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Useless kitchen gadgets: a rant

If you’ve read any of my previous posts about kitchenware, I think it is pretty clear that I am unabashedly a kitchen gadget junkie. To me, walking into the “Home” department at Bloomingdale’s is just as exciting as browsing around the shoe section. No, really. Call me a weirdo, but I am SUCH a sucker for cleverly-designed tools (e.g., Nigella Lawson’s chopping board with a pull-out “drawer” for easy transfer of whatever you just chopped, or garlic crushers that make it so easy to mince this frequently-used ingredient), or or even just pretty-looking kitchen odds and ends. But sometimes I find myself standing in front of a given object and thinking to myself, really now?! I know the companies that make this stuff are looking to make as much money as they possibly can (and I’ll be the first to admit that Williams-Sonoma is at the top of my list of favorite shops), but come on now…who really needs a different tool for each kind of fruit?  I am talking about the apple slicers, banana cutters, pineapple corers, citrus reamers, strawberry hullers, peach pitters, melon knives,and avocado dicers of this world. How ridiculous does that list sound?! Good God, when did we become so laughably lazy? Whatever happened to a good old knife?

Don’t get me wrong, I must admit that these objects are cool. And sure, admittedly these nifty things may shave a few seconds of processing time from your day, but unless you are an industrial apple pie maker who needs to slice pound upon pound of apples every day, I’m sure you can afford to spend an extra minute doing the job manually. Perhaps in a perfect world with endless storage space, I’d buy some of that stuff in every size and color, but really, who in today’s world has enough kitchen real estate to store all that crap? Plus, call me crazy, but don’t all these tools that do the job for you just take the joy out of cooking? I’m sure I’m not the only one who actually relishes the process of chopping, peeling, slicing, dicing and mashing things while I cook, because I find these seemingly mindless tasks oddly soothing and satisfying. The kitchen for me is a place I go to relax..it is a respite, not a burden, so I feel like short-cutting my way through the process cheats me out of some of the fun.

It was actually a space-saving article in the May issue of FNM that got me thinking about the absurdity of today’s kitchen gadget jungle, and eventually inspired me to write this rant. The article includes a page of suggestions about certain tools you can do without if you are short on kitchen space…and trust me, if you can do without a rolling pin, I’m sure you’ll live without an avocado dicer as well.

In good health,

F

* Top image via Pop Chart Lab

PS – I am still experimenting with fun cupcake ideas in continuation of Tuesday’s post about frosting. Stay tuned for the full report in a few days!

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Ice, ice baby

Well hello, my foodie darlings!

After being away for much too long, I am finally back in action and so excited to bring my blog back to life!! I’m so sorry to have seemingly dropped off the face of this green earth; a few medical procedures and lots of travel left me absolutely no time to set foot in a kitchen, much less to sit down and about any of my culinary adventures. Almost a month ago now, I underwent lasik corrective eye surgery, which forced me to stay away from any kind of screen for over a week (but the results have been amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone who wears glasses and/or contacts). I then embarked on nearly 3 consecutive weeks of travel, which was a lot of fun but ultimately a bit tiring, so I’m glad to be home. I I have missed writing my blog and reading your blogs!

In any case, I am now back and feeling extremely festive. I have been all over the place in the last few weeks so I sort of lost track of what season it is or what time zone I’m in, especially because the weather has been so drastically different in each country I visited. But now that I’m back on terra firma in my hometown of Amman for a while, everywhere I look I can see signs that summer is almost here….and who wouldn’t feel excited about that?!

I will be baking some cupcakes in celebration of summer’s imminent arrival (to me, nothing says “party time!” like some yummy cupcakes), so stay tuned for the results. In the meantime, I could not help but share this amazing icing guide that I came across during my flight home this morning in the May issue ofFood Network Magazine, (which, as I’m sure you know by now, is one of my absolute favorite monthly staples). No, what you are looking at is not a catalog of color swatches for your wall. It is a living, breathing guide to making cake frosting in all colors of the rainbow. This might be the coolest thing I’ve seen in a magazine in a long time All you need is some sugar, butter, eggs and a pack of food coloring in standard colors (typically red, yellow, blue and green). Definitely going straight into my permanent collection of kitchen guides!! (but sorry for the shoddy quality of the images- getting a better camera is still very much on my to-do list).

The feature also includes a recipe for white frosting, which is critical for achieving the exact color combinations depicted in the chart below, and the color can easily be altered (by vanilla extract, for example), so watch out for unintended colorants. Alternatively, you can use store-bought white icing, which tends to be whiter than homemade stuff, and there are instructions for coloring that variety on the same charts below.

For homemade icing: whisk together 4 large egg whites, 3/4 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Heat until the mixture is warm and the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Using a electric hand mixer or a stand mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment), whisk the mixture until it forms soft peaks (about 10-15 minutes), then beat 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter, a few small pieces at a time. Keep beating until the mixture come together. This recipe yields enough icing to make 2 different icing batches of 1-cup each. If you want to do just one color, double the amount of coloring indicated below.

Happy icing!

In good health,

F

* Top image via Pinterest; color charts courtesy of Food Network Magazine, May 2012 issue.

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