A funny thing happens when I cook in someone else’s kitchen. This is supposed to be my domain, a little space where I can feel competent, but instead I usually end up turning dazed circles around the kitchen… Where do you keep the…? How does this work…? Oops, no garbage disposal? I have been visiting my family all week long, and cooking meals in their kitchen definitely knocks me down a peg or two. Both my mother and father have had their respective kitchens remodeled in the years since I left home. After a few days of finding that pot or spatula in the very last place I looked, I resorted to keeping all the cabinets and drawers open, for easy viewing. A few bruises later, but at least lunch is made.
Cooking here makes me very aware of how absolutely dependent I have become on some of my kitchen tools. These three gadgets, in particular, are absolute lifesavers, and going without them this week has been a bit of a cookery challenge. Each one has either made my (cooking) life better or tastier.
I am a huge lemon lover. I buy lemons in bulk, and throw the juice or zest on just about anything…salads, tea, fish, hummus, water, veggies, you name it. For the longest time I would just squeeze the lemons into a measuring cup then pick the seeds out. (Turns out my father still does this.) Inefficient and messy, but totally passable. Finally, a few years back, I thought Enough! and sprung for the a citrus presser. An indulgent, grown-up and mildly unnecessary purchase. Life must be pretty good if these are the problems I’m solving, right? Fast forward a few years, and I have no idea how I ever lived without this handy tool! 100 times better than the plastic lemon juice press I grew up with…this guy is the real deal. Sturdy, powerful, a kitchen wizard. It’s such a small, seemingly inconsequential tool that has quite literally changed my (kitchen) world. No more sticky lemon juice fingers or rogue seeds, and most important–it makes super speedy work of juicing lemons.
I debated on whether or not to add this tool to the list for two reasons. First, the sticker shock. This thermometer will run you a cool $159. The second reason why I am hesitant to share this tool is because it is my #1 secret weapon in the kitchen, fighting dry steak, rubbery chicken and unsafe fish. This guy will allow you to bang out Michelin star dishes, cooked to perfection, on your very first try. I have never been a big griller, but now I can turn out perfectly grilled food better than the best of ’em now–no chin scratching or hard-earned intuition required. I don’t waste as much food from over/under-cooking, and the hubs now requests home-cooked steaks rather than going out–the thermometer has already paid for itself! What else can I tell you? It is lightening fast, so you won’t have to hang your head in a hot oven while you wait for a reading (cheaper thermometers take up to 30 seconds for a reading…this one is, well, instant). The probe is extraordinarily tiny so you won’t go leaving big holes throughout your meat, bread, fish when you keep testing the temperature. Let me bottom line this for you…If you want to seriously up your game in the kitchen, this is the single easiest way. Now, if a $159 thermometer isn’t in your price range, let me offer you this more wallet-friendly alternative.
If you haven’t tried cold brew coffee, you are in for a treat! Cold brewed coffee is the best! No contest! Typically heat is a good thing when you’re cooking. It helps boost and concentrate flavors and fills the kitchen with mouth watering aromas. Not so with coffee. Heating coffee wreaks all sorts of havoc, leaving you with a very bitter cuppa. Cold brewing, on the other hand, leaves you with a softer, infinitely more palatable cup of coffee. The one downside? It takes some planning. Ground coffee has to sit in water overnight. The flip side of the down side, however, is that you can make a week’s worth of coffee in one go. We usually start a fresh batch of coffee to soak on Sunday night, and have wonderful coffee to last through the week. The Toddy Cold Brew System is the best way to get your cold brew on, if you ask me. My mother gave me this tip years ago, and I have to say, she is one wise woman.