Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Girl and Her Toys

Yesterday I posted a blog with the recipe for my raw candied yams and mentioned slicing the yams. I forgot to put in the post that the fun little gadget that I used to make all my yam slices uniform was a "mandolin" slicer. So this got me thinking about all the gadgets in my kitchen that I use and LOVE. As I have posted in the past, I am a gadget girl and thought it would be fun to showcase some of my "must have" tools. Here are my top 10.

This is my #1: the mandolin slicer. Mine is an OXO V-Slicer. It is, in my opinion, the very best slicer on the market and the one I used to make my candied yams. It is easy to use, easy to clean (everything goes into the dishwasher) and easy to abuse. Basically, "it takes a lickin and keeps on tickin". It will slice four different slice thicknesses as well as julienne and fry cuts. I literally cut an entire bag of yams in about 10 minutes. Seriously quick food prep.

And speaking of quick food prep, #2 is a food processor. My mother in law just gave me a Cuisinart 11 Cup processor and I LOVE it! I don't know how I ever lived without it. Thank you Ma! Of course, if you read my blog you know that I also LOVE the magic bullet, which is my #3, AND the makers of the magic bullet also came out with a food processor/juicer/high speed blender (check it out)! Speaking of blenders, # 4 is my Vitamix. This blender is the king of blenders! The motor is so powerful that it can cook... no joke, you can even make ice cream with it! Because of the powerful motor "pulverizing" whatever you put into it, whole fruit and vegetable smoothies come out perfectly with this machine. It even comes with a complete recipe book when you buy one. Impressive!

#5 on my list of kitchen favorites is relatively new, it's the Spirooli (pictured)! This gadget is really interesting in that it cuts things like zucchini and potatoes into pasta-like strings with two different string cuts and a wide curl cut. This one is just fun and again, takes seconds to use with clean up being a breeze.

My #6 is something that has become a very important part of my kitchen, but I'm not convinced that it really belongs in this "gadget" post.... Well, I'm gonna include it anyway! It's called a Nut Milk Bag. I use it to make almond milk as well as to sprout different grains. I had never even heard of it until last year when I began incorporating raw food into my diet. Once I got one (for around $5), it became one of the most used tools in my kitchen.

I can't talk about raw food without including my #7 gadget which is my food dehydrator. This thing is a necessity as well with raw food prep... remember my mock pumpkin pie??? So yummy!

#8 is my rice cooker. My rice cooker was a "cheap" rice cooker that I got on clearance from a store that was going out of business. I think I spent about $13 on it, but it turned out to be a treasure for my kitchen. There is nothing like throwing ingredients into a cooker, not having to monitor it, and returning to perfectly cooked rice every time. This thing is used at least twice a week and prepares brown rice and quinoa which are staples in my diet. It's also another time saving gadget as it came with two steamer racks. I throw some fresh veggies and left over chicken to re-heat onto the steamer racks that sit on top of the cooking rice for the last 15 minutes and I have an entire meal (healthy meal) in less than a half hour and dirtied one appliance. LOVE IT!

#9 is my flexible cutting mats. I got mine from IKEA for around $3 a piece. I bought four of them. They take up practically NO space to store, they are super light, and come in different colors so that I'm sure not to cut up veggies where I just cut up meat.

The last item on my top ten list is actually my superstar work horse. This gadget has saved me the most time and the most money. I have actually owned two of these over the years because the first one I owned got used till it broke. I have saved the very best for the very last. My #10 is my Food Saver. This little vacuum sealer gets used to vacuum seal large quantities of the staples I mentioned earlier so that I only have to cook once but have food for many meals. I also vacuum seal and freeze left overs right onto thick paper plates so that there is always a healthy "frozen dinner" in the freezer when I'm needing something quick to fix. Just recently I ate three year old Rosemary Chicken (thank goodness I have always dated my food saver bags) that was vacuum sealed and frozen; it tasted like I made it last week. It was one of those things that fell to the bottom of the freezer (stand up freezer). I wondered how it would really taste after all this time in storage, so I popped the unopened freezer bag into a pot of boiling water for ten minutes. It was surprisingly great! My husband kept an eye on me throughout the day though to make sure that I didn't get sick. Hahahahaha! Don't lie, you would have tried it too!!! I'm tellin you, it tasted great! This wonderful gadget is going to get even more work as I'm going to be fixing 30 meals in three days and freezing them. This should be tons of fun! And I bet I will be using every last one of these incredible gadgets for that project! LOL!

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