Tools for the Holidays

Spane and I Christmas Season 2010

Ah yes! The time has come again to get all those tools out for the Holiday cooking. These days are pretty hectic, so it’s important to have your tools on hand, and that they are clean and in working order.

I’m always surprised to see people buying cooking tools that only do one job. A friend of mine went out and bought a Quesadilla maker, that couldn’t be used for anything else, and she already had several frying pans that were perfectly suitable to the task. That, to me, is a waste of time and money.

So, what I’m going to talk about here are tools that you can use any time of year, and that can be used for many jobs. I have all these products in my kitchen.

I’ve done a lot of shopping for you, found the best prices, and best products. This is a no-brainer! You can shop for the products by clicking on the link provided, or the picture, the choice is yours.

  1. Stand Mixer
  2. Food Processor
  3. Cookie Press
  4. Cookie Sheets
  5. Nesco Roaster Oven
  6. Electric Knife
  7. Knives
  8. Measuring Tools
  9. Timer
  10. Thermometer
  11. Mitts
  12. Bowls
  13. Organizer

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

If you are going to get a stand mixer, this is the one you want. It has a very powerful motor that will not burn out even with the heartiest dough. You can buy attachments for your mixer that can turn it into a citrus juicer, a shredder, a pasta maker, and even an ice cream maker. I have a the citrus juicer and I love using it in the summer when lemons are plentiful.

Cookie dough can burn out a hand mixer in a minute, even a good one. Chocolate chips and nuts can bring a lesser mixer to a smoking mess.

KitchenAid mixers come in two varieties, the kind where the whole top tilts up (Artisan), and the type where the bowl raises and lowers (Professional). If you’re going to be making large batches of dough, and you probably will, the Professional series is the way to go. That’s the one that I have.

What can you make in the stand mixer besides cakes?

  1. Cookie dough, especially the dough for cookies with things in them, like nuts, dried fruit and chocolate.
  2. Stuffing is a breeze with the stand mixer. Let the mixer do all the mixing for you. Save your arms for hugging your loved ones.
  3. Cake! Everyone loves cake, especially with frosting. No tool does a better job with butter cream or meringue.
  4. Meatloaf – why get your hands dirty when your stand mixer does a better job?
Waring Food Processor


I know that Cuisinart is the leader for home food processors. That’s okay, but if you want a work horse that won’t die, then you want a Waring. My Waring food processor is 20 years old, and still doing fine. The bowl isn’t as pristine, and it’s a little finicky to start, but that’s to be expected from a machine that worked daily in a restaurant for two years, and has been working for me for the other eighteen years.

What can you make in the food processor?

  1. Pie dough – from a cookie crumb dough to a flour dough, this is the tool you want to use. Don’t use the ready-made cookie crumb dough, making it yourself gives you a lot more options. Want a ginger bread cookie crust? Just crush gingerbread cookies, add melted butter and you’re good to go.
  2. Cookie Dough – if you want to make Spritz cookies, this is the perfect tool for making the dough.
  3. Cheese – grating a large amount of cheese by hand is a knuckle killer. Use your food processor.
  4. Puree – make velvety soups for your Holiday dinner by using fresh ingredients that you puree in your food processor.

With that said, I was at Sur La Table and asked about the best food processor to replace my aging Waring. The Brevel food processor looks like the one for me, and I might just get it with my tax return. For someone who puts their food processor through its paces, it’s a good choice.

Wilton Cookie Press
There are other cookie presses on the market, but, this one is the best. These presses will make dozens of cookies and crackers in minutes. They are simple to use and the dough comes out perfectly every time.
Wilton Cookie Sheets
Wilton also makes the best cookie sheets. They are made from heavy gauge metal so they won’t bend from high temperatures. Clean up is a breeze, too. Try to use a silicon spatula so you don’t scratch your cookie sheets.
Nesco Roaster Oven
I love my Nesco 18 Quart Roaster Oven. I use it for my turkey on Thanksgiving, and my ham on Christmas. I also have the buffet service and that comes in very handy for entertaining. You can roast your turkey in the Nesco, take it out, then put in the buffet service, and keep your sides warm. Perfection!

