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 Post subject: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:01 am 
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Can anyone recommend some must-have kitchen gadgets? Im putting together my xmas list and we are doing a small xmas this year. I love baking and cooking. Last year I got a stand mixer, a zester, and an oven thermometer. Im looking for things along those lines.
Here are some ideas I came up with.
A GOOD garlic press that works (recommendations?)
Silpats
Springform pan
Food thermometer (is there a difference between a candy thermometer and a food thermometer and do vegans ever use an actual food thermometer? I mean im not going to be roasting a turkey!)
I have most of the big appliances I can think of, food processor, stand mixer, immersion blender, a good knife set.
I am interested in a cast iron pan but to be honest I don’t “get” what the difference is between a cast iron pan and a regular non-stick pan. Can someone give me the skinny on the difference and why I should care about the difference and how to cook with one? (and any recommendations for a brand/type)
Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:15 am 
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Tofu press!!!

Non stick pans often release bad stuff into the air when you cook with them - you're not supposed to use them at a very high heat to avoid this but everybody does. If you scratch off the nonstick coating, the bits missing the coating can get rusty. Cast iron pans are great because even if you screw them up, you can just go at 'em with steel wool and start the seasoning process over again. There's a thread about them here: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=14303

If you can't be fussed with the seasoning process you can also look for enameled cast iron. My skillet is enameled and it is heavy as hell but cooks beautifully.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:24 am 
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Cast iron pans are amazing. They distribute heat extremely evenly and cook things so nicely. Plus, the iron gets into your food and vegans need iron!

I really love my microplane grater, microplane zester, wok, and rice cooker. I have a cast-iron grill pan that I love, but it was a bisque to season properly.


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:29 am 
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oooh i totally forgot about a tofu press! that is going on the list!
but i keep hearing people say something always breaks off on theres?????

thanks for the info on the cast iron pan. i will check out that thread later

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:12 am 
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I am pretty sure that candy thermometers are different from other types, as a candy thermometer rests in the dish but other types assume there is something to be pierced into. But I could be entirely wrong.

I've also asked for a springform pan. They make things pretty.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:55 am 
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I recently bought some Silpats.

And just because I get annoyed easily, I recently bought a covered casserole pan. I get tired of covering things with foil and it never works right.

Do you have a pressure cooker? I used a stovetop one for years and this year, I bought an electric one.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:26 pm 
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Garlic Mat (rubber mat that peals garlic) - very handy for peeling a few bulbs at a time very quickly and cleanly.

Mandolin -- they rock no matter how good your knife skills are.

2nd the micro planer idea..use it several times a day.

Corn Tortilla press...so much better than store bought and easy easy easy

Re: cast iron pans - try to keep one oil free so you can use it for things like corn tortillas/english muffins etc without smoking out your kitchen.


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:54 pm 
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I love my little steel crepe pan. crepes come out so perfect that I love making them regularly. It's also small, so it doesn't hog valuable space.

I also avoid nonstick coated cookware. Well, I have to because I don't want to kill my bird, but the fact that they are that lethal is scary anyway. Its not that the stuff is weirdly toxic to birds, it's that birds have tiny, super sensitive respiratory systems and fast metabolisms. I love my anodized aluminum sauté pan. Cast iron is too heavy for me, but the anodized is perfect for stuff like tofu scrambles. Not cheap, but worth it.

If you have the budget for it, a Vitamix! Those are just wonderful. I use it all the time for cashew and sunflower sauces, etc. I'm plotting how to sneak it out of my mom's kitchen when I move. They last forever too--ours is probably 15 yrs old by now, with light to moderate, but regular, use.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:14 pm 
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oooh a mandolin is a good idea. i always see people on cooking shows using them and im like "i want one of those!"

i actually think my "zester" is technically a microplaner. i dont really know what the difference is or what you would use a microplaner for but i use it as a zester (although i also use it on Vietnamese cinnamon in bark form so i guess im microplaning that and not "zesting" it)

ive never used a pressure cooker nor would i necessarily know what to do with one so i think ill pass on that idea but i appreciate the recommendation.

im not sold on the idea of a rice cooker. we do eat a lot of brown rice but i guess im not sure what the big deal about a rice cooker is vs a regular pot. also seems like a rice cooker would be more of a pain to wash than a pot and one more thing to store in my limited cabinet space.

lavawitch your comment makes me glad that my guinea pigs are very far away from my kitchen since they too have teeny tiny respiratory systems! they would be bad news in the kitchen too. anytime anyone opened the refrigerator door they would cause a ruckus ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:14 pm 
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This is the garlic press I use, and I love it. I had been using shitty presses for a long time. This one uses almost all the garlic, and is easy to clean

Image
http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product ... U=14462902

It's not really small (price wise) but I love my electric pressure cooker. I got it at Costco for $69.99. It is my favorite thing in my kitchen.

I don't know how big your kitchen is, but pretty jars to store often-used stuff on your counters are nice. Good to suggest as a gift, so they can pick out what they look like, and it will still be a surprise for you. My partner just got me this really cute glass jar with a ceramic chicken on the top to hold my nutritional yeast in on the counter. I love it.


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:27 pm 
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We have a rice cooker too and we store it on the counter because we use it so often. My electric pressure cooker is actually a multicooker so it also does slow cooking but I make beans 2-3 times per week and my pressure cooker is a life saver for that.

