Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Few Great Gadgets from Judy's Kitchen...

It's Saturday...a good day to share a few kitchen tips and tricks.

There's nothing sweet about opening the container of brown sugar and finding a rock-hard mass that requires a pick to break it apart.  Some years ago, I was told to put a slice of apple in the container of brown sugar to keep it soft.  That works...but after awhile the brown sugar tastes a little like apples.  Earlier this year, while snooping around in a kitchen shop in Barkerville, B.C. I found a little 'brown sugar disc'...guaranteed to keep sugar soft! 


I have been testing it for some time now...and it does the job well!  No more hard lumps of sugar on our porridge.   Simply soak the clay disc for 15 minutes and pat dry.  Add to the brown sugar, which is best stored in a sealed container. Mine can be found in a yellow Tupperware container from ages past!  Enjoy soft, lump-free brown sugar for months!

Something else that I quite like are the silicone lids that I picked up at the 'street fair' in Palm Springs last year. Since then I have seen them at kitchen shops in various shapes and sizes....and also found some that are stretchy and made to fit over everything from a juice glass to a half a watermelon.


Also called 'splatter guards'...they are perfect for topping your bowl before it goes in the microwave.  No more covering of dishes with plastic wrap and burning one's fingers when trying to remove it.  They seal on all smooth rims and create airtight seals for reheating and storing in the fridge. My set has five sizes...which nest for easy storage.  I recommend them! 

If you have a favorite kitchen gadget that you would like to tell us about...or a kitchen tip or trick to share...today is a good day for that.  Leave us a comment with your tip.  If you do...you will have entered your name in the draw for a brown sugar disc.   I will publish the winner's name right here at the end of this post on Monday, November 24th.

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Thanks to all of you who shared your favorite gadgets and kitchen tips.  There are several that I plan to check out soon!  And the winner is....Elsemieke Wishart. Please leave your contact info in the comment section, and I will get your brown sugar disc out to you shortly!

 

41 comments:

  1. Great post, Judy! I have one of those clay discs and have had it for years but I never knew I was supposed to moisten it! LOL! It works as is but I will moisten it today. Probably it works because I live in a humid environment but winter is here now so i better moisten it.
    I don't have this but I would love a few of those Silpat things you lay on your cookie sheets and nothing sticks. I use parchment paper or butter them but the Silpat you can use over and over again. I think Martha Stewart introduced them but they are available everywhere now but I think they're pricey. There was also a rolling pin and mat that didn't stick and of course all the silicone stuff is great. I have none of it! LOL! I would have to say my Kitchenaid is my most used appliance and I love it!

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  2. I love kitchen gadgets and have my fair share - however, I don't have one of those sugar discs - that's a handy little thing! One kitchen tip that I learned some time ago from a dear friend is to store your sour cream container upside down in the fridge. I always used to end up with mouldy sour cream but his does the trick and it lasts for weeks beyond the due date. One of my handiest gadgets is my mandolin! Have a great Saturday Judy!

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  3. I like my round chopper gadget, plain or wavy cutting edge for chopping nuts or strawberries. One of my favorites kitchen gadgets I have had.

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  4. I have a small strawberry stem 'plucker' that I love. Makes hulling berries a quick job!

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  5. I have always put a slice of bread in with my brown sugar - works great! I have a few favorite kitchen tools :). I love my mini whisks & rubber scrapers/spatulas, they are super handy. Also, I have little mini teacups given to me as a set & I like to mix up my spices in those when I need to. Crock pot liners are also a great thing to have on hand. So far, I've only been able to find them in the States, which is a shame, but I got a lot for shower gifts, as well as when my parents went down there. Another thing I really love is this slicer thing - I'm not sure the technical name for it, it may be a mandolin slicer, but it slices everything so very thinly & works wonderfully for onions for scalloped potatoes or scalloped squash. Oh! And I can't forget my magic bullet - works great when you want the flavor of something (usually onions for me) but without the long strings or chunks of onions!

