Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Multi-Taskers for the Kitchen

Although I love kitchen gadgets of all sorts, I have neither the space nor the budget to accomodate such items. As a result, I'm often stuck in the kitchen wondering what on earth I can use to substitute for a particular item. I'm with Alton Brown of Good Eats on this one - kitchen tools should be multi-taskers, not uni-taskers. Here are two that I have recently discovered. The first is a substitute for a pastry blender. I always forget that I don't have one of these until I'm there with my carefully measured (now gluten-free) flour and a stick of butter. Of course, you don't have to have a pastry blender, which is, as far as I can tell, a uni-tasker. You can perform the arduous feat of "cutting-in" the butter into the flour, a task performed with two case knives and a lot of arm muscle. I discovered the other night, however, that a wire wisk works more easily and quicker. It acts almost like a mortar and pestle, cutting and blending the butter into the flour. (Use more of a downward, twisting motion, rather than a typical wisking motion).

The other multi-tasker replaces a tool that I am not sure exists. My husband and I discovered that freshly-squeezed lemonade kicks the pants off any powdery mix you can find, but squeezing the lemon juice from the lemons into the pitcher is difficult, because the seeds come out and into the lemonade. Of course, you can strain them out afterwards with a slotted spoon (the slots on my slotted spoon are too large), but even better is keeping them out altogether. I was given a can strainer as a shower gift, which works fine to strain the liquid off your green beans. However, it also pops down over my measuring cup. Squeeze the lemons over it, and the juice and a reasonable amount of pulp fall through, but none of the seeds.

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