By Steven V. Philips –
As you may have noticed, I am surrounded by Real Food People. Here and at home. So it’s very risky (ok, stupid) to be offering my so-called wisdom about food preparation tools as I hold only a beginner’s permit, which limits me to cleaning them. But, in an attempt to advance to a higher level, I’ve rounded up several well-designed, quality tools that will improve food preparation, even at my skill level.
Can opener / bottle opener $14. by OXO
This tool’s first operative words are “operates easily”. Second key words are “all stainless steel”! If you’ve owned a couple of grocery-store specials that rusted, you’ll love this one. Cleanly designed shape. Sticky-ish grips make it easy to hold. Built-in bottle opener. Just be sure to wash the cutting blades to eliminate food residue.
Steamer $13 by SLEEKSTOR
Even I know that steamers are the correct way to prepare veggies – not like the Grannie Philips method of boil-murder. But the seen-everywhere metal version easily ends up with something(s) stuck in a few of its 1600 holes. And it bends, sometimes not to unbend. Ta-da! The 21st Century arrives! This flexible silicon model looks as though it might melt before it works. Wrong. Good to 400 degrees. Will fit into several size pans. And no more stuck anything! Plus two other sizes.
Pancake turner $12 / mini $9.50. $14 / large by OXO
Here’s something I actually know how to use. A silicon blade flexible enough to get around and under a pancake. And it flips an omelet intact. With a stainless core inside, it won’t turn into a melted Gumby as it’s good to 600 degrees. Non-slippery handle. Really beats the usual rigid paddle.
Avocado (magic) tool $10. by OXO
Give me an avocado and I’ll immediately maim it into pre-guacamole. Then I found this. First: you can slice the fruit (yes, it’s fruit) in half, and not your fingers, with its serrated plastic blade. Then the little persistent grippers inside the handle hole allow you to grasp the pit and twist it out. Without making pre-guacamole. And then you can use the vanes to cut even slices. Again, without making guacamole! This tool makes me feel so professional.
Lobster cracker $10. by ZYLISS
There sits The Lobster. Steamed. (not boiled, by the way.) And needing to be eaten. Now get to it kiddies, but what is that primitive tool? What, I ask? Those round, rusty things you always end up using are really nut crackers from the 1930s. They’re slippery when covered in butter and/or lobster mush, go out of alignment and get grossly rusty. Fine, if you want to add iron to your seafood diet, but not so great for cracking that claw. This greatly updated model is easily gripped. Easily cleaned. Bites into that slippery shell. Easy to spot in the drawer too. And crushes (pun) the 30s versions’ performance.
Measure / 1 cup $7. / 2 cup $9. / 4 cup $12. OXO
So here’s how it usually goes. Pour the liquid into the measure. Hold it up to eye-level to check amount. Not enough. Repeat. Oops too much. And so on. Or put in the liquid, scrunch down to counter level to check the level. Repeat. Repeat. Ta-da! Measuring now clarified. No more holding or scrunching. Easily viewed from the top like a Google map. Correct the first time.
So there kids, now you can see that I have shown you all the tools necessary to prepare an avocado salad, a lobster omelet, with steamed vegetables and ½ cup of red beans, with a Stella Artois to drink. Use tested by a non-pro. Especially liked as they all clean up easily. Attractive and they deliver. Happy 2014!