Electric Knife

I have never used my electric knife to slice meat. I use mine to slice bread and cake. You get the most even slices, without any effort. Of course, you can use it to slice meat, too.
Good, Sharp Knives

I cannot over emphasize the importance of good, sharp knives. The easiest way to cut yourself is to use a dull knife. I don’t recommend the “ever-sharp” kind of knives. Eventually, they do lose their edge, and since they “never” need sharpening, they are virtually impossible to sharpen when they do need it. I have both the sharpening steel that came with my knife set, and I also have a sharpening stone. I prefer the stone.

What kind of knives should you have? Get knives with a full tang for balance and durability. Knives that have three rivets are best. Hand wash and dry your knives to keep them from rusting.

What knives should you have?

  1. Chef’s knife – this is an all-purpose knife that has a lot of uses.
  2. Carving knife
  3. Boning knife
  4. Paring knife
  5. Serrated knife
  6. Utility knife
Measuring Tools
Measuring Spoons
It’s best to get the kind of measuring spoons that come with a ring so they are hung easily, and will not get lost. I have the metal ones for durability. These are especially necessary for making cakes as measurements have to be precise.
Dry Measuring Cups
Have measuring cups for dry goods. It’s a good idea to have the one with a ring that keeps them together. It’s also a good idea to have more than one set, sometimes you need to measure a liquid and something dry of the same amount.
Liquid Measuring Cup
It’s a good idea to have a glass measuring cup in which you can measure boiling liquid. The plastic ones are fine for hot liquids, but boiling liquids are likely to melt the plastic.
Scale
You should have a scale to weight some dry ingredients, meats, etc. so you can get an accurate amount.
Timer
It’s always a good idea to have a separate manual timer. Sometimes, you need to more things than you have timer for. If you have little ones at home, it’s a good thing to keep the timer on a high shelf to discourage playing. Timers are also good to use to help your children get chores done on time.
Thermometer

There are a few kinds of thermometers you should have.

  1. Instant Read Thermometer – Use this in the kitchen and for the grill. Make sure that meats are the right temperature.
  2. Candy Thermometer – Use this for getting the temperature of oil and sugar syrup. Get the kind with an adjustable clip, and metal parts that will not melt.
  3. Digital Probe Thermometer – These are great because you can set it and forget it. With one of these babies, there is no need to constantly open the oven door to check the temperature of your food.
  4. Oven Themometer
    – It’s always a good idea to know that your oven is really the temperature you set it for. If your oven is not calibrated correctly, the oven thermometer will allow you to make your own adjustments.
  5. Indoor/Outdoor Themometer
    – it has nothing to do with cooking, but it’s nice to know how hot or cold it is outside before you go out.
Silicon Mitts
The worst thing about cloth mitts is they can get wet. Water is a great conductor of heat. I picked up a cloth mitt off the counter one day, not knowing a bit of the counter was wet. When I tried to grab something out of the oven, I got a nasty burn. I’ve sworn by silicon mitts ever since. I have three kinds, one actual hand mitt, two pot holders, and a pinch holder.
Bowls
You need a lot of bowls. You should have at least three large bowls, preferably stainless steel, and several smaller prep bowls. They kind that fit into each other are a good choice. Small silicon prep bowls are also a good idea to hold chopped garlic and spices. It’s also a good idea to have some simple plastic bowls for ingredients that don’t play nicely with metal.
Organizer
I swear by my Lotus Organizer. If you don’t have Lotus Organizer, you should at least have some kind of meal planner, recipe keeper or grocery list manager. It will make your life a lot easier.

Well, I hope this list of products makes your holiday bright, if not a lot easier!

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2 Responses to Tools for the Holidays

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