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Mr. Bar-B-Q Stainless Steel Grilling Skillet

Summer is finally here again and that means grilling! I recently bought this Mr. Bar-B-Q Stainless Steel Grilling Skillet and so far I am in love with it! It is stainless steel, as opposed to common non-stick versions which tend to loose their coating over time. As long as I allow the skillet to get hot before adding whatever I am grilling, I have not had any trouble with sticking. In addition, the skillet has a removable handle that is super easy to take on and off. Perfect! I use it to grill vegetables and seafood. No more having to soak skewers for shrimp and scallops. No more loosing onion and bell pepper strips through the grates of my grill for fajitas. If you like to grill, you need one of these!

6"x6" Quarry Tile

As I've mentioned before, I've abandoned store-bought pizza stones. (See Knead Dough?) They aren't cheap (about $50.00 at Williams Sonoma) and they always eventually crack. Instead, I use 6, 6"x6" unglazed quarry tiles, which are available at the Home Depot online and at some stores. You'll have to check for availability in your area. However, if you must order them, they sell them by the case for $25.56. The case contains 44 tiles, but you can give some to your baking-loving friends or keep them for a life-time supply! Using these tiles gives you flexibility to design whatever size baking stone you may need.

In addition, I think they are easier to store and if one breaks (which I haven't experienced), just toss it! One last thing, just like a pizza stone, the tiles must be placed in the oven before you preheat it!

Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 5-Quart Saute with Glass Lid

If you could only own one pan, this is it! This 12"-diameter, nonstick saute pan with lid can do it all! The high vertical sides provide more surface area inside the pan and the nonstick coating makes it perfect for any sauteing needs. Not only does this pan create a perfect sear for scallops, burgers, fish, chicken, etc., it works very well for poaching eggs and cooking delicate homemade ravioli, which I think are easier to cook in a shallow pan rather than a deep one. In addition, it's large enough to roast chicken or beef, and the lid makes it perfect for braising. You can even use it for soups and stews! While I am showing my pan, made by Calphalon, I am not recommending the specific brand, rather the size, shape, and general attributes of owning a pan of this sort. So, whatever brand you purchase, as long as it has the high sides, oven-safe lid, nonstick coating, and the bonus of another handle to help lifting it easier, you will be amazed at how useful it is. In fact, I use it almost everyday and so will you!

Swissmar Raclette/Grill

If you would like to add some excitement to your winter entertaining, I would highly recommend purchasing a raclette. Besides fondue, a great Swiss tradition is to raclette. Basically, it is a party where everyone melts Raclette cheese in the nonstick dishes and eats it with potatoes, ham, sausage, and vegetables (which you can grill on top of the nonstick ribbed grill plate), sliced bread (like a baguette), along with the traditional condiments of cornichons, pickled pearl onions, paprika, mustard, salt and pepper. In addition, skewered meat (such as chicken or pork) can be cooked on the grill plate, as well as fish and seafood (like shrimp). For picky young ones, I like to serve pizza sauce and cheese so they can make mini "pizzas" as well as fruit, such as pineapple, to be grilled to their liking - with adult supervision, of course! Raclettes can be purchased online at sites like amazon and currently sale for around $100. If you'd rather not purchase one, I have read that many cheese shops rent them. It's a fun party (see How to Throw a Raclette Party) and everyone loves it!

Weber Performer Charcoal Grill

I'd like to introduce you to my beloved Weber Performer Charcoal Grill! This grill features a gas-assisted ignition that ignites charcoal with the push of a button! Awesome! This grill features a "one-touch" cleaning and venting system, making it easy to empty the ashes and control the temperature of the coals! Awesome! This grill also includes a rolling steel-frame cart, weather-protected charcoal storage bin, three hooks, wire bottom shelf, lid-mounted thermometer, and a built-in work table! Awesome! This grill will set you back about $350, but it works fantastic and will last you a very long time!

Mulberry by Genmert Bento Box

I picked up two of these super adorable bento boxes for my kids' lunches, and they love them! There are two compartments (one with a removable divider) for food, such as California Rolls, and a separate compartment on top that comes with matching silverware! If that's not enough, they even have fold-down handles to make them easy to carry! Not only do these bento boxes eliminate the need for baggies, etc., they help create perfect portion sizes and keep your darlings' lunches from being smashed! I highly recommend these non-toxic, BPA free, dishwasher safe bento boxes, and think every child (and Mom) would love them! They are available at Amazon for $18, check it out!


