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Old 08-01-2011, 05:58 PM
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Default It slices, it dices: the cooking gadgets thread

ITT we talk about our favorite cooking gadgets. I'm defining gadgets here as something beyond the basic toolset of knives, cutting boards, pots/pans, etc. Here are my TOP THREE gadgets:

1) Food Processor. I got a KitchenAid food processor for Christmas and over ten years later, it's still going strong. I also now have a baby KitchenAid that holds about two cups. Dead useful for purees, pastes, and dressings. Surprisingly awesome for baking - biscuits are SUPER QUICK using a food processor, and I also use it for bread dough and pie crust. I don't use it every single week, but when I do use it I'm so glad I have it.

2) Mandoline. This sucker is a way to cut down veggies evenly and quickly. Really helpful when I'm making sweet potato hash or roasting root vegetables, or slicing up apples for a tart.

3) Spice mill (aka repurposed coffee grinder). I like to grind certain whole spices myself, maybe after blooming them briefly in a hot pan (especially cumin!!!). Before I used a mortar and pestle and while that's certainly fun, grinding more than a bit took forever and I had an issue with spices trying to escape the bowl. Now I just dump it in the former coffee grinder and give it a whirl - generally ground in 20 seconds or less.

I could get by without all of these gadgets, but I am super duper glad I have them! What are the gadgets YOU like? What are the gadgets you ordered off TV and found out you hated?
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:03 PM
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Microwave

Knives

Cutting board

Blender, sometimes

Cheese
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by upupdowndown View Post
2) Mandoline. This sucker is a way to cut down veggies evenly and quickly. Really helpful when I'm making sweet potato hash or roasting root vegetables, or slicing up apples for a tart.
ProTip: Be very careful when using a mandoline. My dad cut a big chunk of skin of his finger using one of these things. It was the worst pain I've ever seen him in. Wear a glove when using it.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:17 PM
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Your mandoline came with a hand guard. Use it. The blade will slice right through a cut-resistant glove. I know this is the case because I no longer use a cut-resistant glove for that reason.

But yeah a KitchenAid is pretty much the handiest thing and I hope one distant day to afford some of the neat addon hardware for mine.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:17 PM
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I'm not quite sure how I ever lived without a rice cooker
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:27 PM
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Your mandoline came with a hand guard. Use it. The blade will slice right through a cut-resistant glove. I know this is the case because I no longer use a cut-resistant glove for that reason.
Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I think my Dad uses that now. And sometimes an oven mitt.

Rice cookers are indeed awesome, mopinks.
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Old 08-01-2011, 06:38 PM
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ProTip: Be very careful when using a mandoline. My dad cut a big chunk of skin of his finger using one of these things. It was the worst pain I've ever seen him in. Wear a glove when using it.
The mandoline I have has a design where the food getting sliced is completely covered by a thingy that has metal prongs that keep the food stable and a plastic handle for your hand. You'd have to really work at it in order to slice your finger. But yeah, the blades are wicked sharp.

one gadget I forgot: we have an immersion blender that I use like crazy in the winter when I'm making butternut squash soup and the like, and it's also super great for smoothies. The part with the blade pops off and goes in the dishwasher.

ETA: yes, rice cookers are miraculous. We don't use ours all that often because my guy's not a huge fan of rice, but when I was single, I made fewer better purchases with 20 bucks.
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:29 AM
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I'd never heard of a mandoline slicer until Lumber demanded putting one on our wedding registry, but yeah. It's an awesome thing. Food processors and immersion blenders are nifty as well.

Crockpots are especially wonderful, I use it a LOT more than I expected to.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:22 AM
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I got this chopper thing with a pastic container, metal grating, and ridged lid than punches down over the grating which is pretty nice for anytime you want veggies diced small (about 1/4") quickly. Not sure if the thing has a proper name or not. Great for putting stuff into rice or slightly chunky sauces, though it's too small for something like stir-fry.
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Old 08-02-2011, 10:39 AM
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Our crockpot gets used a lot in the winter when it's going to be dark when we get home from work and i'm just not going to be up to cooking after work. I also do have one of those hand chopper things because mincing garlic by hand sucks.

