Back to basics: Dynamic duo of kitchen gadgets

Sometimes the best kitchen gadgets are the homely little critters that existed in the years B.C. — that is, “before Cuisinart.”

Two newcomers to my kitchen are making life easier. One is a rice cooker, which is perfect for oatmeal, grits, quinoa and rice. I had one years ago, but it was pitched in some move or during my Atkins diet phase. In a feeble effort to eat a better breakfast, I migrated to oatmeal last month. Goodbye salami-and-egg scramble.

The gas range is a great thing, but cooking oatmeal (the real stuff) on it requires that one not zone out reading the paper. It takes a long time to get burned oatmeal smell out of the house.

The dynamic duo: rice cooker and chopper

I figured a rice cooker should work. Same principle, right? So I bought a small model, Black and Decker rice cooker. It makes only three cups, which is perfect. (I found it at Macy’s, $12 on sale. Unless I miss the Macy’s charge card grace-period by 2 minutes, in which case they add a surcharge of approximately $55.) It works like a charm: fast, perfect oatmeal each time, stays warm so I can finish the article I’m reading, and the pot that lifts out has a nonstick finish.

The other once-discarded and simple gadget recently welcomed back in the fold is a small, non-electric chopper. We’re on a pecan-encrusted chicken/fish kick, and the chopper does the trick as fast or faster than using a knife, with more even results.  I don’t miss using the Cuisinart, although trying to get the blades off without disaster was kind of thrilling.

A friend gave us a Zyliss Easy Chop Chopper With Smart Base, ordered from Amazon, was also about $12. It doesn’t take up much cupboard space, and with some patience you can learn the method for taking it apart to wash.  The “Smart Base” is a little overstatement. I’d say, “Average-Intelligence Base” is about it for the handy measuring cup container. Smashed up pecans never looked so nice.

There are doubtless other old faithfuls I could use around here, but I’m not making any more big changes for awhile. The Cuisinart and the chef knife are pouting, that’s enough for now.

–Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett



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