Cooks Illustrated Kitchen Tools and Equipment List: Gadgets and Handy Tools, Part One

November 4, 2013 · 3 comments

The Christmas Mathias was 13 (now 28), when asked what he would like with his name on it under the tree, he said he wanted either a cat, a gadget, or a laptop.

That Christmas he became the proud Chief of Staff of a laptop cat named “Gadget.”

cats1However, other than her daily habit of rubbing those glossy saucy haunches up against every surface at kitty level in a blatant ownership move (“See this bakeware cabinet? Mine. That fridge? Mine.”), this particular Gadget hasn’t proved to be notably handy in the kitchen.

So, in addition to sharing her sweet mug with you, we thought another Cook’s Illustrated “best of” list from their fabulous book, The Science of Good Cooking might be more helpful for those starting to think of their own Christmas lists, or for anyone who may have recently punctuated a vigorous opinion by accidentally shattering their favorite wooden spoon on the tiled counter for emphasis.

Whoops! (Not me, obviously. At least, not recently.)

OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs

Tongs: the go-to gadget for bacon lovers everywhere. The key factors? Scalloped-edged slightly concave pincers, be able to open and close easily, be long enough to keep delicate fingies out of hot oily spots, and lock closed for convenient storage.

‘Nuff said. OXO delivers again.

Bamboo Wood Cooking Spoon

After reading the Cook’s write up—who knew there was so much to say about a wooden spoon?—and the glowing reviews on Amazon about how stain resistant, comfortable (apparently a squared-off handle is WAY more comfie in your hand than Grandma’s traditional round one) sturdy, smooth, and well-designed this puppy is, I realized how shockingly ill equipped our kitchen is in the wooden spoon department.

J.K. Adams 19-Inch-by-2-Inch Maple Wood Rolling Dowel

Okay, so here’s a new spin on a time-honored kitchen must-have for those hearty souls still left in the pie game. Gone are the days of the pedestrian pin, says Cook’s Illustrated. Any dough boy worth his weight in his Emile Henry pie dish now uses a rolling “dowel.”

Essentially, a dowel is a pin without the handles. In truth, I’m not sure exactly what advantage this buys you in the pie-making department, but as the owner of one of said maple dowels, I can tell you that it works beautifully on delicate dough, especially when combined with a lightly-floured Roul’pat Countertop Roll Mat.

Bonus usage of a rolling dowel? it’s a comfort to have on hand in my “What happens if a burglar breaks in when Rick’s not home?” fantasy. I’ll just keep it under the bed, and at the first inkling of a midnight  intruder, I’ll hand it to Winston, who will relentlessly pester the poor bastard to play fetch until he runs screaming down the driveway into the night, never to be seen again.

Kool-Tek Nomex Conventional Temperature Protection Oven Mitt

You just have to love a “best of” kitchen gadget described as “machine washable,” “form-fitting and not overly bulky for easy maneuvering,” “flexible,” and “heat-resistant.”

Oh, my!  I’d give my best wooden spoon for lingerie that lived up to such claims.

And at a list price of roughly $45 PER MITT, (actual price around $30), it seems that the “black box” pricing rationale between the two markets is remarkably similar.

However, Cook’s Illustrated may have recognized that for most of us, this price point spikes the needle, so they have graciously offered a “best buy” option at under $15:

OrkaPlus Silicone Oven Mitt with Cotton Lining

You must believe me that I didn’t see the lingerie/silicone connection coming before it was too late, and now it’s time to move along, people, to ladles.

Rösle 10008 Ladle with Pouring Rim

We here at are HUGE fans of good industrial design, especially those involving spouts and hot or sticky liquids.

And we don’t yet own a Rosle Ladle with Pouring Rim. As it currently scores an Amazoning full 5-star rating with 29 raving reviews, some would say this is an error in judgement.

Instead, we’re dribbling along with a robust ancient thing, with appropriately long handle and broad and deep enough spoon but whose pouring spot was designed by Picasso: it’s more art than science.

It’s too solid and familiar to throw out now, I’m afraid, and we’ve reached a detente of sorts over the years where I agree to not expect a clean pour and it quietly concurs.

Some utensils just become fixtures in that sweet entity known as “my kitchen,” and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

Want more? Check out “Cook’s Illustrated: Best Kitchen Gadgets and Handy Tools, Part Two

More Kitchen Recommendations

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