I would like to think of myself as a simple cook that uses only the essentials, but that’s just not true. I love perusing the kitchen section of any store, especially the gadgets. The two gadgets that I have most recently acquired, have become my favorites. I like to think of them as my little sous chefs. Their only drawback is clean up. Sometimes it can be a hassle to wash these tools, and the dishwasher isn’t always an option. A knife, cutting board, and bowl is so much easier to wash.
For the longest time, I put off purchasing a food processor. I didn’t want to make the expense and I didn’t want to feel like Holly Homemaker (don’t ask). I finally made the investment a few months ago, and it has already become one of my most used gadgets.
The top rated processors are Cuisinart and KitchenAid. They are also some of the most expensive ones. Runner-up brands that are more affordable include Oster and Hamilton Beach. Please let me know if you would like copies of Consumer Reports articles and ratings of the top food processing brands. I can email you PDF copies of the articles.
I mainly love using my processor for shredding cheese, purees, thinly slicing veggies, making fresh bread crumbs, making veggie burgers, and hummus. I still need to try making dough in it (it has the ability to knead dough).
Cleanup Drawback: Several parts you have to wash. Food can be difficult to remove from crevices.
Price: About $150 (Cuisinart), depending on brand, model, and size. Mine is a 7 cup. Unfortunately, mine is white, but it was the only choice for the great price that I bought it at.
Vegetable Chop & Measure (Williams-Sonoma)
A dear, sweet friend of mine recently bought this for me after visiting a Williams-Sonoma store. If you have never been to Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, you need to plan a road trip NOW! Williams-Sonoma is as close as Albuquerque, and the closest Sur La Table stores are in Arizona and Austin. These stores can be a little pricey, but feature a great selection of kitchen tools. You just have to know which overpriced items can be purchased for less at other stores.
I actually love to chop veggies, but sometimes I want perfect, uniformly cut pieces and I want them fast! This tool is fun, easy, and quick to use. I’ve recently used it for potatoes, onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Interchangeable cutters can slice and produce 1/6”, ¼”, and ½” dice.
Cleanup Drawback: You have to comb out the pieces that get stuck in the squares (it comes with the comb). It’s difficult to thoroughly clean the blades, and the box says they’re not dishwasher safe (the rest of the chopper is dishwasher safe).
…and here’s an old standby:
This tool is essential and very handy. It’s most common and loved use is pureeing soups while still in the pot, but it’s great for so much more. I have a Cuisinart Smartstick, and it has a lot of fun attachments. It includes a small chopper work bowl (like a mini food processor), a blending shaft, and a whisk. I think I’ve only used the whisk attachment once or twice.
Cleanup Drawbacks: None, really, but you have to make sure bits of food don’t get stuck in the blender shaft’s blades.
Price: About $50, depending on brand and model