Thursday, 17 November 2011

Minor Kitchen Utensils You Probably Need (That will make all the difference!)

I know I'm not the cook, but, because of that, I'm the one in the background making the cooking possible, doing things like juicing and zesting lemons, refilling the oil, getting things out, putting them away, etc.

Whether you have someone to do this for you, or you do it yourself, there are a few invaluable items that we have in the kitchen that I don't know how I lived without. Some of them are "duh" moments (either because they make so much sense, or because you already have them), but others might not immediately spring to mind.

I have no idea how we survived so long without a funnel. It's one of those things you can live without, but once you have them, your life is easier and you waste a lot less. Refilling everything is a breeze! All of a sudden, you can buy EVERYTHING IN BULK! AND THEN PUT IT IN CONVENIENT SMALLER CONTAINERS! THE WORLD IS YOUR YAM!

I don't know.

I thought you'd be able to get funnels everywhere, but when we were looking to buy them, no one had any, so eventually we got them at Ikea for about 2 dollars (which included a larger one and a smaller one). The smaller one is great for refilling spice jars when they're empty, whereas the large is mainly used for refilling oil bottles that become empty, or refilling the sugar / flour.

We go through bucketloads of lemons, and occasionally limes, and even more occasionally oranges. While we mostly use lemon juice (yes, you can buy it from the supermarket, but nothing ruins a dish more than pre-packaged lemon juice. Ergh), lemon zest is called for in quite a lot of recipes (or at least  a few we've seen recently).

If you buy lots of lemons to juice, you probably already juice them, freeze them, and then use the juice later. But what about what you have 30L of lemon juice, but no lemons, and the recipe calls for lemon zest?

The answer; a zester! If you don't want to invest in one of these, you can just use the finest blade on your grater (our zester is really just a tiny little grater). So, before you juice the lemons, or limes, or oranges, wash them off, dry them well, and zest them. If you don't dry them, the zest will end up water logged and freezing/defrosting will become a drama. Put the zest in a little tupperwear container or some sort and then pop it in the freezer. Then, whenever a recipe calls for it, you'll have zest, ready and waiting!

These are also grate (ha) for spices, for example, grating up whole nutmeg.

We have a microplane zester exactly like the one pictures above; I find these are a lot easier to use than a grater because it's much more maneuverable, so you can hold the fruit and zest around it.

You probably already own a salad bowl, but why not have more!
Because we have nowhere to put them.

But anyway...

We have three large glass bowls; two from Ikea (perfect example of Ikea having no clear pricing structure: they cost about $4 each, and they're wonderful. The same bowl in wood costs $18. BUT WHY. And will we ever know? I dunno. KMart also have similar glass bowls, but they only cost about $3) and one that just... is. They're for salads, obviously (but, unlike some salad bowls, they're large enough to mix big salads in), but they're also good for soaking beans in, and making trifle, and presenting things nicely, or, if you're desperate, as a food cover over the top of a plate (sometimes, it happens). They also stack, for easy storage!

Lemon (& Lime) Juicer
We have two of these: 

a clamp-like one (that has a green part for juicing limes and a yellow part for juicing lemons; pictured above) and a "double up" juicer (which we got from Matt's Mum because she has too many appliances RATHER LIKE SOMEONE ELSE I KNOW). The first if great if you only have a couple of lemons to do; the latter is great if you have an entire bag, either of lemons or oranges.

We go through heaps of lemon juice, and there's nothing more disgusting than the bottled lemon juice you buy from the supermarket. We usually get a big bag of lemons when they're on special, zest them, and juice them. You can store the juice in the freezer if you're not going to use it, but if you go through a lot of it, leave a container of it in the fridge, so it's ready to use when you need it. (and, of course, the zest goes in the freezer).

Yes, you can absolutely survive without these things, but they will make your life much, much easier, whether you're a cook (like the Dilettante) or just a helper (like me).

If you have any utensils you can't live without, post them in the comments below. [from Matt: DO IT! JUSTIFY TO HIM THAT I NEED MORE UTENSILS AND APPLIANCES! PLEASE.)

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