Small Tools That Make a Big Difference

Visit the kitchen section of any retail store and you’ll find a wall full of gadgets. While it’s probably true that everyone needs a can opener, does everyone also need an apple corer? Here are the odds and ends I’m glad I own:*

1. Small fine-mesh strainer

I’ve used this strainer so much the handle broke off, and I still haven’t thrown it away. Before it broke, it was my favorite tool for draining single servings of pasta, but even now I use it for straining stock, draining beans or grains I’ve been soaking, and dusting powdered sugar over pancakes. I’ve often wished I owned more than one.


2. Pastry blender

I love to bake, especially biscuits and pies. This tool allows me to quickly combine cold fat with the dry ingredients, which means flakier pastry.


3. Microplane citrus zester

My husband bought me a zester last month, after years of making due with a handheld cheese grater. There is no comparison.


4. Whisk

Yes, you can use a fork to beat eggs. But a whisk allows you to beat air into the mix, which makes the final product fluffy. Whisks also help with pancake batter.


5. Tongs

Chasing food around a hot pan with a spatula is a pain. Tongs are good for picking things up and flipping them over, which is necessary when you cook meat.


6. Hand-held citrus juicer

Juicers increase your yield of juice while decreasing the chance that seeds will fall into the soup/batter/pasta.


7. Small ceramic prep bowls

I’ve had these since college. My roommate and I found them at a garage sale, and we thought they were pretty. She said, “I feel like if we had them, we would find a use for them.” We didn’t. Years later, I use them almost daily to hold portions of chopped onions, measured spices, and melted butter.


8. Meat thermometer

As a new cook, I am paranoid about under-cooked poultry. Thermometers give me peace of mind.


9. Silicone basting brush

I used to own the kind with bristles. The bristles fell out on my food. So instead I tried spreading egg washes with a rubber spatula–this worked somewhat but wasn’t efficient. Finally I bought the silicone brush and haven’t looked back.


10. Pyrex measuring cup(s)/Trivet

I listed two items here because my husband swears by my four-cup Pyrex, which he uses weekly for making green tea concentrate. I get more use out of the trivet that my sister gave us for our wedding. It’s great to pull something hot from the oven and not have to worry about where to set it.









* I omitted the can opener from this list. But for the record, I’ve owned three or four can openers and hated most of them. Right now I’m using an Everyday Living model from Kroger and it seems promising. We’re only a few cans in, though.


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