Still my favorite way to smash garlic into little juicy bits

I've yet to find a hinged garlic press that I love. The ones I've tried are inefficient, fragile (especially the hinge, which inevitably fails), and not that easy to clean. I end up having to peel the unused garlic from the inside of the press, and my fingers stink for days. Everyone has their opinion about crushing garlic - my top choice is Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Crusher, Press, and Mincer ($12). I've had it for over two years and I use it almost daily. Read the rest

This butcher's twine dispenser helps keep things in place

This stand stops my spool of kitchen twine from rolling off the counter.

Years ago I bought a loose spool of kitchen twine. My cat constantly knocks it off the counter. I finally finished that spool, and replaced it with this spool on a stand!

Seriously a spool of thread lasts so long that I want a stand for it. I like to keep it on the counter, and not in a drawer. I do not like it on the floor. I don't like it rolling around.

Thoughtfully, this stand even has a string cutter on top!

Regency Cooking Butcher's Twine on Handy Dispenser with Cutter for Meat Prep and Trussing Turkey via Amazon Read the rest

The $6 Ikea milk frother is terrific

I have a nice espresso machine (a Rancilio Silvia) but I hate using the frother to make foamed milk for my cappuccino drinking guests. On our last trip to Ikea I bought this battery-powered milk frother. Wow, is it great. It whips up milk to a voluminous foam in a matter of seconds. It also makes matcha, cocoa, and butter-coffee with ease. Just stick the business end into the mug and turn on the switch. It's better, quieter and cheaper than one of those blender sticks. Amazon sells them for $6 including shipping. It takes 2AA batteries (not included). Read the rest

Good deal on my favorite measuring spoons

I bought this set of snap-nesting measuring spoons in 2015 and they are my favorite set. Each spoon is two-sided. There's a round side for liquids and a narrow side for spice jars. It's on sale right now as an Amazon Prime add-on item for $5. Read the rest

I like my cutting boards that can be sterilized in a microwave

I bought this 3-pack of Enviroboard Microwavable Sterilization Antibacterial Cutting Board in 2015 for $35. They're on sale now for $24. Read the rest

My favorite knife sharpener

I've tried a few different kitchen knife sharpeners (including this Cook's Illustrated recommended sharpener) and my favorite is the KitchenIQ Edge Grip 2 Stage Knife Sharpener. It's only $6 on Amazon, but it has held up splendidly since I bought it in early 2015. It's got a corner-shaped groove that fits into a kitchen counter edge, which prevents slipping. It gives my favorite cheap kitchen knife (the $12 Winco Acero 8-inch chef's knife) a keen edge. I use the coarse sharpening groove (I can see tiny shards of metal coming off the knife) if the fine groove isn't doing the trick.

Here's a demonstration of sharpener:

I also use a sharpening steel to keep the knife edge straight every time I'm about to cut food: Read the rest

World's best jar lid opener

The reason it's hard to open jar lids is because the vacuum seal is pulling the lid tightly against the jar. Once in a while, the vacuum seal is so strong that I can't open it. That's when I grab my Jarkey, a $6 plastic lever that effortlessly breaks the seal, making it easy to open. I always try to open jars with my bare hands, then use the Jarkey after I strain my wrist. My wife goes straight for the Jarkey, because she's smarter than I am. Read the rest

One of our favorite kitchen items: restaurant taco holders

American Metalcraft makes restaurant equipment, but you can buy these all-metal taco holders for home use on Amazon. The have a model that holds 2 tacos, and another that holds 3. We use them at least once a week, and love them. Who on earth wants a taco shell sitting on its side, disgorging its contents on the plate? Not me. Read the rest

Grease splatter screen for frying pans

I used my grease splatter screen last night while frying tomatoes and garlic in oil. The food was sizzling and popping, but the screen kept my shirt, range, and countertop splatter-free. This screen also comes with a couple of pan scrapers as a free bonus. Available from Amazon for $12. Read the rest

I'm cooking everything I can think of in my Fagor multicooker

I got the Fagor Stainless-Steel 3-in-1 6-Quart Multi-Cooker ($95 on Amazon) in 2013 and I use it 3-4 times a week. It's a combo pressure cooker/rice cooker/slow cooker. I don't use the slow cooker often, but I use the rice cooker and pressure cooker all the time. It makes fantastic chicken broth from a carcass in 20 minutes.

