Things I bought, things I want, kitchen edition

55

I’ve been employing a rotation of canvas bags as my recycling bin, which is not exactly convenient and takes up precious kitchen counter space. So I went on a protracted search for something that could perform that function and wasn’t too ugly, and came up with the Re: Bin, which is made of recycled plastic and comes in a few good colors (though I went for white).

I have been obsessed with spatchcocking (more on that later), which allows you to roast a chicken in a fraction of the time it would typically take, ever since my brother Todd spatchcocked a turkey last Thanksgiving and it turned out perfect. But I’d lost my roasting rack somewhere along the line, so I went for these nifty silicone racks, which work great and are a dream to clean.

I’ve getting weekly CSA deliveries, which are composed of meat, eggs, and various unidentifiable root vegetables, the latter of which I will be pureeing now that I have this nifty new hand blender.

I refrigerate my garlic, but apparently it lasts longer in a cellar like this one, so I’m thinking of giving one a shot.

I always need new dishcloths, and this set is just so bright and happy.

Am I the last person in Manhattan who does not own an Instant Pot, and is it as necessary as just about everyone swears they are? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

I broke my pepper mill—I didn’t know this was something that could happen, but it did. So I’m thinking of replacing it with this nifty one from Le Creuset.

Also from Le Creuset: this spiff enamelware serving bowl set that would come in so damn handy.

OK, so back to spatchcocking, which I made the mistake of describing to a vegetarian the other day: you basically cut the spine out of the chicken so it will lay flat, and this requires far sharper kitchen scissors than I own—which I learned the hard way. So I might go for these shears for next time.

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55 Thoughts on Things I bought, things I want, kitchen edition
    Tess
    19 May 2020
    10:02pm

    I use my Instant Pot at least twice a week for perfect rice, any type of beans, Melissa Clark’s Cuban—style pulled pork, any kind of stew, sooo many soups, steel cut oatmeal, pasta, lasagna, hard-boiled eggs, beef & broccoli, butter chicken, and even the occasional dessert, like chocolate lava cake. What a smorgasbord of international delights! It all turns out perfectly in the Instant Pot!

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    D.Morgendorffer
    19 May 2020
    2:09pm

    I think the real star of the lineup is the immersion blender. I haven’t used my food processor in years (the blades always scared me to disassemble for cleaning, anyway). I have a basic handheld mixer for things like my mother’s whole wheat batter yeast bread and pound cake when there are decent peaches, but otherwise, the immersion blender for everything else.

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    elizabeth
    20 May 2020
    3:20pm

    I use my Instapot a lot these days. It’s really good for making congee. And I use it to keep chickpeas for hummus (which is so much better than store bought hummus). Nom Nom Paleo has a lot of good instapot recipes. But, I mostly use it to make dog food for my dogs, which I then mix with their kibble.

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    Mary
    20 May 2020
    3:55pm

    As to the pepper mill, the Le Crueset one is fiddly. Much better is the Cole & Mason that won the America’s Test Kitchen ratings: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003OICYZO/. Stainless steel, so may not be your aesthetic, but easy to put in peppercorns, can see how many left, and well marked dial for how coarse the grind will be.
    Kitchen shears are great, just make sure that they come apart for cleaning. Otherwise, you will have to spend time trying to make sure all the gunk is out. Also, I’ve spatchcocked chickens for years without ever using a rack. Just tinfoil on a sheetpan.
    Instant Pot? I love mine. Definitely stick to recipes written for an Instant Pot rather than trying to adapt. Use it for what it does well. Also, they do make a 3 qt one, which I have considered buying as it would be much better in my tiny kitchen and I cook for one.

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    Em
    19 May 2020
    8:07pm

    I have the Ninja Foodi, mainly because of the air fryer and slow cooker functions, but I do sometimes use the pressure cooker function. It’s expensive, but really works great for multiple purposes.

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    mlinky
    19 May 2020
    7:23pm

    I LOVE my Instant Pot. I have always used a pressure cooker for home made stock, but the popularity of the IP has generated so many great recipes, I hardly use the stove. It also is great for rice, beans, and the aforementioned hard boiled eggs, where the eggs peel like a dream. (Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you are making chopped liver for 30). BTW, if you want to use it as a slow cooker, that setting works great too.

    I could pretty much limit my kitchen cooking appliances to an IP and a convection/toaster oven and do just fine.

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    HickfromStyx
    19 May 2020
    9:07pm

    I do enjoy spatchcock chicken and have the appropriate Paderno kitchen shears. Sheet pan dinners are a great fast and easy way to make supper. Two problems right now: no whole chickens at the grocery store, and the oven quit. I have a BBQ, so it’s still possible, with extra attention, but the chickens have fled the coop.

