Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Favorites - Kitchen Tools

In only three days we will embark on a month-long cooking adventure. It seems only fitting that today I share my favorite cooking tools that will help me complete my mission. They are nothing really special, but they make me happy.

First, how I organize and use my recipes. This recipe box was a wedding gift, and I love it. The dividers are homemade from index cards and labels (I was poor and it was cheap and customizable). I predict that it will fill to capacity sometime in 2010, which means it took 9 years to fill it. It holds 4x6 recipe cards, and I only add a recipe when we've already proven it--it has to make the cut before it's in the box. Many recipes have been thrown out, too, when we've replaced them with something we love more. I'd say about 75% of the recipes in this box are printed off Allrecipes, and I've been using the site so long my recipes are in about 4 different formats as they've changed over the years. I continue to really love their site, especially the ratings and reviews of each recipe.

I love my recipe cards, but they do get pretty beat-up, stained, and smudged. Someday I intend to print fresh copies of all of them and laminate them. Because that may never happen, I especially love this magnetic recipe board my mother-in-law made for me this Christmas, that provides a place to put my cards to keep them visible and clean(er). I had a different one that I made, but I just love how sturdy and pretty this one is.

I do occasionally use a cookbook, too, though, and was having all kinds of trouble keeping them open while cooking, until I found that the easel the magnetic board sits in is a perfect solution for this:

Okay, now for the actual tools. There is no way I could bake without my KitchenAid. Also a wedding gift, it has withstood the test of time. You can probably see the black knobs are broken off, but it still works amazing for me. I use it mostly for baking: bread, cookies, batters, etc. For our homemade pizza, it's practically essential.

This is our humble rice cooker. We actually received two of these for our wedding, and kept the smaller one for our family of two. Our family has since grown and it still meets our needs easily. We eat a lot of rice. Adam is a big fan of Chinese food, and he has converted the whole family. We took a Chinese cooking class when Isaiah was a baby, and we did learn how to cook rice on the stove. But we also learned there was no reason to when the rice cooker did it just as well and faster, with less fuss! It also has a steamer, which I use occasionally, especially when we have fresh vegetables from the garden.

Cutting tools. One thing we learned in our Chinese cooking class was that a chef is only as good as his knife. I have pretty good knives, not anything pro quality, but waaaaay better than the $4 knife set I bought in the clearance bin at WalMart when we were first married. The knife at the top is my favorite of the set Adam bought me (for Mother's Day?) in the last year. I keep the blade straight with the steel at the right. The scissors are just handy for lots of things, trimming meat for one. I hate working with meat. Anything that makes that easier makes me happy.

The other cutting tools are more for everyday use as a mom, but they seriously are some of my favorite things, so I couldn't leave them out. A cheese slicer and apple corer/slicer are essentials for snacks with kids. I avoid cutting apples like the plague, so I love making that chore easier. It honestly really helps motivate me to feed my kids healthier snacks. And, as any mom knows, a pizza cutter is the fastest, most efficient way to make any meal toddler-bite-sized. Ours is rarely clean, actually, because it's used so much.

And finally . . .

Yeah, doesn't look like a kitchen tool, eh? It so is. If you've ever been around Max for more than 10 minutes, you know there is no way I could make dinner without him being strapped in (okay, there is: Adam. He really makes it possible). He has a highchair, too, but this keeps him close and involved in what I'm doing, while keeping him from practicing his two favorite pasttimes: loudly emptying everything in the lower drawers and cupboards (tripping Mom repeatedly in the process), and sneaking behind and around Mom to touch the pans on the stove. It's also awesome for snacks because there is less surface to "wash," I can just wipe and go.

So, you saw mine . . . what are your favorite kitchen tools?


Zachary and Allyson said...

You are so amazing! I can't wait to hear about the recipes you try over the next month. I would love to try new recipes but I am so picky that I have a hard time doing that and to cook dinner every night for a while month! That is just amazing. I love reading your blog and seeing your cute family!

Becky said...

I love it! I wish I had a kitchenaid. Someday. I especially love your Recipe board thing! That is an excellent idea. One thought (that I have not tried myself) for your recipes. You could take pictures of the recipes when you 1st put them in your box. Then, if they get tattered, you can just go to your computer and print off new ones. I also have to agree with you that the apple slicer/corer is an essential! I love them!

The Yoder's Four said...

My favorite kitchen tool is my 5 inch Santuko knife. I use it pretty much every day. And I just made some delish Chinese pork ribs and need to send you the recipe!

Molly said...

What works for some doesn't for others. I hate a cheese slicer, and I would just as soon use a knife for apples.I have my grandmas' Kitchenaid. It's really old, but is still awesome, and I love it even more because it reminds me of her!