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With so many high-tech gadgets available, it might seem like you need loads of space and a ton of cash to upgrade your kitchen. And while there are some marvelous smart appliances and electronic devices on the market, sometimes the best things come in uncomplicated forms.
Whether you’re moving into your first place or looking to improve your cooking skills, it’s important to know what tools will serve you best. Splatter screens, parchment paper and other seemingly simple items can save you time, effort and money in the long run.
Best Splatter Screen
Splatter screens, also called splatter guards, are designed to prevent oil from spitting out of hot pans. Not only do they make cleanup more manageable, but the best splatter screens help prevent burns and grease fires.
Look for a stainless steel splatter screen that won’t rust and is dishwasher safe. A handle grip provides added safety, and a folding handle makes it easier to store.
A basic mesh strainer can have many uses in the kitchen. For instance, it can serve as a colander for washing fresh produce or draining pasta.
In addition, mesh strainers are helpful for making purées, catching seeds when you juice citrus fruits, sifting flour, steaming vegetables and even ricing potatoes.
A high-quality pair of kitchen shears can be invaluable when cooking or baking. You can use them to cut bacon before frying, trim dough, butterfly poultry and much more.
Many kitchen shears have a twist-cap bottle opener integrated into the handles that will also work as a nutcracker or crab cracker.
A skillet, Dutch oven or another cookware item that can be used on the stovetop and in the oven is handy for one-pan meals.
For example, you can sear a cut of meat and finish it in the oven. Or, whip up a frittata on the fire and then let the broiler give it a nice browned top.
Not to be confused with its waxy cousin, parchment paper is specially-treated to withstand oven use. As a result, you can line pans and baking sheets with the paper and skip the cooking spray. Parchment paper also promotes even baking and reduces unwanted spreading.
Alternatively, you can use it to separate items before freezing them, such as hamburger patties. Or place it on your counter before rolling dough, measuring ingredients or topping cookies with sprinkles to make cleanup so much faster.
Mortar and Pestle
There’s no need to pull out the food processor for small jobs when you have a mortar and pestle. Instead, these ancient devices can be used to crush nuts or crackers, grind spices and pulverize garlic.
You can even use it to make complete recipes, such as pesto, guacamole, salsa and more. For instance, mash up some chickpeas, tahini, garlic and olive oil, and you’ve got homemade hummus.
To use, you fill the “bell” with a stick of softened butter. Then, add enough water to the crock to line up with the bell when it’s inserted. This creates a seal that keeps the butter fresh for weeks without refrigeration, so you always have soft, spreadable butter.
Tiered Oven Rack
If you have ever made a large meal with several sides, such as Thanksgiving dinner, you know the frustration of not having adequate space in the oven.
A multi-tiered oven rack gives you extra space vertically for small casserole dishes and baking pans. In addition, they often fold flat, so they don’t require much storage space. Plus, they can double as cooling racks for baking.
Do you currently have any of these handy low-tech gadgets in your kitchen?