Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010: New Tools in my Kitchen

Dough cutter/Pastry scraper and Escali Scale helping me with bread baking

 A few new gadgets made my cooking and baking tasks easier and more pleasant this year (because most of the following are images/links from commercial sites, this is when you may have to turn off any Ad-blocker you have to see the photos.  I hope that's not a problem for anyone.):

Oxo 73281 OXO Good Grips Pastry ScraperOxo Good Grips Dough Cutter/Pastry Scraper  Hubby always saw the cooks using these on his television cooking shows.  I'd never had one and didn't miss it, but he became convinced I needed one.  I'm glad he did!  It's one of my favorite little devices, even though it still seems silly, as a spatula could accomplish the same things...Just not as nicely.  It cuts through a big blob of dough easily and cleanly, and makes cleaning up the island a breeze.

Progressive #LGK-3620 Stainless Steel Bash, Chop, and Scoop CutterBash, Chop, and Scoop Cutter  I have this because the kids put the Oxo pastry scraper away in the wrong place, and for weeks I couldn't find it ANYwhere!  Hubby wasn't aware that I finally discovered it in the back of a drawer I'd searched several times, so he bought me this as a replacement for Christmas.  On a heavy baking day, when the pastry scraper was in the dishwasher, I broke this out of its packaging and gave it a try.  It's not meant to cut dough and scrape counters, I guess.  With the handle set on the top as it is, it's not balanced for doing those other tasks.  I have to give this one some more time, and discover what it's really for!

Zyliss Susi 2 Garlic PressZyliss Susi 2 Garlic Press  I had an ancient garlic press that used to belong to my mom or grandmother.  I had to peel and trim each clove and put in one at a time.  It mashed the garlic and left most of it inside the press.  It was more efficient to mince the garlic with a knife.  I found myself turning to garlic powder when I felt too hurried or lazy to mess with peeling and mincing.  But we love to put fresh garlic on our pizzas as soon as they come out of the oven, and minced garlic was often too big, so I finally decided to 'spoil myself' and buy a new press.  I did some ridiculously extensive research (like always) and decided on this one.  It will handle 2 or 3 cloves at a time, and we don't have to peel them first.  In fact, if we don't, it's easier to clean out after pressing, as it all seems to peel out in one piece.  It does a great job getting the most out of every clove and into the food instead of down the drain or into the compost.
Amco Enameled Aluminum Lemon SqueezerAmco Enameled Aluminum Lime Squeezer, Light GreenAmco Enameled Lime Squeezer and Amco Enameled Lemon Squeezer  These have a story similar to the garlic press.  I love lime juice in things like salsa, marinades, and cold beverages. I kept buying appealing bags of little limes at Costco, but some of them would go bad before I could use them, because it was so much trouble with so little result when squeezing by hand.  I'd seen so many tv cooks so quickly squeeze a lot of juice out of lemons and limes using tools like this, so it was time for another little splurge.  I ordered the lime squeezer first, and we liked it so much, I ordered the lemon one so we could have fresh lemon juice for the lemonade the kids love to make, and for fish and chicken dishes.

Bamix Immersion Blender About 20 years ago, I was given a Braun Hand Blender.  It was great.  I pureed soups, blended beans into refried beans, made baby foods, etc.  It died after years of use, which was disappointing, because I used it a lot.  But as you may have figured out, buying myself kitchen tools wasn't a habit I've had, so I learned to get along without.  I used my hand mixer, a potato masher, or whatever 2nd-best suited the situation.  But my sister always remembered me wishing for another, so she bought me a Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender for Christmas a couple of years ago.  I quickly adapted to having an immersion blender in my tool set again, and was off and running...Until it hit a tiny, stray ham bone in my split pea soup.  After that, the gears slipped and the motor ran, but the blade wouldn't turn.  So, using my usual investigative approach, I began to read about immersion blenders, and  became convinced that if I spent $129 for a Bamix, instead of $30 for another Cuisinart, I'd never have to buy another stick blender in my lifetime.  I sort of decided to miss the point that most of the glowing reviews were about the $179 Bamix, rather than the $129...but I was already past the 'reasonable limit' on the cost issue, and it was "a Bamix," which was supposed to be THE BEST.  
It does an OK job, but I think it takes longer to blend up a pot of beans than either of the cheaper ones I'd had previously.  It has a few different blades for different tasks, but I seem to use only the one, which occasionally falls off into my soup if I don't get it set in just right.  To give it a full and fair review, I should learn to utilize the appliance for some of the other tasks it can do.  I think that if I'd gone for the more expensive, Bamix Professional, I would've been happier with the longer driveshaft and beefier motor for the big batches of soup and beans I ask it to deal with.

