It’s the first Wednesday of the month again already–where did March go? Who cares? Good riddance!–so it’s time for another installment of my favorite things. I was using my toast tongs the other day and thinking about how genius they are, so I thought I would do Favorite Things: Kitchen Edition this month.
It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I picked up a set of bamboo toast tongs at Sur la Table a few years ago, and I’m so glad I did. The set currently listed on their website here looks a little fancier than the ones I have, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t pay more than $5 for mine, versus $9.95 for the ones listed. Crate & Barrel has a set for $3.95, and Williams-Sonoma lists theirs at $6.95. We use a toaster oven instead of a pop-up toaster, so the tongs make it a lot easier to get bread out of the oven without having to stab it with a fork and drag it out. We also use them to hold naan while flame-broiling it over the gas burner on our stove. Trust me, if you get yourself a set, you’ll wonder why you never got them before.
Pampered Chef Can Opener
About 10 years ago, Pampered Chef parties were a big thing. I worked with more than one woman who was a Pampered Chef consultant, but either the parties aren’t as popular as they used to be, or I’m just no longer around people who are into that scene, because I haven’t heard anything about them in years. I actually just had to Google Pampered Chef to see if it still existed, which it does. At any rate, this can opener is the best! Instead of cutting inside the lip of the can, like most traditional can openers, it cuts around the outside edge. This both eliminates the sharp edge of the lid when you remove it and also makes it easier to pull the lid off the can, because of the “claw” feature that clamps down on the remaining lip. The only downside to this approach is when you want to use the can lid to press out liquid, like with canned tuna. Because the lid doesn’t fit completely within the confines of the can, it can be harder to press it against the product inside. But otherwise, this is a fantastic can opener, and I’ll never use a traditional opener again.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
I bought my first house around the time I turned 30, and my mom gave me my KitchenAid stand mixer as a combo birthday/housewarming present. I have the 4.5 quart Ultra Power mixer. Ten+ years later it’s still going strong, and it’s more useful than ever now that we have the pasta making attachment and ice cream kit. The ice cream kit is a little dangerous, because it encourages us to have ice cream around the house more than we used to. But man, you can make some good homemade ice cream. You have to plan ahead, both because of the number of perishable dairy products you need and because the bowl has to be frozen for at least 15 hours before you begin. But within a couple days, you can have delicious, preservative-free ice cream. You may never buy ice cream again.
The pasta attachment is also pretty slick. So far we’ve made linguini and spaghetti, and the yield fed two of us for dinner on three occasions. We haven’t tried freezing the pasta yet; we just eat it within about a week of making it. The first time we used it, our dough seemed too dry, but after feeding it through the roller attachment it seemed to work just fine. It was actually pretty miraculous that the pasta sheets stayed together, considering how dry the dough was. Next up: ravioli.
Even without the specialty attachments, I couldn’t live without my stand mixer. I always use it when I bake cookies and cakes from scratch, and we use it a ton around the holidays, especially for pumpkin pies and mashed potatoes. It’s especially great because you can turn it on and walk away for a few minutes, and it’s always helpful to be able to have both hands free. If you cook or bake even a little, you should definitely have one of these babies.
All-Clad Nonstick Stovetop Griddle
We eat a lot of pancakes. Like, every weekend. My husband likes to make them one at a time in the cast iron skillet, but I don’t have the patience for that. And that’s why I love my All-Clad griddle. It spans two burners on the stovetop so you can easily make four pancakes at a time, and sometimes six if you have powerful enough burners. It has a ridge for catching grease, so it’s perfect for bacon (which we also eat a lot of). It’s also good for making lots of grilled cheese sandwiches at once, which I discovered when my brother and his family were over for lunch. Best of all, you can generally clean it just by wiping it with a paper towel after it cools–no need to use soap and water. I’ve had mine for at least 10 years. I don’t remember how much it was when I got it, but Williams-Sonoma (where I got mine) currently sells it for $79.95. Sur la Table has it for $99.95.
Nespresso Aeroccino Plus
I love, love, love this little thing. Admittedly, I rolled my eyes when my husband added this to our Sur la Table wedding registry. He drinks coffee/espresso/cappuccino, and I don’t. So I figured it was another one of those “coffee toys” that I wasn’t going to get any use out of. But I was very wrong. It’s basically an electric milk warmer/frother. It has two interchangeable, magnetic discs: a flat paddle for warming/stirring milk, and a wire whisk for frothing. We use it to warm milk for hot chocolate and to froth milk for our homemade chai tea lattes. And my husband uses it to froth milk when he makes a homemade cappuccino. It can also froth milk without heating it, which is handy for iced beverages. Clean-up is very easy with a little soapy warm water. Sur la Table sells it for $99, and Williams-Sonoma for $99.95. Weirdly, Crate & Barrel only sells it as part of a $279 package with an espresso machine. If you like hot chocolate or fancy coffee beverages, this little guy is totally useful.