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  6. I have a tool you use when cooking ground beef or turkey or eggs. It crumbles the meat or eggs as you cook. It is super! I absolutely love it. You can probably find it online as a meat crumble.

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  7. I read that a large marshmallow works too. I tried it and it does work better than nothing at all. I've seen the clay disks but I'm just too frugal to buy one. Yet every time I spend a few minutes de-lumping the sugar

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    1. Oh, and my favorite gadget it a mini ice cream scoop that I use for making meatballs and cookies. It's such a time saver and forms each one perfectly.

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    2. Yes - Cookie Scoops!! In several sizes; love them!

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  8. I love my Borner V-slicer. http://www.amazon.ca/Swissmar-Borner-V-1001-V-Slicer-Mandoline/dp/B0000632QE
    It makes very quick work of vegetable prepping and immediate rinsing makes for quick cleanup too. But it's sharp! Use the safety holder to avoid ER visits!

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  9. I make my own brown sugar using 1-2 tablespoons of molasses to 1 cup white sugar. I put it in my Bosch mixer and mix until all the molasses is incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary. I store it in a Tupperware container and never have lumps.

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  10. I have several different sizes of whisks which I love. No longer have to get out a large bowl to whisk up a couple of eggs - just use a measuring cup and a small whisk, add a little milk or cream and you have scrambled eggs! Love them!

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  11. I spend a fortune on kitchen stuff, I can't help myself. I love my lemon squeezer, my Nutri -Bullet is awesome, but my most favourite gadget is my rasp. I use it for lemon peel and also for garlic when I don't want big chunks in my salad dressing. Angharad

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  12. I have seen the brown sugar disc, but those silicon lids are news to me. I stay as far away from kitchen shops as I possibly can because the wares tempt me way too much.

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  13. My favorite kitchen gadget is a saucepan strainer that I received as a freebie from a local grocery store about 40 years ago. I use it nearly every day. I've also used it to stir things, swat flies (no not really, but I could) and the little holes make a cute design on brownies when I sprinkle powdered sugar through them. Thanks for such a wonderful blog!

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  14. OK. I'm red faced with Sam-I-am ... I bought one of those disks some years ago and found it didn't work at all so I tossed it -- So I was supposed to wet it ? - no one told me -- smile.

    Neat post, Judy ! and helpful comments ... thank you !

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  15. I learned this trick from your site: use a box grater to grate a stick of frozen butter, instead of using a pastry cutter. It works great, much faster, I use it all the time now. Thank you!

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  16. I love the silicone rings for the rolling pin. Different sizes for just the perfect thickness of dough. Makes roll out cookies a breeze. Save your hard brown sugar by putting it in the microwave and start zapping it, 1 minute, then 30 second increments till soft.

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    1. The silicone rings look like a great idea. I'll look for them!

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  17. I am a kitchen savvy gadget girl! I absolutely love the Chop Magic from the store , 'As Seen on TV'. It has 2 interchangeable blades that I've made salsa with in the summer. It works great for chopping and dicing tomatoes, peppers, and onions. It saves a lot of time! Also, it makes wonderful shoestring and regular sized French fries. Along with hashbrowns. And the great thing about this machine, is that it is easy to clean! I bought the warranty with it, (only a few $) and they replace it with no questions asked!

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  18. I need to find those "splatter guards" at the street fair. I have not seen them there before.

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  19. Many years back I purchased plastic "domes" that have vents in them - we use them when heating plates with leftovers in them. They are perfect for this job and we use them just about every meal (for defrosting, reheating, or even heating the plates). Oh yes, they come in perfect size for dinner or breakfast plates and I found them --- where else --- the internet!! ekh

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  20. I have plastic bowl covers ,just like shower caps , bought them in the dollar store ,saves a lot on saran wrap.

