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kitchen tools: stuff that just works!

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Jan. 31, 2011.

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If you’re short on counter space, get a range cover. Stainless is even better. Stuff that just works (from left): The Miracle Blade knife set is a good deal for the money. I got two sets for under $20 on-line. Stainless dry measuring cup set. Below that is a carbide knife sharpener—works well and is easy to use. Bulb baster, ice pick, measuring spoons, and kitchen brush—cheapos are fine and very handy. Invest in good stainless mixing spoon and spatula; the cheap plastic ones don’t last. Dial thermometers, cake spatulas, wire wisk, and the Swing-A-Way can opener (it’s the best).


Get an HDPE (high-density polyethelyne) cutting board and use a jig-saw to customize it for your sink. Note how I modified this one so that its drain grooves drain into the sink. Use a piece of non-slip shelf and drawer liner under it to keep it planted. Do not use wood cutting boards—they are hard on knives and they absorb bacteria. On that are the course and fine strainers, stick blender, oven mitts (silicone is best), and the “bug scrubber” sponge, available in the auto-parts stores.


SS Kitchen scissors—hang them on a tack and use them all the time for opening plastic packages. Cheap kitchen towels: 25 of them for $10 in Walmart auto-parts dep’t—use them for about a year then relegate them to the garage rag box. Wash separately—they do shed lint.


Here’s my collection of things to use in soaps. The little Braun coffee mill is great for pulverizing almost anything. Here we have powdered Mulling spice and dried orange peels. I now use a Krups coffee mill.


Store your fragrances and related tools in a sealed container, else they’ll stink up the house. Put wadded paper towels amongst the glass bottles.


A turkey baster and 2-ounce syringe ($3), a couple of smaller syringes; a little funnel; fragrances and natural exfoliants.


Here’s a decent collection of bread-making stuff. Forgot to show olive oil spray.


Get a stainless mixing bowl. This one is 8-quart and costs $8 + s/h.
I wish I had gotten one with higher sides.


Get a 1.5 liter glass canning jar, the kind with with a bail and seal. I keep my sourdough starter in it. Better than a crock, because it warms and cools faster, and lets you see the sides of your starter.


Let’s sterilize it in the microwave. Start by pinching the hinge and removing the lid…


Then remove the little keeper ring…


Now that it’s all apart, wash, rinse, and then…


put some water it it and microwave the non-metallic parts for a few minutes. Make sure the lid isn’t sealed! Handle with a cup-towel; dump the water, reassemble, and close. When the steam collapses, the jar will be sterile and vacuum-packed.


A good stainless steel steamer cooker. Good thing I inherited this old beauty, I’d never be able to afford it! Use the basket for soaking and rinsing beans; it makes a good colander as well as steamer.


A stainless colander—this one just happens to fit my pot. Great for thawing frozen vegetables in the sink, draining hot pasta, etc. Plastic ones are junk.


A commercial-quality stainless steel and cast-iron electric burner is handy for overnight simmering, and is a lot more versatile, and cheaper, than a dedicated electric skillet, wok, roaster, and slow cooker. Avoid the cheapo, 900-watt, unstable $25 models. This is a $65, 1500-watt burner with variable thermostat.


A digital kitchen scale is essential for soaping and precision baking. Don’t buy this model—it shuts off way too fast, and it uses a stupid watch battery. Get the KD8000 Scale by My Weight for a few dollars more. I now use the KD8000 and love it!


Kerosene lamps are handy for power failures, but they smell like a jet engine. Better, a Coleman propane lantern, with electric ignition. Test it periodically, and keep extra propane bottles and mantles handy. Store in an outbuilding.


Night gear for country dogs: Put a brass bell and an LED flashlight on an old collar.
Slip it on to let the dog out after dark. The bell and light help you keep track of the dog, and also alerts dangerous critters to the dog’s approach. The collar and bell are from TSC; the 9-LED light is 4 for $8 delivered ($2 each), on Ebay. Don’t get ripped off by last year’s LED flashlight prices! They are now cheap (if you shop), and last almost forever. I got 4 from Rollerpak.com, bought a 10-pack of AAA batteries, and put one in the house, one on the dog, one in the vehicle, and one in the workshop. Very handy.


So there you have it! I hope my little collection of tips will save you a bundle.

That’s the end of the bread articles for now. Please also see my homemade soap articles, amateur micrography, homemade video/photography accessories, and homemade antennas!

—Best Wishes, KV5R

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