It is always a challenge to rank favorite kitchen tools—how does one determine which is the favorite child of the week, most deserving of attention and praise? The Practical Cook bids a less than fond farewell to a tough week with a celebration of the simple, the unsung, and the high-end.
This one goes out to the kitchen heroes.
First, the simple. This is the Pampered Chef Citrus Peeler. While I would not even consider using this thing to zest, as a tool to draw a quick “X” on the end of a Clementine, or to lift the peel off of a stubborn orange, it’s unparalleled. It does one basic job, peel oranges, but it does it very well.
I inherited two from the Practical Cook’s Mom (thanks PCM!), and wouldn’t trade them for anything. They’re orange, like oranges, so when you’re exhausted you can still find them in your random kitchen tool drawer. Kids can use them, which means less whining while they peel their own, which means you can be doing other things. (A little peek into what post-school snack time looks like for the Practical Cook. There’s a team of small children with Citrus Peelers working away.)
The unsung hero of the Practical Cook’s kitchen is the ramekin. I own 14 of them. There, I said it. Don’t judge. Here’s the selection.
On the left, we have the yellow ramekin, most often used for cereal because TPC grew tired of throwing out bowl after bowl of soggy mess. Since the wee ones like crisp cereal, they can eat it in measured steps. And there are bees painted on the bottom, to encourage completion of the task. Any department store, or TJ Maxx, will have a nice selection of these.
In the middle, the more serious white ramekin, used to serve desserts like hot cobblers with a scoop of ice cream, great for personal-sized pot pies, fake french onion soup, eggs baked in tomato sauce, and the list goes on. Do not think ramekins require you to make creme brulee nonstop to justify their ownership. (Though I do own the torch to brulee with, I’ve never actually used it.)
On the right, the Le Creuset red ramekin, just because. These are great for making a small scoop of ice cream feel special, for sticky toffee pudding, or for making a crudite tray pop with color and vertical reach. To recap, ramekins are oven-safe, portion controlled, supercute power tools. Just buy a couple and see where it takes you. Of course, please submit all good ideas (with a picture) to practicalcook at gmail dot com.
And last, the Thermapen Instant Food Thermometer. I resisted for years because of the price, even while Cook’s Illustrated egged me on. I regret waiting. This is the brand that food inspectors use. It’s lightning fast, extremely accurate, and I wish I had a shoulder holster for mine. You just want to draw it like a Wild West gunslinger. (And yes, it was exactly 66 degrees in the Practical Cook’s kitchen at the moment the picture was taken.)
It’s Weekly Menu time again tomorrow! The weather is changing here, the spring CSA will start soon, and it’s time to start cooking a bit differently. Tune in to see what’s happening at the Practical Cook’s house.
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