Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cooking Floyd: Useful Gadgets 1...

...or How Did I Ever Get Along  Without This?

I've admitted to being a sucker for kitchen gadgets and actively reining in purchasing stuff when the "Oh! That's so cool!" urge strikes.  But sometimes I put off purchases of things I know will be extremely useful for reasons I don't understand.  I know, I'm sure I need counseling.

Here are two items I've purchased in the past few months that have proven so useful I don't know why I put them off for years!  Now I wonder how I got along without them!

The Terry Cloth Lined Silicone Mitt
Pricey, but worth it!
This mitt has allowed me to do things in hot situations that I've always wanted to do but for being burned.  That is not a recommendation to be careless!  The mitt covers almost half of my forearm protecting me from element burns when reaching into the oven.  Heat simply does not penetrate through the glove the way it does through even the best cloth mitts, allowing for sure handling of hot, heavy pots like cast iron.  The palm is ribbed for a good grip and the mitt is wide enough that I can spread my fingers out inside it which makes grasping hot canning jars a breeze.

I've found as a canning aid this silicone mitt is indispensable.  Unlike cloth mitts, this mitt does not absorb water.  No sudden sucking up of boiling hot water for burns.  I use tongs to lift the lid of the canner, with this mitt on the other hand to grasp the lid and move it.  No steam burns!.  I can actually reach into the canner to pick up a jar that's tipped over or to arrange the jars.  Be warned here though that you must be aware of the depth of the water in relation to the cuff of the mitt.  If you reach in too far you risk filling the mitt with water!  Not good!  I've never totally trusted my jar lifter but with this mitt I can securely grasp the jars as they are lifted out of the canner and set them down gently to cool.

To clean this mitt I detach the terry cloth lining and run that through the washer and dryer.  The mitt goes for a ride in the top rack of the dishwasher.  Pricey investment but worth it at about $20.  I'm definitely getting a second one.

Immersion/Stick Blender
I put off this purchase for years because when they first came on the market they didn't work very well.  Or maybe it was operator error.  Either way there were lots of stories of immersion blender mishaps and messes.  Recently (and by that I mean the past few years), I've seen more chefs using them in ways that saved a lot of time and effort, not to mention appliances and utensils.  I came across one on sale at a major deep discount store while carrying a 20% off coupon for said store and figured whatthehell.  It ended up costing me $7 and ranks right up there on the best $7 dollars I ever spent list!  This is a basic immersion blender with no bells and whistles.  On and off.  But almost anytime a recipe says "puree" or "run through food mill" or "transfer to food processor", this little beauty comes out and does the job right in the pot!  No pouring hot stuff from one container to another, no making more dirty dishes and utensils.  And when it comes to making salad dressings and mayo, it's the bomb!  Just give it a soapy wipe and a rinse and done.

There's lots of immersion blenders on the market now from simple to complex, some with interchangeable parts to do more tasks, with prices to match.  If you've never used one before run to your local deep discounter and pick one up to try.  Even without being on sale and having a coupon mine retailed for $12.

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