Tooling up your kitchen

Cooking gadgets like a kitchen calculator, measuring cup and Egg Fry Rings are useful

My wife likes to bake on weekends, and I help out with the conversions when she tries out a new recipe. I keep my iPad handy, and wait for instructions:

“How many ounces of flour in half a cup?"

“One ounce grated chocolate is how many cups?"

“How much is 350 degrees Fahrenheit in Centigrade?"

That’s how it goes every Sunday.

We’re planning a holiday abroad and the wife is making her shopping list. Things that she definitely wants and are available at Amazon will be ordered online for delivery to our son’s place. Things that she would like to look around for are on a wish list.

The list is mostly baking stuff and some interesting bowls and dishes, or a few things for the house. She googles “best kitchen stores in New York", and then writes down the address of the store in a diary.

I once asked her which is the most useless kitchen tool that she has ever bought, and she said the garlic press and an egg separator (“the eggs that we get in India are too small for it," she says).

The dud that I bought is called “pickle picker". It reminds me of a surgical instrument that a doctor in a sci-fi movie used to pluck a wriggling alien bug out of a human body. We tried it once when we had some guests over, and there was hysterical laughter. It now lies in a drawer where we keep kitchen tools that have never been used and, I suspect though I dare not say, will never be.

Occasionally, she consults me about her list: “So what do you think of this?" I first check the price of the item in question, and then the size and the weight. My opinion ranges from “too heavy", “overpriced" and “yet another useless gadget" to “that’s nice". In the process I also try and make some recommendations.

I seriously think we should buy something that would take care of this hassle of converting ounces to grams or pints to millilitres. I have printed a few charts (the Chasing Delicious website has printable conversion charts) and hung them on the fridge. I have also downloaded the Kitchen Calculator PRO on the iPad and bookmarked some websites (try the one at Diana’s Desserts). There’s any number of useful sites on the Net; you have to figure out which works best for you. But still, I think it would be nice if we could get a simple gadget for conversions.

So I have added three items to her shopping list. One is a calculator called KitchenCalc 8300 ($25.19, or around 1,385)—an easy-to-use, hand-held calculator for liquid, weight and temperature conversion. It also has a built-in digital timer.

The second item on the list is the Taylor Digital Measuring Cup and Scale ($22.77 at Amazon, and a smarter-looking one for 2,605 at the Williams-Sonoma website). It has a digital display on the top of the handle where you can read the weight.

The other item I’ve chosen for her is a $1.50 Fox Run Butter Ruler—you put the ruler against the side of butter, and use the guides to slice an ounce or an inch. Or if you want to be efficient, opt for the KitchenArt Pro Measuring Butter Knife for $6.63, which can be used to measure as well as cut. They are quite useful and inexpensive too.

While looking for items for my wife I also stumbled upon something that will make my Sunday morning perfect: non-stick Egg Fry Rings ( 1,040) to fry a perfectly round egg. And purely for fun, I’ve added to my list this thing called the Perfect Egg Timer ( 391) that you toss into the pot with your eggs, and the scale on the timer tells you when they are soft, medium or hardboiled.

Kitchen tools are unfamiliar territory for me—in that I don’t really know what works and what doesn’t. I am sure many of you are far more knowledgeable about such things than I am. I just can’t resist trying out an interesting gadget.

Shekhar Bhatia is a former editor, Hindustan Times, a science buff and a geek
at heart.

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