Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oprah in Training-- My Favorite Things

Let's take a break from cooking and baking to talk about the tools that I like to use to achieve the final product. Some may say that the final product is all that matters, but I beg to differ. How would you feel if I threw a bunch of punch lines at you without telling you the joke?
   -To get to the other side!
   -A newspaper!
   -Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

How did that work out for you? Not so much, right?

So how do I scrape my bowls so as to get every last bit of batter into my muffin cups and onto my cookie sheets? Oxo Good Grips Spatulas , that's how. After ruining several spatulas that have literally curled due to the heat, I switched to silicone. This means that I throw away the freebie utensils that come with stovetop cookware. Silicone is where it's at because they don't melt.

Whipping up a bowl of fresh whipped cream is no easy task when you're using a whisk, which is why I've reserved my manual wire utensil and traded it for a hand mixer. I like the this Cuisinart One, not because of the brand, but because it has a lot of power as well as multiple settings. It also has a ton of attachments, which makes mixing dough a breeze. It also comes with an awesome storage case that allows you to keep all of your attachments organized. Don't let the price scare you away- If you're serious about cooking and baking, you're going to need a mixer than stands the test of time.

While I might not own the best knife set on the market, my Farberware set has treated me well thus far. I've used some pretty questionable sets in my day, and I must say that for the price, it's really not bad. It comes with a knife sharpener, which I'm still afraid to use (I actually thought it was a poker when I first got it... ohhh boy), and a pair of scissors that's great for cutting chicken into bite-sized cubes. The santokus work well and I've been able to comfortably chop vegetables without feeling as though my life is in danger. Seriously, for 40-ish bucks, how can you go wrong?

When it comes to baked goods, presentation is half the battle, which is why it's important to have a decent set of decorating tools, including a piping bag and some standard tips. I have a large set of tips that my grandmother got a deal on at a yard sale, and they have really helped to turn spoon-decorated cupcakes into little works of art. I have also used my decorating tips to make eclairs, cannnoli filling, and even potatoes. Potatoes? Yes, you can pipe mashed potatoes back into their skins to make an amazing looking twice-baked spud. This Wilton decorating kit is a great starting point for anyone who wants to spiff up their baked goods. I learned to decorate pastries between the ages of fourteen and sixteen- it wasn't hard to learn, and I have a feeling that you'll be able to pick it up quite easily, too!

This is the absolute best garlic press I have ever owned. For real... it is heavy, durable, and orgonomic. The best part is that it was cheap! I'm sure you could find an awesome garlic press at Williams Sonoma, but it will probably cost upward of $30. Who wants to spend that much on a garlic press when they can become a pampered chef (haha!) for half the price? This little gadget gets more action in my kitchen than anything else in my home. I just love it.

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