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    Amber
    19 May 2020
    8:45pm

    I know a lot more about cooking than clothes, so feel compelled to weigh in today…

    Of your list, I would buy the shears first. They are invaluable. So good for chickens, but also cutting bacon into lardons, snipping chives, etc.

    A good peppermill is also super useful. I don’t know about the Le Creuset one, but I would always recommend one with Peugeot mechanisms (they provide them for a surprisingly wide variety of brands). They produce the most uniform grind. I have a Perspex one too (someone else ^^ recommend it), and I love it, but it is pretty small, so you have to refill it a lot. I use it for white pepper and my big Peugeot one for black pepper. I am old fashioned, and can’t abide by one handed or battery powered pepper gadgets. It’s a personal problem.

    As a New Yorker, I have mixed feelings about the need for an instant pot. Friends have them, but they are HUGE, and my kitchen is reasonably sized for a West Village apartment but still has limited counter space and storage. I ended up getting a pretty stovetop pressure cooker (no long handle for easier storage), and I loved it in the Before Times. I haven’t used it AT ALL since. Now that I’m home all the time, I don’t mind if something has to cook for a long time. You just have to plan a little. Now that it’s getting warmer, you might want to consider if you want a pot going all afternoon (if it makes your apartment hot), but sticking a pot in a 350 oven in my south facing, no central air apartment is not bad. And do you want to eat stew in summer anyway?

    I am shocked by the comments on boiled eggs. Kenji Lopez Alt wrote a column in The NY Times about egg peeling, and pressure cooked eggs were not easier to peel. It’s never worked for me, so I felt validated.

    (I’d love dishcloths like the ones you shared. I vastly prefer them to sponges, but the dishwasher in my house disagrees, and he gets to pick in this instance.)

    Good luck with your cooking adventures!

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      HickfromStyx
      19 May 2020
      9:15pm

      I have this brilliant little gadget that aces hard-boiled eggs. Shells come off easily. Just 10 minutes to cook in the microwave, 10 minutes to rest in the microwave, and run them under cold water. One does have to use oven mitts and be careful to take them out of the microwave.

      https://www.nordicware.com/egg-boiler

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    Sue
    19 May 2020
    12:49pm

    I am also pro-Instant Pot, though not evangelically so. I’m a vegetarian who’s spent a lot of time in India, so I have a stove top pressure cooker . . . that I barely ever used b/c I couldn’t get over the worrying about it blowing up the kitchen (even though my Indian friends use theirs daily with no problems). The irony is that now that I have an Instant Pot, it’s not like I make dal all the time, like I’d envisioned. But it is fabulous for beans and also for things like risotto and polenta that would otherwise require a lot of stirring. (I make both of these much more than I used to.) I would say it also helps me with the backbones of some meals–earlier in the pandemic, I cooked 3 cups of chickpeas in the instant pot and those ended up being the basis for 10 meals, which was very satisfying. (I made one batch of the Alison Roman stew and one batch of chickpeas and pasta, and we had each for a dinner and a lunch and then one lunch when we polished off the last of both.) Also, even though you don’t save time making hard boiled eggs in it, the texture is so much better. So, all in all, even though I’m not using mine exactly as I’d thought I would, I’m glad I have it.

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      c.w.
      19 May 2020
      4:36pm

      As a fellow vegetarian I found this very helpful, Sue, so thank you! (I also have that unfounded pressure cooker fear that was passed down to me by my mother)

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    Mamavalveeta03
    19 May 2020
    12:51pm

    Just read about spatchcocking on Martha Stewart’s site (she of the alleged bunnies in a burlap bag) and I’m picturing the look on the vegetarian’s face at the description. No knowledge of Instant Pots, but I never refrigerate garlic and it lasts quite a while in my bowl with root vegetables, which I’m probably not supposed to do. And I just ordered a set of dishcloths that Amazon told me they lost – but they’re not nearly as cute as these.

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      y.k.
      20 May 2020
      8:10am

      Mamavalveeta! please. don’t throw that out there w/o explanation- bunnies in a burlap bag?? i need to know more…

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        Mamavalveeta03
        20 May 2020
        1:25pm

        Well, I don’t want her to come after me…But there was a horrible rumor a number of years ago that involved bunnies eating her garden, a burlap bag, and a Land Rover in her driveway. I shall not connect the pieces for you.

