BEN’S ZONE: Five Kitchen Implements I Can’t Live Without

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Welcome to a new feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie (he doesn’t admit it, but he’s a total food snob), coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving father (our dog adores him – as does our son whose favourite toys are cooking related just like his Dad). Who is also seriously into his fitness. Be it bikes (he has far too many) or more recently muddy racing after completely Tough Guy (and getting hypothermia just for the fun of it) in January this year. Oh and he has a bit of a penchant for pink. He will blog pretty much about the above and you can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂

Five Kitchen Implements I Can’t Live Without

One of my greatest pleasures is cooking, it’s fun to cook for myself but even better to cook with my son for others to eat. I find it relaxing but it also gives me a chance to be creative and push my skills. Like all men when I like to do something I can’t just do that with the stuff I have. I have to get new stuff, that has to happen regularly and the stuff in question needs to be made out of materials the space programme considers a bit too cutting edge. Ideally the requirement for this stuff has to be something I can’t explain to the wife without her getting that vacant look. So without further ado here are 5 kitchen things I just can’t live without, two caveats, this is not an exhaustive list and I don’t promise to never blog about it again.

1. A Meat Thermometer

How do you know when something is done? If you serve undercooked food (particularly chicken or pork) then it can be very dangerous but then overcooked food is dry and unpleasant to eat. Luckily science has an answer for us, the probe thermometer. You put the probe in the food, connect this to the thermometer and it tells you the temp. Simple, but it makes life so much easier. Ovens vary in performance and so cooking timings can vary too but a probe cuts out that issue.

Simply stick in the probe and you can see if meat is ‘just so’ even if it is en-croute. They work for barbecues, roasts, the whole works (even the tricky task of boiling sugar) and they are super simple to use. No more dry turkey at Christmas, who wouldn’t love that? I personally recommend one where the probe is remote so you can use it through the oven door.

2. My Kenwood Chef

My next choice is more prosaic, my Kenwood chef. Yes, it’s just a mixer – though it has a number of useful attachments – but it takes the effort out of the most tedious parts of baking. I don’t mind a bit of mixing but really, I’m in no hurry to ever whip meringues to soft peaks ever again (though it’d probably mean I could forget the pull ups for an evening with minimal guilt). Yes, there are other mixers and yes they come in pretty colours but I love my Kenwood and all of its strangely shaped accouterments.

3. A Speed Peeler

Despite what I said above, not everything in my must have list needs to cost the earth (do not tell the wife) and so my next choice is more down to earth. I love my speed peeler. For years I hacked away with normal peelers and those awful attachments for paring knives and frankly nothing works with the simple efficiency of a speed peeler. I like simple things that work well and you don’t get much simpler than a speed peeler.

4. An Awesome Global Knife

From the cheaper end of the scale to the really not cheap at all, I love my Global knife. It’s a 25 cm sashimi knife (meaning it is flat on one side). It holds a razor sharp edge for ever and the flat profile means super thin (and therefore super show offy) slices are as easy as pie. Yes, forgetting how sharp it is regularly costs me chunks of flesh (usually related to giving in to no 1 son saying ‘do it like the TV chef dad) but that one really excellent knife is consistently the only knife I have needed. So it saves money in the long term, sort of.

5. Why You Need A Sous Vide

The last choice is a bit specialist but becoming more mainstream, it’s my sous vide machine. Sous vide means ‘under vaccuum’ and it’s a technique whereby a temperature controlled water bath is used to cook vaccuum packed food, sometimes for very long times. There are two key advantages to this, firstly, you can get normal foods perfectly done, no moisture is lost as the food is packed and the gentle cooking means it always comes out perfectly, secondly long and slow cooking can make cheaper, tougher cuts of meat perfect.

Tonight I’ll have a flat iron steak which would normally be a flavoursome but tough cut, its been in the sous vide for 24 hours and it’ll come out as tender as fillet.

Not only is it useful, it’s also a lot of fun, you get to vaccuum pack food (I don’t know why this is fun but it makes the boy and I giggle like fools) and then cook them in some kind of crazy science experiment fashion.

I think I’ll probably even sous vide the steaks for my next BBQ and finish them over the coals for a woodsmoke accent.

So that’s my list of fave gadgets for the moment, but who knows where I’ll go next…

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