Unlike most pressure cookers it has an electric browning feature, which lets you brown beef, fish, or chicken right in the pot before you pressure cook it, greatly improving the flavor.

The throw-everything-in-the-pot-and-push-a-button approach has broadened my cooking horizons. I’ve made rib roast in the slow cooker that had my in-laws coming back for thirds. I’ve made mouth-watering chicken stuffed with sun-dried tomato pesto, basil and goat cheese in a matter of minutes. I’ve made salmon with spinach and lemon sauce, fennel and Italian sausage, creamy risotto, and spicy Bolognese sauce. Thanks to an online army of pressure-cooker devotees, I’ll never run out of recipes.

The only negative thing about the Fagor is that the user interface doesn’t make it clear when it is cooking. A couple of times I’ve set the timer and forgotten to press the start button, only to find out twenty minutes later that it never started. I’ve learned not to do that. Read the rest

Kitchen tongs that close with a little tab

I like these stainless steel tongs because you can lock them closed by pulling on a small metal tab. That makes them easy to store and put in a dishwasher. I bought the set of two (9-inches and 12-inches) for $9 on Amazon. It includes a silicon mat that can be used as a drip mat or hot-pot insulator. Read the rest

My favorite garlic crusher

I use this rocker garlic crusher several times a week. To use it, you just put a peeled clove of garlic under the crusher and rock the crusher over it a few times. It will smash the garlic through the holes, which you can then add to your food or skillet. When you are done, you can rub the stainless steel rocker underwater and "wash" your hands to remove the garlic smell from your skin. I like using this a lot more than a traditional garlic press, which seems to "juice" garlic more than mince it, as this rocker does. It's $15 on Amazon and will last forever. Here's a cheaper version (which I have not tried): Read the rest

Great set of dish towels on sale

I bought this set of 13 kitchen towels on Amazon in July. They've held up well, and do a good job of absorbing water. At $15 for 13 towels, they are not expensive to replace, but I haven't even started to think about getting a new set. Read the rest

Good, inexpensive silicone kitchen sink strainer

I like almost everything OXO makes. This silicone kitchen sink strainer ($8) was a welcome replacement for the wire mesh one we had, because some of the wires had broken. Those little protruding wires hurt when they poke your finger. The OXO strainer is made of soft silicone and that won't hurt you. To clean the collect food debris, just pop the cup inside out in the trash. One reviewer on Amazon said it is still in good condition after four years of use.

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Good deal on Cuisinart 15-piece stainless steel knife set

I bought this knife set in May 2014 for $80 and use it many times a day. It's held up well and will last many more years. The knives are one-piece, with hollow steel handles. It comes with kitchen shears, a honer, and a heavy duty block. Right now Amazon is selling it for $46, which is a great deal. Also, after trying many sharpeners, this one is my favorite. Read the rest

Good deal on the FryDaddy electric deep fryer

I paid $22 for my FryDaddy electric deep fryer, but it's on sale on Amazon for $17 (free Prime shipping) right now. This thing is awesome -- I use it a couple of times a week to fry sweet potato, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts chips. (Here's the coconut oil I use with it.)

Lately I've been frying very thinly cut slices of butternut squash. It's a bit tricky, because for five minutes it doesn't look like anything is happening, then suddenly the slices begin to brown, and about a minute later, they start to burn. There's a 30-second window where they are perfectly browned and on the edge of being crispy and chewy. With a little salt, they are one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten. I'll shoot a video soon.

Read the rest

Adjustable thickness rolling pin for perfect crusts and pasta

I bought this adjustable thickness rolling pin for my mother last year and she told me it is excellent. I just bought one for our home, too. It's a long wooden rolling pin with removable discs of different diameters so you can make dough 1/16, 1/6, 1/4, or 3/8-inch thick. Or don't use any rings and roll bareback. It's $16 on Amazon.

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