5 kitchen tools you didn't know you needed
Now that summer has finally arrived in Vermont, my garden is planted, our farmers' markets are in full swing and we just released our newest book, EatingWell in Season: The Farmers' Market Cookbook. Good timing, huh? It's all about savoring fresh fruits and vegetables while they're in season.
The book is loaded with amazing recipes, such as Apricot-Almond Clafouti, and the good stuff that's ripe at the market right now (cherries, strawberries, greens, sweet onions and radishes). Plus, there's a whole section on which kitchen tools will make your life easier when you're chopping, slicing, dicing, cleaning and pitting those delicious fruits and veggies.
Here are my top five favorite kitchen tools right now:
Onion Goggles: OK. Let's just get this out on the table. Onion goggles are absurd-looking. Don't believe me? Here's a picture of assistant editor Hilary Meyer sporting the goggles in the EatingWell Test Kitchen:
But if you're not too vain, I highly recommend investing in a pair of these babies. My mom gave me a set that I now keep in my top kitchen drawer (the spot for all my most-used tools). I love them because you can chop onions endlessly without shedding a tear. Try them out when you're prepping sweet onions for Jumbo Prawns & Balsamic Orange Onions.
Cherry Pitter: The ladies in the EatingWell Test Kitchen heckled me endlessly when I insisted that we recommend a cherry pitter. But I have spent an inordinate amount of time pitting cherries manually (my mom has a tree) and it is a real bore! If you have grand plans for this recipe for Cherry Pie, you might want to get one of these. You can get large pitters with a hopper and manual feed to make faster work of the project. You can find them at surlatable.com, chefscatalog.com or amazon.com.
Ice Cream Maker: Any fruit can be made into a delicious frozen treat if you have one of these. (I'm planning to make this Strawberry Sherbet after I go berry picking this weekend.) And ice cream makers are really reasonably priced and easy to use. In the Test Kitchen we use a Cuisinart ($49.95). There is no need to add salt and ice-just fill the frozen bowl with your favorite creamy mixture, turn on the motor and in about 30 minutes, you'll have a custom-made frozen treat ready to enjoy.
Kitchen Shears: Yes, you probably have scissors in the kitchen, but do you have a really good pair? Top-quality kitchen shears are amazing! Try them to cut up a chicken, snip the spikes off an artichoke or take them out to the garden and trim herbs or, my personal favorite, okra. When shopping for shears, look for sturdy construction and stainless-steel blades, a pair that feels comfortable in your hand and, maybe most important, that can be taken apart for thorough cleaning. I love the ones from Cutco (but I'm biased because I happened to sell Cutco knives while in high school).
Citrus Juicer: I know you can live without this tool-after all, it's certainly possible to cut a lemon or lime in half and then just squeeze it with your hand. But I have to tell you that I use this tool almost every single night when I'm making dinner. (I love citrus, especially for salad dressings.) You just cut your lemon or lime in half, pop it into the juicer, close it and squeeze. It saves your hands and arms from getting too worn out. And when you're squeezing a big batch of citrus juice (margaritas, anyone?) that's a serious concern.