Kitchen Gadgets That Help Make Cooking Fun

Instead of our typical Localicious column, this month we present fun kitchen gadgets to help the whole family be inspired in the kitchen! We found a little inspiration ourselves in visiting some local kitchen stores and trying out the products below. To check out any of these items in person, keep your dollars local and visit the area’s kitchen stores, including Little Red Hen Kitchen in Chico, Feather River Kitchen & Gifts in Oroville, Cook in Red Bluff, and That Kitchen Place in Redding.

art-0301-loca1CAST IRON SKILLET

There are several reasons I cook with cast iron, number one being – I trust it! I don’t have to scour the label and then the internet to determine what exactly it is I’m cooking on, and I don’t fear that it will leach chemicals into my food. In fact, it does the opposite by imparting iron, a nutrient that many children are commonly deficient in. Cast Iron is a good conductor of heat, and can be used on the stovetop for cooking or in the oven for baking. I choose Lodge cast iron, made in the United States.

art-0301-loca2KNAPP CAST IRON CLEANER

I find the most common deterrent to using cast iron is that the cleaning/seasoning process can be intimidating. Seasoning simply means oiling or greasing your cast iron then heating it to create a non-stick surface. Traditional soap and water cleaning can undo the seasoning. This is where the Knapp Cast Iron Cleaner becomes the most handy tool I have discovered. It is a small square of chain mail that scrubs cast iron clean without any additional water or soap. With its lifetime warranty, it will last just as long as your cast iron!

art-0301-loca3STEMGEM STRAWBERRY HULLER BY CHEF’N

I was directed to the StemGem by Charlene of Feather River Kitchen & Gifts in historic downtown Oroville. This adorable little huller comes in the shape of a strawberry. A push button on the top opens small teeth at the bottom that remove the green hull from fresh strawberries.

art-0301-loca4VEGGIE SPIRALIZER

Veggie Spiralizers have risen in popularity in the past year and for good reason. Most of these gadgets run under $20 and act as a handheld pencil sharpener for veggies. They are fun to use and turn ordinary veggies into noodle-like strands to use in spaghetti or any other veggie creation you can come up with. My favorite spiralizer is made by Microplane. It offers two  different sized openings to accommodate vegetables of multiple sizes.

art-0301-loca5GARLIC PEELER

This little silicone tube may be my longest-standing favorite kitchen gadget! Pop a couple of garlic cloves in the tube, press your hand over it and roll back and forth, tilt the tube and dump out your perfectly peeled garlic. Voila. It’s easy to clean too. 

art-0301-loca8KIDS NYLON KNIVES

These are serrated nylon knives with the ability to cut through veggies but not through little fingers. This means one more task your child can join in on to help in the kitchen. I visited the Little Red Hen Kitchen Store in Chico where they offer a wide variety of kid-friendly cooking tools. The store’s manager, Erika, directed me right to these Curious Chef knives and I can’t wait to use them in in my next kids’ cooking class.

art-0301-loca6VEGGICHOP BY CHEF’N

Unlike traditional “choppers” that work like pushing a button, this little guy has a hand pull. The pieces are simple, easy to put together, and easy to store. The blades are contained inside, which makes them safe for helping hands. The hand pull is fun to use and gives kiddos the ability to chop and mince in a way that would not be safe with a knife. I love this product as an adult user, and it’s always a big hit when I teach cooking classes for kids.

art-0301-loca7RSVP MESH STRAINER

This stainless steel strainer comes with a long handle and a straining basket. The 8” size is perfect for many tasks. I used it to rinse quinoa for last month’s Localicious quinoa pizza crust. It’s also great for fishing items like raviolis out of boiling water, or for straining veggies and pasta noodles.

art-0301-loca9MARY LAKE THOMPSON

I couldn’t complete a Localicious article on kitchen items without including our wonderful local artist and kitchen product designer Mary Lake Thompson. Mary hails out of Oroville, California, where, with her staff of 50, she creates artful kitchen towels, aprons, napkins, stoneware and baking mixes. Mary Lake products can be found dotting stores across Northern California, including the Enjoy Stores in Redding and Red Bluff.

Localicious is a monthly column celebrating food in the North State. If you would like to suggest a food-related business or organization, email us at localicious@northstateparent.com

Erin Bianchi
About Erin Bianchi

Erin Bianchi is a registered dietitian from Northern California. She has a huge passion for local agriculture and fermented foods. Erin owns Cook, a kitchen boutique in Red Bluff, CA, that carries kitchen tools, local foods, beer and wine.

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