Remote Check ET-7 by Maverick

I bought this "Remote Check ET-7 Wireless Thermometer" for my husband, for Christmas, a few years ago. We both LOVE it! This thermometer allows you to monitor two different foods, and has a wireless receiver that reaches up to 100 feet. So, when I am lucky enough to get my husband to make barbecue brisket, he can also make smoked pork butt (or whatever) at the same time. The wireless receiver allows you to roam free, and beeps you when you reach a certain time, or temperature. We have found this thermometer to be very accurate, and we've only replaced the batteries once! I highly recommend this thermometer, and it is on sale at Amazon for $30! It will make you King or Queen of the grill!


Amston Sterling Salt Spoon and Cut Glass Salt Cellar

After posting the recipe for "1916 Roquefort Dressing," I was wondering exactly how much a "saltspoonful" was? With no information available online, I stopped by an antique store and found this Amston Sterling salt spoon! It did not have the matching salt cellar, but I did locate this cut glass one and I think they look quite happy together!

I brought my new, adorable, fairy-size trinkets home, and did a little research. Amston Silver Company was located along Route 85, in Hebron, Connecticut, and operated from the 1920-1960s. The old brick building is still there, sitting vacant, hiding secrets. Apparently, prior to the Amston Silver Company, the building was home to the "Sterling Automobile Manufacturing Company," from 1917 through 1919, manufacturing the "Sterling-New York Roadster." Prior to that, it appears the land was owned by a "silk mill baron." I located the spoon design, and am pretty sure it dates 1944. So, this little spoon has a lot of history, and I think that makes it quite unique! So, how much is a "saltspoonful?" It is exactly 1/4 teaspoon!


Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender CSB-77

Once I received my Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender with Whisk and Chopper Attachment, I can't imagine what I did without them. Well, actually I do remember, I made a huge mess pureeing soup, ladle by ladle into my blender or food processor! I'm glad those days are over! My very handy Smart Stick Immersion Blender makes easy work out of pureeing soup right in the pot, emulsifying salad dressings or sauces in the 2-cup mixing container, whisking cream to soft perfection, and conquering small chopping duties in the chopper/grinder attachment. This product has a powerful 200-watt motor, is lightweight, easy to clean, and sells for about $47 on Amazon. I think it's absolutely fantastic!


Basic 9" Non-stick Crepe Pan

If you like making crepes as much as I do, you should invest in a non-stick crepe pan. I picked this one up for next to nothing at a discount kitchen store. I don't know what brand it is, but I love it! Not only is it great for making the thinnest crepes, but it is fabulous for over easy eggs (my favorite) and omelettes! Although the pan is non-stick, don't forget to always add a little butter to guarantee perfect results!


Magnificent Mauviel Copper!

I would like to introduce my newest obsession, my 10-inch, Mauviel Copper Egg White Bowl! I am so excited! In fact, this bowl has been on my wish list for years! Egg whites react with copper to make them more stable and create higher peaks. Mauviel manufacturing company was established in 1830, by Mr. Ernest Mauviel, in the Normandy village of Villedieu-les-Poiles, known as "the city of copper." Copper manufacturing has been conducted in the village for 800 years and the knowledge and skill has been handed down from generation to generation. For an interesting video, by a 7th generation Mauviel, click here. (It helps explain the hefty price tag!) If you can find any Mauviel products for under $100, it's a great buy and a pleasure to use and own!


Traditional Mortar and Pestle

Mortar and pestles have been used forever. Before food processors and blenders, this is what you used. In fact, I prefer my mortar and pestle to mix salsas, rubs, and pestos, because I think it incorporates the ingredients better and makes a nice silky texture. It's also a lot easier to clean! In Mexican cuisine, mortar (molcajete) and pestles (metlapil) are made of dense basalt (lava rock). However, these are hard to find in the United States, and the tourist models are made of low-grade basalt and will always grind bits of rock into your food. So, I prefer this 7" heavy granite one, actually from Germany! To season it, grind a handful of wet, raw rice in it once a day until any loose bits are unlodged and the rice no longer looks dirty. When you can grind rice and it's clean, it's ready to go!


No Double Boiler?

Just because a recipe says to use a double boiler, doesn't mean you have to buy one. Just place a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, and voila! You don't have to waste your money or storage space on something you probably already have!


May I introduce my 3"x3" can!

This may look like garbage to you, but to me, it's magic! You know when you go to a nice restaurant and everything is plated beautifully? They are probably using stainless steel food molds to boost the aesthetics. Food molds can be expensive, but it's not necessary. Instead of throwing away an appropriately sized can, remove the top lid and the bottom lid, and you've just saved yourself money and expanded your plating ability. Just set it in the middle of your plate and begin stacking, pressing down with a spoon as you go. It's fun and looks awesome! Try it! For inspiration, check out Crab Louie.


