Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Locavore's Kitchen Gadget Wishlist

This post is a bit hard for me to write! I spend a lot of time reducing, reusing, and trying to re-purpose; I'm trying to get out of the habit of buying new things just because I want them. However, as I have gotten more into cooking for myself, canning fruits & jams, and eating seasonally, I'm discovering a few kitchen tools that would expand my capacity to eat locally and in tandem with the seasons. If you've had any experience with these tools, I'd love to hear feedback and thoughts! 

Mortar and Pestle

I had never used one of these guys until our buddy Paul moved in to our house this past fall. I had jars of herbs like whole clove and coriander that were just sitting around, unused; I didn't know what to do with them! Now that I've had the use of a mortar and pestle for the past 6 months, I will definitely need to get one when Paul moves out; especially since I'll be harvesting lots of coriander and other herbs from the garden.

Presto Pressure Canner

This one has been a long time coming! I've been canning for nearly 4 years. I love canning fruits, but there's only so much jam a person can stock up! A friend lent me her pressure canner, and it was great to use in the end of summer- I canned up sweet corn from the end of the season, and  the last round of green beans fresh from the Farmers' Market. I need to stop holding the borrowed canner hostage :) While I am all for sharing, and really appreciative to have borrowed it, I could use a pressure canner of my own.

Family Grain Mill
Hand Base + Grain Mill 

As I mentioned last week, I'll be splitting a full share of a CSA called Stone Soup Roots and Grains! Part of my share will include (over the course of Sept-March):

- 30 lbs. wheat berries
- 12 lbs. rye berries
- 12 lbs. oat groats
- 6 lbs. dried corn

Wouldn't it be totally awesome (in a completely geeky way) to be able to hand grind my own flour that was grown and harvested less than 100 miles from me? Call me silly, but that's just downright romantic! 

10" Cast Iron Skillet

Again, this is a story of "I didn't know what I was missing until our roommate had awesome kitchen tools". Cast iron skillets are a) really efficient  b) awesome c) durable. I also love the idea that they're low-tech and that people have cooked in cast iron for hundreds of years. I think I'm a convert, people!
Pasta Maker

Ok- I don't really need a pasta maker. This one is more of a guilt please. But I am a fan of the hand-crankiness of it, and with all that hand-milled flour I'll be processing, there's gotta be some pasta making that will happen, right? This particular model is also a meat grinder and a mincer. I think the idea of grinding meat and pasta in the same tool is a bit gross, but I guess I'd get over it if I needed to. You can laugh if you want- I'll be over here swooning over the thought of handmade pasta.

What's your favorite kitchen tool or gadget? Any suggestions for me?


  1. I love your list, and I think it's funny that I either have or want the same items! Hubby got me the 23 qt pressure canner for Christmas, and I love it. I also have the skillet (bought it in college and never used it til recently - silly me) , and a pasta maker. I am on the lookout for an inexpensive, handcranked grain mill, so please write a review if you get one. Have you checked eBay? I got my food processor, bread machine, and sausage stuffer/fruit press there for much less than new...

  2. Yes that is funny that we have a similar list of "essentials"! :) What's your favorite thing to can with the pressure canner?

    The grain mill I'm looking at is this one: the Family Grain Mill, with the hand base rather than the electric base. I like the idea of grinding the grain by hand! http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/family_grain_mills.aspx. When I get it, I'll let you know how it does- and it's a great idea to look at Ebay- I'll do that, thanks! :)

  3. Dying to hear how the grain milling goes. I think we should get together and share the cost of one of the really expensive ones. You probably already purchased one, though. I'd like to get into more co-owning of the more expensive tools -- like how bout a shared cider press? Sigh...

  4. I'd totally go in together for a grain mill- I haven't actually purchased one yet! Yes I agree- co-owning is a great way to share expenses, and also not to needlessly buy things that are not going to be used daily! I think the Pittsfield township Grange talked about having access to several shared grain mills as well, and I think they do a cider press day in the Fall! Will you friend me on facebook? I'm having trouble finding you :)