Diced, Not Puréed
Out of all of my kitchen toys, Williams-Sonoma’s Chef’n VeggiChop Vegetable Chopper has to be my favorite. This little chopping device was given to me as a birthday present just over a year ago, and it’s safe to say I don’t know how I lived without it.
The best part of this chopper is that you can put just about anything in it and it will slice it to bits. My favorite tactic is throwing in eggs, celery, miracle whip, and mustard – chopping and mixing it all to bits until it leaves me with my favorite egg salad. The first time I tried this I was not fully prepared for the power this little chopper provided, and I ended up with a purée. But then again, that’s one of the best features of this device. It’s all done by you. You pull the chord and decide when you’ve chopped enough. Whether it be half-pulls or full-pulls, the chopping is easily in your hands.
While blenders and motorized choppers are the recent phase in the world of chopping up fruits, vegetables, salads, or what have you – I believe that some cooking needs more of the chefs touch, not a machines.
Pro-tip: invest in the Cupcake Mini Spatula & Spoonula set. They are the perfect size for this chopper and are pretty adorable.
The King of Jura’s (coffee anyone?)
My coffee maker can tell you how many cups of coffee it has produced in its life time, can yours? Calling this machine a “coffee maker” could very well be an insult. Perhaps coffee machine or the far more sexy literal French translation of machine à expresso. Bottom line is that my coffee machine rocks.
We first came across this marvel of modern science, AKA a Capresso now branded as Jura coffee machine, while traveling in Europe. We were staying with friends in Switzerland. Each morning we would push the button and out came one glorious cup of espresso just the way each one of us like it. Mine not quite espresso strength and his a double. We had to have one for ourselves. This single machine ended years of marital l strife over AM coffee. This moment of clarity was 15 years ago. Since then we have owned a base model and after an issue with a water seal we traded in (yes traded in) for the Impressa E8 model we currently have. This is the machine one has made the over 9,000 cups of coffee.
What is great about these machines is that it grinds the beans for each cup. You can make two cups at a time or one large one or one small one. Just pick the number of ounces you want to make. You can steam milk and heat hot water. It’s like having a personal barista. I often joke that the only thing it does not do is mulch the lawn.
Other features that have endeared this machine to me is the fact that it is quick to heat up, flashes a message when it needs to be cleaned and turns itself off after an hour after it made it last cup of java.
I do not think they make my model any longer but they have plenty of models to choose from. Some can be attached to water sources, some keep milk chilled until you need it. I can go on and on. My advice is it to pick features that you actually think you will need. For instance do you make so many cappuccinos so frequently that you need to have a milk chiller?
For any coffee person these machines are one of life’s great pleasures,
What you will like best about this is that brews so fast. It does everything pretty fast. What you will make you take a step back is the price. These are expensive by some standards. It has been a great investment and one of those things that makes me happy!
A Fresh Cutting Board
Over ten years ago, I had finished a big house remodel that included a new and improved kitchen. After the construction was over and it was time to break in the new counter tops, I went shopping for some new accoutrements to go along with my new cooking space. Before making my way to the mall I prioritized my list of what I needed and what I wanted. At the top of that list was a new cutting board; arguably the biggest necessity in every kitchen.
I enjoy cooking and have had many different styles of cutting boards through the years. This new kitchen was designed to minimize counter top clutter, meaning I needed to store my cutting boards. This storage issue led me to look for an alternative form of cutting board technology. In my ventures to find such new technology, I stumbled across a package of “flexible cutting mats” in Crate & Barrel.
These mats are large rectangles of durable plastic that are light and flexible. Being light means they are easily stored and take up little space, but don’t let that fool you. These mats are sound despite their demeanor. Dishwasher proof and easily rinsed, these mats have an impressive life span. But even if you do manage to destroy one, they easy to replace with their inexpensive price tag. Overall, the best feature of these mats is that they are flexible. When you are done chopping, just pick up the sides, walk it over to the pan and easily angle the food into the pan without dropping a thing. It is so much easier than my years of moving onions from a regular cutting board to the stove by the side of my knife.
These cutting boards have so much utility for such a low price. I go through three a year, sometimes more. The first time I bought them, they were on sale for about $5.00. Now they can be purchased in a pack of three for $13. I buy them for all wedding showers, house-warming gifts, and as a “just because” present if a friend had commented on mine. This year, I bought them for Christmas baskets.
The one thing you might not like about them is that you can cut through them with ease with the right knife and pressure. They have also made some changes to the design this year, including a hole in the corner so you could potentially hang the mats to dry. While I still like them, I wish they had thoroughly thought about the changes before they made them. Note to Crate & Barrel design team: call me first.