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Posts Tagged ‘OXO’

Photo courtesy of Bakers Royale

Saturday, I applied a popular exercise mantra — “No pain, no gain” — to cooking.

The gain — delicious Mini Pommes Anna — was totally worth the pain.

I had purchased the entry-level OXO mandoline slicer several months ago, partly so I could make some version of pommes Anna, which is simply very thin slices of potato layered and baked with butter. (And if you’re one of those people who can make paper-thin slices of veggies with a knife, congratulations. You have mad knife skills. I do not.) I was in the middle of my final semester of grad school, however, so the mandoline has been resting in the gadget drawer.

The semester eventually drew to a close, and Pinterest pointed me to this intriguing recipe for smaller, individually sized versions of Pommes Anna, courtesy of Naomi at Bakers Royale. The mandoline finally made its debut.

And boy, was it angry.

Seriously, I underestimated the danger of the mandoline (and found out that just about everybody has a story about somebody taking their fingertip off with one). Having failed to keep the potato attached to the finger-protecting holder mechanism, I ran it across the blade by hand, which worked great right up until the moment I cut my thumb.

I immediately initiated Standard Operating Procedure for kitchen injuries:

  1. Don’t bleed in the food.
  2. Evaluate the injury.
  3. Wash the injury with soap and water.
  4. Wrap the injury with paper towel to try to stop the bleeding, or at least keep the blood out of the food.
  5. Soldier on. You’re not going to make more blood by starving yourself.

It was a minor cut, although it was a heck of a bleeder.

The potatoes were simply divine. The mandoline had cut them into sheer little circles that, when tossed with butter and layered with kosher salt and pepper in a muffin pan, baked up into a luxurious side dish. The husband commented more than once on these buttery and creamy little stacks of goodness.

And yes, there were only four ingredients: Yukon potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. I cut the recipe in half, so it made six. I figured two stacks per person was about right (they compress while baking, so each one ends up being about 1.5 inches high). We each ate a third stack, partly because they were so delectable and partly because they didn’t seem like the kind of food that reheats properly.

And one of us was making replacement blood, after all.

They were definitely a welcome change from mashed potatoes, which is what I usually serve with meat loaf (and more on that fabulous meat loaf later).

As for the mandoline, I think I should probably upgrade to the model with non-slip feet (seems like an upright model might be safer than one that “hooks” over a bowl). Also, a couple of friends pointed me toward Kevlar gloves made for use with mandolines, so those might be showing up in the gadget drawer, too. (Actually, when the first friend, Crafty Kristen, mentioned Kevlar gloves, I kind of thought she was joking — LOL Kevlar gloves for the clumsy cook, very funny. But no. They are real. And possibly a necessity.)

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I never thought I would own one salad spinner, much less two.

The OXO spinner that I purchased last summer, however, has seen more action in the kitchen than literally any other gadget I own.

Every week, more or less, I purchase a head of red or green lettuce, and often toss in a few ounces of the mesclun mix that Earth Fare sells by the pound.  Sometimes, though, the shopping days are off, and I need to wash the mesclun a couple of days after I’ve already washed the regular lettuce, meaning I either have to wash it again or dump it out while I wash the mix.

I also usually keep a bunch of cilantro wrapped in moist paper towel in the crisper. It needed a better home.

The obvious answer was a second spinner. A smaller spinner that wouldn’t take up nearly an entire shelf in my poorly designed side-by-side refrigerator.

I had it up and spinning without two hours of bringing it home today. When you bring home a gadget that you actually use the same day, you’ve picked a winner.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 75: Decision-making time on electronics boxes. Having the original boxes for things like televisions and computer monitors is handy when you move, but not so awesome when you have to live with closets full of boxes. I moved a few into the attic — there’s room since I don’t store anything else in the attic. I still have a few more boxes scattered under the guest bed and in my office closet, but at least some of them are out of sight.

Day 76: I needed to make room in the cabinet for my awesome new OXO angled measuring cup. I could have probably just squeezed it in, but I found it much more satisfying to toss out a few old jars and other miscellany.

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Today, a friend sent me a link to Unclutterer, a blog about getting organized. The posts preach minimalism: the less stuff you own, the less stuff you have to organize. Every Wednesday the site mocks “unitaskers,” items that only serve one function while taking up valuable space. These products are often the worst of the “as seen on TV” club, and invariably enable you to do things that you can easily do without them, such as washing your feet or cracking eggs.