Zyliss 'easy slice 2' Folding Mandoline

I don't have a lot of room left in my kitchen, so when I found this folding mandoline by Zyliss, I had to buy it. It is so nice to own! It slices everything with ease, saving you tons of prep time. It even has a french fry setting. My only wish is that it had a julienne setting, but for around $25-$35, it' worth every penny. FYI: Always use the "food holder," it's really easy to cut yourself, I know!


OXO Good Grips Stainless Food Scale with Pull-Out Display

I use this scale almost everyday! I can't fathom how I lived without it! This compact scale lives nicely on top of my microwave, and has every feature you could want:
  • Zero button allows you to offset the weight of your container or to set the weight back to zero so you can add additional ingredients easily,
  • You can weigh items directly on the platform (which pops right off to make it easy to clean), on a plate, or in a bowl,
  • The display pulls away from the base to prevent shadowing from large plates and bowls,
  • It's 11-pound capacity is more than enough, along with accurate imperial and metric measurements (great for European recipes),
  • It even has a backlight to make it easy to read!

With this scale, I no longer have to guess what 7 oz. of spinach might be, 113 grams of butter, 1 pound tomatoes, 4 oz. of fish, 1/2 pound of potatoes, or try to scrape mayonnaise out of a measuring cup. If you need a gift for someone who cooks, buy them this! It is the gift that truly keeps on giving!


Irreplaceable Cheesecloth!

Obviously, cheesecloth was originally used for making cheese. However, there are some things only cheesecloth can handle.  It can be used to strain stocks and demi-glace, drain yogurt, make tea, is essential when making Coeur a la Creme, making ricotta, straining jelly, and of course, making bouquet garnis or "sachets" of herbs and spices for soups and stews. You can even soak it in melted butter and wine and lay it over your Thanksgiving turkey to add flavor and keep it moist. In addition, with Halloween approaching, you can use to make ghost and mummy costumes!  So, as you can see, cheesecloth is a nifty gadget that you should always have on hand.  


Meet my Depression Era, Bakelite Double Handle Spring Action Serving Fork!

I found this unique kitchen gadget at a local antique shop.  I brought it home, gave it a clean bath, and it's actually quite pretty!  I then started researching to see what it is.  I found one on the Internet for a whole lot more than I paid and not in as good condition.  Score! From all my research, this is a depression era, Bakelite double handle spring action serving fork.  Apparently, it is used to serve meat.  When you squeeze the handles together, that flat part slides down the prongs to push the meat off onto your plate.  How civilized!  I can't wait to try it!

Bakelite is the world's first synthetic plastic created by Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland in 1907.  Bakelite was used to make everything from radios, telephones, and pool balls, to jewelry and kitchenwares.  After the introduction of many other plastics and composition materials, people began to refer to all plastics as Bakelite, but this isn't true.  How do you know it's real Bakelite?  Using a q-tip and common foaming bathroom cleaner, rub a little on the "plastic", if the q-tip turns yellow, it's real!  Bakelite has become very collectible, especially jewelry.  I will continue to scan antique shops and junk stores for these nostalgic beauties!


The Essential Wide Mouth Canning Jar!

If you don't own any of these, you should! Wide mouth canning jars (this one is 8 oz) are essential in my kitchen. I use them to store leftover soups, sauces, and dips. Jams and jellies look very appetizing in these.  When I make salsa, I put it in these jars. I make all my dressings in these babies. Not only do they allow you to get good emulsification, they give your arms a workout too. It's also way easier to clean than your blender or food processor. Use them to hold fresh flowers and herbs. Use them for candles outside, they won't blow out. You can even use them as extra glasses on the fly. Whatever you use these for, they will do it with style.


Meet my Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Scoop!

How many ice cream scoops have you bought? I've had zillions. I've had shiny stainless steel ones, ones filled with freaky liquids to make scooping "easier", and I've even had ones with swing-arm action. I didn't really care for any of them....until now. I found this Baskin Robbins scoop at a local antique shop and just had to get it. This scoop is the best I've ever used. It makes perfect scoops and when you push the lever thing on the back, the ice cream pops right out! Get this, it was actually made in the USA. Does that happen anymore? If you see one, grab it!

1 comment:

  1. The scoops in the BR stores look like this one in the picture (dull gray metal) and work the best. In the mid 90's BR sold a cast aluminum version which was shinier, and identical in shape and size but doesn't work as well because the aluminum freezes more quickly and the ice cream sticks. I managed a BR Store at the time and had plenty of opportunities to try both.