainous blocks of cheddar.
    My mom uses a whisk for everything, but while I may occasionally begin with one, I always end up putting it aside for a fork.
    The jar opener is going on the must purchase list.

  3. Rachel

    Pamela, you are right! I forgot about my microplane graters, without which I really do not know how I would ever zest a lemon or grate Parmesan. I also remember a box grater. I doubt it was as dull as yours, but it was sure a pain compared to a microplane grater — and useless for zesting lemons, too.

    Jar openers are your friends.

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