Wolf E-Series Double Oven  Not exactly a 'gadget,' but definitely a welcome new tool.  I've mentioned my new oven a few times in other blog posts.  I loved my Fisher and Paykel oven until the porcelain failed, and started to pit and chip.  I loved the way my 2nd Fisher and Paykel baked, but didn't love the problems I had with the buttons and that its porcelain began to fail, also.  I loved the look of the Monogram that replaced F&P #2, and also loved some of the features, like double timers and full-extension racks that stayed in during self-clean.  But for the important stuff...the actual baking, where reaching and maintaining a temperature are vital, and when reverting to preheat mode is NOT desirable, I was not at all happy.  
So far the Wolf is scoring well in all areas.  I love how it looks....I am a fan of knobs, but the matte white touch pad stays much neater looking than the black glass ones on other brands.  The glide racks are wonderful, and the porcelain is holding as it should.  I can adjust to just the temperature I want, and mostly, it bakes just as I think it should.

Cuisipro 16" Locking Tongs ModelCuisipro 16" Locking Tongs  Another gift from Hubby.  Particularly great for using at the barbecue, but also nice at the gas rangetop for staying out of the way of heat from the flames and splatters from grease.  I use these a lot when searing meats, so I get a good grip, but don't puncture through the surface and lose juices.  The only negative?  I keep holding it about 2/3 up the tongs, with the heel of my hand touching the back half...just in the right place to get pinched by the hinge.  Youch.  But, I can't blame the tongs for user error.

Escali Food Scale I talked about this in its own awkwardly titled post, "Who buys something and totally forgets to use it? (Kitchen Scale)"  When I made the Christmas fruit bread it was particularly helpful in determining consistently sized loaves.  This meant I was able to use the probe in one of the 3 the loaves in the top oven and know that the ones in the bottom oven, where there is no probe, would finish baking in the same amount of time.   I still believe I'll find this tool to be of even more help when I ever get around to trying sourdough and more artisan breads....Hopefully, soon.


  1. Isn't it fun to find a tool that makes cooking and baking easier? I wouldn't want to get along without a scale or dough cutter. I like rolls and breads to be all the same weight. I think they bake more evenly.

    You know I am envious of your Wolf ovens!

    My stick blender is Cuisinart. I use it for smoothies, chopping and pureeing. The first year, so far so good. Cooking for ten puts more stress on utensils than cooking for two. Maybe mine will last 5 times longer, lol.

  2. I'm sure they do bake more evenly if all the same size. I just have to get in the habit of using it.

    Just don't run into rogue ham bones with your Cuisinart and it'll probably stay happy!

  3. It's so interesting how we each cook differently. While making a potato dish the other day and weighing the spuds, I mentioned to DH that I would be lost without my scale. I use it often. And I love my lime and lemon juicers too. The were a one of the few good gifts from dear MIL over the years. You'd laugh at my huge commercial stick blender. The thing must be 2' long,but comes apart midway to go in DW. I drool every time I see your Wolf.

  4. Do you have a lot of recipes that call for ingredients by weight? When doing something like potatoes, I just figure how much I want per person...using number of potatoes as my unit of measure. ;-) I'm sure, like a lot of the tools, the scale could do more for me than I know.

  5. Yes, I guess a lot of my recipes have weights as well as quantities listed. Since I'm so....hhmmm...what's the right word...EXACT, I weigh my ingredients. ;) After all, I don't want to warm too much half&half for mashed potatoes and then have to pour a lot down the drain because I had too much. Plus, I buy stuff in bulk so I need to weigh out the 1.5 lb of beef from the huge hunk I bought. My exactness is a curse!

  6. I don't know that any of my recipes have weights! Maybe I just ignore them. Measuring the half and half for potatoes is definitely a different way of cooking than I do! LOL I'm an 'eyeballer' when it comes to dividing bulk stuff. If there is a way to do something and prevent creating more dirty dishes to wash, that's the way I'll choose. ;-) You see, it's not's laziness!


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