I have a mandoline but I don't really care for it so I don't use it very often.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:29 pm 
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It's not cheap, but the steel Kuhn Rikon garlic press is amazing. I'd only used cheapo presses before this, and the difference is astounding. It used to really hurt my wrists squeezing a single clove of garlic, but with the steel KR one, I can press 2 cloves at once without too much trouble. I cook with a lot of garlic, so $40 for a garlic press doesn't see too unreasonable since I'm pretty sure this is the last garlic press I'll ever have to buy. It was the top garlic press that Cook's Illustrated picked a couple years ago (review).


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:29 pm 
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thanks for the link to the garlic press. im gonna see if i can find it on amazon (my husband is all about ordering from amazon *rolls eyes)
i used my crappy garlic press the other night after having read the whole garlic press thread and i was like "yeah this is why i dont use this thing"

i just read through the cast iron thread. interesting stuff but now im a bit frightened ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:50 pm 
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LisaPunk wrote:
thanks for the link to the garlic press. im gonna see if i can find it on amazon (my husband is all about ordering from amazon *rolls eyes)
i used my crappy garlic press the other night after having read the whole garlic press thread and i was like "yeah this is why i dont use this thing"

i just read through the cast iron thread. interesting stuff but now im a bit frightened ;-)


Don't be frightened! You basically can't screw up cast iron. I mean, you can, but you just scrub the crepe out of it and start over. I think it's basically the best investment you can make in your kitchen because cast iron lasts forever.


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:58 pm 
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it's definitely going on the list im just trying to figure out the best option for me :-)

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:02 pm 
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Yeah, you really don't need to be frightened of cast iron. There are lots of ideas out there for how to make the ideally seasoned cast iron pan, but at the end of the day, for the lazier among us, all you need to know is to never use soap, oil your pan periodically, and never leave moisture on your cast iron for very long (I dry my cast iron on the stove over low-medium heat since air drying can take too long and may lead to rust). Also, even though they call it pre-seasoned, Lodge cast iron stuff fresh out of the box is a bit sticky for a while-- use more oil than you're used to and don't try pancakes until you're sure your pan is nice and seasoned.


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:09 pm 
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I'm pretty sure Lodge uses vegetable oil for their pre-seasoned skillets.

This link has all different size options:
http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L10SK3-12-I ... 00006JSUB/

I have something like this where you can use the skillet for a lid or as a skillet:
http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-LCC3-Logic- ... 0009JKG9M/

Dutch ovens are pretty great too:
http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-L8DOL3-Pre- ... 00063RWYI/

Oh and I really need lids but their skillets don't come with them. This is a glass lid option for the 10" and 12" skillets:
http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Inch-Temper ... 002R8JNSS/

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Last edited by linanil on Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:11 pm 
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I do suggest buying your cast iron in person, though. I've noticed that some have far more imperfections than others...I like to hang out in the store and rub them all to find the smoothest. I'm sure I don't look like a total weirdo or anything.

I've seen some recipes for breads and such that call for thermometers. I use the knock on the bottom method, but I guess there are always potential uses. Candy thermometers are fantastic if you ever want to make any confections. I also use it on the rare occasion I deep fry.


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:53 pm 
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One of my favorite kitchen items is our cutting board like this. It has all the benefits of wood (knife-friendly, more germ resistant than plastic), but it can go in the dishwasher.

As far as rice cookers go, they're not necessary, but they're nice if you eat rice often. You can completely ignore the rice once you put it in so you can concentrate on whatever else you're cooking on the stove. And they're actually easier to clean than a pot because the rice starch doesn't stick to the teflon coating.


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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:33 pm 
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I LOVE my rice cooker. Then again, I could eat rice at every meal. Very unusual to find a family anywhere in Hawaii that does not have a rice cooker...

Why? Just press a button and you have cooked rice in 25 minutes. Never burnt. And you can throw other stuff in too, to make like Garlic and Spice rice, or Curried rice.

Do you have some good silicone spatulas?

A cherry/olive pitter. Great if you want to make cherry pies in the summer. (yum!)

An ice cream machine!!! (of course, I'm a little biased. haha)

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:45 pm 
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Best cherry pitter: reusable hard plastic straw.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:33 am 
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Ooh, I'll have to try that.

What doesn't work well...chopstick. Yeah, my cherry pitter broke halfway through making a pie last year. Ugh!

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:41 am 
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I'm obsessed with my spiralizer/spiral slicer. You can find them in Asian markets. You can turn firm veggies like carrots, zucchini, etc. into nodes or ribbons. It's obviously not at all a kitchen necessity, but I'd say it's my favorite fun gadget.

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:59 am 
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we actually have an ice cream maker but i dont think we've used it since i became a vegan.
hmmmm....i guess i should remedy that!

thanks linanil for all the links. i will check them out today.

i have at least one friend who may part with an old cast iron pans rangers used to use in a Maine state park.
i just asked her if she is SURE they dont want it cause i dont want to take it unless they are sure but it would be pretty cool to have!

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 Post subject: Re: cooking gadgets for xmas (for me!)
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:58 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
Best cherry pitter: reusable hard plastic straw.


!!! That's such an awesome idea. I would have never thought of that. I'll have to keep it in mind if I decide to use fresh cherries for anything... usually I just eat them plain, though, because they're pretty pricey in these parts even in season.


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