As the holidays fast approach, many of us find ourselves spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Between preparing meals for family and friends, and baking cookies for teachers, school bus drivers, neighbors and co-workers, I log long hours behind my kitchen counter every December.
Because gardening and cooking go hand-in-hand, let me introduce you to some of the tools I use in my kitchen to make my time there seem a little less like work. These are the gadgets I can’t live without to turn my homegrown produce into delicious meals and appease my son’s sweet tooth without having to feed him preservative-laden sweets from the grocery store.
1. Stainless-Steel Mini Meatballer
I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve reached for my mini meatballer! I use it to make venison, chicken and beef meatballs; to scoop orbs of ice cream and sorbet (which my son loves!); to make cake pops and round crispy-rice/marshmallow treats; and to make melon globes for fruit salads. I once found myself using it to make perfect balls of play dough for my son to paint and make into Christmas ornaments for his grandparents.
2. Food Mill
I absolutely cannot live without my food mill. I use it to make tomato soup and juice, perfectly smooth mashed potatoes, creamed squash soup, root vegetable purée, and lots of other smooth-as-silk dishes. There’s no easier way to remove raspberry and blackberry seeds than by using a food mill. I also find it’s the best tool for making homemade hummus and pumpkin mash. If you want something puréed, a food mill results in a better texture than a food processor or blender. I also use mine to crush dried herbs.
3. Spiral Slicer
Although this tool doesn’t do a plethora of jobs, the one it does do is pretty awesome. I use my spiral slicer to make vegetable “noodles” and spiral fries that my family loves. It works great to create thin spiral slices, ribbons or strands of carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, beets, turnips and cucumbers. It makes creative salads and side dishes, and is a great way to get kids to eat their veggies!
I often rave about this product. AccuSharp is a super-handy, easy-to-use knife and tool sharpener that’s a must-have for gardeners and cooks. I keep one in the tool shed to sharpen my pruners, loppers and shovel blades, and another in the kitchen to sharpen my knives and scissors. The honing “stones” are housed inside a plastic handle so all you have to do is put the AccuSharp over the blade and swipe down the blade’s edge for perfect sharpening. It’s the safest way I’ve found to sharpen my kitchen knives.
5. Cherry Chomper
When the sweet cherries are in season, I find myself using my cherry chomper almost every day. This cool little tool takes the pit out of a cherry, lickety split. You just put the cherry in his mouth and press down on his head. The pit falls down into the reservoir below and the rest of the cherry stays in his mouth. My son loves to use it, and we can pit enough cherries to bake a pie in just a few minutes.