5 Kitchen Tools That Are Fun to Use and Make Meal Preparation Simpler
What have I been doing during the pandemic? Well, among other things, I have been adding to my kitchen tools.
When I was young and raising a family on limited funds, I didn’t have many extras in terms of kitchen tools. Just the usual knives, can opener, potato peeler, wooden spoons, and mixer, and a ladle. I got by just fine as a stay-at-home mom, an “earth mother” of sorts (it was the 70s, after all!).
As such, I made meals from scratch, grew a garden, and learned to preserve food for my family. I decided preparing meals was my hobby to keep my attitude positive and to boost my creativity in the kitchen.
In the 80s, I was weak from a neuro-muscular disease. A surprise gift from friends in the form of a KitchenAid mixer made my life much easier. We had five kids and I was at home and committed to feeding them healthily and well.
I made all of our bread from scratch and the kneading was tiring me out. I always made large batches of cookies and my small handheld mixer was taxed. That KitchenAid was one of the most thoughtful and useful gifts I have ever received.
As my mother-in-law aged, she would occasionally ask me if I wanted that chair or this platter left to me from her belongings after she was gone. I told her, “Just leave me your Cuisinart food processor, please.” She thought I was joking, but I was dead serious.
I did get that small appliance and wore it out. It made pie dough, noodle dough, cabbage slaw, grated carrots, chopped onions and green peppers, etc., etc., etc. for years after her passing. I definitely replaced that when the one I inherited pooped out.
5 Fun and Useful Kitchen Tools
Now, as we are aging and in our third third (pretty close to 70) and simplifying (in a new home that is small but with the kitchen just as I wanted it), I find that having the right tools gives me great pleasure while they make my life simpler.
Our new home is further from grocery stores and specialty shops. We have also been careful about going places during the pandemic, so I find that being creative in the kitchen is an enjoyable outlet. I have gradually added in a few small kitchen tools / gadgets that make me smile whenever I use them.
I asked for one two Christmases ago and find I use it several times a month. A simple carrot-ginger soup recipe is so healthy and yummy it is worth repeating so we have it once a month or so.
Last week, I made a pot of black beans and decided to try blending it into a thick puree. It was so good, the entire pot was gone in less than 24 hours. Our son, Joel, had it with eggs the next morning for breakfast.
Joel, who has Down Syndrome, has lost 40 pounds in the pandemic and has a new interest in eating healthy, which means more vegetables. One night, he asked me to blend up a tomato soup I made, and he ate two bowls. The immersion blender makes difficult or objectionable texture a moot point, so veggies get eaten.
Even though I sliced a hunk of my thumb off last week while I was slicing a red onion for flat bread pizzas, I love my mandolin. It is perfectly possible to avoid self-mutilation when using it – it came with a guard, for Pete’s sake!
Ginger sliced thin and thrown into a pan of veggies to roast is a fun surprise. Consistency in thickness of carrot slices or zucchini rounds is satisfying to me. I tend to be fast and not so accurate with cutting, focused more on function that presentation, so the mandolin’s easy consistency makes me smile.
Since I am cooking for one or two or three now, not seven or eight or twelve, I love grating parmesan or manchego over a bowl of salad or pasta. It is much tastier than the dried parmesan in the green plastic jar that was easy for large family meals.
The microplane is a good way to add ginger to dishes, too. (I’m a fan of ginger, obviously!) Grated chocolate on ice cream, orange or lemon zest into bread or a cocktail. The opportunities are endless.
I first bought a $3 hand-held spiralizer to see if we would like zoodles (zucchini disguised as noodles). Middle of summer, there is always a push to find more ways to use zucchini, right? It was fun, and I saw there are tasty ways to use spirals, so I splurged ($25) and bought a sturdier, manual spiralizer.
Besides zucchini, I’ve spiralized onions, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes. Variety is the spice of life, right? Veggies in spirals is a variation from dicing and slicing and chopping. It sort of makes a mess, but it’s not bad to clean the spiralizer and spirals add some novelty to an occasional meal.
Mini Food Processor
Not long ago, I mistakenly ordered a smaller food processor that is a chopper/grinder. I can’t remember what I thought I was getting, but this little machine is a keeper. It will chop onions with no tears, it will mix mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions together to stuff into peppers with quinoa.
It will chop or mince just about anything in smaller batches than the large processor. It’s easier to clean and store than the larger one, too. A handy mistake I made, ordering that.
Appreciating Handy Kitchen Tools
Having the right tools makes any job easier and more efficient. They don’t have to be new, just close at hand and suited for the job. The paring knife I have had for years is fine. So is the bread knife I’ve had since 1972.
Kitchen shears are still sharp after 30 years. I’m not replacing tools that still work, but I am having fun adding to my kitchen tools to make meal making more fun and interesting… and simpler.
What are your favorite kitchen tools? Have you discovered any new tools that make you smile? What have you discovered in your kitchen during the pandemic?