you know what gadget you DON'T need? a bread machine. way too specialized, and making your own bread is really really easy.
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Old 08-02-2011, 01:04 PM
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I want a mandoline now! I saw someone make a joke about mandolins yesterday and didn't get it, but now I do

I have.. I have a knife. It's not very special, but I like it, kupo
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Old 08-02-2011, 01:39 PM
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Potato ricers make for smooth-ass mashed potatoes. And for the creation of gnocchi from said mashed potatoes.
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Old 08-02-2011, 01:56 PM
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Our slow cooker is indispensable, even though 90% of the time we're just making pulled pork again.
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Old 08-02-2011, 03:43 PM
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pressure cooker. hands down the most important thing in an indian kitchen.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mopinks View Post
I'm not quite sure how I ever lived without a rice cooker
Having a huge bowl of brown rice on hand is such a great thing. Sunday night we fill the cooker and make enough for the next week. We've been eating so much less pasta and potatoes as side dishes. Fried rice (fried with a tiny bit of cooking spray, thanks) on hand anytime is the best snack in the universe.
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:15 PM
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pressure cooker. hands down the most important thing in an indian kitchen.
Shivam, are there any good Indian(ish) cookbooks you would recommend for stupid white Americans like me who don't want to grind together twenty-seven different spices and simmer things for hours? Every Indian cookbook I've ever glanced at is full of recipes that look DELICIOUS but I could never imagine putting together after working all day. (I try for most of our weeknight dinners to take no more than 40-45 minutes total of prep and cooking time.)

As for ricers: I find that if I cook the potatoes just right, the paddle on my KitchenAid mixer mashes 'em up great, and I have used that to make gnocchi before. When I was a prep cook in a decent restaurant, that's what we used for our roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

I've heard that ricers are handy for other things, though. When we get our kid I plan on making a lot of the baby food myself, and a ricer might be useful for that.
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:29 PM
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i will look, but the short answer is, indian food really does take that long.
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shivam View Post
i will look, but the short answer is, indian food really does take that long.
Well, lots of authentic cuisines do. I guess the thing I'm really hoping for is a cookbook that's Indian-inspired but geared for busy cooks who have jobs outside the home.

and a pony
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Old 08-04-2011, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
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I have.. I have a knife. It's not very special, but I like it, kupo
Argh... Why did you have to give me flashbacks to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance?
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  #20  
Old 09-18-2011, 07:05 AM
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Guys, do NOT buy the Martha Stewart Collection chopper. It fits together quite poorly and feels flimsy. The OXO GoodGrips chopper is a much better buy.
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Old 09-18-2011, 08:07 AM
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Microplane.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:26 AM
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Oh, a useful one is a box grater with measurements. Much less messy than trying to measure out what you've grated!
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squid Brand View Post
Microplane.
Yesss. We have three plus a microplane nutmeg grater.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upupdowndown View Post
Guys, do NOT buy the Martha Stewart Collection chopper. It fits together quite poorly and feels flimsy. The OXO GoodGrips chopper is a much better buy.
OXO is pretty much always a good bet if you have no other info. They're consistently rated best or among the best by America's Test Kitchen.
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:06 PM
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OXO is pretty much always a good bet if you have no other info. They're consistently rated best or among the best by America's Test Kitchen.
Oh yeah. We have been happy with other Martha stuff so we thought we'd give it a shot, but this one didn't work out so well.
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:59 PM
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I love the hell out of my Microplane, mainly for hard Parmesan and ginger.
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Old 09-18-2011, 03:39 PM
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I've always wanted one of these. That infomercial is hypnotic.
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  #28  
Old 09-19-2011, 07:24 AM
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Seeing stills from that infomercial takes me back to a high school weekend, bumming around with my friends at 2AM, eating Snyder's honey mustard pretzel pieces. Those were the days! (Actually they weren't.)
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Old 09-19-2011, 03:29 PM
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Stop beating your meat.

Also...
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:35 PM
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Be careful when jaccarding meat. You can introduce surface bacteria into the interior. It's worth noting that jaccarding has a negative effect on cuts of meat that are already tender. The texture will break down significantly. Use it on tougher cuts only and be sure everything is sanitized. This is a great tool for taking a tough flank steak and turning it in to something edible.
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