March Kitchen Tools

This is a very busy week of travel for me.  I am just unpacked from spending a wonderful Easter weekend in New Jersey with my in-laws and now it's time to start packing again as I head off tomorrow to Chicago for a work trip.  I would like to think that with all of this traveling (and after writing this post and this post) that I would finally have a handle on packing...but alas, I am still a work in progress when it comes to packing my suitcase.  I don't know what it is about packing, but every time I go to fill my suitcase I end up with a steamer trunk size amount of stuff for a trip that could be a grand total of 48 hours.  I feel like I pack as if I don't trust the weather forecast or the trip's itinerary and just throw clothes into my suitcase for any/all possible scenarios.  This style of packing not only has me lugging around a ridiculous amount of stuff with totally unnecessary items included.  Recently, I even managed to pack a Christmas ornament in my suitcase for my trip to Vegas.  Not sure how I managed that one, but there it was when I opened my suitcase!  So ridiculous, I know.  Does anyone know of a packing class I could take?  Kidding....well sort of.  

Anyway, I clearly have digressed big time.  Back to the subject at hand, kitchen tools!  This month's kitchen tools are a random collection of current favorites at the moment.  I love the versatility of all three of these tools and honestly consider these items to be staples in my kitchen tool collection. 

Fish Spatula

I don't cook fish very often, but when I do I am really happy to have a fish spatula on hand.  It's great for lifting cooked fish out of a pan or off of a baking sheet without damaging the delicate skin or actual protein.  But one of the main reasons for loving the fish spatula lately is it's practicality when it comes to pan frying tofu (like in this recipe).  The open slots allow the oil to drain off of the food immediately, which really helps to keep the food from getting soggy.  I also love using this spatula roasting food pieces in the oven. The length of the spatula makes it easy to flip foods I roast in the oven midway through their cook time in order to insure the food browns evenly on all sides.  Accomplishing the food flipping quickly helps to keep the temperature variance in the oven to a minimum (less time with the oven door open, means less time for the heat to escape).  While I wouldn't recommend using this metal spatula on a stainless steel or non-stick surface, the fish spatula is a fabulous cooking tool to use when cooking in a cast iron pan or on a lined baking sheet.

Kitchen Torch

I had been wanting a kitchen torch for the longest time (I mean for YEARS).  I think I had been fascinated by the kitchen torch because it looked like an advanced tool and I felt like it would up my skill level in the kitchen.  Well, at long last I finally took the plunge and bought a torch over the summer in an effort to try my hand at making creme brulee for my husband.  One thing they don't tell you, but you need to know is that a kitchen torch usually does not come with a butane canister.  You need the butane in order to get the torch to work, so do not forget to buy butane when purchasing your torch!  

Suffice it to say that the kitchen torch has certainly upped my skill level because it has given me the ability to try more difficult recipes.  Some of my favorite uses for the kitchen torch include: Creme Brulee, Toasting Marshmallows and Fire Roasting Peppers (since my stove is electric, the torch has been a fabulous substitution for a gas stove).  The kitchen torch can accommodate an array of culinary skill levels and a tool that I would recommend for anyone looking in need of compensating for lacking a gas stove, wanting incorporate a little char into a recipe, or even if you are simply looking to satisfy a hankering for Creme Brulee!

OXO Good Grips Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer

I have been on a major Sprouted Kitchen recipe kick lately.   Sara Forte has the most fabulous recipes for meals that are packed with flavor and very healthy.  Of the recipes I have been loving lately, one has called for "ribboning carrots."  In essence, you take a peeler to a carrot in long strips to create ribbons.  What's so fascinating about this technique is that it completely transforms a raw carrot without having to cook or season it.  Curious to learn more about transforming basic raw vegetables simply through slicing, I decided to purchase the OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer.  After one try with this tool, I am totally hooked!  Radishes, cucumbers, carrots, etc... cut into thin slices are great on salads, in bowls, served as hors d'oeuvres, you name it!  This product is simply fabulous and a great way to seamlessly incorporate healthy produce into your meals.  Definitely a current favorite tool of mine and one that I would highly recommend.