New Year is time to upgrade tools in the kitchen

Published 11:57 am Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year is time to upgrade tools in the kitchen

By Peggy Walker, R.D.

Start out the New Year with the resolve to cook up some tasty dishes in the kitchen and get the right tools for the job.   And not just gadgets that take up space and don’t get used.  Here are a few of my hardworking favorites that all got a workout in my kitchen over the holidays.
Whisks:  not just one, I recommend at least 3 —tiny, short and long.  A tiny whisk is perfect for beating a single egg, stirring a little baking soda into buttermilk, or just blending a little sugar and cinnamon for a topping.  I keep one in a small metal basket in my utensil drawer with other small items so they won’t get lost.  A short but sturdy whisk is my go to for whipping up cornbread batter, beating 3 or 4 eggs, or anything in a small to medium sized bowl.  It also stays in the utensil drawer at my work space. (Keep your kitchen tools in the handiest spot.)
The long whisk, stainless and sturdy also, stays in the utensil holder on the stove right in reach for making smooth sauces, gravy, and thickening cream pie fillings.  I have a couple of others that are bulb shaped but they are not my favorite.  They tend to bounce in the pan.
I can never remember what the official name of this tool is but it’s great for browning and crumbling ground meat or sausage in a skillet or cooked in the microwave.  I call it the crumbler but it can do more. It crumbles, stirs, and mixes.  The one I have is a hard plastic that doesn’t burn or scorch.  It washes well in the dishwasher too and it’s black so it doesn’t show stains.
In fact I like it so much that I put one in the Christmas stockings for each of my three daughters-in-law.  This gadget is the perfect size for a stocking stuffer or stuffed in a kitchen utensil holder.  With this tool you can cook and crumble up ground meat into perfectly even pieces and also make sure that it is thoroughly cooked.   You really need this one for chili, spaghetti sauces, tacos and the like. And with a lighter touch it makes great scrambled eggs.
Oh, I love the flavor of lemon and a microplane is my grater of choice for zesting.  It’s like stainless steel sandpaper with a handle and so much better than a box-type grater.  This serious tool also comes in different sizes.  The finer-sized surface is great for zesting any citrus fruit or grating whole spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, or allspice.  The medium-sized grating surface works for shaving chocolate and hard cheeses like parmesan for topping pizza, pasta, or popcorn.   You can grate whole garlic too for tons of extra garlic flavor to infuse in olive oil for bread dipping.  So good.  The larger-sized surface takes on carrots and other root type veggies for adding color and nutrition to salads, stir fry or pasta dishes.  This tool also stays in my utensil drawer.  Luckily it comes with a hard plastic snap-on cover which is vital in keeping it sharp and to keep fingers safe while rummaging through the drawer.
And, then there’s my lemon squeezer.  Open, insert half a lemon, press with both hands and voila! Fresh lemon juice on demand.  Another good kitchen purchase.   The key to getting all the juice out of a lemon is to slightly warm the lemon first by rolling it between your hands for a few minutes or to microwave it on high for 10 – 12 seconds and then squeeze.  This gadget works as well for limes, small oranges, and key limes too.  If you need both zest and juice in a recipe like maybe for a lemon or lime glaze, zest first then squeeze.
Get and give some good gadgets and get cooking!
Recipe of the Week
Breakfast Casserole
For company or family, and so good on wintry Saturday mornings.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

1 pound mild sausage
6 slices bread, toasted
6 eggs
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Brown and crumble sausage; drain.  Cut each slice of bread into 4 pieces.  Whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings.  In a lightly greased glass baking dish layer: half of the bread, crumbled sausage, grated cheese and egg mixture; then repeat layers.  Cover, bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until custard has puffed up.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Casserole can be made day before and refrigerated overnight until ready to bake.  Serves 4.