Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My can't-live-without-it kitchen gadget

I have a love-hate relationship with my bathroom scale. I, in fact, own two bathroom scales because I thought I NEEDED one that calculated body fat.

Wow, was that ever depressing.

It is now stored on a high shelf in the bathroom, and I use the other one for information. (At least I try, try, try to let it only give me information. I hate it when it tells me I've been "bad" or I'm a "loser." Sometimes I swear it does.)

My kitchen scale, however, is my BFF. I use it daily, for all kinds of things, some of which are not cooking-related. But really? It's one of the best tools for helping keep track of what you consume.

I bought an Escali several years ago. Its original purpose was to weigh yarn. We knitters sometimes run into great deals on unlabeled yarn. A scale that measures grams lets us know if we have enough to make a sweater or if we need to edit the pattern and just make a vest.

If one yard of yarn weighs X grams, then 100 grams = X yards. I think. Heh. Turns out math is pretty useful after all. (I spent most of my high-school years in the art room. Who needed math when all I did was draw, sculpt, paint or sketch?)

We knitters also sell yarn on eBay every once in a while, and having a scale is a great selling tool, both in determining how much product we're offering and in calculating shipping costs. Kitchen scales double as postal scales, they're very versatile.

But a kitchen scale really shines in the kitchen. All the cool kids are now creating recipes using multiples of grams instead of cups or fractions thereof. (Actually I don't know if all the cool kids are doing it, but Cooking Light is. Or Martha. I can't remember which.)

And when I create a recipe throw something together, I can weigh the ingredients, pop them into a nutrition calculator and have it spit out all the data for me. FatSecret and SparkPeople have similar applications, and I bet there are lots of others.

I'm sure you've been as frustrated as I by nutrition labels that tell you how many calories are in X number of grams of something, when all you have is a measuring cup. Take chocolate bars, for instance. Something else all the cool kids are doing is s-l-o-w-l-y melting a square of good dark chocolate on their tongues instead of wolfing down a whole bar.

But how many calories are in a square? If you had a kitchen scale that weighed in both ounces and grams, you would know that the 7-gram piece of Trader Joe's Tanzania 73% Dark Chocolate you had for dessert added just 35 delicious, satisfying, smooth, tasty calories to your daily total. You still have to use that pesky math to figure it out, but it's easier to figure multiples of those teeny-tiny grams than fractions of those great big ounces.

Of course, you could just throw up your hands and say, "Who cares?" But, speaking strictly for me, that's how I got to see that very scary number on the bathroom scale and end up writing an entire post about my kitchen scale. Obsess much? Who, me?

Okay, your turn. What's in your kitchen gadget arsenal that you couldn't cook without? What tool helps support your goal to cook more healthful meals? Details, I want details.


Mindy said...

I have three favorite kitchen tools. The first is a set of microplanes. I love grating cheese fresh and especially with a hard cheese like parmasan, you seem to get more in a serving (pre-weighed on my scale) because it is so fine, light and fluffy. I also love my immersion blender which I use to make soups and things thicker without adding extra calories. The last thing is my Weight Watchers oil sprayer which you fill with olive oil (or whatever oil). 10 pumps will give you 1 points worth of spray, which is about 1 tsp.

denise said...

Hmmm...this is a tough one. I don't cook consistently enough to have real long-term favorites. When I get something new, it becomes my fave for a while, then I get tired of it and forget about it.

For example, Mindy mentioned the microplanes. I used mine endlessly when I first got them, but until Mindy mentioned it, I haven't used it in years ... in fact, I don't think I've used it since I moved over 3 years ago! Now that it's back on my mind though, perhaps I'll dig it out.

The most recent long-term kitchen love has been with my crockpots (have two in different size/shapes).

What cooking I've done over the last year or more has mostly been done in the crockpot - love it! But cooking in general fell out of favor the last few months - why cook when you can eat all the junk laying around everywhere?

I need to find a new favorite (or revive an old one) and get back to it - and SOON!

magi said...

Very good! I think that you have done a great job! FANTASTIC!!!!
Cooking Equipment

Carole said...

My current favourite kitchen gadget is a jar key