WinePod is the first-ever personal winery. It is a self–contained, computer–controlled unit that allows the amateur wine maker to create up to four cases of wine per fermentation (and up to 12 fermentations a year). The company provides the grapes, as well as all the tools you'll need to cask and bottle your vino. You get software to install on your computer that will walk you through the process and will assist you in avoiding any potential pitfalls.
It's a pricey gadget, starting at $4,499, but for the right wine enthusiast, it could be the perfect holiday gift.
I understand the allure of an efficient kitchen only clogged with tools one absolutely needs. I get it. Most things can be done with a few basic tools. Yeah, I know. But unless I go psycho and decide to slice by hand, no knife is going to give me crinkle cut fries.
Just look at them. There's something immensely comforting and mouth-salivating about the crinkle cut, especially if its on a pile of fries fresh out of the oil and dusted with salt and pepper. The crinkle cut offers an air of professional talent and can make even the quickest frites look all the more carefully cut. A smooth fry is no match for the dark peaks and lighter ridges of the crinkle, like the grill marks we all love to make.
Even on the side of practicality, it makes sense. Those crinkle suckers are powerful, sliding through taters like there's no resistance at all. Once I picked up one of my own, I wished I'd had it all those years when I had crappy knives and tried to cut through tough, unwielding potatoes. Now, it's my go-to tool for taters, giving a little visual flair that makes this stomach all the happier. Don't you agree?
I have used spoons for many things over the years, including lottery tickets and painting (don't ask, it's not worth it).
There are a lot of things you can do with a good spoon, like one of these sexy little 1920 numbers from Horchow (at right). I like these spoons. Maybe I'll get them, and do the following 8 things with my old ones. Does anyone have $550.00 I can borrow?
Here are 8 non-traditional things you can do with an old spoon:
Do they remind anyone else of Barbie shoes? Seriously, that's all I can think of when I look at them. But they're not Barbie shoes, they're not; they make tea.
"Teastick Gems are now made with Eastman Tritan™, a revolutionary new material that is FDA-approved, taste-free and with absolutely no Bisphenol-A!"
I have no idea what Bisphenol-A is, but I feel sort of excited that these don't contain it. I looked up what else is made with Eastman Tritan™ but a Google image search brought me a lumber rack, a synthesizer, and an impressive deer. So, let's assume this is a very new type of plastic.
In any case, Teasticks can go in the dishwasher and are obviously a very handy tea-making shape. The Teastick Gems' semi-clear design allow you to watch your tea pearls unfold and make a perfect 10-14 oz. cup of tea. Perfect for a tea lover's holiday stocking!
So do you believe we're in a recession? Retailers sure seem to, especially specialty retailers. In the kitchenware store, the season's usual large bundles of roasting pans and pie plates, while still available, are being supplemented by smaller displays of beckoning trinkets for inexpensive shopping fixes. If one is a classic movie fan, one remembers Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffanys -- wherein, broke but shopping, they consider a platinum dream from a CrackerJack box as well as a silver telephone dialer. More practical (and, at around thirteen bucks, more economical) is the Microplane Multi-Citrus Tool, and I have to admit that I have succumbed.
As most slashfoodies know, zest is the outer skin of a citrus fruit, used as a flavoring agent in everything from sauces to baked goods, as well as a garnish. The zest contains a high concentration of the oil of the citrus fruit, which contributes a highly concentrated burst of both flavor and aroma. As experienced eaters know, there is no substitute for fresh zest -- a lemon pound cake, for example, will simply taste better if you add fresh zest. As experienced zesters know, the challenge while zesting is to get just that outer layer of skin without getting any of the white pith that separates the flesh of the fruit from the skin.
Sometime early last month, I went out to Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA with a friend to pick apples. I came home with an overflowing half bushel box, awash in good intentions. However, life got in the way and I let the apples sit for longer than I would have liked. They got a bit mealy as the sugars turned to starch and so the only treatment for them was to turn them into applesauce and apple butter (two things I love, so I wasn't particularly sad).
