It’s time to celebrate another hero gadget – something I truly could not get by without in the kitchen. It is time the spatula got its moment of glory. I like a spatula. I like scraping out every last bit of mixture, every last drop of soup, it makes me feel thrifty; I don’t like waste. Spatulas can be used one-handed. Spatulas are colourful. They are cheap. They are friendly. God bless ’em.
I have five spatulas: one big yellow one made by Oxo Good Grips, which is perfect for scraping out every last bit of cake mixture from the bowl, and flexible and slim enough to lift and turn omelettes and pancakes. The two medium-sized ones – one red Le Creuset one with a wooden handle, one cheap and cheerful all-plastic – are both frequently grabbed at critical moments while cooking, for turning, scraping out the food processor bowl, or folding in an egg white or two. The fish-slice spatula (not pictured) I have is this beauty made by Chef’n – it is razor-thin and makes flipping burgers, fish, fried eggs etc a doddle. But my most favourite spatula is my tiny turquoise one. It measures no more than 15cm but is super-flexible, and so tiny it can be used to extract the last bit of jam from the jar, or the last bit of yogurt from the pot.
I also have a spoonula (yes, this is a word – apparently) which is a heat-safe silicone spatula with rounded edges and has a scoop like a spoon. Hurrah for the spoonula.
I looked online for spatulas. Wow. There are mini icing spatulas, double-ended spatulas, pastel-coloured spatulas, spatulas with faces, spatulas that look like fried eggs – they come in every shape and size. I think I am in love with this set of mini ones from US company Williams-Sonoma… (oh dear, what has happened to me?)
No one-handed cook should be without one – they are truly the mother of all utensils.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid or sponsored to feature any of these delightful spatulas – I just find them very useful and wanted to share!
I am writing this while listening to The Ministry of Sound 90s Anthems CD. Oh yes. Not my usual Saturday afternoon listening choice, but it sure as hell is taking me back to student days, badly lit discos, getting ready to go out clubbing, and road trips across the country with mates in small cars. It’s funny how certain music can take you back to a certain moment in time. It’s almost as if I am still 20. Almost.
So, weirdly, no clubbing for me tonight, but I am going out for dinner here, and am muchly looking forward to it. In the meantime, I wanted to share one of my current favourite bits of kitchen kit, which helps me do things one-handed in the kitchen.
I recently discovered these one-handed pepper mills and salt grinders from David Mason Design in Waitrose. It is impossible to use a pepper mill when you have a baby in one hand – no matter how much you want to add a grinding of pepper to your pasta sauce, you can’t until you’ve put baby down. Which is sometimes not an option, as we know. But don’t worry, Things Can Only Get Better.
With one of these brilliantly designed mills, you can add pepper with one hand. With the aptly named ‘Triga’ you just pull the ‘trigger’ and you’re off. With the ‘Pepperpod’ you simply squeeze the handles together. I did find that the Triga salt mill doesn’t grind your salt fine fine, however, and is probably more suitable for adding salt while cooking than using at the table. However, they also have the ‘Triga Combi’, which is a pepper grinder at the bottom, and a salt shaker at the top. This is the Rhythm of the Night… sorry, I mean the ultimate in one-handed seasoning! Oh yeah.
I was in New York for work a couple of months ago, and in one of my few hours off, I decided to browse the baby aisle in the KMart near my hotel. (Always thinking of you, dear blog readers…) What innovative product could I find that American moms were using on their babies?
Of course there were sippy cups, spoons, melamine plates, BPA-free bottles, etc – much the same as you’d find here in the UK. But there was one product that stood out for me – this, the Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon. The blurb on the packaging says:
A baby food spoon for no-mess, one-handed feeding at home or on-the-go – feeding with a simple squeeze makes mealtime a breeze.
One-handed feeding? Well, of course I had to buy one to share with you. As you know, I am a huge fan of shortcuts and ways to make life easier for busy mums and dads, and Munchkin seems like a great brand. Here it is:
This is a really nifty device. You fill the squeezy rubber container part of the spoon with puréed baby food, squeeze gently and the food comes out onto the spoon, and, hopefully straight into baby’s mouth. Seems pretty ingenious to me, and the idea of being able to feed baby one-handed with no mess is very appealing!
If you are a parent who likes to make homemade purées for your little one, then would be a great product to use when travelling, in particular. I am not sure how practical it would be to clean by hand, but it’s dishwasher safe, which we like J It is made of silicone and is BPA free. Suitable for babies 4+ months.
Now, as I am well beyond the weaning stage with my two, I thought it would be nice to offer this as a giveaway on my blog! So, if you’d like the Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon, all you have to do is follow me on Twitter @onehandedcook and tweet that you’d love to win the spoon (or follow and RT my tweet about the giveaway).
Follow me here.
If you’d like to buy one, you can actually buy one on Amazon here in the UK.
