Friday, January 27, 2012

Gadgety Things

One of my goals for this month was to stock my kitchen adequately with small tools... Actually addressing the minor frustrations that, together, add unnecessary time and effort to many kitchen tasks.

First on the list was can openers.  We have an electric can opener, but it lives in an upper shelf, and with nowhere to reside on the counter, where it would be convenient to use, we usually grab a manual option.  We had a great one we'd found at IKEA, but it suddenly started to fail us on a regular basis.  I couldn't see why, but it was a definite struggle to keep it in place and cutting.  After a bit of research, 
I decided on the OXO Steel Can Opener.  I was surprised that a manual can opener would cost this much, but I guess with as much as we use it, and after the aggravation of others that did a lousy job, it was worth it.  We do like this one a lot.

We also had an ancient church key type of can/bottle opener, which I think was passed down from my mom or one of my grandmothers.  I don't know from whence it came, but it is so useful.  The problem was having only one.  
The new one... I can't find the old
favorite, all metal one, which is
always the problem
It was always somewhere else or dirty when I needed it.  It's such a simple tool, so I figured it'd be simple to find another to add to our utensil drawer... Nope.  I found one option on Amazon, which was available from an outside seller.  It looked like it was made of foil, and the reviews backed up my fear of its low quality construction.  I found another option at the local hardware store for a couple of dollars.  It seems sturdy enough, and works OK, but the angle of the point must be different, as the triangle cuts it makes are a shallow shape - as wide, but shorter from point to base than I'm used to.  My rating is an indifferent "Eh."

One of the most boring gadgets (or two) I've been excited to get was the OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set.  My bread mixer has some tiny, odd little places that dough likes to lodge and never wash out.  
And my flour mill gets a fine coating of flour after each use that is a little greasy and gets held to the plastic bin by static electricity.  A dry brush will do wonders about cleaning it up after each use.

Speaking of brushes, I was also aggravated with my old Kitchen Aid pastry brush.  The bristles are quite long, and after time, have curved and seem to have lost their flexibility.  
OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Brush
Ateco 1" Flat Pastry Brush 
When I'm trying to brush the egg yolk mixture on risen, but unbaked dough, the brush stays curved and so stiff, I'm afraid I'll apply enough pressure trying to spread the egg wash, that I'll collapse the buns or loaf.  Researching Amazon again, I found that silicone brushes are 'the thing,' but being uncertain I'd agree, I also got a more standard, bristled brush.  I'll let you know which I prefer after the next batch of buns.

The last of my recent kitchen tool purchases may not really qualify as a "gadget."  Around Christmastime Hubby was oohing and ahhing at the large breadpans in the kitchen section of a gourmet grocery store.  He dreamed of homemade bread the size of store-bought multigrain loaves, and the nice, big sandwiches it would make.  
Lately I've been using the whole wheat, formerly Challah recipe for bread, with ground walnuts and various seeds added.  It makes enough for 4 loaves, just barely too big for the 9" x 4" pans I've been using, leading, once again, to taller, "Cartoon Bread"... And since taller is not better when it comes to cutting homemade bread, I thought I'd try a 5" x 10" Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated 1-1/2-Pound Loaf Pan.  I could afford only one, as a start, and haven't tried it yet, so it's another item on which I'll have to report later.

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