Four Fave Tools That You Probably Aren’t Using

I’m passing on these gems in the best cooking tradition:
by stealing from others.

1. Garbage bowl

Rachel Ray uses this (I covet her confetti bowl).  I tried it and found that by simply putting a large mixing bowl on the counter and using it to collect my garbage – package wrapping, trimmings – I save a lot of time.  Even if your garbage can is only ONE STEP from where you prep, this bowl saves time.  Especially for those recipes that start with chopping an onion and peeling garlic.  Try it out a few times and let me know what you think.
(I realize it may be too late for you to send this to me for Valentine’s Day.  My birthday is August 12.)


2. Reusable Parchment Paper

My sister Gail discovered this and I have stored them at least in three different kitchens and given them as gifts.  It is similar to Silpat, but much thinner and more flexible. And much less expensive.  It is washable, so you can use it one day under a roast and the next day for cookies. I pour my toffee caramels on it and avoid buttering the pan. Folds flat and I store it in a ziploc bag with the cookie sheets.


3. Microplane


I know this is fairly common, but stealing again from Rachel Ray, it is the fastest garlic tool there is.  Every garlic press I’ve tried takes me much longer to clean than to actually grate the garlic.  Rubbing the garlic through a plane like this one is fast at both ends. It comes out of the dishwasher clean and has a cover to protect your knuckles in the cabinet.


4. Sink Strainer

Again, it is such a little thing, but will make your life easier.  Your cooking life anyway. You are on your own with the parenting.
Great for washing big batches of mushrooms, green beans, strawberries.  Better than holding an over-full strainer in one hand and hoping the stuff on the bottom gets clean.
(Yeah yeah I know – you are supposed to wipe mushrooms gently with a damp paper towel.  Yet I occasionally feed more than two people and prefer to NOT SPEND MY ENTIRE DAY GENTLY WIPING.  Plus, in my heart of hearts, I never feel as though I’ve gotten off all the dirt that they grow mushrooms in unless there is a lot of water involved.)

Hey – I didn’t steal that from anyone.  Just ordered it out of a catalog and tried it. Yay me!

What is your favorite/most unusual kitchen tool?

Note – I’m not getting paid to promote here (I wish!), just sharing cool stuff. Please see my disclosure.


A word about butter.

Butter Dish

And that word is yummy.

Butter does make everything better. Like bacon. And alliteration.

Good butter adds that lovely… (Oh God, was I really about to type “mouth-feel?” Please don’t tell anyone.)  …texture, taste, life-just-got-a-little-bit-better sensation.

Do you ever go into a restaurant and get served a bread basket and a little cup of butter?  If that butter alone makes your eyes roll back in your head and you moan quietly under your breath, that’s the stuff to buy for home. I greatly appreciate any restaurant that gives me great butter – keep the garlic, or honey, or herbs out of it.

Most American-style butters have no flavor to me. I don’t know the reason for the difference, but dang it, if you are going to add the calories that butter provides (and please, by all means – do!), at least make it gooooooood quality butter. I end up using less, because there is so much more flavor to it.

I think we have reached the point where many (most?) large supermarkets carry at least one version of European butter – I often see Plugra. Try it. You’ll like it.
(Your bonus prize for listening to the entire lecture is this:
Paula Deen’s Butter Popsicle)