I admitted earlier this week to owning my own unitasker, an awesome cappuccino maker that, after a scroll through Unclutterer to see the ridiculous things that other people own, I’m liking more and more. While preparing dinner tonight, however, I realized that I’m actually the proud owner of two more unitaskers, both of which I needed for the substantial amount of produce in my CSA:

  • The Oxo Good Grips Strawberry Huller, which pierces the strawberry, scoops out the hull and releases it in a couple of quick moves. Using a knife to cut out stems is tedious and a bit slow, and poking a straw into the center of each strawberry simply makes a mess and often doesn’t remove the entire stem. This unitasker is also small and easy to clean, so it stays.
  • The Oxo Good Grips Corn Stripper, which strips and collects corn kernels as you move it down the corn cob. Sure, it does what a good sharp knife will do, but it does it without making a huge mess. Stripping corn with a knife results in flying kernels. The easy-to-clean container on this gadget is what makes it worth having. Fill it with corn kernels, dump them out into a bowl, then start filling it again.

So, in my kitchen a unitasker must perform its task much better than other multitasking accessories can and it must be easy to clean. (In fairness, apparently it also must be an Oxo product or an Italian import.)

I have this paranoid idea that most unitasker products are given as gifts by people who are hating on the clean, efficiently run kitchens of their recipients. What other explanation is there for the s’more makers that rampaged across American Christmas shopping lists a few years ago?

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Listed among Things I Never Thought I Would Buy: a salad spinner. They always seemed very Carol Brady, although I guess they were really more Alice Nelson since Mrs. Brady didn’t do much of the cooking on that show.

I digress.

I spent last summer washing, drying and trying to properly store a weekly mess of Swiss chard and other greens that came in my CSA box. Never did it occur to me to look for a salad spinner.

This one caught my eye a couple of months ago because, frankly, everything OXO makes catches my eye. I researched, purchased and test drove it. Now I’m ready for this summer’s ridiculous amount of salad greens. Bring it on, CSA lady.

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I’ve been on a cookie odyssey for a couple of years in search of a proper substitute for Trader’s Joe’s Gingeroos, which I discovered while vacationing in Las Vegas. (And yes, I DO always visit grocery stores on vacation. You should too.)

I don’t think molasses was a big component of my childhood treats, because these cookies were richer, darker, more sultry than any I had ever tasted. Chunks of crystallized ginger closed the deal … these were my new go-to favorites, only it was not to be. Double tragedy: The nearest Trader Joe’s is two hours away in Nashville, and they don’t seem to stock Gingeroos.

Admittedly, by cookie odyssey, I mean that I found one nearly suitable recipe and tried it a couple of times before my oven joined the Great Appliance Rebellion of 2009, rendering all cookie-baking attempts futile at best, infuriating at worst.

Then, November. My search is renewed after installation of a new stove.

I had found this recipe last year, but never got to try it. Miracle of miracles, it appeared in a sponsored link atop my gmail last week. It was culinary fate.

Triple Ginger Cookies, from the recipe journal 101 Cookbooks, are a huge ordeal to make, but they’re worth every minute. They’re what I call “grown-up cookies.” Not everyone will like them – they give off a bit of heat – and they’re not the kind of cookie that you eat a half dozen of in one sitting with a big glass of milk. You relish one or two with a cup of coffee or other hot adult beverage that may or may not be spiked with Bailey’s.

Just to make things interesting, I also made my own crystallized ginger for the recipe. I remembered paying a premium for crystallized ginger last year (around $4 extra a pound at the Fresh Market), and this recipe uses A LOT. The clerk at my Asian grocery store said they hadn’t received a shipment of crystallized ginger in months, so my backup bulk supply option was off the table.

Crystallizing ginger was a pretty big ordeal, too, but it made the house smell DELICIOUS and it reinforced my assertion that I do too need that OXO mandoline that I’ve got my eye on.

I’m not going to claim they’re just like Gingeroos, but they’re close enough.

Next kitchen project: the perfect hummus recipe. Also maybe, just maybe, fixing that hole in the ceiling.

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