I have been inspired by a call I received from the producer of Paula Deen's new prime time TV show, Paula's Party, airing on The Food Network. She called to tell me how much Paula loves The Original Nutcracker and is excited to feature it on a segment where she'll show her favorite kitchen gadgets. Inspired by Paula Deen's show, I decided to do my own personal inventory of my favorite kitchen gadgets. These are items that I couldn't or at least wouldn't want to do without in my kitchen. A great kitchen gadget generally combines both form and function. It has to do a certain job in the kitchen with a certain unique pizzazz.I love to cook and have fun in my kitchen, so for a kitchen gadget to survive and not be relegated to the back of the "not used anymore" drawer, it has to do its job well and with style. Cooking has always felt a bit like chemistry to me--a little of this, a little of that, and if you've added the right ingredients in the right amounts, the experiment is a success!
With this in mind, always visible, and within arms reach are two Erlenmeyer flasks with stoppers that I have filled with olive oil and vinegar.These flasks are handy to use and great to put on the table too. They are simply cool looking and anyone who has taken high school chemistry can't help but smile when they see them. Next on my hit list is a wonderful little antique tea steeper in the shape of a miniature tea kettle. I'm a serious coffee drinker but I also enjoy a nice cup of tea. Tea somehow always tastes better to me when it is made with a touch of elegance. This gadget fits the bill. It is wonderfully detailed and makes me feel transported to a lovely afternoon tea whenever I steep a cup with it. Another must have in my kitchen is a one handed wooden tosser and server. It's beautiful Maplewood and is perfect for the person who has only 2 hands and 3 things cooking! It closes flat but with a quick turn it creates a lovely tong tool nice enough to use for serving as well as for tossing and mixing up any dish. Then there are my various wine stoppers. I use red wine often for cooking (and drinking!). But what do you do when a bottle of wine is left unfinished?
This is when a really good stopper is a necessity. The stopper has to close the bottle well so the wine remains unspoiled. As well, it needs to be something I enjoy seeing, since it may sit on my counter for several days. I prefer the ones that have character; some are funny, some sculptural and most are both. These fun stoppers let me enjoy the wine even when I'm not drinking it! I saved for last, my absolute favorite kitchen gadget. I'm certain this comes as no surprise--my Original Nutcracker. What can I say except I love it--the perfect marriage of form and function, humor and sophistication! I often use nuts in a rice or vegetable dish to give it something unexpected and a bit of extra flavor and texture. As well, I use nuts as a topping sprinkled on bowls of fruit and ice cream. Since I use nuts often in my cooking, but only in small amounts at a time, I have found that freshly cracking them on an as-needed basis works quite better than purchasing a bag of pre-shelled nuts. The bagged nuts go rancid before I can possibly use them all.
I keep my Original Nutcracker in a bowl of nuts on my kitchen counter all of the time! It always makes me smile when I catch a glimpse of it while I'm cooking. It seems to act a magnet for guests as well, who seem to gravitate to my kitchen counter and love using it, cracking nuts while chatting with me as I happily cook away. For me, my favorite kitchen gadgets are more than items that do a job, they are also things that I enjoy having around me, to help to set the mood in my kitchen--one of fun, laughter, conversation and good taste! I hope sharing some of my favorite kitchen gadgets with you helps you have more fun in your kitchen!