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    Meg Stewart
    19 May 2020
    1:15pm

    I’m so accustomed to my dutch oven and slow cooker that I only use my insta pot for beans. It’s terrific for beans. But I agree with others about the space consideration. I’m fortunate to have a large kitchen, so I’ll keep mine for now. As long as your kitchen shears can be fully disassembled for cleaning, you’ll be fine. I’m excited for more podcasts! I usually listen while I cook on the weekend, and it’s like I have girlfriends hanging out in the kitchen with me.

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    Leslie
    19 May 2020
    1:34pm

    I was skeptical about the Instant Pot. I hate it when people wax rhapsodic about a single-purpose quick-fix device, particularly if it takes up a lot of space. But, alas, the Instant Pot is fantastic, and I end up using it all the time. Every recipe that you’ve ever wanted to cook but have shied away from because it includes the dreaded phrase “simmer for 3 hours” can be converted to an Instant Pot recipe that you don’t have to babysit and can accomplish in a third of the time.

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    Karen
    19 May 2020
    4:18pm

    Re instant pot…it makes the best hard boiled eggs. I’m mean seriously good, and easy to peel every time. But beyond that, I’ve never found anything else that really worked. Maybe if I was cooking for a crowd, but cooking for one, it’s been a waste of time and money

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      HickfromStyx
      19 May 2020
      9:24pm

      I have a rice cooker with a steaming basket. Turns out this is an amazing way to cook hard-boiled eggs, too. I still use my Nordic Ware egg boiler more, and would not buy a rice cooker just for eggs. I did get inspired by the Instapot to experiment with this, so thanks, Instapot.

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    themis
    19 May 2020
    5:34pm

    I have the Breville version of the Instant Pot, and that same Breville immersion blender, but mine is also the motor attachment to a food processor and has electric beater and ricer attachments. I love the Breville Pot thing because I can sear short ribs then plop in root vegetable puree and tomato paste and sear that, too, then glug in half a bottle of red wine and a mess of garlic and get that up to pressure, and then shred the shortribs for a ragu over noodles or polenta. That one-dish wonder gets me absolute raves at dinner parties and it’s laughably easy. I mean, I’ve used my Breville pot for beans once or twice, but searing then long-braising meat is its mission. Put in a pork butt and a bit of broth and dried chiles and you’ve got burritos and nachos for a week. Bo kho, massaman curries, butter chicken – throw things in, seal it; one dish to clean, which is the whole point, for me.

    My other rec for taking entertaining to the next level is a sous vide cooker; everything’s done exactly when you need it, no matter how late anyone is, and nothing’s ever overdone, boiled to death or has gotten mushy. Everything’s perfect.

    I love that silicone rack thing! Nice find.

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    Wendela
    19 May 2020
    6:17pm

    Silicone roasting rack—mind blown, in the cart now. We use the immersion blender pretty often. I have a few friends who love their instapots but even more who say they aren’t worth the space they take up. I haven’t been tempted because they take up a lot of space and they aren’t all that attractive (can’t the designers do something about that?!). For someone who lives in NYC (where space is limited) and works from home (which makes it straightforward to let something simmer on the stove all day), I would think an instapot is not going to be all that useful. But maybe you’ll love it—who knows? Report back if you get one. Also: I want and need that garlic storer- so pretty and useful. As are the dish towels! Maybe I’ll turn my old ones into masks and buy these.

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    Kristen
    22 May 2020
    11:38am

    I have a small kitchen and am never really in favor of new useless kitchen appliances so perhaps I was already prejudiced against it, so take my Instant Pot opinion with a grain of salt. It’s not that amazing and I don’t find that it saves a ton of time. I received one for Christmas and I have almost never used it except for the few months that my dog had kind of intense dietary needs and I needed to cook lots of chicken breasts for him.

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    Mouse
    19 May 2020
    7:05am

    Melissa Clark’s Spatchcocked Chicken with Grapes. That should be your first spatchcocking endeavor….also, such a fun word to say……spatchcock, spatchcock…..

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    Joanne
    20 May 2020
    7:06am

    Instant Pot–I don’t get why people love it. I bought one and found it was easier to cook everything in the pots I already possess. You don’t know how long something is going to take in an Instant Pot, and in my limited experience, it takes forever to cook the most basic things.

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    Mouse
    20 May 2020
    7:21am

    Oh yes, it’s a game-changer. I’d advise one with a cord; the battery powered ones poop out easily.

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    Cornelia
    19 May 2020
    12:19pm

    Get the Perfex peppermill. Unbeatable mechanism, also French and cool.

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    RebeccaToo
    19 May 2020
    11:46am

    I use kitchen shears for everything! Snip, snip, snip. I love the Instapot for beans, soups, stews, etc. My three favorite things are batch poaching chicken breasts, hard boiled eggs, and egg bites. Jacky and Amy have the most reliable recipes. Silicone things are great because you can use them everywhere…microwave, oven, Instapot, etc.

