Recipe Rock

I’ve had this recipe holder almost 1 year now and I use it almost every day! Sure, it works great when creating culinary perfection, but I am also a quilter and I use it for following quilt pattern instructions. I actually purchased 2 of them so I don’t have to keep moving one from the kitchen to the sewing studio.

-- RM Breuer  

Architec Recipe Rock

Available from Amazon

Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Hand Crank Coffee Grinder

I like the idea of grinding coffee by hand, but most of the hand crank grinders that I have tried have been hard to turn, hard to hold, inefficient in moving beans through (too wide and shallow for the unground bean bin), or otherwise awkward.

About a year ago I found this Japanese model that meets my concerns. It is a light, 11.2 oz., easy to turn conical burr coffee grinder. At about $45 it is not the cheapest but it is the easiest for me to use two or three times a day. It works so well for me that I bought a second one for grinding seeds (mostly fennel and flax, which I mix in with my morning oatmeal). This model is particularly useful for those with smaller hands (like me).

-- Lon Levy  

Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder

Available from Amazon

Stem Gem Strawberry Huller

It didn’t take me long to get the hang of the Stem Gem Strawberry Huller, and once I did, I was able remove the stem and core of strawberries much faster than I could with a knife.

To use it, you push the button on the back to extend the retractable Alien-esque jaws. The deeper you push the button, the more the jaws open. Then, plunge the jaws into the strawberry, twist, then pull. There you go, a cleanly cored berry. My kids fight over who gets to use it.


-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Chef’n Stem Gem Strawberry Huller

Available from Amazon

Chemex 6-Cup Classic Series Glass Coffee Maker

I have been using this tool for about a year. In combination with a food scale, Chemex bleached filters, a Capresso hot water kettle, great coffee (like Ruta Maya Dark Roast), and of course clean filtered water, Chemex makes consistent coffee with no bitter after taste. I watched > 10 videos on You Tube, taking the best features of each to come up with my Chemex specification for great coffee (see below). The key is to use good measurement tools to maintain day-to-day consistency and to ensure you are brewing at the correct temperature to avoid extraction of the bitter components of the coffee beans.

Chemex is superior because glass is easy to clean and does not hold odors like plastic or even stainless steel. The price is very reasonable for a tool that can produce a full body, full flavor, no bitter after taste cup of coffee!

How to make Chemex Coffee

I Equipment
– A Chemex 6 Cup Coffee Maker
– B Chemex Bonded Filter Squares (Oxygen cleansed)
– C Hario V60 Drip Scale / Timer
– D Kitchen Aid Coffee Grinder
– E Capresso H2O Pro Water Kettle

II Ingredients
– A Purified Water 56 ounces
– B Whole Coffee Beans 45 to 55 grams

III Procedure (Makes 30 ounces or 1 1/3 cup of coffee)
– A Boil Approximately 56 ounces of water in Capresso Kettle (212
– B Place Chemex Filter in Chemex Coffee Maker
– i Open filter so that three layers of paper are on one side and one layer of paper is on the other side.
– ii Orient the three layer side toward the spout of the Chemex Coffee Maker.
– C Unplug the Capresso Kettle when the water reaches 212F
– D Wait 30 seconds.
– i Critical for dropping water temperature to 200F.
– E Thoroughly wet the Chemex Filter with the hot water.
– i This also warms the vessel.
– F Pour out the hot water from the Chemex Coffee Maker.
– i Carefully hold the three layer side of the filter out of
the way.
– ii Reposition the wetted filter.
– G Turn on the Hario Scale.
– H Place the Chemex Coffee Maker on the Hario Scale.
– I Tare the Hario Scale.
– J Grind the whole bean coffee on a Medium Coarse setting.
– i 10 seconds in Kitchen Aid Grinder.
– K Pour 50 grams of Medium Coarse Coffee into the wetted Chemex
– i Gently shake the Chemex Coffee Maker to even out the
Coffee Grounds.
– L Make a small intention in the center of the grounds.
– M Tare the Hario Scale.
– N Carefully pour approximately 100 grams of hot water to wet
the coffee grounds thoroughly.
– i Start in the center indention, moving outward until
grounds are completely wet.
– O Allow the Coffee Grounds to “bloom” for 45 seconds.
– i Critical time.
– P Tare the Hario Scale.
– Q Start the main pour.
– i The main pour will total 887 grams of hot water.
– ii Gently pour starting at the edge and move in a circular
motion around the perimeter of the Chemex opening.
– iii Pour until the water is about half an inch from the top.
– iv Allow it to filter topping off occasionally until you
reach 887 grams.
– v Try to avoid “floaters” by sinking them carefully with
the pour.
– R Allow the water to filter through until the last few drops.
– S Remove the filter and place in the compost.
– T Pour the coffee.
– U Enjoy !
– V Place the optional Chemex glass top on the coffee maker to
help maintain temperature.

IV Notes
– A This procedure makes about 30 ounces of Coffee.
– B Grams of coffee can be adjusted to taste. I recommend using
the range 45 to 55 grams.
– C If the water filters very very slowly, the Grind is too fine.
Adjust to a coarser grind.
– D Time is critical to maintain water temperature within the
optimal range. Have all supplies available. Work steadily
without rushing and you’ll have no problems.
– E The scale is critical for consistency. Once you create the
perfect cup of coffee, you have the recipe.
– F This procedure was developed after observing several Chemex
videos on YouTube, combined with my own experimentation.

