Stocking Stuffers: Tools for the Cooking Life

As my kids grew up and moved into their own apartments, I started giving them kitchen tools as stocking stuffers. These tools are all specialized tools above and beyond measuring cups and spoons.

My list of specialized cooking tools includes:

Instant Read Digital Thermometer:  This thermometer works quickly and accurately. Last spring, when I was big into making yogurt, I gave each of my sons one for Easter. The instant-read thermometer should only be used to periodically check the temperature of roasting meat. It is not meant to be left in the meat during the entire cooking process.

From: DIY Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese (aka Labneh, Greek Yogurt)

The Microplane Fine Grater: I use this tool to zest citrus or finely grate cheese, ginger, and nutmeg.

From: Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies (best cookies on the blog)

From: Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

Citrus Squeezer: I use this tool to extract juice from lemons and limes without getting seeds into the juice. I also use it to squeeze juice directly over fish, vegetables, and pasta dishes just before serving.

From: Brooks’s Pork Tenderloin with the Most Amazing Marinade

From: Fettuccini with Rapini (aka Broccoli Rabe) and Garlic

Kitchen Scale with a “Zero-Out” Feature: This scale weighs food up to eleven pounds. Since I use eggs from my backyard chickens, I often weigh them rather than go by the number of eggs called for in a recipe. A large commercial egg weighs about two ounces. My chickens lay eggs that are less uniform ranging from one and a half to three ounces. Once I had a four-ounce egg (OUCH!). I use the scale to weigh vegetables, nuts, fruit, flour, and meat as I develop recipes. The scale costs about $50, so it may fall into the category of “an under the tree” gift instead of a stocking stuffer. I’ve had my scale for five years, and it is still using the original batteries.

From: 50 Ways to Make a Frittata

From: Fruit and Nut Bread

From: Lisa’s Award-Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili

A French Wire Whisk (with a barreled handle)
I like this 10-inch whisk with the narrow head because it gets into the saucepan’s crevices when making gravy and along the sloping sides of a bowl when mixing dry ingredients. The barrel handle stays cool to the touch when stirring hot foods.
 
From: Foolproof Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Gravy

Fat Separator (with a food particle filter): Great for separating fat from meat juice when making gravy or chili. I also use my 4-cup separator as a strainer when making Greek yogurt.

From: My Favorite Silver Palate Chili

From: DIY Yogurt and Yogurt Cheese (aka Labneh or Greek Yogurt)

Basting and Pastry Silicone Brush: This gets a ton of use when I coat summer veggies or fish with olive oil before roasting. I also use it to lightly frost cookies before adding sprinkles. It goes in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
 
From: Baked Ziti with Eggplant

From: Easy Roasted Salmon with Olive Oil and Garlic Pepper

Meat Tenderizer Mallet: I’m big on flattening chicken breasts to help them cook more evenly. I also smash garlic or nuts with the mallet rather than dirty the food processor.

From: Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts

From: Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

From: Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970

Pie Crust Shield: I bake lots of pies. Covering the crust’s edge while the rest of the pie bakes keeps it from browning. I also bake the pie on a pre-heated pizza stone to encourage a thoroughly cooked bottom crust.

From: Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie

Thaw Detector for the Freezer: My husband adopted this simple device because when we were out of town, we were never sure if a power outage lasted long enough to melt the freezer’s contents. Now we know if the penny is on the bottom of the container, the food is spoiled.

From: How to Make a Thaw Detector for the Freezer

Check out this link for lots of holiday recipes!

And then there are these happy “tools” that sit on my windowsill every December.

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Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

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