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The Old Man
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Back to our regularly scheduled diary.....KITCHEN GADGETS!

gadget: a small self-contained unit of high performance in relation to its size and cost, whose function is to transform some undifferentiated set of circumstances to a condition nearer human desires...or is it a tool?

My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Thai Rice Steamer
Thai Stacked Steamer
I got this Thai stacked steamer many years ago for $20.00US and use it at least twice a week. (Added the Corelle salad plates from Goodwill and the SS bowl is one I already had for years and years.) Once (or twice) a week for rice and at least once a week for steaming or poaching vegetables or fish or chicken. It works so well and I do not have to add another electric thingy to my kitchen. I usually make organic brown or white basmati from India. Rice is easy, 1 C dry makes 3 1/2 - 4 C cooked, soak it and rinse it several times until the water runs clear (less with brown rice), dump it into the bowl and add boiling water about 1" or a little more over the rice. Have the water in the reservoir bubbling. Steam for about 25 minutes with the domed lid on. Turn out on a fine mesh rack or into a Japanese wooden rice cooling bowl. I test my rice while cooking at 15 minutes to see if it may be done. Sometimes that happens, sometimes the rice takes the full 25 minutes, sometimes much longer. I also have wooden rice paddles that I use to toss the rice while cooling.
I also use it to make cabbage, carrots and potatoes for St. Patty's Day! And to gently steam/poach a piece of salmon for a salmon dip or salad. Or poach/steam a chicken breast to keep it moist and sweet. Or use the bottom reservoir for boiling eggs.
Kitchen Gadgets
Great Gadgets!
Garlic/Ginger Press. This particular garlic press is very easy to use. Press on one side and spikes on the other to get out the remains.
The Microplane. What can I say? I love mine and maybe I would have picked one up out of my dad's workshop and used it too!
Melon Baller. We eat a lot of apples and use this to remove the center of the halves of an apple. Works like a charm. And you can make frozen watermelon, canteloupe or honeydew balls to drop into drinks this summer.
Spice Grinder. I make a lot of blends like curry or garam marsala or Chinese 5 spice, etc. I like having a fairly inexpensive designated grinder. You can clean it by grinding some rice!
Nutmeg Grater. The only way to have nutmeg is to grate it your self from the whole fruit. It smells and tastes so wonderful and miles above the already ground stuff you might have in your spice drawer for years. This is a really old grater my Mother had. The name on it is Foley.
Citrus Squeezer/Zester
Lemon/Lime Zester. This is like summer anytime I use it to zest a citrus fruit. Easy
Lemon/Lime Squeezer. I do have one and need a new one with a longer handle. Since I have arthritis in both thumbs, I have to squeeze with both hands. Any suggestions for a better one?

Some other gadgets we use frequently are a box grater, whisks, a fine strainer/skimmer and ladles of all sizes. As you can see, I do not have many electrical gadgets. My Sweetie loves the blender attachment on our 1980's Oster Kitchen Center blender, mixer, grinder, doughmaker, slicer/shredder/salad maker. We use the grinder for turning pork butt shoulder into grind for posole, chile, sweet & hot Italian style sausage, Mexican chorizo, and country sausage.


Bonus recipe

When my Father died in 1993, I stayed with my Mother for a couple of weeks to take care of things. One of our long time neighbors brought this dish to us the day after the funeral. Mom and I couldn't get enough of it! I think of that lovely lady every time I make this.

Loretta's Corn Cream Cheese Salad

Makes 18-20 oz

2 roasted or grilled medium ears of corn, off the cob
4 oz cream cheese (you could use goat cheese)
2 oz créma or sour cream or a tart yogurt
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
1-2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, deseeded and 1/4" dice
1/8-1/4 C cilantro leaves, torn
1/4-1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2-3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste

Heat everything but cilantro in a saucepan with a lid over medium low heat until well mixed. Add cilantro and adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.
Put in a bowl with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate over night. It's better the next day!

I turned this into a casserole when we'd had our fill of the salad/spread.
1 C of the salad
2 C cooked day old rice (either basmati white or brown)
roasted Hatch chiles, diced (or any other roasted pepper)
maybe some spicy white onion or scallion
maybe some red bell pepper
cheese (I've used mexican, mozzarella, fontina, cheddar) whatever you have will work (I've also just diced the cheese and mixed it in and just dusted the top with a little cheese)

Preheat oven to 350º

Mix everything but the topping cheese together in a buttered 8" X 8" Pyrex dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Add the cheese on top and bake another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

Or you could take the leftover corn salad and a few Anaheim or poblano peppers, cut the pepper in half, stuff it with the corn salad and broil it until warm/hot or if you sprinkle with cheese, until it is melted. Extra cilantro on top is always welcome!

 BTW, I take the corn ears still in the husks and trim off the "tails" at the top, still leaving it closed and tight. Soak the corn submerged in water for 30 minuted. Drain and either grill the appropriate time or roast in a 350º oven for 20-30 minutes. Take out and let cool until you can handle it. Take the husks and the silks off. At this point the silks should come off easily. I never husk and boil my corn anymore. It tastes so much better this way.
AND the easiest way to take the kernels off is to use a bundt pan! Stand the cob up in the hole, fat end down and just slice the kernels off into the bundt pan. :-)

What's for dinner at your place? What are your favorite gadgets? ^-^

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