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    SSAMOS
    19 May 2020
    11:57am

    We love our Instant Pot and use it a couple times a week. Melissa Clark’s Instant Pot cookbook is a must. We use it for yogurt, hardboiled eggs, beans (so good! so easy! no presoak required), frozen meat. My husband is Filipino and makes a mean chicken adobo in the IP, and I even made clams in it over the weekend in a coconut milk – lemongrass sauce. Not always faster than the stove, and there is a learning a curve to it (I got a couple burn notices before I realized mine ran hot and needed a tad more liquid than some recipes called for), but 10/10 would recommend, esp if you wait for a sale when Amazon gives them away for nearly free.

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    Susan
    19 May 2020
    11:29am

    Instant Pots: We were late to that party, but LOVE ours. (probably because we always forget to defrost meat and the Instant Pot is very forgiving…adding only a few extra minutes to the cooking from frozen to done.)

    Pepper Mills: We own an electric one and it’s so easy to use!. Peugeot makes a really durable one that won’t break the bank. https://www.peugeot-saveurs.com/en_wd/zephir-electric-pepper-mill-soft-touch-black-abs-14-cm.html

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    Caryn
    19 May 2020
    11:26am

    I love my Instant Pot! It is true there are some things that it should NOT be used for, but it is invaluable for things like super-quick stock, hard-boiled eggs, rice, beans, soups, etc. It is also brilliant for a lot of Indian food.
    P.S. Your friend Melissa Clark wrote a really good Instant Pot cookbook…

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    Melissa Schwartz
    19 May 2020
    11:27am

    I saw this several years ago and am always in awe of how GP casually spatchcocks the chicken while talking about her acting career:
    https://youtu.be/heLqGpOEIoQ

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    Alison
    19 May 2020
    11:24am

    HUGE instant pot fan here. I soft boil my eggs in it every single day plus use to cook steel cut oatmeal and loads of chili. The instant pot cookbooks by Coco Morante are a lifesaver: https://www.amazon.com/Coco-Morante/e/B07594L8VF/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

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      Tis
      19 May 2020
      3:47pm

      Could someone please talk a little about soft boiling their eggs in the instant pot? It takes so long to heat up, I just don’t get doing it for something so simple. I’m clearly missing out on something!

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        Kay Erikson
        19 May 2020
        5:49pm

        I think it comes down to how much easier it is to peel? I don’t own an instant pot but I pressure cook all my hard boiled and soft boil eggs. The peels never stick. I also love my pressure cooker for beans, risotto, polenta and pretty much everything else that has been mentioned for instant pot in terms of speed.

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    Karen Spisak
    19 May 2020
    11:24am

    Instapot kind of overrated. Just bought one and it was fine, but I’m not in love with it. Don’t go for the Le crueset peppermill. Sur la Table has one with a lever that’s so much easier to use, it’s crazy.

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    KHD
    19 May 2020
    11:11am

    I got an Instapot during the craze and on an amazon prime day (so it was cheaper). It did ok on some things but not others, and I agree that the time savings is lost on other areas, including clean up. I might give mine away since it is taking up precious cabinet space. It’s probably great if you make a lot of yogurt and bone broths but I’m not that person.

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    Cedar
    19 May 2020
    10:51am

    I live by my slow cooker and I really can’t figure out the big deal about an insta-pot. I don’t mind that it takes five hours to cook beans, stock, soup etc – it takes exactly 5 minutes of my time, and then I go do other stuff – including leaving the house to exercise, perfectly safely, and come back to cooked things. Why would I need it to go faster, in a more expensive machine with more parts to break?

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    Viajera
    19 May 2020
    10:51am

    Cute dishcloths!

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    Jill
    19 May 2020
    10:48am

    Longtime spatchcock fan here! I’m also an Instant Pot fan. Spatchcock the chicken, use the bones in the IP to make stock to make soup. You can stretch a whole chicken into several meals. My favorite cheap eats combo! And get the kitchen shears for cutting up the chicken. Your hands will thank you.

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    Ann
    19 May 2020
    10:23am

    Too bad I can’t share a video here of my Instant Pot experience…I made Mac & cheese for my kids but forgot to cut the recipe in half to fit into my 3-quart machine. Once it reached pressure, it went full volcano all over my kitchen.

    My advice is to pass. It’s not terribly “instant,” in the first place. It takes up to 40 mins for certain recipes to reach pressure. A cheapie slow cooker with a meat probe—that’s key if you aren’t a confident cook, like I am—is a way better thing to have. Hamilton Beach makes one that’s about $40-$50, and I never ruin meat anymore.

