Tuesday’s Top 5 – Kitchen Gadgets I may need

I recently saw the film High Fidelity, again.   I have previously read the novel (back in my childless days when I actually read…sigh….) and really enjoyed it.  For those of you who haven’t read or seen it the main character is a lover of lists.  You know the sort of thing; Top 10 favourite gigs of all time, Top 10 actresses with moles on their left thigh and so on (actually I made these up – I can’t remember what the lists were precisely, only that there were lists – lots of them, which is the salient point here anyway.)  Like the characters in High Fidelity I too like lists (fortunately I don’t share too many of their other attributes although I suspect we are all nerds….) and so in honour of Nick Hornby’s novel I am embarking on a series of posts called Tuesday’s Top 5.  Every Tuesday I plan on posting a Kitchen/Gardening related Top 5.

To kick things off I bring you my first Top 5 for 2012:

Gadgets I think I may need for my kitchen 

  1. When Dancing with Frogs mentioned her Thermomix I had to look up what it was.  As soon as I did I knew I had to have one.  How could you not desire a product which according to its own website:   “is the most advanced kitchen appliance on the market today and is without rival.  The product of more than 40 years of German design and innovation, Thermomix unites the functions of over 10 appliances in one compact unit. Thermomix will amaze you with its ability to chop, beat, mix, whip, grind,        knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir, steam and weigh food.”  I don’t know about you but I generally enjoy being amazed by a product’s functionality – all too often I am amazed by my own stupidity in yet again purchasing a piece of crap that falls apart after being used twice (or sits in the cupboard for 10 years after being used once).  Could this be different?
  2. A Salad Spinner – I don’t own a salad spinner and I often have wet lettuce as a result. This largely due to my habit of deciding to have salad the moment before actually making it.   My leaves always seem to need washing  – if they aren’t mud splattered then I have just given them a dose of seaweed fertiliser and if I’ve learnt one thing growing vegetables it is: always wash your lettuce after giving it seaweed emulsion!
  3. Delonghi - ESAM5600 - Perfecta Coffee MachineA Coffee Grinder & Coffee Machine  I actually already own a coffee grinder but I use it for spices and although I enjoy Chai Latte I’m not sure it works as well with coffee as it does with tea…..Surely every good Suburbanite should be grinding their own coffee, and embarrassingly I don’t.  I either buy it ground or better yet go out for coffee.  Neither of these help that much when one is in the presence of discerning guests (actually this rarely happens – most of my guests are of the more laid back variety which is fortunate given the state of my floors – but someday they may be less obliging.)  I make the coffee I drink at home in a plunger with milk heated in the microwave (this is probably why I enjoy going out for coffee so much).  Over Christmas I finally worked out how to use my parents coffee machine and I have to say it was good, not as good as the O’Hea St Bakery’s, but pretty good – I think steaming the milk rather than nuking it helps considerably…..
  4. Photo 2 of Microplane Ribbon Grater - Medium - BlackA Microplane -I got fairly addicted to the Australian Masterchef TV show- particularly the first two series – this years got a bit tedious (although it was still loved by my 5 year old).  During those first two series (and possibly the latest one) the chefs seemed to be reaching for their microplanes every other minute.  Yes I know its product placement but I am a sucker for advertising (as you will have already realised from Number 1 of this Top 5) and they did seem really useful…….  I should point out that I do possess a perfectly functional grater so can I really justify the additional use of the earths resources?
  5. Preserving Jars – In the early 80’s my parents moved us from Melbourne to the country (although still within easy reach of the metropolis) and embarked on an quasi attempt at self sufficiency.  Other than dying wool with Eucalyptus leaves before spinning it, this self sufficiency seemed (through the eyes of a 10 year old) to mostly revolve around preserving things in Fowlers Jars.  Unfortunately my mother got rid of her Fowlers jars before I saw the ‘need to preserve’ light (incidently I think she would secretly like them back) and I am now left to put my jam in old jam jars and bottle my tomato passata in stubbies (375ml beer bottles).  This is all very good and recycling oriented of me but I can’t help but envy all those beautiful Mason jars I see on the US blogs.

Do you own any of the above devices?  I would love to hear about how fabulous/essential you think they are!  What are the most essential devices in your kitchen?   Are they more things I should be covetting.  Alternatively if you too would like to vent your inner nerd then please feel free to join me with a Tuesday Top 5 post.  If you write one then let me know and I will put a link to it in next weeks post.

