We all have favorite small kitchen aides. For me, there was that small paring knife. Using it was so ingrained that I never considered how inadequate it was for some of the jobs it performed. I wore that blade down so much that I eventually had to throw it away. For years, I made cookies according to the recipe: "drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet." When I opened a home-canned jar, I continued to use the two-piece lid to keep the contents fresh. I used two knives to cut shortening into the flour for biscuits and pie crust. Sometimes, these were acts of frugality; more often, I simple didn't know any better.
|Top left, counter clockwise: plastic lid, pump sprayer, pastry cutter, wire whisk, chef's knife, small scoop, needle-nosed pliers, can opener, paper scissors, kitchen shears, timer, four tablespoon measure, scale.|
Now I do, and I'd like to share this list of a dozen small accessories that make kitchen chores so much easier.
1. Plastic screw-on lids for mason jars. So many uses. For example, use on home-canned jars after you've opened them, and for sealing jars of dried herbs.
2. Pump sprayer for oil. Mine contains olive oil, and I use it instead of a store-bought non-stick spray.
3. Pastry cutter. The secret to light baking-powder biscuits and flaky pie crust.
4. Wire whisk. This works so much better than a spoon!
5. Chef's knife. My husband is always lecturing me about using the right tool for the job. This is just as important in the kitchen as for the handyman. I can't believe how much faster and easier cutting goes with this wonderful tool.
6. Small scoop. Baking cookies is a number one requirement in my grandmother job description book. I like using this scoop. (So do the grandkids.) It can also serve to make small meatballs and, probably, watermelon or other fruit scoops.
7. Needle-nosed pliers. I use these to remove plastic rings from bottles before they go into the recycling bin, and to open "easy-open" lids that I couldn't otherwise get a hold of.
8. Manual can opener. I've never met an electric can opener that worked well and lasted long enough to justify its cost. A good manual works just as fast, without the noise or electricity. As a matter of fact, it's a good idea to have one in the kitchen and another with your emergency supplies.
9. Scissors. Two of them. One pair of good kitchen shears for cutting meat and herbs, for instance, and a second pair for cutting any sort of packaging.
10. A Timer. I like one that you set once, press a button when it rings, and it resets for the same time. This is so helpful when I'm blanching gallons of something at the rate of two cups to a batch. I have to admit it can get confusing in my kitchen when this little timer plus the timers on the stove and microwave are all working at the same time.
11. Four Tablespoon Liquid Measure. The biggest problem with this little gem is that I use it so often that I forget where I put it last and have trouble finding it for the next task. I measure two tablespoons for lemon juice for a large glass of lemonade, three tablespoons olive oil for pizza crust. It's especially helpful in halving recipes now that I'm cooking (mostly) for only two.
12. A Scale. Just how much is "three peppers"? I love recipes that give ingredients by weight. If a serving size is given as two ounces and 200 calories, I can measure the food. This is a great way to keep from cheating on a diet. We measure coffee grounds before grinding them fresh. I weigh the bread dough to be sure the loaves are equal in size, the pizza dough before I roll it out to make small rounds to go into the freezer, produce as it goes into freezer bags so I'll know how much I've put up, packages to be mailed, and.... And other stuff.
Could I list another dozen items that I find indispensable in the kitchen? Let's see: cutting boards in sizes to fit different tasks; measuring cups and spoons; a variety of knives suitable for a variety of job; good quality pots and pans, including stock pots; food strainers; serving spatula; cooking spatula; rolling pin; wooden spoon; corkscrew; potato masher. Gee, I think that's more than twelve, and there's no mention here of canning equipment! But that would be an entirely different list.
The twelve accessories listed above are, except for the scale and chef's knife, inexpensive. I think they're all worth having. Just wanted to share that thought with you.
So that's what my mom thinks. What are some of your most essential kitchen accessories?