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Fat Guy

Effective, inexpensive kitchen gadgets you couldn't live without

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Ever since I started the "Stupidest kitchen-gadget purchasing decision you've ever made" topic I've been thinking about the flipside: the super-inexpensive but highly effective kitchen gadgets I've come across over the years.

For example, the Norpro 10" nylon spatula with holes. If you pay more than about $3 for one of these things you're getting ripped off. And it's an incredibly versatile, well-designed tool -- one of those rare items that seems impossible to improve upon. At first it looks a little small but its size is actually just right for maneuvering food around a skillet. The material it's made of is more heat-resistant than a lot of plastic kitchen tools; I've never had a problem using one even when cooking at quite high temperatures. I can't imagine maintaining a home kitchen without at least a couple of these in inventory.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have had several slicers from the Japanese 98 store (Marukai) that create perfect daikon and cucumber slices and also have a ginger (?) grater function. I cracked an 8 year old one the other day which had heavy use over the years. Amazing.

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What baffled me recently is, my beloved ice pick was listed somewhere as uselezs gadget.

I have no automatic ice cube maker in my freezer so i freeze huge blocks in those hotel pan type of bowls. I break the ice apart into smaller pieces, fill the bowl or pan with water and am ready to blanch vegetables all night long.

I guess as long they do what they are supposed to do without breaking ones stupid gadget buy may be a wise one in someones elses hand.

That said, love my minichopper for everything from nutbutters to besto to breaking down panko crumbs.

I also love my gray kunz serving spoons since i can proper plate a home. And tweezers, salad in my bowl looks so much better since i read up on the egullet guide to plating.

I have accumulated many little things over the last year that enable me to do things i couldnt do before. Small slotted spoons to fish things out of a small pot - i fry small batch everything from asparagus tips to risotto balls.

Sheet pans - so versatile not just for roasting but for prep and storing as well.

There is much more, it all depends how one is cooking.

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jk1002- you reminded me about sheet pans- heavy, versatile, CHEAP, and they last forever - half and full size

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used today:

my citrus reamer, picked up for $1 somewhere years ago

pastry scraper. they scrape down mixing bowls cleanly, divide doughs neatly, lift and turn rolled out pastry doughs.

spatulas, wooden and silicone



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Linda reminded me of another item- the El Cheapo wooden spoon- used every day, shapes itself to my cookware, ages beautifully, lasts for a number of years, feels good, AND probably cost me less than a dollar. Not the fancy olive wood, just the multi pack from the market.

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For me, it's my silicon spatula. I'm cooking in other people's kitchens this summer, and I can't count the number of times I've reached for it already only to realize the kitchen I was in didn't have one. Making scrambled eggs, getting lobster salad out of a bowl into a container, deglazing a pan for bacon dressing - three times yesterday I wanted it and it wasn't there. I'm going to start packing it as a matter of course now.

Also: tongs.

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I think for me it is this little slicer (I call it the poor man's mandoline). Right now, in the middle of cucumber season, I make a lot of cucumber salads. This little thing makes short work of them and the onions I put in there as well. http://www.lehmans.com/store/Kitchen___Helpers_and_Accessories___Utensils_and_Tools___Feemster_s_Famous_Vegetable_Slicer___622900?Args=


Edited by HungryChris (log)

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For me, it's my silicon spatula. I'm cooking in other people's kitchens this summer, and I can't count the number of times I've reached for it already only to realize the kitchen I was in didn't have one. Making scrambled eggs, getting lobster salad out of a bowl into a container, deglazing a pan for bacon dressing - three times yesterday I wanted it and it wasn't there. I'm going to start packing it as a matter of course now.

Also: tongs.

Silicone spatula by Trudeau, the smaller sized one, yellow only. It's a one piece spatula and I have three. Love it as only a woman can love a perfect spatula. :raz:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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I could not live without my Lamson Pizza Rocker Knife. It is essentially an oversize single blade mezzaluna, and I use it as such. Regular wheel pizza cutters get gunked up quickly and drag toppings as it goes through the cooked pie. This one is wide enough to cut through it in one slice. It also does a great job doing a rough chop on veg and herbs.

12" with Plastic Handles

14" with Wood Handles

I also like my Cuisinart Mini Prep. It does a great job making vinaigrettes, mincing 6+ cloves of garlic, baby food, amongst other simple jobs.

Mini Prep

Dan


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Speaking of jar openers. Here's a Lee Valley jar openerI could not live without. A true little treasure. Have bought them for all my friends.

Another little wonder that I haven't seen for a while is the 2-tablespoon measuring cup. I bought these for friends and then when I went back for more...there were none. And it remains that way.


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Another little wonder that I haven't seen for a while is the 2-tablespoon measuring cup. I bought these for friends and then when I went back for more...there were none. And it remains that way.

I have a little stainless 2T measuring cup. I have no idea where it came from... maybe as a coffee measure from some long-gone drip machine? I use it nearly every day.

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I thought the 2 TBSP cups were standard! I know we had an 1/8 cup scoop growing up, and I have one now (that sits next to the coffee grinder at all times).

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I think for me it is this little slicer (I call it the poor man's mandoline). Right now, in the middle of cucumber season, I make a lot of cucumber salads. This little thing makes short work of them and the onions I put in there as well. http://www.lehmans.com/store/Kitchen___Helpers_and_Accessories___Utensils_and_Tools___Feemster_s_Famous_Vegetable_Slicer___622900?Args=

I'm a Feemster’s fan as well, and love my Microplanes.

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I agree about the wooden spoon with the flat edge. I have three of them and use them all the time. They were el cheapo as my husband purchased them in China when he was there on a business trip. My all time favourite though, is my 1/2 tablespoon plastic measuring spoon. I think I've had it for at least 30 years - maybe longer. Since there are only two of us, I scale a lot of recipes so rather than having to use two meaasuring spoons, this one gets the job done.

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The Swing-Away fat separator. Revolutionary design, plastic, cheap, generously sized and works perfectly.

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This may not count, but with the amount of times I cook with wine and drink it while cooking, a waiter's corkscrew is essential.

Other than that, those lemon/lime squeezers are great. They are cheap and make juicing much more effective (no waste). I use it much more than I thought I would.


I like to say things and eat stuff.

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SS mixing bowls...we have 5 or six, and they are used almost every meal for something...marinating veg for grilling, mixing a dressing, making a marinade, garbage bowl, defrosting shrimp etc etc...

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Several of the things I consider indespensable have already been mentioned. I would add metal tongs to the list, along with my little clear glass bowls; they are in graduated sizes and hold anywhere from about 3 or 4 tablespoons to about a cup. They're great for mise en place and just about everything else, including delivering that little dab of butter that has become an entitlement for the cat every morning.

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Several of the things I consider indespensable have already been mentioned. I would add metal tongs to the list...

Jgm is absolutely correct. These are wonderful. They are also great for breaking apart roast chickens.

k.


I like to say things and eat stuff.

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My microplane zester, without a doubt. Also, my jar opener and jar/twist-top opener, pizza wheel, tongs, whisks, can opener, wine pump, quick read thermometer, freezer and oven thermometers, timers...


Edited by merstar (log)

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.

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