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  21. Just got a kitchen spritzer for olive oil. No more PAM. Also, I learned this trick at a Taste of Home Cooking School class. When you have two eggs and crack them together, only one cracks! I love the white gadget that you put a 1/2 stick of butter in and then can use it to butter your corn ear!!!

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  22. My rasp is my very favorite kitchen tool. It was a Lee Valley Tools purchase and I saw the first one ever on
    Martha Stewart's cooking show. I use it for zesting citrus fruits, parmesan cheese and best of all for garllic.
    Washes clean in seconds.

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  23. A heel of bread in the brown sugar works too--even in really dry places. You just have to change the bread every few months when the bread gets rock hard.

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  24. I use the baking soda opened box from the fridge/freezer to clean sinks, bathtubs, etc. It is a wonderful natural cleaner. Nothing goes to waste. Have a beautiful day!

    Janet

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  25. When Butter is Too Hard to spread easily, turn a heated bowl upside down over the butter dish for a few minutes. This will thoroughly soften the butter without melting it.

    I live in an old hard-to-heat-house, so this is something I do every morning in the winter.

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  26. One tool I use often is a wooden-handled, heavy-wire whisk with just a couple of loops - I've heard it called a "Danish whisk" but I call it my mixer and my food processor, as it's the only one I've got ;) I think I paid about $12 for it. Great for everything from cookie or bread dough, to quiche filling. It's always within reach!

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  27. I love super parchment! It is washable, reusable and much more flexible and usable than a Silpat. Making a cake roll is a breeze with it! I use it wherever I would use parchment or wax paper except where a sharp knife is involved as it will cut through the super parchment. I have my fair share of kitchen gadgets, but I probably use these the most and have at least 5 or 6 on hand. I have them cut down to size for flan pans, and other round pans/stones which makes cleaning up so easy-especially granola! Just wash them with soap and water, dry and use them for the next baking project-you don't have to worry about smells or tastes lingering from the last recipe.

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    1. I've never heard of super parchment! Is it silicon? Where can you buy it?

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    2. http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Supply-Inch-Parchment-Paper/dp/B00004RKFR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417020704&sr=8-1&keywords=super+parchment

      I told my local kitchen supply store owner about it and now they stock them at a better price than Amazon!

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  28. My favorite gadget is an old fashioned potatoe masher. It mashes the potatoes just like my grandmother used to. I don't even mind mashing enough for a crowd because the potatoes come out so lift and fluffy, better than whipped potatoes IMHO.

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  29. My favourite kitchen tool is a Dutch cheese slicer, we always had one growing up and now I have two, it has to be a slicer from the Netherlands (you can buy them at Dutch deli). They are so sharp and they slice nice thin slices of cheese, even softer cheese. Also I can turn the cheese slicer upside down to make thin cucumber slices for cucumber salad.

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  30. My favorite new gadget is my AVOCADO TOOL. At one end is a plastic blade to cut the avocado in half. In the middle are three metal prongs to whack the pit and pull it out. At the other end is a plastic oval with several blades--perfect for slicing the avocado as it scoops it out of the skin. Available from BB&B and Avon.

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  31. My pampered chef zester I won, lost on the move overseas (and I don't need the clay disc for brown sugar-it never lasts long enough around here to get lumpy!

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  32. I love the brown sugar discs, I bought one for my mom many years ago but have yet to add it to my own kitchen gadgets!

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  33. My favorite are the scoops from pampered chef. Use them for meatballs, cookies, muffins, melons, mashed potatoes (My kids are picky and you can't give them too many - but you can give them more if you make it look pretty.) I have the 3 sizes and use all of them.

    Ang N.

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    1. I love my scoops too and now have one even smaller than the smallest one from pampered chef....bought it in a kitchen store in an outlet mall this fall. I just used it today making some unbaked Christmas "dainties" and it was just the right size....likely holds about 1 tablespoon.

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  34. There's nothing sweet about opening the container of brown sugar and finding a rock-hard mass that requires a pick to break it apart More info here

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