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    MKW
    19 May 2020
    10:02am

    I’ve spent 30 years fine-tuning my recipes and only use slow cookers, oven, grill, and stove. When I look at new appliances (such as instapot, air fryers, bread makers, etc), I ask myself: Can I make the same things with what I have? Do I want to make room for the item? Is it worth the time saving? I recommend investing in good cookware and knives. I like my pepper grinder from Penzeys.com

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    Lisa B
    19 May 2020
    10:02am

    I had not heard the term spatchcock until the eif podcast. We have been calling them “flattened” chickens because that is what our butcher calls them. I looked it up on the internet and there is also “butterfly” and “roadkill”, although different opinions are out there on whether they are all the same techniques with respect to bone removal. I am a vegetarian but I cook meat for my kids, so I just buy the chickens already flattened from the butcher. My kids are 9 & 13 and much prefer “spatchcock”, so that is the new name now at our house!

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    Emily M.
    19 May 2020
    9:58am

    I love my instant pot. I especially like it in the summer because it won’t heat up your kitchen. If your feeling ambitious, use it to make yogurt.

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      MKW
      19 May 2020
      10:04am

      I just learned to make yogurt in my slow cooker. So easy! So good!

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        Caroline
        19 May 2020
        11:13am

        Really??! I’m gonna need to look into that!

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          Mkw
          19 May 2020
          11:57am

          I used this recipe. Know nothing about this blogger. Just started googling slow cooker yogurt. Now working on a coconut yogurt as I’m the one in our family who is dairy-free.
          https://www.blessthismessplease.com/crock-pot-yogurt/

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    Boerumama
    19 May 2020
    9:15am

    I own that pepper grinder and would not recommend it. It only does an extremely fine grind, almost a dusting, and the top piece that screws on unscrews as you grind so that you have to tighten it again w/ each use.

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    Carrie P
    19 May 2020
    9:16am

    We (2 of us) have an instant pot and use it occasionally for congee, curry, etc. Whenever I tried a recipe that wasn’t intended to be like a stew it still turned out mushy. I find it a bit intimidating and it stresses me out so I’m much more inclined to just use the stovetop or oven. But I probably should revisit it again now that I have time on my hands.

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    Jen
    19 May 2020
    9:23am

    Definitely go for the spatchcock scissors. They are a game changer, and great for when you need to cut up a whole chicken, too. On Instant Pots: though they claim they can work as a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, most seem to agree the slow cooker function doesn’t work that well. So it’s all about whether you want a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker can cook things that normally take a long time in about 1/3 the time. Most incredibly, in my view, dried beans in about 20-40 min.–but then you do need to add to that the time it takes to get up to pressure (often about 20 more min.). Still faster than 2 hrs. on the stove. Or any recipe for something like short ribs or brisket where it normally takes 3 hours; it will take about 1 hr. You can also make your own yogurt in it! I have never noticed any “cooked in microwave” issue. In general, soups, stews, and even stocks taste better cooked in a pressure cooker because nothing escapes. Great for bone broth, also in a way shorter time.

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      Jax
      19 May 2020
      4:01pm

      Agree 100%. The Instant Pot shines as a low-maintenance pressure cooker (basically, ideal for rest of us non-pro cooks!).

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    Caroline
    19 May 2020
    9:03am

    Lol! Spatchcocking does sound a touch barbaric but I’m obsessed with it as well.
    I tried to do it with reg old kitchen scissors and it was not pretty.
    Since I’m stuck in the house I ended up using my beautiful sewing scissors.
    It’s not like I can sew anyway.

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    Tamara
    19 May 2020
    9:10am

    One more thing…an air fryer…I highly recommend it. I use mine at least once a day. I keep saying I’m going to put it away since it takes up premium counter space but then I’m using it again…

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      Mindy
      19 May 2020
      9:38am

      Ooooh….air fryer. I like that idea better than an Instant Pot. What kind do you have?

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    Mindy
    19 May 2020
    8:24am

    I’m a devotee of the slow cooker (and also own a pressure cooker), but I’ve been asking around about Instant Pots this week as well. Some friends swear by them and others have said they prefer the slow cooker, as it really develops flavor and that the Instant Pot provides more of a “cooked in the microwave” taste. And as far as garlic cellars go, they do work. I have this one and it’s been great.
    https://www.amazon.com/Charlotte-Watson-Teracotta-English-EHI212/dp/B000LCP59I/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=garlic+cellar&qid=1589890747&sr=8-5

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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