Archive for the ‘Kitchen Equipment’ Category

Small Bites: Drinks, a cool tool and a sharp blog

May 21, 2008

Worst drink on the planet?

According to Men’s Health magazine, it’s the Heath Shake, part of Baskin-Robbins’ Candy Bar Madness promotion. The Baskin-Robbins website describes it tantalizingly thus: “Toffee and coffee have never been better! This blend of Heath and Jamoca ice creams, chopped Heath Bar pieces and caramel, are layered on top of caramel, then topped with whipped cream and chopped Heath Bar pieces.”

Their nutritional chart on the site tells a different story, though. The medium-sized 1,420-calorie drink [more than 2/3 of your daily calories needs, by the way] delivers 103% of your Daily Value for total fat and a whopping 200% for saturated fat. If that’s not enough of a fat bomb for you, they have a large size that packs an amazing 2,300 calories!

And the best drink? White tea is the new black.

Black tea is by far the most popular tea in the world. I’m a big fan of black tea myself, but lately green tea has been getting loads of press for its antioxidants. We all know by now that antioxidants fight cancer, reduce the risk of strokes, heart diseases and diabetes and generally slow the aging process.

Well, it turns out that white tea not only outperforms black tea when it comes to antioxidants—it blows the doors off everybody’s darling green tea in this regard too, delivering three times the antioxidants found in green tea. What’s more, According to ScienceDaily, white tea outstrips green in fighting germs, including Staphylococcus infections, Streptococcus infections and pneumonia. And studies by Oregon State University show that consumption of white tea can fight colon cancer, actually reducing tumors.

Is there anything white tea can’t do? Well, it doesn’t have the satisfyingly robust, slightly bitter taste of black tea. On the other hand, its somewhat subtler taste doesn’t carry any of the grassy aftertaste of green tea. And as an added bonus, its pale gold color is far less likely to stain than black tea. For everything you’d ever want to know about white tea, visit White Tea Central.

This cool kitchen tool can really take the heat.

Heat resistant, nonstick silicone has been showing up all over kitchens these days. And one of the best uses we’ve seen of it is these handy Cuisipro Silicone Locking Tongs.

They’re made with commercial-quality stainless steel, and the nonstick silicone ends are heat-resistant to 575°F [300°C]. Pull on the hanging hoop and you lock them closed for easy storage in a drawer. Pop the hoop against your hip or the counter and you can open them with one hand—a useful feature in a busy kitchen.

But what really makes these tongs for me are the silicone tips. You can flip chops or chicken breasts or whatever in a hot nonstick pan without fear of scratching. You can grab green beans or asparagus spears or other cooked vegetables without bruising them. And best of all, as far as I’m concerned, they’re ideal for handling cooked pasta. You get a sure grip without breakage, and the pasta can’t get stuck in them the way they can with open metal tongs [am I the only person bugged by this?].

Cuisipro Silicone Locking Tongs come in a dazzling array of sizes and colors. Whichever you choose, they’ll make life in the kitchen just a little bit easier.

A sharp new blog. Seriously.

The first rule of blogging if you want to build a loyal readership of more than just friends and family is to specialize. Your readers need to know that each time they visit, they’ll find something on a topic that interests them. Well, I recently heard from a blogger named Ken who has carved out quite a specific niche for himself.

The blog is called Only Knives. You’ll find plenty of useful information about kitchen knives—including this exhaustive article called The Best Kitchen Knives For Any Budget. You’ll also find posts about hunting knives, survival knives [did anyone else shudder just then?] and even swords!

Besides thorough, helpful product information, you’ll find plenty of articles on the industry and history of knives and blades. Like this post on The Rise and Fall of The Great Kitchen Knife-Makers. So if you’re in the market for new kitchen knives, check out Ken’s blog. And if you’re in the market for a survival knife, I’d just as soon not know about it.

Welcome back, old friend. Now get to work.

June 6, 2007

The first semi-serious cooking tool I ever got was a Sabatier chef’s knife. Since the 1830s, these fine knives have been made in the town of Thiers, the capital of French cutlery. Turns out there have actually been two Sabatier families making knives there all this time, one from upper Thiers and one from lower Thiers—how French, right? And no, I don’t know which I have, but it had served me well.

sabatier.jpg

But through years of neglect by me and gross abuse at the hands of an alleged professional knife sharpener, it had gone to hell in a handbasket, and I had stowed it away. Occasionally, I would find it deep in some drawer and guiltily pledge to take it to a reputable knife sharpener to either get it ground down into some semblance of a decent knife again or have them give it a decent Christian burial.

northwest_cutlery.jpgThis past weekend, I finally made good on my word. I wrapped the old Sabatier in a towel and a plastic bag and headed to Northwestern Cutlery, tucked under the noisiest el line in Chicago [the Green Line] on Lake Street, just west of downtown. Historically, this whole area has been the city’s meat, produce and restaurant supply district. Increasingly, trendy restaurants, condos and other signs of gentrification have been reshaping the neighborhood, particularly along Randolph Street. But there’s still plenty of heavy-duty food handling going on in the area. Amusingly [for me, anyway, since I don’t own one of the pricey condos there], much of the action takes place in the pre-dawn hours and involves trucks and forklifts and guys who have to yell to be heard over trucks and forklifts. Take that, hipster homeowners.

Northwestern Cutlery is an orgy of cutlery and other cool, serious kitchen stuff. Because it caters mainly to chefs and culinary students—the URL on the awning takes you to a culinary students-only site—you get that rush of sneaking backstage, seeing stuff you’re not authorized to see. But they clearly welcome “civilians” too. They cheerfully took care of the Sabatier for me, cleaning it up and returning it to razor sharpness. While I waited. For five bucks.

It’s not quite the same knife it once was. They had to grind away a fair amount of metal to undo the bent point [my fault] and the wavy blade [thanks to the so-called professional knife sharpener]. But it’s the knife I find myself reaching for now, as much out of nostalgia as utility [for the record, though, it’s scary sharp]. And already, its pure carbon steel blade is taking on the patina of a hardworking kitchen tool that’s seen it all. Welcome back, old friend.

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