I have never been much a snob about kitchen gadgets or the materials I use when cooking. I don’t buy the fanciest olive oil, I don’t order spices from a special store, and I don’t buy the highest quality chocolate. Part of the reason I don’t do these things is that I’m on a young professional’s budget. There is no denying that fancy chocolate adds up. Furthermore, unless I am making a really rare, once-a-year type cake, the oober-high quality ingredients taste different enough to warrant the hike in prices. At least for me. Maybe you feel differently.
However (yes there is a however), there are a few things where I will make an important exception. Much like fashion and furniture, I am willing to open my wallet for amazing cookware. This rule is a new one. One of my lovely friends gave me two Le Creuset baking dishes for Christmas. The first is a 4×4 dish perfect for appetizers or souffles. The second was featured in my bread pudding post. They are both shiny jet black on the outside and a beautiful stone color on the inside. They are super dense and HEAVY! I am officially a believer. These things cook like….well it’s their job. While Le Creuset does cost quite a few pennies, when the pennies are available for use, boy is it worth it. I will have to be satisfied with just the two for now, but I can assure you any future kitchen wish lists will include a major appearance by Le Creuset.
Like perhaps this beauty… http://www.chefsresource.com/lecreus834qt.html
Totally expensive? Yes. Could find a similar product for 1/5 the price? Yes. Do I love it anyway? Yes.
While this next exception isn’t exactly cookware, it is a total life saver. Behold the oven thermometer. “Why do you need an oven thermometer? Don’t you set the heat on the oven?” you may ask. I asked the same questions (altough I did so silently in my head as my mom was the one advocating for this tool). But when one of these lovely contraptions showed up in my stocking, I could find no reason not to give it a shot.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I have a relatively new oven and although things did seem to cook fast, typically I was able to prevent burning and under-cooking. My first test was during my bread pudding experiment. The recipe called for the oven to be set at 325. Imagine my surprise when I turned on the oven light and the thermometer read 350 degrees! I turned down the controls to 300, hoping for 325 upon my next visit. This time the thermometer read 330.
If you are interested, you can buy one here: http://www.target.com/Oven-Grill-Thermometer-2-5-Dial/dp/B001G9B7O2/ref=br_1_19?ie=UTF8&id=Oven%20Grill%20Thermometer%202%205%20Dial&node=13003671&searchSize=30&searchView=list&searchPage=1&sr=1-19&qid=1294763092&rh=&searchBinNameList=target_com_category-bin%2Cprice%2Ctarget_com_brand-bin%2Cmaterial_type%2Ctarget_com_primary_color-bin&searchRank=reviewrank&frombrowse=1
I took a few lessons from this experience. First, my oven is 30 degrees too hot (kind of a big deal considering baking is such a precise art). Second, kitchen thermometers are not to be underestimated. Third, when my mom pushes a kitchen gadget, and not too subtley I might add…I need to get on board ASAP.