There are kitchen items that I use and that I can never imagine doing without. Here are the top five: pressure cooker, strainer, misto sprayer, flexible spatula, and steamer basket.
1. The Pressure Cooker – A magical machine that does all the heavy lifting to make all the hard things soft, the tough things tender, quick. I have thrown in the toughest and cheapest meats and after half an hour they melt in the mouth. A pressure cooker is perfect for those looking to stretch their dollars or shorten cooking times. I particularly use it for the home delicacies of ox tail and tongue. Nowadays I primarily use the pressure cooker for prepping legumes: chick peas, black beans, kidney beans… If there is any bean that requires extended cooking times to soften the cooker comes to my rescue.
Prepping beans: 1. Hydrate 4-6 hours (I use dried organic beans as they store well and don’t like the idea of additives that one can find in cans.) 2. Pressure cook beans with water – less than half an hour, usually 15 min. 3. Strain to remove excess water and they are ready for use. The excess water is a great cooking liquid that you can use.
There are many uses for a strainer, whether it be draining pressure cooked legumes, for sieving flour and other baking ingredients to make sure there are no lumps, rinsing quinoa or cherry tomatoes. I use a large 8 inch strainer that I got from Bed Bath and Beyond. It is a good compromise in size between all the different sizes one can find out there.
3. Misto Sprayer. The number one advantage of a sprayer to which one adds oil and hand pumps? You are not consuming propane and other propellants used in off-the shelf cooking sprays. You know exactly what you are putting on your food. You should be able to get one for about ten dollars.
4. The Flexible Silicone Spatula
Spatulas are often used in baking for mixing, for spreading…and then I saw my mom using it to empty a pot. You know how you empty your left overs into a storage container and then if you are using a spoon it seems difficult to clear the few little pieces scattered about? Try using a flexible spatula and the pot looks as if you just took it out to use. And that little extra that you thought wasn’t much? It usually turns out to be more than you think.
5. Steamer Basket
No top kitchen gadget listing would be complete without a steamer basket. Instead of immersing your veggies or other items in liquid, and probably boiling out all the nutrients, just add a little water to your pot. Follow that with the steamer basket, veggies in the basket, then close the pot with lid, and steam. Remove the steamer basket using the o-ring in the center and it is ready to serve. Perfect for items like asparagus, that needs its’ cooking arrested when pulled from the pot, as you can run it under cold water right in the basket. No fuss, no muss!
I am sure that there are other kitchen gadgets that people cannot do without. I could come up with a few myself, such as the can opener. For my listing I picked those tools that may not be found in all kitchens – items that you may want to add. Now, I do love experimenting in the kitchen, and that includes trying out new gizmos. Do you have a gadget you think should be added to the list?