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Posts Tagged ‘yogurt’

My first unusual gadget was a great can opener my mom got for us to help her in the kitchen.  It attached with the blade parallel with the top of the can, and it cut off the whole lid with no sharp edges.  This is the kind I learned to use, and it’s still my favorite.  Oxo makes one, but Pampered Chef also carries one which I’ve seen more often.  I found a website that recommended this version by Kuhn-Rikon.  The one drawback is if the can is *very* full, in which case a little liquid will spill over.

I also like the measuring cups that sit flat on the counter but have a little diagonal ring inside so that you can see how much (liquid, especially) you’ve poured in already.  If you have ever seen a carpenter use a level, you know how not-accurate it is to just guess with your hand.  Same for measuring cups.  I got mine at a hardware store.  Apparently carpenters know how the world should be.

I have been fascinated ever since I heard of Danish dough whisks.  They’re a curly-q wire firmly attached to a wooden handle.  The wire is thick enough that it won’t bend with normal use.  And it moves softer doughs through the successive swirls to get things mixed.  My good friend got me one when I excitedly described one to her.  So far I think their target use is for baked goods like muffins or quick breads.  They would probably work on doughs as stiff as cookies, but I wouldn’t use it for regular breads, at least not once you start adding flour.  The best part about Danish dough whisks?  Clean up.  The wire is easier to clean than hands or spoons.  The next best part? Letting kids help with it.  Dough is harder to fling when there’s no flat surface for it to adhere to the utensil.  Let them get a little crazy!

When the time has come to use a spoon for mixing, our family loves to use wooden-handled “ice cream scoops”.  These don’t make nice round balls to go into cones, but rather islands of frozen yumminess.  Or they are sturdy for all sorts of mixing.  We use them to stir hot things on the stove, too.  But when we make brownies, I’ve come to love the one-utensil strategy of a rubber spoonula – a slightly scoop-shaped spatula that mixes, ladles, and scrapes the sides of the bowl.  Pick one-piece models like this one for easiest cleaning and durability.

One kitchen appliance my mom thinks no home should be without is a George Foreman electric grill.  It sits on the countertop without melting even cheap plastic surfaces.  In less than ten minutes it is preheated good enough to cook basic things like hamburgers, chicken, or grilled sandwiches.  The grease slides down the grooves into an accompanying tray.  This makes it hard to sear in flavor, but is a plus for those people who are looking to cut out extra fat.  When you’re done, the non-stick surfaces are easy to clean.  If it is still warm, usually just water will work to wipe it clean.  If it has cooled, a little bit of soap and a sponge still make for easy clean-up.  We keep two in our kitchen, and my mom usually has an extra one or two (garage sale and thrift store finds) on hand to replace ours as the non-stick coatings wear off or to gift to friends.

We’re not so great with knives in our house.  I think my parents wanted everything dull for years because they had small children running around and emptying dishwashers and helping in the kitchen for about 16 years.  Then they just got in the habit.  Anyway, to compensate we have kitchen scissors – 4 pairs, at present.  They’re useful for slicing into plastic packaging (cereal, cheese, boxed brownie mix, bacon).  But they’re also pretty good for cutting up chicken.  I don’t know why we have 4 pairs; surely we aren’t cooking *that* much chicken.  I wonder what else we use them for?

Do you know what I love?  Collapsible things.  I had a cup made of concentric rings when I was little, that collapsed to about ½ inch height.  It was fun to play with even when not officially in use.  They’re just fascinating things in the category with Slinkys and yo-yos.  I have a collapsible colander that will sit on top of the sink.  It’s pretty great.  Just don’t get a colander with a hinge.  Those are nearly impossible to clean.  I would caution against collapsible measuring cups, though; consistency of shape seems to be necessary to their function.

In the past few years everyone in my family has become a fan of brownie- and cookie- in-a-mug recipes.  Especially when we crave something warm and gooey, or with ice cream on top for a yummy sundae, the simple recipes available online are perfect for a single-serving dessert.  No left-overs to get hard on the counter or take up space in the freezer.  We use our big cozy microwave-safe mugs for this.  And with the knowledge I’ve gained comparing recipes, I’ve even invented little cobblers as snacks for kids while I was babysitting.  A lot of mugs are even oven-safe.  Be on the look-out for multi-use tableware that can be repurposed as dessert ramekins.

Since I began culturing yogurt at home, I’ve tried making other things out of it.  I’ve also tried my hand at cottage cheese and ricotta.  Several recipes call for straining these dairy products.  Typically I use an old flour-sack tea towel set inside a regular colander for this.  But recently I ran across a yogurt funnel.  It’s a semi-circle of plastic lined with a fine mesh.  When you curl these up into a cone shape, it snaps together.  Yogurt goes inside, closest to the mesh.  Liquid falls through the mesh, catches on the plastic and is funneled down to the point where there is enough of a hole in the way the solid plastic curves together that it lets the liquid out.  Not only is this kind of thing good for straining curds; it is also the kind of thing you want when brewing loose-leaf tea.

What is special in your kitchen?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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