Monday, December 4, 2017

Around the Kitchen + holiday book #giveaway

⛄⛄⛄⛄⛄  Happy Holidays!   ⛄⛄⛄⛄⛄

We have a terrific holiday 
book giveaway for you! 

But first...

What kitchen utensil can’t you live without?

From Daryl:

I use lots of pots and pans, and I love my mini sauté pan, and I adore my 9x9 square pans - I use them all the time - but the one tool I couldn't live without is my food processor. I have a basic Black & Decker (not the fancy Cuisinart kind). It has been with me for a good 20 years. I love how it chops zucchini and carrots for all my hearty gluten-free breads. I've used it to mince nuts and onions for stews and soups. I use it to whirr together flour and butter mixtures for my pastries. It made a huge difference regarding the consistency in some of my cookies and such. It's noisy as all get-out, but I would be lost without it.   😭😰💔


From: Sheila: If you saw my kitchen area you'd know I have a serious addiction to kitchen gadgets, a lot of them vintage. I agree with Daryl--a food processor is essential, and I burned out the motor of my first one after twenty years and immediately replaced it. But if I were stuck on a desert island (with a food supply, of course), the most important thing I'd want is a really good knife. Too many people slog through life with dull knives that are too big or too small and simply can't be sharpened. Then they wonder why they hate cooking, because it's so hard to slice and dice all that stuff. A good knife needs to be long enough to slice meat or bread, but not so long that you can't peel and apple or a potato. It has to feel right to you, and you have to be able to sharpen it. I bought my first "real" knife in Paris during college (a carbon steel Sabatier with an eight-inch blade) and it served me well for years--with it I cooked that dorm Thanksgiving dinner I mentioned in an earlier post. (P.S. I have a lot more knives now!)


LESLIE: I'm guessing we all share a love of kitchen gadgets, along with our fondness for food, cooking, and writing cozy mysteries. Mr. Right came to our marriage with a 2-cup Cuisinart chopper; it's no substitute for the big workhorse, but it's great for making pesto, chopping walnuts for muffins, and other quick kitchen tasks. And it's become our go-to wedding gift. A former boyfriend gave me a set of Henckel knives that have served me well for decades. But I am seriously addicted to spatulas and turners. My favorite was a simple Rubbermaid with a curved edge on both sides; it split, and tossing it was painful. I haven't found an exact copy, though I do love the several silicone replacements that have made their way to our kitchen drawers! (A few favorites are pictured, and yes, I do love red!)

Erin speaks for me in this exchange from Treble at the Jam Fest, when she drops in to the music shop in search of clues:
"“’Course, a music guy can never have too many guitars,” Rocco added. “Like Adam and his skis and kayaks.”
Every obsession has its equivalent. Woe to anyone who counted my spatulas."



Well, there's nothing unique about me, obviously!  I, too, cherish my Cuisinart and, like Sheila, burned out the motor on the first one (first wedding present) and got a new one as a second wedding present!  I also cherish my Sabatier knife with its carbon steel blade like Sheila.  And, like Leslie, I have a mini Cuisinart for chopping herbs and smaller amounts of ingredients.

One truly strange thing that I suppose I could live without but which I use virtually every day is meant for scraping pastry off the counter but I don't think I've ever used it for that.  I use it to scoop up chopped onions, garlic, carrots or whatever item I've chopped to transfer them from the cutting board to the pot on the stove.  It was a first wedding present which means it's now a whopping (hang on while I do the math...) 43 years old!! 


LUCY: Count me in as a fan of the food processor too. Last year I had my blade recalled--they had discovered the possibility that shards of metal could fly off into the batter or onions or whatever. Quelle catastrophe! I knew it would be a while before I'd receive a replacement, but what to do in the meanwhile? Hand chop everything or risk a few shards? Not telling my answer...

Other than that, the utensil we use all the time is this little grater. It makes beautiful shreds of Parmesan, but also does zesting in an instant. Perfect stocking stuffer!


KRISTA: I'm so predictable. For me, it would be my handy dandy KitchenAid mixer. It's a bright red, which is fun. But the best part is the power for batters, doughs, and frostings. I use it to make mashed potatoes, too!

Next would be my Thermapen. I went through cooking thermometer after cooking thermometer. Seriously, some of them died after one use! I was wasting $20 to $30 a pop on them, and they never lived longer than a few months. The Thermapen isn't cheap at $99 (look for it on sale), but I use it constantly and it's still alive after five or six years. Plus, it has made a huge difference in the meat I cook. I can be spot on now. No more guessing whether it's cooked to the right temperature. I always use it for steaks. It's dead on. It's useful for candies and frostings, too. Love that thing!

And lastly, I use a cookie spatula a lot. It's softer than other spatulas, almost flexible. The end is super thin to get under delicate items without tearing them. Don't try it on a heavy casserole or you'll end up with a mess, but I love it for delicate eggs (no breaking soft yolks) and cookies.


LINDA: I love, love, love my hand blender...sometimes called a stick blender, a wand blender or an immersion blender depending on who you're talking to. Whatever, it's my trusty kitchen aid for so many things. I love smoothies, especially for breakfast on the mornings when I'm going to a fitness
class. I just toss the fruit and almond milk into a container, and the blender does all the work. It's also great for my Christmas morning specialty, Norwegian pancakes, which may not be an accurate name but it's stuck after all these years. They're very crepe-like and the blender handles that with panache. I also like that it's red. Krista, I agree, splashes of color are so much fun in the kitchen.

CLEO: Given what we write, Marc and I are often asked what kind of coffee maker we use. Today we can tell you because it's also the gadget we couldn't live without (so to speak)!

We have three coffee makers in our kitchen. The first is our stovetop (Moka Express) espresso maker. The other two are drip coffee makers, which we chose for two reasons. Both are good value for money. And both have a cone-shaped filter (a better choice, for many reasons, than a flat-bottom filter). The larger of our two drip coffee makers is a Cuisinart with a fun retro design. The smaller is the budget-friendly Black & Decker Brew 'n Go, which brews just two cups directly into a thermal mug. We constantly use both of them, and they've held up well to our heavy use. We're not pod users because we're always sampling different beans and blends and prefer to grind the coffee fresh, right before brewing, which truly does give you the best-tasting cuppa Joe!
Cleo's Coffee-Marinated Steak 
For the recipe, click here.
So there you have it, our favorite gadgets, along with a recipe that makes great use of their byproduct: Coffee-Marinated Steak. May you...

Drink and eat with joy!

~ Cleo



For this December "Around the Kitchen" fun we're giving away to one winner an MLK TOTE BAG plus a BOOK FROM EACH OF US.

Jingle, jingle, JOY! 

Leave a comment about what you're stuffing your stockings with this year, 
and remember to leave your email so we can contact you if you win.