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28 Responses to Tuesday’s Top 5 – Kitchen Gadgets I may need

  1. Robin says:

    I have a cheap plastic salad spinner, which I use on occasion. I also have a coffee grinder that I don’t use to grind coffee. It gets used to grind herbs and I buy coffee already ground. We do have an Espresso Machine which can be used to steam milk. But, we usually just use it for making Espresso which is used in our Espresso Martinis!! We have two microplanes. They are very useful in the kitchen. Canning jars… jeeze I have hundreds of them! Many of them have been given to me or picked up at a yard sale, flea market or auction and are older then me!

    • Liz says:

      Espresso Martinis? Now that I want to try! So a vote for a microplane and for canning jars then. I love the idea of canning jars older than you are, I wonder what has been in them over the years.

  2. Norma Chang says:

    Question mark on the Thermomix, I would do some serious research before getting one. Yes to all the others. I own a microplane but cannot say I get my money’s worth, the truth is I keep forgetting that I have one.

    • Liz says:

      Very good idea – to be honest there’s no way I can afford to get a Thermomix in the foreseeable future but a girl can dream (and research) in the meantime. I’m glad I’m not the only one who forgets to use things….

  3. We haven’t any of the things on your list – I did have a salad spinner years ago but hardly ever used it.

    Wouldn’t be without our breadmaker which we use every other day. I also find my stick blender very useful especially when making soups. We bought a large maslin pan when we were into jam making which we no longer do but it is extremely useful just as a large pan when there are lots of vegetables to cook for freezing like red cabbage.

    Our food processor is also very well used, we bought a mandolin last year which would be very useful if I could be bothered to set it up and wash it after use.

    I guess none of the above are exactly new or trendy though!

    • Liz says:

      That’s alright I’m not new or trendy either. My mother has a breadmaker which she uses most days but I have very little cupboard space to put one in as much as I’d love to own one. I do have a stick blender which I use a lot too, and a food processor which I also use, in fact I probably under utilise it as it has bits and pieces I’ve never attached to it. Mandolins scare me a little – I can see myself taking the tops of my fingers off. I do like the idea of a decent Jam pan. The list gets a little longer….

  4. Mark Willis says:

    We have two of the gadgets you mention: salad-spinner (cheap plastic one, but does the job well and is used several times a week), and Microplane grater (good but not THAT much better than other graters). I use coffee beans and a dedicated coffee-grinder (we have another one the same, used for spices), and make my coffee in a cafetiere. You can pay a lot of money for one of those big coffee machines (which take up a lot of space) and I suspect there are lots of things that could go wrong with them. I too would have some reservations about the Thermomix multi-functional device.

    • Liz says:

      Somehow I knew you’d be civilised and grind your own coffee. I suspect the cafetiere is probably a good option for me too as my bench space is pretty limited (much more limited than my desire for consumer goods it would seem).

  5. Frogdancer says:

    Liz, I’m not sure but I think they thermomix can brew coffee. (I know it can grind the beans, but I’m pretty sure I read someone raving about the coffee they made in their thermomix.)
    I’m still learning how to drive it… (we made a beautiful juice last night, pulp, seeds and all that was smooth and delicious… my skeptic son made it and he was reluctantly pleased!…)
    I also have an el-cheapo salad spinner that I bought at Spotlight for around $10 a couple of years ago. It’s one of those things that I don’t use for much of the year, but when I need it I’m very glad I have it.

  6. Becky says:

    Let’s see, I got a few of the gadgets that I thought I needed but there is always more(meat grinder, meat slicer and vegetable slicer):

    I need a grain mill
    I would love to have an oil extractor (not the mechanics kind the one that gets oil from seeds).
    a bigger canner mine is the smallest I have seen
    a smoker (ok, so this won’t technically be in the kitchen) but they do have some nice small ones.
    I wouldn’t mind a “manual” coffee grinder and blender

    • Liz says:

      How did I forget a meat grinder? – I was having a look at a couple at the Tip Shop the other day but they were missing parts so I refrained from purchase. Happy Acres was just writing about making bread from grain he milled himself and I have to say I super impressed. An oil extractor sounds very cool too. I’d never even thought to covet a smoker but now that you mention it….What do you plan on smoking?

  7. L says:

    I have a Zyliss salad spinner that I use almost constantly (last time about 30 minutes ago in fact). I also use my microplane often, but I think it’s getting blunt from overuse. I bought a huge lot of second hand Fowler’s jars on ebay, and I’ve been happy with them, but personally I will only use them for preserves that we will be using ourselves, like passata and whole tomatoes. Screw top jars are so much more practical for gifting.
    I received all of my ‘must have’ kitchen gadgets for Christmas this year (very spoilt, I was). These were:
    1. KitchenAid stand mixer (Candy Apple Red, very sparkly! )
    2. La Chasseur cast iron dutch oven
    3. Food dehydtrator

    The only other thing I’m wanting now is the food strainer attachment for the KitchenAid. Does passata like a dream.

