Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

Kitchen Gadgets - What deserves the space?

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The kitchen can easily turn into one of most disorganized spaces in a house. There are so many one trick pony devices out there, tempting you with their shiny stainless steel exteriors that might seem awesome at the time of purchase. But then, they unveil their true colors when we discover that we only use them once every other month and they are hogging up precious cabinet space. For example, I love waffles, they are delicious, but I am not going to buy an electric waffle iron because I don't foresee myself making waffles that often (Would love to find a vintage cast iron waffle iron though!)

This little list I have compiled is mostly stuff I have in my own kitchen or have used at some point, but don't have in my kitchen...yet. Prices will range from inexpensive to expensive, but I feel they are worth the investment. Let me know what you think in the comments, what is your favorite kitchen tool? 

Sous Vide Equpiment

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I own two different pieces of equipment for sous vide. Both, of which I use quite regularly. The first is the Sous Vide Professional™ CREATIVE SERIES immersion circulator by Polyscience. Which means you take the device and immerse it into a tub of water and it regulates the temperature and circulates the water. The second sous vide device I have is called the 
SousVide Supreme, which is classified as a water oven. It is a metal box that holds the water and it heats and maintains the water to your desired temperature. 

Both of the machines work fantastic and have a solid build quality delivering superior sous vide results. If you haven't tried food cooked sous vide you are definitely missing out! Both of these machines range between $400-$500, but totally worth the price in my book.

Food Processor 

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This machine can be classified as a kitchen work horse. It just does it all and deserves a spot in anybodies kitchen. I have had this same food processor for a long time and it has been through a lot of abuse. Not once has it given me problems and it always delivers exactly what I want. Chop, puree, shred, slice, knead dough....there isn't much that this thing can't do. Highly recommend buying one for your kitchen, specifically the on by Cuisinart ($99).

Immersion Blender

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This may be one of my new favorite kitchen gadgets. I got it for Christmas this past year and have used it so much. It's really nice to be able to just puree something right in the pot while it cooks and it comes with a small food processor bowl which has proven to be very handy. I don't have the whisk attachment, but would love to pick that up at some point. This is my first Calphalon product and I am really impressed with the build quality. I originally wanted to get the cordless, but read a lot of reviews saying they lacked power compared to the plug in. If you don't have an immersion blender yet, I highly recommend getting one. Calphalon 3 in 1 Immersion Blender ($79)

Thermapen

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I feel like I have gone through my fair share of kitchen thermometers. They either melt or get water damage and at $10+ a pop, that can add up quick. When I first saw the Thermapen, I knew that would solve all of my problems. The thing is built like a tank and will give you an accurate reading within 3 seconds. There is lots of freedom and creativity in the kitchen. But precision is also crucial to being the best cook you can possibly be. Thermapen gives you that percision and is definitely worth the investment. Thermapen ($96)

Kitchen Scale

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Keeping with the theme of precision, every serious cook needs to own a kitchen scale, especially for baking. Think about it, 1 cup of water is not going to be the same as 1 cup of flour, which in baking can completely ruin a recipe. Not only does a kitchen scale give you the perfect measurements, but it also makes life easier. You can just place one bowl or pot on the scale and measure out each ingredient into the container, zeroing after each addition. You don't have to use every measuring cup and tablespoon/teaspoon in the kitchen anymore! Check out the 11 lbs OXO Kitchen Scale ($50) and for smaller quantities check out the Extreme-Precision Digital Scale over at Modernist Pantry ($25). 

Baking Steel

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If you are a pizza lover, this one is a MUST. For years, I have become very frustrated  over the results I was getting from making pizza at home. Sure they weren't bad, but they weren't perfect. Finally, somebody has come up with the best solution yet, a 15 lbs piece of steel *man grunt*. Just throw this puppy into your oven, crank up the oven as high as it will go and you'll be popping out pizza's faster than you can say Amoré. Pick up your Baking Steel ($79) today.

Blender 

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I know the title of this one is blender, but specifically I am talking about Vitamix. Currently they are the best blender on the market and finally they are becoming more popular in the home kitchen. Not going to lie, they are on the pricier end, but they are totally worth the investment. They are extremely durable, very solid build quality, have a fantastic warranty, and are extremely versatile. The big thing I notice about the Vitamix compared to other blenders is it's power and the vortex it creates. It does an extremely good job of making smooth purees and blending any ingredients you put into it. It may be expensive but it is the best. Vitamix ($449+)

Crockpot 

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If you don't own a Crockpot yet, you seriously need to get with the times! Or you just need to visit my Grandma's house because she has about 20 of them in her basement. Nothing beats throwing a bunch of stuff into a crockpot, plugging it in, and coming home to amazing smells and dinner all done. There are about 10 billion crockpot recipes out there and they just make life so much easier. Definitely in the top of things you need to have in the kitchen. Right now we have an old, hand me down one that works just fine. But, this is the Crock-Pot ($79.99) we have on our wedding registry.  

Pressure Cooker

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Pressure cookers have been around for a long long time. Their popularity went down for a little while, but they are slowly starting to gain popularity once again. They are amazing devices that are capable of producing extreme depths of flavor and can cut cooking times down by 70%. Stocks that can take all day to make, can be cut down dramatically. There are electric pressure cookers, but I prefer the stove top kind because I feel like I have more control over the cooking process AND you can use it for a regular large stock pot. I chose to go with Fagor because it was rated as one of the best by Consumer Reports and it didn't break the bank. So, print out your 20% off Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupon and go pick up up a Fagor Duo 8-Quart Pressure Cooker ($109.99)

Stand Mixer

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Well I don't necessarily have a stand mixer yet, mainly because I don't have the space for one right now. But, this is the one we decided to put on our registry. I know, I know, it's not a Kitchen-aid. But, I like to be different, I really like Breville appliances, and I just think this stand mixer looks sexier than the Kitchen-Aids. The only downside with the Breville is that they don't have attachments like the ice cream maker, meat grinder, etc. But, I am ok with that, because I honestly don't see myself using those items. The Breville stand mixer has a significantly larger motor, 12 speed electronic control, and what they call "planetary mixing action" which covers 360° of the bowl. Once I get one I will definitely let you know what I think! Breville Die-Cast Stand Mixer ($299.99).

Of course this list is mainly kitchen electronics, but that is what I wanted to show because they tend to take up the most space in a kitchen. I could probably write a whole post about the importance of owning at least one really good knife. Then there are also things like cutting boards, pots/pans, etc. that could be talked about as well. Let me know what you think! What are some of your must have kitchen toys? Anything on this list you want to go out and buy?? Let me know in the comment section below!

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