Giveaway ends on Monday 16 September, when I will pick one name out of the hat. Usual T&Cs apply.
This is not a sponsored post. I bought the spoon myself!
Buying my first very own Le Creuset felt like a giant leap. Having grown up with a Francophile French teacher mum, Le Creuset was a name I had known all my life. On holidays to France, mum would make a trip to the quincaillerie, or hardware store – for this was about the only place the heavy orange enamel pans were sold in those days – and stock up on heavy lidded pots. And so, buying a large red Le Creuset casserole at the age of 25 or so, marked a milestone for me. No longer a student, earning money, living with my boyfriend in London, owning a Le Creuset. I was a grown up! (How did that happen?) And now I have two children, and the red Le Creuset has a little brother, a smaller blue one, and I couldn’t live without (any of) them.
They are expensive, I admit, but boy, do they last. And boy, are they versatile. Which is why we love Le Creuset, and why these amazing enamel, heavy duty pans get a mention on the blog. Every busy mum – or dad – trying to get dinner on the table needs a Le Creuset, I think. I use mine all the time, and can’t imagine what I’d do without them. Whether it’s to make soup or a stew (the heavy enamel base conducts heat really effectively), to make Bolognese sauce (get all your ingredients in, in the usual way, bring to a simmer and then transfer straight from the hob to the pre-heated oven for 45 mins), or for casserole that goes straight from oven to table, they are simply unbeatable. Perfect for the one-handed cook … Yes, you can even stir them one-handed – they don’t tend to move when they’re on the hob – they’re so darn heavy!
To buy or not to buy a Le Creuset: weighing up the options
– Heavy, solid, a Le Creuset is a quality bit of kitchen kit that will last you for decades (they make a great wedding gift)
– Transfer your dish straight from the hob to the oven, and back again if needs be, and then straight to the table (less hassle, fewer dishes to wash)
– They conduct heat really efficiently
– Le Creuset pans look really attractive and come in an array of beautiful hues to match any kitchen colour scheme, including yellow. (And if your enamel chips, they look even more rustic!)
– They have their own Pinterest page! www.pinterest.com/lecreusetuk
– They weigh a ton. Not for the feeble.
– They are pricey, but they do last for ever, practically (see above).
So there you have it. Le Lowdown on Le Creuset.
I know I am a bit late for Shrove Tuesday, but then, given I usually have two kids in tow, I am often late for a lot of things… Anyway, today I bring you pancakes. Who doesn’t love a pancake? Warm from the frying pan, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar, they are manna from heaven. When I went travelling in Thailand many moons ago (pre-children) banana pancakes made in tiny little pans over a gas flame in the street became almost a daily staple for body and soul – served, as they were, with a swirl of chocolate sauce and a beaming smile.
I was lucky enough to be sent a Pancake Kit by the lovely people at Oxo Good Grips, who produce fantastic kitchen tools, it has to be said. My kit comprised an Oxo Good Grips batter bowl, an Oxo Good Grips Silicone Balloon Whisk and an Oxo Good Grips Silicone Flexible Pancake Turner. I was particularly excited about the batter bowl, because one of the things that is tricky to do one-handed in the kitchen, while holding baby in one hand, is stir something in a bowl because invariably the bowl will move. Not with this bad boy. It has a non-skid base to stabilize the bowl when mixing. Genius. Now, Oxo may not have designed this bowl with the one-handed cook in mind, but boy, is this one-handed cook happy about it!
I made my pancake batter – see below for recipe – using my lovely batter bowl and gave it the one-handed test, with my whisk in my right hand and, not a baby this time I confess, but a cup of coffee in my left. This is how I did it: I put the batter bowl on my platform scale and weighed the flour straight into it, put it back on the kitchen worktop then added the pre-cracked egg and the extra yolk, the pre-melted butter, a pinch of salt, started whisking, and then added the milk bit by bit until I’d made my lovely mixture. The bowl holds 2 litres, and has high sides, making it splatter-proof, too – very handy. The handle makes it comfortable to hold, and it has a wide lip for easy pouring. I can see this becoming my go-to mixing bowl for cakes.
As you can see from my One-Handed Cook logo, I am a big fan of the whisk! The Oxo Good Grips balloon whisk is also a lovely thing to use – for me, what makes it different is the fact that the handle is shorter than most, which actually gives you better control, and the rubbery handle feels really nice and doesn’t slip out of your hand (hence the ‘good grip’ bit – keep up). I also love it because it’s red, and if you know me, you’ll know I like a colourful kitchen gadget. The pancake turner is super-flexible and very thin, so perfect for turning not just pancakes, but anything really, because it’s large and helps prevent things falling apart – you could use for omelettes, fish, burgers etc. Finally, the other good thing about all these Oxo Good Grips items is that they all go in the dishwasher once you’ve finished. Result.