    • Liz says:

      Santa was very kind to you! You must have behave far better than me during the year…he he he…actually I really liked me presents but I can believe I forgot to put a stand mixer in my Top 5, and I’d want red too. Do you think Santa would take kindly to a complaint? The Dutch oven and food dehydrator are also extremely exciting – I’m definitely looking forward to a dehydrating post.

  8. I try not to think to much about all the things I want, small kitchen and few cupboards means there’s just no room for too many new bits and pieces. Though I must admit I had to look up the thermomix thingy too after reading Frogdancers blog posts recently (I also covet her solar oven). We’re also a wet salad family so a salad spinner would be nice. Can’t say I’ve thought too much about a microplane, though probably will now. We’re not coffee drinkers so that’s not an issue here, but I’m with you on the preserving jars. How nice would it be to make jams etc and have them all in the same jars – so pretty sitting up in the cupboard.

    I do have a mouli which I love. Grates up veggies, cheese etc in a flash and means I don’t need to lug out the processor for just a small amount. It’s also fantastic to ricing potato for gnocchi. The other gadget I love is my new(ish) stick blender with all its attachments (‘big foot’ for soup, masher for the creamiest, smoothest mashed vegetables, whisk for cream or eggwhites, mini processor etc).

    • Liz says:

      I love my stick blender plus attachments too! I don’t have any cupboard space either so many of these things will have to wait until I redo the kitchen (a pipe dream, rather than a foreseeable event). Given all the positive salad spinner related feedback I think I may find space for one of those, ditto the microplane. One thing I did think on is that even if I don’t get new preserving jars perhaps I will make my own labels (on the computer naturally – I cant draw to save my life) and then even if the jars aren’t uniform the labels will be.

  9. Anna says:

    I have some your favourite gadgets, but not the Thermomix or Fowler Jars. I made jam once with our apricots, and it took a long time to clean off every little black spot (I like my jam to be free of them) and it’s preserved perfectly in old jam jars. I have just about every gadget in my kitchen and I make use of them all. The thing I’d love to have but don’t know how much use I’d get is a food dehydrator.

    You definitely need a salad spinner. I couldn’t live without one now. We have salad from our garden every night even in winter when we grow a winter lettuce.

    • Liz says:

      Sold – I will get a salad spinner as soon as I get to a shop with them. Food dehydrators seem to be very popular at the moment – well on the veggie gardening blogs anyway, and they do sound really interesting….I think I’m up to Top 8 now…..

  10. The mandoline has a guard (a sort of handle thingy) so fingers and blade are kept apart

  11. Jo says:

    Love my microplane, mainly for parmesan cheese.
    LOVE my coffee machine and grinder, could not imagine how awful life would be without them.

  12. leduesorelle says:

    Great idea for a weekly post! If you could get only one of those 5, my vote would be the salad spinner. I can’t imagine having a garden or cooking in general without one. Actually, I have the one pictured and use it literally every day. The bowl goes out to the garden with me, and doubles as a gathering basket. The steel bowl is nice and deep, and serves multi-prupose — especially useful for icing vege down after blanching.

    • Liz says:

      Excellent – sold on the salad spinner – I do like the look of that particular one – and now that I know it has multi-purposes I really should get one…. (hopefully I can find it in Australia)…..

  13. Andrea says:

    Mmmm i remember my first visit to O’Hea st Bakery ( theres been many) luckily my children rent just around the corner so if theres nothing in their cupboards for breakfast its a good excuse to drop-in.
    My favorite all time kitchen “helpers” collection of wooden spoons, chopping boards and glass mixing bowls.
    I love preserving bottles and have a great collection which i tend to use for flowers or foliage displays and use everyday screw top jars for fruit/jam/pickles.
    Love my salad spinner(even hubby uses it) and i have a lovely new grater with a olive wood handle brought all the way home from Assissi.
    Terracotta oven top pots my mum brought me over 25years ago still are used and make the most lovely slow cooked meals.

    • Liz says:

      I love that you bought your grater in Assissi – its nice when functional items have some kind of provenance. Since everyone is saying I need a salad spinner I think that will definitely be my first purchase.

  14. Dave says:

    We do have a salad spinner, coffee grinder and microplane in the kitchen. I use them regularly. The #1 gadget on my list is the instand read thermometer. I bought a Thermapen a couple of years ago and love it!

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