More Favorite Gadgets
Rice steamers are terrific for producing flavorful, fluffy rice and were once a staple in every coastal South Carolina kitchen. (Some cooks would still argue that they are essential for perfect red rice.) Order a stove-top model, such as the one shown here, from Charleston Cooks at (843) 722-1212. Electric models may be purchased from major retailers.
A meat-and-poultry pounder (about $10-$15 at kitchen stores or online) makes fast work of flattening and tenderizing boneless chicken breasts for quick cooking. For easy cleanup, slip the chicken inside a heavy-duty zip-top bag before pounding.
These spatulas are perfect for using with fried, baked, or broiled fish. They're large enough to pick up fillets without breaking them, and the large slots let excess grease or liquid drip off.
Inexpensive pasta forks are terrific for serving long strands of pasta such as spaghetti or fettuccine. The wooden version is best at hanging onto the pasta, but all do a fine job of serving up the slippery noodles.
Spaghetti lovers will adore this pasta pot (4026) with its built-in colander. You simply lift it out when the pasta is done, and let the cooking water drain back into the pot. You won't have to transport boiling water to the sink any more. But this versatile pot has tons of uses--it's great for cooking anything that's boiled. Use it for shrimp, green beans, broccoli, or blanching tomatoes and peaches to remove the peels.
Once you don a pair of kitchen shears, there's no turning back. We use them for everything from cutting open pesky packages to cutting fat from chicken pieces. You can also use them to snip small amounts of herbs into tiny pieces.
If you only have one or two tomatoes to peel and don't want to bother with dropping them into boiling water, try an extra-sharp serrated peeler. The rough edge of the blade grabs the slippery skin and slices right through it. We also like this tool for eggplant, peaches, and other hard-to-peel produce. Some serrated peelers have a plastic blade cover to prevent accidental cuts when you're rummaging around in the utensil drawer (yes, it's that sharp). If not, you may want to put it in its own special spot, just like a really sharp knife.
"From Our Kitchen: Tools We Love" is from the September 2006 issue of Southern Living.