I love kitchen gadgets. If let loose in a kitchen store with spending cash, who knows what I might end up with. Our kitchen is well-stocked with tools and small appliances, but we also try to keep it simple and clutter-free. Here are my top ten kitchen gadgets that I would recommend to others. Some of them are higher in price than others, some are below $20. All are items that I use frequently as an amateur home cook, and I put the official Larissa Monologues stamp of approval on each of them.
1. Oster Professional Series Blender – we make smoothies, margaritas and other blended drinks frequently, and are constantly pleased with our high-grade blender. It crushes ice in a pinch, and has been known to even make this delicious one-ingredient banana ice cream. We had a standard blender that broke, and upgraded to this one about a year ago. It was worth the higher price.
2. Crock Pot Programmable Slow Cooker – I am a huge advocate for slow cookers, especially for busy families. Low-energy, low-maintenance, hearty one-pot meals that cook while you are out running errands…what’s not to like? I like my big 6-quart slow cooker because it can pretty much fit an entire cow’s worth of meat. We make this slow cooked kalua pig (a local Hawaiian favorite) in our Crock Pot a few times a year.
3. Microplane Grater/Zester – every kitchen should have one of these little handy-dandy guys. It zests citrus fruits, and grates things like cheese, chocolate and ginger. With its compact size and low $12 price tag, it is one of my favorite tools.
4. Oxo Good Grips Locking Tongs – tongs are some of the most multi-purpose gadgets of all time. They can grill meat, toss salad, and serve pasta. I often use our tongs to heat tortillas or pita bread over the stove flame.
5. EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale – as I cook and serve healthy meals (and healthy portions), this kitchen scale is extremely useful. It helps measure foods like meat or vegetables to the ounce, and gives an accurate weight.
6. Creative Home Satin Splendor Metallic Tea Kettle – I’m a daily coffee drinker, but I also enjoy tea, particularly in the cold-weather months. A basic, sturdy whistling tea kettle brings water to a boil efficiently. We have owned ours for years and years, and it is as good as the day we purchased it.
7. Wustoff Come-Apart Kitchen Shears – these kitchen shears are another workhorse for a chef. They will do almost anything, from cutting meat into small pieces, to opening plastic-wrapped food, to cutting herbs. This model comes apart for easy cleaning, and has a built-in jar opener. It is a definite must-have in the kitchen.
8. KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer – we got our KitchenAid mixer when we got married about 4 years ago. Over those 4 years, it has made countless cakes, mashed potatoes and breads. I make our family’s bread every two weeks, and it is an easy, no-knead task with the help of the mixer. It is worth the cost and counter space, particularly for anyone who bakes.
9. Taylor Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer – before buying a kitchen thermometer, I used to estimate the temperatures of cooked foods (I know, I know…that is almost a surefire way to serve undercooked meat). Now with this digital thermometer, temperature guessing games are eliminated, and I can confidently serve properly heated food, without the fear of accidentally poisoning my friends and family. It is accurate, easy to read, and quickly indicates food temperatures. Meats, jams (i.e. this super easy strawberry jam), candies and so many other foods call for very specific cooking temperatures, so a good thermometer is invaluable.
10. Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender – this immersion hand blender is the perfect gadget to make hummus, smoothies, pesto, pureed soup and for my fellow parent-chefs out there, homemade baby food. Because of the blender’s long shape, I can blend foods directly in the pot, keeping dirty dishes to a minimum. It doesn’t take up much space in the kitchen, and is easy to clean. At $27 it is an absolute steal.
There you have it…my top ten kitchen gadgets. What would you include on your list?