Fantastic $13 set of accessories for using and cleaning your cast iron

These three tools are invaluable when cleaning up, or cooking with, your cast iron skillet.

This threesome of scraper, chainmail scrubber and a silicone hot-handle-holder is pretty great. I use all three of these tools frequently, and certainly paid more for them individually. The pot-handle and hard plastic scraper are wear items and will eventually be tossed, but the chainmail should outlast you.

Chainmail will not hurt your cast iron.

Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber XL 8x6, Cast-iron Cleaner + Silicone Hot Handle Holder via Amazon

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Fantastic $7 Victorinox paring knife

This $7 paring knife feels good in my hand, and unlike my other paring knives it is not lost.

In my home, paring knives disappear almost as frequently as socks and Apple Lightning cables. I was buying really cheap replacements at the dollar store, but they'd pretty much come apart in my dishwasher after a few cycles. This Victorinox will be lost long before it breaks.

Victorinox 3.25 Inch Paring Knife with Straight Edge, Spear Point, Black via Amazon Read the rest

These kitchen towels are cheap and good

Once a year or so I buy another dozen of these cotton kitchen towels to replace the stained ones (which go into the cleanup rags drawer). They're large (26 x 15 in.), absorbent and comfortable to use. They look really nice, too. At $11 for a dozen, they are a bargain, too. Read the rest

Silicone stretch lids

At my house, we've started storing leftovers in mason jars, glasses, and bowls. It's more convenient than buying separate food storage containers. To cover them, we use these silicone stretch lids. They even fit square shaped containers. Amazon has them on sale: 7 for $14. Read the rest

Electric carving knives for the holidays

My parents gave me a Hamilton Beach Electric Carving Knife about 10 years ago, and even though I use it just a couple of times a year, I'm glad I have it when I have to carve a large turkey. If you've never experienced the joy of using an electric knife, this is your chance. Amazon is selling it for $15, including the fork. Read the rest

Dig into hard ice cream with this pointy tip scoop

The old ice cream scoop we had wasn't really an ice cream scoop. It was a disher, and was more suited for scooping mashed potatoes than ice cream. When the trigger mechanism on it finally broke, I happily got rid of it and replaced it with the OXO Good Grips Solid Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop ($15). This surprisingly heavy scoop is made from a solid chunk of stainless steel with a comfortable rubber grip, and comes with a pointed end that digs right into hard ice cream, especially if you run hot water over it. It's supposedly dishwasher safe but why put it in the dishwasher? Just rinse it and dry it with a towel. Read the rest

Set of 3 mesh kitchen strainers for under $7

Amazon has a good deal on this set of fine mesh steel strainers today - $6.79 for three in different sizes. I bought them to replace the one we have that has a tear in the mesh and pokes my finger. Read the rest

Once you use this, you won't ever want another jar tool

The reason it's hard to open jar lids is because the vacuum seal is pulling the lid tightly against the jar. Once in awhile, the vacuum seal is so strong that I can't open it. That's when I grab my Jarkey, a $3 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 as a backup. My wife goes straight for the Jarkey, because she's smarter than I am. Read the rest

This crisper pan makes incredible sweet potato fries

Soon after I started using my Paderno vegetable slicer in 2015 to cut sweet potatoes into curls, I bought an oven crisper pan. This thing is great. Instead of drenching the slices in hot oil to fry them, I just put them in a bowl, add a bit of salt and olive oil and stir until the slices are lightly coated. Read the rest

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:

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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

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