We’ve all seen the ads promoting wacky kitchen products that save time and make our lives easier. But what if I told you, that as appealing and quirky as some of those products are, you can get the same use out of products you may already own? Today we’re cooking outside-of-the-box with 9 kitchen accessories that you probably already have in your kitchen.
In my first post I talked about how essential having a veggie peeler is in every kitchen. It’s the ideal tool when it comes to peeling skins off of your vegetable but it’s talent certainly does not stop there. You can use your peeler for shaving hard cheeses and chocolate. This method is not only quick and easy but also produces beautiful, curved shavings that are perfect for toppings!
Do you hate the strings that get stuck in your teeth after biting into celery? Just grab your veggie peeler and de-string your celery by shaving the outside skin before you eat it! If you’re serving celery and dip at a party your guests will thank you.
If you have a peeler with a tip, you can use this to pierce the skin of an orange for peeling or use it to hull the stem out of strawberries.
Need some ASMR therapy? I know you’ve seen the soap cutting videos. Well if you have a bar of soap that needs a little life brought back into it, just take your peeler and shave off a layer. It’ll be good as new!
I just gave mine away before moving to Arkansas and now I’m having regrets. I never did use my salad spinner to wash my salad greens but it does have other uses that I’ve since learned and now I might have to purchase another.
Along with washing your greens they are also great for washing your herbs. If you don’t have a colander, you can rinse your beans and pasta in your salad spinner. But what I really wish I’d kept it for is washing berries.
It took me way too long to learn this but you’re supposed to wash the little filter piece at the bottom your berry container.
So why not place your berries in your salad spinner, give them a quick rinse and spin and while they’re drying off, you can wash the filter in the container before transferring your berries back!
If your spinner is large enough, you can also wash your delicates this way. I know it’s odd, but hear me out. Some weeks, especially in the life of COVID-19, I don’t often have a delicate load on laundry day that’s big enough to put them in the washer. But if I had a salad spinner, I could easily, and quickly, wash these in the sink with my salad spinner! It’s gentle enough to not damage your delicates, as well as fast and efficient.
I used to think immersion blenders were an accessory only used by professional chefs. What a silly thought. Now, my immersion blender is one of my prized possessions. Watching TV, I always saw them used in soups to create a creamier consistency but they can do so much more.
Most immersion blenders come with a cylindrical plastic container. Do not shove this back into your Tupperware cabinet for it to get lost and never be found again. This will come in handy for your smaller blends. One of my favorite things to use this container and my blender for are homemade dressings. It’s so simple and mess free.
It’s also great for blending salsas. I’m not one to knock store bought salsa but the fresh bite of homemade hits the spot. The same thing goes for pesto!
A lot of people are ride-or-die supporters of a classic blender for smoothies, but I personally think you can get comparable results from your immersion blender. Plus, if you’re only needing one portion, the immersion blender is great for single serve smoothies. It also saves cabinet space with its slender design!
Are you vegan or do you dabble with experimenting with vegan recipes? Your immersion blender can create delicious cheese sauces! Cashews are great for vegan cheeses and this blender will do just the trick in blending them into a creamy texture.
Mason jars are classics that have been around for over 100 years. Intended for canning and pickling, this popular jar has many more uses to help you out in the kitchen.
Baking cookies or biscuits? Use the lid to get those perfect circles. Fun fact, the lid was actually designed first before the jar.
These jars are also great for mixing salad dressings. If all you need are oils, vinegars, and dissolvable seasonings, then the only accessory you need is a mason jar. Just throw in your portions, screw the lid on tight and give it a vigorous shake! Have leftovers? Toss it in the fridge and save it for another day!
If you have a little more time on your hands, you can also make your own butter in a mason jar. This method involves a bit more vigorous shaking so be sure to have a friend nearby to trade off when your arms get tired.
But my favorite way to use my mason jars, are storing for veggies and herbs. I love buying fresh cilantro, spinach ,kale and asparagus. Once you’re home, trim the stems a bit, fill your mason jars with water and and in go your herbs and veggies. This will keep them fresh and the top shelf in your fridge will look beautiful!
Not to forget, these jars are also great for drinking glasses. Dress up your cocktails, sweet tea or whatever your liquid vice may be by pouring it into a mason jar sans lid.
Tongs were another essential we discussed in 7 Essential Gadgets but we didn’t talk about everything they can do. Yes, tongs are great for cooking with things that splatter or grabbing potatoes out of boiling water, but they also have hidden talents.
