As the seasons change and different foods are available and plentiful, I find myself using different kitchen gadgets and appliances to suit my varying tastes. In the winter, I use my immersion blender and Le Crueset dutch oven to create satisfying and warm soups on a cold day. In summer, when I have fresh produce and warm air, there are three kitchen essentials that I turn to:
The adjustable mandoline slicer
I actually own one of those fancier stainless steel French versions, but I reach for this one instead. It’s lightweight, quick and easy to clean – and it’s affordable. There are four different thickness settings and it makes short work of anything from thinly slicing radishes to slicing potatoes for gratin. This is by far one of the most useful tools in the kitchen – especially in the summer when fresh produce is abundant.
The Black & Decker CJ525 CitrusMate Plus Citrus Juicer
In this case, my recommendation is specific to a particular make and model. I did a lot of looking around and reading reviews until I finally settled with this one and I’m quite happy with my decision. In the summer, I love to make fresh squeezed lemonade and the CitrusMate makes it a breeze. There are three features that make this number one in my book. First, it comes with two different size cones – one for smaller fruits like lemons and limes and a second one for larger fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Second, the reamer automatically reverses itself to get every last bit of juice out of the fruit. And third, there is a pulp control feature which allows you to control how much or how little pulp you want in your juice (I’m a pulp-free gal myself). Really, really handy for fresh squeezed citrus juice all summer long.
Cuisinart TOB-195 Convection Toaster Oven
Another recommendation that is specific to this make and model. But, that said, I’d recommend any toaster oven as an indispensable summer appliance. When it’s hot outside, the last thing you want to do is heat up your full-size oven. A toaster oven heats up quickly and uses far less energy than a conventional oven. It can be a large up-front investment, but – even though I don’t have any hard facts to back me up on this – I think I’ll make back some if not all of the cost in energy savings over the long run. I chose this model in particular based on reviews and features. I knew I wanted a convection oven and I was looking for a larger size interior that could accommodate a pretty decent portion of vegetables. Recently, I’ve roasted turnips, broccoli and cauliflower. I’ve toasted bread, reheated leftovers and roasted garlic. I would say that this little oven gets used almost daily and it’s one of the most important items in the kitchen.