V Coffee (in order of preference)
– A List is limited as coffees taste different using the Chemex
method compared to my old Automatic Drip Coffee Maker. My old
database of Coffee preferences is obsolete. The Chemex
difference is in the elimination of the bitter after taste.
– B Ruta Maya Shade Grown Dark Roast
– i #1 with a bullet! $14.99 for 2.2lbs at Costco, great value
– C Columbia Caldas (Starbucks Reserve)
– i Excellent, but expensive
– D Ethiopia Medium Roast (Starbucks)
– i Excellent based on initial tasting.
– E Jamaica Blue Mountain (Starbucks Reserve)
– i I remember this tasting better in Jamaica
– ii Good coffee, but poor value for the price

-- Joe McGowan  

[Peter Schlumbohm, creator of the Chemex coffee maker, was quite a character. A Time Magazine article from November 1946 quoted him as saying, “with the Chemex, even a moron can make good coffee.” – Mark Frauenfelder]

Chemex 6-Cup Classic Series Glass Coffee Maker

Available from Amazon

OXO Angled Measuring Jigger

About a year ago I bought the OXO Angled Measuring Jigger to use for mixing up cocktails. The jigger is made of stainless steel, so it’s virtually indestructible and easy to clean. Inside it has an angled surface with all the measurements — in both tablespoons and ounces (and half ounces) — so it’s easy to get an accurate measurement. The spout also makes it easy to pour into you shaker or glass of choice. And I have to mention the best part — it’s around $7.

-- Julie Anderson  

OXO Steel Angled Measuring Jigger

Available from Amazon

Skrapr Surface Scraper

I found this tool at the register of a local hardware store a few years ago. I clean the kitchen after my wife cooks and had never found a good tool to scrape food from the bottom of the pan without causing damage.

The Skrapr is made of a hard plastic resin with a sharp, durable edge. It is also great for removing debris from glass cooktops. Some of the Amazon reviews complain that it does not work well on cast iron. I can’t comment on that, but for aluminum and steel pots that do not have a non-stick coating, it works great.

-- Tom Karches  

Skrapr 2-piece surface scraper

Available from Amazon

American Weigh Digital Scale

I needed a scale to weigh the powdered supplements I take (powders are cheaper than capsules). I bought the AWS 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale in January. It’s about the size of an iPhone and measures up to a limit of 100 grams in 0.01 gram increments.

I also bought a 100 gram weight ($7) to calibrate the scale.

The first thing I did was weigh some coins. A Nickel is supposed to have a mass of 5 grams (here’s a page that lists the mass of different coins). All the Nickels I weighed had slightly different masses. Same with Pennies and Half Dollars.

I also weighed Bicycle playing cards. Each card has a mass of about 1.75 grams. I weighed all 26 red cards: 45.51 grams. The black cards came in at 45.57 grams. The four Aces had a combined mass of 7 grams on the nose. Would the Tens weigh more, since they have more ink than the Aces? I measured them: 7.03 grams. I tried a different deck. Aces: 7.03 grams. Tens: 7.03 grams. (I’d love to weigh these cards on a 0.001 gram scale!)






-- Mark Frauenfelder  

American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale

Available from Amazon

Kyocera ceramic knife

kyoceraA must have in the kitchen. Stays sharp, really, really sharp. Will not react to or stain what you are cutting. I even have a serrated bread knife that can cut old stale baguettes paper thin. The very best for fruits and veggies.

Not for prying or cutting meat with a bone. So hard they are fragile and will not survive a drop on a tile floor. Use them with a wood or plastic cutting board only.

-- Kent Barnes  

Kyocera Revolution 3-Piece Ceramic Knife Set

Available from Amazon

Clip N’ Drain Strainer

Frequently, when draining water from a pot to separate it from its contents, I would need a second person to hold the strainer over the sink while I poured the contents of the pot through the strainer.

If no one was there to help me, I would have to scoop the contents into the strainer by hand or attempt to empty as much water as possible from the pot, which usually resulted in whatever I was cooking ending up in the sink.

Two years ago, I discovered the Clip N’ Drain strainer by Chef’s Planet. This handy kitchen gadget clips to the side of the pot, which allows me to use both hands to tip over the pot and strain out the water – no second person required. The clip mechanism is very strong and it has never slipped off or moved while straining. Unlike my other strainers, it’s small and easy to clean and fits on all of the pots and even the pans in my kitchen, pretty much any round vessel. The holes are not too large and so far I have not made anything that has gotten through them.

My only advice would be to tip slowly for a larger heavier pot so that the contents don’t slip over the top of the strainer.

-- Alice Denenberg  

Chef’s Planet Clip N’ Drain Strainer

Available from Amazon

Stabil Steamer

I don’t want to contradict the review of bamboo steamers, they are amazing tools and work great. They can be very affordable and can last a long time if you take care of them.

And, there is the rub. I don’t take proper care of mine. I don’t really know what I do wrong, but mine break down and get moldy. And, I don’t feel I ever get them clean enough.

When I found stainless steel steamer baskets at Ikea, I realized I found the right steamer baskets for me. I bought three, and haven’t looked back since.

They are a lot like the bamboo ones: They stack on top of each other, and you can get a pot with a lid that they fit on perfectly. But, they are steel: easy to clean up, and up for a good scouring if need be! They don’t break down, and no mold issue so far.

With my stack of three steel steamers, I continue to get all of the benefits of cooking with steam (it’s quick and easy, keeps nutrition locked in, and doesn’t use a lot of energy), but I also don’t have to bid farewell to my steamers every few months.

Stabil Steamer insert