Posts tagged gadgets
In this day and age you can find information about just about anything on the Internet. Unfortunately you’re at the will of the site owner as to whether the information on the site is truthful or not. One thing I’ve found really helpful is when a site that sells products has customer reviews. Also, bloggers often have good reviews about products that they themselves use. However, if it is a blog you need to check and see if they have paid entries. Take a minute to read their disclosure. Most will have a statement that they will only review products that they know and have used, plus they will only make true statements about products. If they haven’t used it, they can talk about it, but they can’t say it’s a great product or things like that. Once you’ve read that then you can have at least some confidence that their review is real. So, over time you can build up a selection of site to use as a resource library.
In searching around the web I found interesting information on the Best dehydrators to buy. I was pleased to see that my Excalibur is still considered the best large dehydrator around. It was interesting reading the reviews by people. Everyone that I read found the Excalibur to be excellent at drying and very easy to use.
One thing I found interesting was that there were companies I had not heard of before. L’Equip food dehydrators and Nesco were two of the companies that I wasn’t familiar with. Nesco is an inexpensive dehydrator. The one nit that I had with it, was I didn’t see a way to control the temperature, so if you’re concerned about drying “live” foods, then you’ll need to put up a little more money to get one with a temperature dial. The L’Equip dehydrator looked really interesting, but didn’t get as positive reviews as the others. However, it can expand to 20 racks, which would be great if you’ve got a big garden that overproduces most years. I’ve not had that problem, yet.
I enjoyed reading through the food dehydrator recipes. I’ve enjoyed making my own banana chips in the past and the recipes reminded me of how much I enjoy them. I’ll need to check for overripe bananas the next time I shop. I’ve been working on coming up with snacks and foods I can take with me when I go into town to do my weekly shopping. I became aware that I was choosing to munch on a lot of unhealthy foods, because they were quick and portable. However, over the past few months my waistline is showing the effects, plus I never feel very good the day after shopping. Being one to always look at the cause of low energy or a draggy feeling I found that it was always after shopping. It was easy for me to figure out it was my choice of foods. However, there isn’t much out there that a vegetarian that doesn’t eat onions, garlic, green chilis or mushrooms can buy and munch on other than candy bars and potato chips (and only the salted ones, any that have flavorings have onions and garlic in them, even the ones labeled salt and pepper, as do almost all dressings, so salads are out). Anyway, it renewed my interest in looking at things I can dehydrate and eat straightaway. Dehydrated foods are easy to pack and can’t be damaged by cold or heat, either. I think my dehydrator is in store for another workout.
We all have them, those items we can’t imagine our kitchen without. For me one of them is our Mac knives. They aren’t especially fancy, but the handle is bent up slightly, so that when you cut something hard and the knife finally breaks through, I’m not breaking my knuckles on the countertop or cutting board. They also sharpen easily and hold the edge pretty well.
For others it might be a favorite pot or skillet. Over the years I’ve tried all kinds of pots and pans. We found that, although quite heavy, cast iron is fantastic. It heats very evenly, once seasoned nothing sticks to it, and cleanup is a breeze.
One thing that we’ve found is, that if you have a favorite appliance, it pays to buy and store spare parts, especially ones that wear out the fastest, like gaskets or anything rubber or plastic.
Many of us have put out a pretty penny to get top of the line countertop appliances, such as mixers, blenders, food processors, etc. It’s very distressing to have put a lot of money into a great Cuisinart food processor only to find that they no longer make the part we need. Finding a good online source of cuisinart parts is something you should do as soon as you’ve decided that this is the processor you’ve always dreamed of. Picking up an extra blade and any other part you see that might need replacing due to regular use, and storing them away until they are needed, will save you a lot of heartache when the time to replace them finally arrives.
You might want to take an inventory of your favorite “must have” items, and see if any of them have easily replaced parts that might wear out. Then take a little time to stock your workroom with a box containing these parts, for future use. An ounce of prevention really pays when you have a big dinner party and the blade finally breaks on your food processor. Then all you’ll have to do is pull out the blade you stored away and no one will know the difference.
I was recently gifted a beautiful pair of Gingher sewing scissors. Ever since I started living on my own I had used a pair of Fiscars, thinking that they were really fine scissors. However, when I put these new puppies to fabric they cut through it like butter and left a razor sharp, clean edge. I was shocked.
My mother had Gingher scissors and I had used them while I was growing up, but when I got on my own I didn’t have the money for Gingher, so I picked what I thought was the up and coming Gingher – Fiscar. Well, obviously I was wrong.
So often in life we shortchange ourselves and end up making life harder. We tell ourselves that Henkel knives are not really all that great. Or we can do with the $25 Black and Decker, rather than the $150 Cuisinart appliance. In doing so we make our cooking experience less enjoyable, less efficient, and sometimes less safe. In some areas of our life we can afford to economize, but if cooking’s really a passion for you, spend that little bit extra to get really top-notch equipment. You’ll never regret it.
There are quite a few smaller items that I find make food preparation easier. Here’s my essential and nearly essential list.
- Measuring cups and spoons – Nice stainless sets of both will last forever.
- Spatulas – Get silicone ones. They last forever or nearly so.
- Pot holders – Get really good thick ones so you don’t burn your hands.
- Can opener – Make sure it is easy to use and fits your hand.
- Handheld chopper – Also called a tap chopper. Thought this was one of the stupidest things my husband every bought, but it really does chop things in a flash, nuts, olives, pineapple, etc. Easy clean up, too.
- Bamboo mixing, stirring and serving spoons – Bamboo is nearly indestructible. My wooden ones always wear down (am I eating wood?) Bamboo looks almost exactly like the day I bought it.
- Slotted spoon – Gets things out of watery stuff without a mess.
- Oven thermometer – Only need this if you move frequently, as each oven has its own idea of what 350˚ is.
I think that’s about it for essentials. However, that is not all I have in my kitchen…
I was looking online at what others thought were essential tools and found out that I have a very lacking kitchen. How can I cook delicious gourmet meals if I’m missing the essentials? After reading their lists I’m surprised I can even cook a meal at all. Not only that they must have huge kitchens, because if I bought everything on their lists it would fill my kitchen and about half the rest of the house.
Here’s a list of the tools I use the most.
- Knives – I use knives made by Mac. I like that their handles are at an angle so you don’t mash your knuckles when slicing.
- Good cookware – I don’t use any non-stick, because I don’t trust that it is not toxic in the long run. Cast iron, although heavy is great for cooking. If seasoned property they work just like non-stick. Otherwise I have nice stainless pots and pans.
- Food processor – Great for fast chopping of veggies, nuts, cheese, etc.
- Blender or Vitamix – Although we have both, I’d choose the Vitamix if I could only have one, because it doesn’t bog down like a regular blender does.
- Cookie sheets, pizza pan, muffin tin – Use these more than I thought I would.
- Mixing bowls – Got a fantastic set of 5 nearly 30 years ago and they are still going strong. Get one or two more of the mid-sized, as you’ll use them a lot.
That’s about it for the big stuff.