This is going to cost you a good 20 bucks ($16 at Bed Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon) but it lasts forever and is very useful. It is does not absorb anything and virtually nothing sticks to it. Whether you are baking cookies or roasting chicken breasts, it will never absorb the taste or flavor of what you are cooking.
Picture this: You are making my Island Chicken recipe and the glaze bakes onto the pan. You could do one of two things: Spend long tedious amounts of time soaking, scraping, and scrubbing your pan OR pick up the SILPAT and peel the glaze right off, leaving your pan and the SILPAT completely clean. You pick.
Bamboo Cooking Utensils
I have slowly phased out my traditional wooden spoons and bought more bamboo utensils. First of all, bamboo is a more environmentally friendly product. Second of all, you will be able to see and feel the difference between bamboo and a regular wooden spoon. It has a smoothness to it and it completely resists staining and cracking/splintering. I'm not sure if you are supposed to put bamboo in the dishwasher, but I certainly do and my utensils are holding up great.
You can buy bamboo utensils in stores that sell kitchen tools. You can also order them from a Pampered Chef consultant. I have both kinds and much prefer the Pampered Chef ones. My sister is a Pampered Chef consultant if anyone needs to order any of their products.
A food mill is a fairly underused kitchen tool. It was used back in the day as a manual way to puree food. My Dad always says that his family used one to make applesauce. I first saw one in use on the Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa. The host of the show, Ina Garten (more on her in a later post), was talking about how useful it is to make mashed potatoes. I thought I would try one and went to Bed Bath and Beyond (with my 20% off coupon, of course) and picked one up for less than $20. It takes about a minute to figure out what you are doing and then it's very easy to use. It comes apart and goes directly into the dishwasher. When you are mashing or pureeing food, it helps you achieve a unique texture. I'll admit that I don't pull my food mill out everyday, but I am always pleased with the results when I decide to use it.
I have the one in the picture on the left. Although it works perfectly fine, if I were able to get another one, I would buy the one in the picture on the right. Mine sits down in the bowl whereas the other one sit above the bowl. Sometimes I find that if I'm using mine to process a lot of food, I have to do it in batches because it fills up the bowl and the food mill gets in the way. If the food mill sits on top of the bowl, you don't run in to that problem.
Ok, I think three tools is enough to start with today...I'll add more as I think of them. I'd like to end with four more things I cannot be without in my kitchen. These items are far more expensive than the items above, but are of excellent quality and will last a long time.
1. KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer
2. Cuisinart Prep 11 cup Food Processor
3. Calphalon Contemporary Non-Stick Cookware
4. Henckels Knives