It’s first talent is a life saver. No more sour burns on you fingers from lemons and limes. Your tongs are now a juicer. The unexpected burn from acidic juice is almost as bad as stepping on a Lego. Just make sure to remove the seeds first!
Picture this. You’re at a cookout but there’s no bottle opener to be found. Sure there’s the whole pop the cap off the side of a table/counter trick, but that’s dangerous. Instead, borrow the tongs from whoever is holding fort at the grill, sandwich the cap between the tongs and use the ridge to lift the cap. Simple and safe!
Want to look professional when serving steak to someone special? Hold them with your tongs in one hand while cutting slices with the other. Doing this makes for better presentation vs stabbing your steak with a fork to slice and serve.
Cheesecloth’s are truly a timeless kitchen accessory. They have been around for centuries and are a lost art in most homes today. The cheesecloth was originally designed to remove whey from cheese curds, but now it serves many purposes.
It’s commonly used for straining. If you have a stock and are ready to remove the bits just grab a bowl and your cheesecloth. Drape the cheesecloth over the bowl with the corners hanging over. Gently pour your broth and then bring all four corners of your cheesecloth together slowly pulling it up and out of the bowl. Ta-da! You have your broth and can rid of or repurpose the solid ingredients.
If you don’t have a sifter for powdered sugar on your desserts, just place it in your cheesecloth, grab all four corners again and form a sack for a light dusting.
The cheesecloth also is a great hack for frozen spinach or kale. Frozen greens can pack a lot of moisture that can often ruin a meal. Let your frozen greens thaw out and then place them in your cheesecloth sack. Squeeze the moisture out over the sink and voila, your greens are as good as new.
Additionally, if you have quite a bit of cheesecloth to spare in your kitchen, you can use it as gauze in case of injuries!
I love my pizza wheel mostly because in moments when I’m using it, the end result is pizza for dinner. But this utensil holds more cheeky secrets than I imaged.
Preparing a bountiful salad at home is one of my favorite dinners to make. But often times, I find myself cutting my salad into smaller bites after I’ve sat down with my bowl. Want to avoid this step? Once you’ve prepared your salad in its original bowl, take your pizza wheel and run it through a few times at different angles and you’ve got the perfect bites.
Same with herbs!
Take your bunch of herbs, place them on a cutting board and wheel away for the small slices you’re looking for.
It’s also great for cutting thick ham or deli meat for those make ahead dinners. You’re bound to get perfect cubes every time.
Any parents needing to get the kid meals on the table a little faster, just grab your pizza wheel to cut those ideal small bites for spaghetti, chicken nuggets, PB&J’s and more!
Didn’t see this one coming did you? Besides the obvious uses for a fork, i.e. eating or combing hair, this utensil has many uses if your go-to’s have vanished or are in the dishwasher.
My favorite use for the fork is whisking. I do love a good whisk, but when I’m not wanting to wash all the dishes, I just use my fork since I’ll eat with it anyways. Use it to whisk eggs, sauces, creams and more!
Use it for decorative purposes. Peanut butter cookies are some of my favorite homemade cookies to make. Before popping them in the oven, take your fork and with the sugared tines, press them in twice to create a ticktacktoe board. I swear it’ll make them taste better.
You can also use your fork for a rustic pie crust! For this, you’ll use the tines of the fork again and go around the edge of the pie pressing them in to make those beautiful crinkles. This will also seal your pie! Once that’s done, also use your fork to poke a few holes in the top crust for ventilation so that your pie doesn’t explode.
I don’t eat much meat anymore, but in the past when preparing shredded chicken or pulled pork, I always used two forks. Be sure to not overcook your meat or this will quickly tire out your hands. All you’ll need is two forks, hold them backwards like when you’d cut with a knife, crisscross the tines and pull them in separate directions. An easy hack to perfectly shredded meat without purchasing meat claws!
Get Creative in Your Cooking
The next time you pick up a utensil or an accessory, I hope you’re inspired to do a little research and see what out-of-the-box ways you can use it in your cooking. Nothing against those wacky gadgets. Sometimes they are fun to use, and if they bring you joy, then why not!
There are plenty of other utensils and accessories that have creative uses. Have some ideas of your own? Feel free to share them with us!
As always, be brave in trying new things.
Until next time,