Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Gadgets in the Kitchen

When I was really sick before, I started collecting gadgets that helped me do daily tasks with a little less effort.

At the time my daughter said I was becoming too gadget-dependent, and I pointed out that if she ever hoped to leave home I should be dependent on gadgets and not on the kids. Then she started looking out for gadgets with me.

I thought I'd like to share with you some of my favourite kitchen gadgets. Because I love cooking (and I love cooking because I love eating) these get a lot of use.

The big plastic hook..
.I can't remember its real name.
I tend to lurk around the kitchen shops looking for those great finds that cost very little, but make a huge difference to my life.

One of these is a big plastic hook. I'm sure it had a "proper" name, but I can't remember what that is.  It opens those ring-pull cans. You know the ones. They're supposed to be easier to open because you don't need a can opener.

If you're like me, you find those cans a problem, because you have to be able to lift the little ring in the first place, and then have hands strong enough to pull it forward and then peel the can lid back.

The hook can be pushed under the ring with less effort than trying to get fingers under it. Then it's a matter of rocking the hook forwards to break the seal and back to peel off the lid.

The handle is easy to grip with my whole hand, so I'm not relying on just a couple of fingers, and the hook shape means that I don't need to use a lot of force to peel the lid back from the can. This bit of plastic can save a lot of frustration in the kitchen.

Jar key.
Another great gadget is the "Jar Key". This helps to loosen the lids on jars.

Most things to help open jars, work on turning the lid. This one works by helping to break the initial seal. It hooks under the edge of the lid, then it's a matter of gently lifting enough to allow some air into the jar. The safety button on the lid pops up and the jar is suddenly easy to open.

Again, it has a nice long and flat handle, easy to hold, and is designed so it takes the minimum of effort to use - something absolutely essential on days when my hands are not working properly.

As for cost, I bought this about three years ago, so I'm not entirely sure, but I think I paid less than $5 at my local Robin's Kitchen.

Sometimes, just holding a piece of equipment differently
makes a difference.
Some days, simple things like holding a vegetable peeler or a vegetable brush can hurt.

Here's an alternative - instead of the traditional small handle, these have a loop to go over the finger. I hold my peeler or my vege brush in the palm of my hand.

The technique takes a little bit of getting used to - but I find that even my daughter now prefers these to the traditional ones that are left lying unused at the back of the drawer now.

From memory, they were slightly more expensive than the "normal" versions - but not by much at all,   and they have proved their value for several years.

Staysharp scissors, a can opener with an easy grip.
and a gadget to help turn lids.
One of my most used gadgets is my pair of staysharp kitchen scissors.  I now use scissors for a lot of things I used to use a knife for. Scissors cut up herbs, meat and vegetables, provided they are thin enough. They have a really good grip, so are easy to use, and the case/sharpener means that they're always ready to use and perform well.

Another useful gadget to have is the kind of can opener that has big handles. It's easy to hold and easy to use.

The other object in this picture, I'm sure has a name, but I don't know what it is. The idea is that it helps grip the lids of bottles and jars to make them easier to turn. I have needed to use this for small bottle lids once or twice, but find for jars, the Jar Key is far easier.

The ultimate gadget: Kenwood Chef.

Of all my kitchen gadgets, my favourite is not something I picked up for a couple of dollars at the kitchen shop.

For my birthday last year, Mr Wonderful gave me a Kenwood Chef. (Yes, he was very good to me.)

There's lots of attachments that I want to save up for to go with this, but even the ones that came with it have made an amazing difference to my life. The standard equipment included a hook for kneading dough. Gluten-free bread that tastes good is hard to find, and the best is home-made. The dough hook does the kneading my hands and wrists no longer can do - meaning I can still have my home-made breads. The whisk attachment does what I used to be able to do with a hand whisk - only much faster and better. The other attachments also make a world of difference to the basic tasks of cooking.  And the plastic splash guard means that I don't have a mess in my kitchen from the ultra fine gluten free flour being spread around.

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