10 Essential kitchen items: part 2

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kitchen tools1. Mandolin – A mandolin slicer could quickly replace your favorite chefs knife because of its ability to slice fruits, vegetables and cheeses razor thin. A simple version of a mandolin has a basic ceramic blade and can cut any vegetable to a .3-millimeter thickness. More complex mandolins have functions that allow you to julienne, make crinkle cuts for waffles fries and dill pickles and to cut through root vegetables for low-carb dishes like zucchini pasta. The mandolin is more efficient than a knife because it can make perfect slices very quickly and they are uniform so they are great for dishes like stir-fry that need evenly cooked vegetables.

2. Cheesecloth – Cheesecloth can be used in many ways in the kitchen, but it is especially helpful with food storage. Cheesecloth can be wrapped around your homemade butter, homemade cheese and is great for storing herbs. The loosely woven texture of cheesecloth allows air to pass through while still keeping your food protected. Another product that falls within the same category is fine-mesh bags, which can be use to strain teas or to create herbal satchels like dried lavender and rosemary. Both fine-mesh bags and cheesecloth can be used for making your own almond milk or in the beer making process and they can both be washed an reused several times.

3. Milk Foamer – Having a milk foamer could change your morning coffee forever and cure your Starbucks habit. Nothing feels fancier than a fresh-pressed, warm cup of coffee with a dollop of foamy milk right on the top. Milk foamers are incredibly cheap, costing between 1 and 5 dollars and all you need to run it is a couple triple A batteries. To get the perfect milk froth, heat a high fat milk for just a few seconds on the stove or in the microwave. Don’t allow the milk to reach a boil. Whisk the milk in a cup separate from the one containing your coffee, and simply pour it right on top. For a really fancy look, sprinkle spices like clove, cinnamon or brown sugar on top of the foam.

4. Harvest Basket – A sturdy harvest basket that transitions between the kitchen and the garden is vital for a homestead-inspired kitchen. When gathering your harvest, it is so helpful to have something that is well drained so you can spray things off with the garden hose before you bring them inside. A basic wood or metallic basket that fits right in the sink is also helpful because it limits the amount of counter space taken up while washing your fresh produce.

5. Mortar and Pestle – A mortar and pestle are perfect for the intermediate chef that has decided to give up pre-packaged spices. Freshly ground spices add a unique, fresh flavor to your dishes that cannot be achieved with store bought spices as crushing it with mortar and pestle will release the natural oils. In addition to aiding in spice preparation, a mortar and pestle can be used to make salsa, guacamole and traditional style pesto.

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