5 Awesome but Totally Unnecessary Kitchen Tools

File these under “For the person who has everything.”

Like the title says, these things are awesome, but if you don’t have them… you will probably still live a wonderful and fulfilling life.

5 Awesome but Unnecessary Kitchen Tools

  1. An ice cream maker is totally unnecessary but awesome to have. Case in point–we got one (not the one pictured) and have made ice cream a few times by now! The one pictured plays ice cream truck music when it’s ready, and since it has a compressor, cools itself down instead of having to store the drum in the freezer. Nice features, if you can afford them.
  2. Copper cookware will last forever and is the best conductor of heat–but that kind of luxury has a price! The set shown will cost about a grand.
  3. Using a juicer is a great commitment that one can make towards their health. If I were to buy a juicer, I would get this one. It gives you a little bit of fruit/veggie pulp (read: more of the nutrients) while still taking some pulp out so the smoothie is still drinkable.
  4. An espresso machine. Yes, I have a Nespresso. No, I don’t need it. Yes, it’s awesome. Enough said? Stop looking at me like that!
  5. Novelty fruit tools. Okay, I lumped these together. People have been eating fruit perfectly fine for thousands of years without fancy tools! I mean… at one point I’m sure people used rocks and sharpened sticks to make yummy fruit goodness happen. However…. I know from experience that if you have a whole bag of cherries that you want to be pit-less, and fast, that investing in a cherry pitter is a big step towards time and sanity.

Anything you care to add?? Or, do you think any of these items are necessary? Share your opinion in the comments! 

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The 5 Kitchen Tools You Need

When I thought up this post, I wanted to do an experiment. “If I could only have five kitchen tools, what would they be?” Excluding tabletop items like plates and silverware, here’s what I came up with, and my rationale.

Top 5 Kitchen Tools

  1. Every kitchen needs an 8-inch chef’s knife. This much is a given. Get a sharp one with a nice point, and you can do most of your detail-work, paring, with it as well (although paring knives are safer since they’re less unwieldy). I wholly recommend this one–my favorite feature is the hollows along the edge, which reduce the effect of food clinging to the knife after you’ve made your cut. A great chef’s knife can also be used to peel/smash garlic.
  2. If you make the investment of a good knife, you must have a cutting board to keep it in shape. The people who lived in the apartment before us just used… the kitchen counter. There are cut marks all over and it’s so awful–not to mention bad for the knife’s blade! Getting a good cutting board (wood or plastic) is very important. And never, ever use a knife on tile, glass, stone, or metal. Just don’t! If you get a large and attractive cutting board, you can also use it for tons of other things. Decor, serving tray, perched on an ottoman to make it a coffee table? All of the above.
  3. If I could only have one pot/pan, I would get a nice large sauté pan (with lid). The large surface area on the bottom can be used like a skillet (frying pan), but the high sides and lid can act as a saucepan or stockpot to make rice or even soup or chili, if you have to. This one in particular has some slope to it which makes it almost wok-like, too. Every pan has its own use, but this one is a nice, useful hybrid and can perform lots of duties in a pinch.
  4. My go-to item for stirring, flipping, everything is my bamboo spatula. If you want to cheat on this “five tools” challenge, you can grab this set, which is what I have used for years and I loooove. Bamboo holds up really nicely (I prefer it to regular light-wood spoons or turners) and will not damage nonstick pans. Overall, one should avoid using metal utensils in any pots and pans unless it’s a non-coated stainless steel pan.
  5. The sauté pan I listed above can go in the oven, but there’s just something about a rectangular, covered casserole dish that I wouldn’t want to be without. Use it for anything from casseroles to roasting meat, to brownies or cakes.

I hope this is encouraging to someone who watches the Food Network and sees the chefs using all this specialized gadgetry or walks into a kitchen store and gets glassy-eyed. You can create amazing meals at home with the most minimal of tools. Even someone with the smallest of kitchens surely has space for these… right?

But, just for fun… come back Wednesday for 5 unnecessary but awesome-to-have tools. ;) 

Christmas on Coronado Island

Christmas in San Diego is altogether a different experience when compared to the “standard” American Christmas that you see on TV. No blizzards, no scraping ice off the windshield, and no temperatures below freezing at all, for that matter. It’s common to have 65 degree days in December, perfect for strolling outdoors in a light cardigan or simply a long-sleeved shirt. I have fully adjusted back to not grabbing a coat before heading out the door (so different from Kansas!)

We do have our own Christmas traditions here in San Diego, though. One of them is December Nights, a two-night long festival at Balboa Park which draws over 300,000 spectators and makes parking a nightmare. I have never been, so we tried to go this year–brought the camera and everything–then drove around nearby neighborhoods for about half an hour (trying to find parking) before giving up and moving on to plan B…

Christmas at Hotel Del Coronado

Plan B is another excellent San Diego Christmas sight to behold–the famous Hotel Del Coronado gets decked out with lights and manmade skating rink outside…

Lights and skating at Coronado

…and features a famously opulent Christmas tree in the main lobby. While we were there, a caroling group (in Victorian garb) added to the ambiance. The tree’s decorations are different every year, and this year the theme was (apparently) …pillows?

The Christmas tree at Hotel Del Coronado

Really though, I love seeing a tree packed-to-the-brim with decorations like this. My tree (which you will see Friday) isn’t nearly this full, but is special in its own way, I guess.

Fountain at Coronado

After taking a stroll around the hotel, it is nice to walk up and down Orange Avenue and check out the stores and restaurants, and to drive up and down the streets of this wealthy community and check out the Christmas lights on multi-million dollar homes. We stopped in at Bottega Italiana (1017 C Ave, 92118) and got some delicious gelato.

Gelato on Coronado Island

If you like theater, the Lamb’s Players Theatre offers up a different Festival of Christmas stage production every year. My parents have gone many years in a row and it has become quite a tradition. I can’t promise that it won’t be corny, but the actors and actresses are all really, really talented musicians and it is bound to be an enjoyable (and family friendly) evening.

My tips:

  • Park wherever you find a place–it isn’t a big area and everything is easily in walking distance.
  • There are lots of people trying to get a good picture of the tree. Don’t linger right up next to it! Admire from a few feet away so others can get their turn.
  • Look like you belong! Yes, tourists flock to this location but for heaven’s sakes don’t show up in board shorts or ratty clothes. This is a resort hotel– a classy establishment.
  • If you have the cash to drop, I hear that brunch at the Hotel Del is to die for!

Overall, this is a cheap wintertime date since it’s mostly driving around and sightseeing! Our only splurge was on the gelato, which wasn’t much of a splurge at all for that matter–each scoop cost less than a Starbucks drink. Seeing the lights and the ice skaters is a nice way to remind yourself that although you were wearing a tank top earlier in the day–it still is Christmastime, after all!