Years ago, when I first started making applesauce, I would labor over the apples, peeling, coring and chopping them into fine pieces. These days, my technique is a little more slapdash. I do still core the apples and I chop the quarters into smaller bits. But I skip the peeling part altogether, which saves an amazing amount of time and hand cramping.
Instead, I cook the apples down (with lots of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and lemon zest) with the peels still attached. When I'm able to mash an apple piece with the back of a wooden spoon, I take the whole mess off the stove and run the apples through a Foley Food Mill. It purees the apples into a nice, even sauce that still has some good mouth feel and gets rid of the peels at the same time. It's really easy to boot. If you make a lot of applesauce (or stewed tomatoes or peaches) this tool will become an invaluable addition to your kitchen gadgetry.
I've always had a policy of keeping my measuring cups fairly simple, feeling like it was important to favor utility over aesthetics. However, wandering around the Home section of Anthropologie yesterday after work, I totally abandoned that position when I spotted these Matryoshka Measuring Cups*. As opposed to standard wooden stacking dolls, these are made of china and each top and bottom is sized to hold a different standard measure. They are charming, combining usefulness with whimsical design. It took everything I had not to buy them right then and there.
A good salad dressing is one that doesn't separate. When making salad dressing, some of us shake, some of us whisk, and no few of us cruet. All of these methods, though tried and true, work on some dressings, but at your local kitchen store you can get a gadget that works on all of them: the Bonjour Salad Chef. The Salad Chef is a hand-held blender consisting of a power unit with a touch button on the top, from which emerges a long stem with a set of high-impact plastic blades on the business end, which when engaged spin at extra-high speed to emulsify salad dressing.
Emuslification is a science-fair-sounding word that refers to the suspension of acid in oil. Creating it is a matter of technique: the oil and acid which you mixed in a ratio (approximately two-thirds oil to one-third acid) combine with flavorful ingredients to incorporate into a sauce which maintains its consistency. The only way to create emulsification is effort. For vinaigrettes, whisking is usually sufficient. For a heavy dressing, some shake ingredients together in a lidded jar -- adherents swear that this is the only way to make a creamy dressing such as blue cheese.
I promise I am not typing this from the copy on the box, but the Bonjour Salad Chef does its job perfectly. I have tried it on every kind of dressing I make: lemony washes for arugula, vinaigrettes from shallot to balsamic to pear, hearty olivata for Greek salad, burly Worchestershire dressing for Cobb salad, even red-wine dressing for beef salad. The Chef works best when the ingredients are placed in the bottom of a mid-sized bowl, and the Chef is lowered into them, whisking from the center outwards. Salad dressing should be fresh, but a dijon vinaigrette I made for this column held together six hours (refrigerated) before starting to separate.
Saturday afternoon, Scott and I hopped into the car and headed out to the King of Prussia mall (a strange name, to be sure) in suburban Philadelphia. He had been wanting to get out there ever since they opened a LEGO store in the mall earlier this month and we finally had a free afternoon in which to make the trip.
It was everything a LEGO store should be, with plenty of amazing models of towns, vehicles and many of the vessels from the Star Wars movies. There were also a number of kitchen-related goods, which delighted me to no end. In addition to the timer you see above (which I did end up buying), you can get LEGO salt and pepper shakers, baking pans, ice cube trays and popsicle molds. They'd make great gifts for cooking-inclined LEGO fans!
Filed under: Food Gadgets
Last May, I posted about the genius that is french toast made on a waffle iron. However, like so many of these things I write about here on Slashfood, I hadn't actually had an opportunity to give the technique a try, trusting instead that the Kitchen Chick wouldn't lead me astray.
Luckily though, I recently stumbled across a blog post that put the waffle iron french toast method to the test and proved that it is a winner. Lauren (creator of the pies in jars) used a two square Belgian waffle iron to cook up french toast made from bread designed for Texas toast. The bread fit the iron perfect and she and her family found it so delightful that they used the same method to make garlic bread to accompany dinner.