See below for my tried-and-tested pancake recipe and filling ideas. I am a bit addicted to this lovely crunchy sugar from Barbados at the moment – it’s called Plantation Reserve Barbados Amber Sugar, it’s a traditionally produced cane sugar and the crystals provide the most wonderful crunch and contrast beautifully with the soft pancake or soft banana. Honestly, you have to try it – it’s the perfect accompaniment to all sorts of things, such as porridge, pancakes, puddings – in fact, all things beginning with ‘p’…
Make the pancake batter at least half an hour in advance of cooking, and then they can be cooked one-handed at tea-time, I promise. I know, I’ve done it. Note that the first pancake often goes a bit wrong, but once you find a rhythm and your pan’s nice and hot these are a cinch to make. Plus the mixture will keep, covered, overnight in the fridge – more for breakfast! Yum.
What you need
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
50g melted butter (I use microwave)
What to do
1. Put all the ingredients bar the milk into your bowl and whisk together with a balloon whisk. Gradually add the milk, whisking as you go. Pour through a sieve into a jug and leave to stand, as above.
2. Using a 15-20cm frying pan, heat a small knob of butter on a high-ish heat, and once it’s sizzling hot, add a small ladleful of batter mixture to just cover the base of the pan. ‘Swoosh’ it round the pan by picking it up and moving it around.
3. Use a pancake turner to lift the mixture away from the edge of the pan a little and once the edges turn pale brown (after 30-60 seconds), use it to flip the pancake over and cook for a further 30-60 seconds.
4. Tip out onto a plate or some greaseproof paper.
5. Serve with lemon juice and sugar. Or sliced banana and Nutella. Or squeezy honey and blueberries with Greek yogurt. Or whatever takes your fancy!
These are absolutely yummy and take me back to my own childhood. Grate some cheddar cheese and chop two slices of decent-quality ham. Once you’ve flipped over your pancake, add the cheese and ham mixture to the middle, in a line, and fold the two sides in and over the mixture. Cook for about 30 seconds and then flip the folded pancake back over for a few more seconds, to ensure the cheese is well and truly melted. Serve.
Last year I was lucky enough to win tickets to The Baby Show and so I went along, ready to be inspired, having just started writing this blog. I saw lots of things that day, but the one thing I took a photo of, and oohed and aahed over, was really nothing much to do with babies. It was on the Oxo Tot stand that I came across this wonderful product, from parent company Oxo (nothing to do with stock cubes) – a company I knew previously for its fantastic salad spinner…
Oxo kindly sent me some of these fantastic POP storage containers – as they are called – to test out, and they are so brilliant, I had to share with you here. They are the perfect storage container for the one-handed cook – you simply pop the top to release the airtight seal, use the button as a handle to lift off the lid, and you’re away. You can make a cup of tea one-handed, you can pour granola on your yogurt one-handed, you can get the spaghetti out one-handed… perfect for the multi-tasking mum (or dad)!
They stack neatly, so you can keep them on the side or in your cupboard, they are BPA-free, and because you can see inside, you can keep tabs on supplies. So whether, you’re storing Cheerios, Lego or teabags, these are so easy to use, easy to clean and easy on the eye, they make it into The One-Handed Cook’s list of top kitchen equipment! Check out my Pinterest kitchen gadgets board, where I’ve pinned a few photos I found – they really do look lovely.
And, what’s more, Oxo have given me five 0.9 litre POP containers to give away to you my lovely blog readers. (In the photo at the top, this is the size of container with the Lego in.) Yay!
To be in with a chance of winning a 0.9L POP container, you have to a) follow @onehandedcook on Twitter AND b) RT my tweet about the giveaway!
04.02.13 THE ENTRY DEADLINE HAS PASSED – THANKS FOR ALL YOUR ENTRIES AND THE WINNERS WILL BE NOTIFIED SHORTLY!
The small print:
All the views here on the blog are my own.
1. Entry in to the prize draw will be deemed as acceptance of these rules.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident, aged 18 or over, who follows the @onehandedcook Twitter account AND retweets the tweet about the prize draw referencing the prize of an Oxo 0.9 litre POP container
3. The competition starts at 10pm UK time on Tuesday 29 January 2013 and ends at 09:00am on 4 February 2013.
4. One winner will be drawn at random from all valid entries.
5. One entry per person.
6. The prize is one Oxo 0.9 litre POP container.
7. The prize is non-negotiable, non-transferable, and there is no cash alternative.
8. The draw will be made by random selection within seven days of the competition ending and the prize posted to the winner’s home address within 30 days.
9. The winner will be notified by direct message on Twitter if they have won.
10. If a response is not received by the winner within 30 days they will forfeit their right to the prize.
11. No purchase necessary.
12. This prize draw is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter and Twitter shall not be liable in any way whatsoever to the Users.