CLOSE

15 Items for a Smarter Kitchen

Using these items can help make cooking just a little bit easier.

1. Tfal Optigrill, $159

Depending on where you live, you might not have space for a true grill, or be allowed to use one. And even if you did, knowing when stuff is properly cooked can sometimes be a challenge. Enter the Tfal Optigrill. This apartment-friendly device takes the guesswork out of grilling: It uses sensors to perfectly grill everything from burgers and chicken breasts to sausages and fish and even paninis, making it a lot less likely that you’re going to give yourself—or those you’re cooking for—food poisoning. Take a hamburger, for example: Want it done rare, medium, or well? The Optigrill beeps at each stage so the meat is just how you like it.

Buy on Amazon

2. Gunter Wilhelm 7” santoku knife, $65

You might be thinking that $65 is a lot to spend on a single knife, but trust us: It’s worth it. The Santoku is great for mincing, slicing, dicing, and chopping, and the dimples create air pockets that keep food from sticking while you cut. Plus, it’s made with an alloy of high carbon and stainless steels, so it will last forever (and if something happens to go wrong, the knife has a lifetime warranty). Also comes with bragging rights: Tell your friends you’re using the same brand of knife as professional chefs and the people who cook for the President, and they’re sure to be impressed.

Buy on Amazon

3. Pop Chart Lab Cooking Measurements Tea Towel, $16

Converting measurements while you're cooking can be a pain. Keep this towel on hand to make it easier. (Plus, it's nice to look at!)

Buy on Pop Chart Lab

4. Quirky Mocubu Cutting Board, $24

This cutting board also functions as an organizational device, storing foods you’ve already chopped in handy drawers underneath until you’re ready to use them.

Buy on Amazon

5. Adjustable Rolling Pin, $20

Sure, you can guesstimate the thickness of your dough. Or you could buy this rolling pin, which has discs you screw on to the ends so you can roll to exact thickness; measurements etched into the pin itself help you nail the width, too.

Buy on Amazon

6. Slip-on Bowl Spout, $7

Stop drips and spills with this handy little device, which slips onto bowls for easy pouring.

Buy on Amazon

7. Perfect Bake, $50

Baking is an art, of course, but it’s also a science. Brookstone’s Perfect Bake™ App-Controlled Smart Baking is a scale that connects to an iPad app to help you nail those recipes every time. It not only guides you through each recipe, but helps you determine what you can make based on what ingredients you have on hand.

Buy on Amazon

8. Compact Folding Bookstand, $27

Whatever you choose to read your recipe off of—a cookbook, your iPad or iPhone, a single piece of paper—this will hold it all. If you’re using your iPad, outfit it in these sleeves to keep the screen flour- and grease-free.

Buy on Amazon

9. Paperchef Parchment Cooking Bags, $8

Make like the French and cook “en papillote,” or “in parchment" with these bags, which can be used in the oven, on the upper shelf of BBQs, and even in the microwave. It won’t just enhance food’s natural flavors, but also make cleanup a lot easier!

Buy on Amazon

10. Onion Goggles, $20

It’s one thing to put metaphorical sweat and tears into a meal. It’s another entirely to do it because you’re crying from chopping onions. (Here’s why they make you cry, by the way.) These goggles will keep you from shedding tears, and might also be useful if you’re taking a road trip in a motorcycle sidecar.

Buy on Amazon

11. Grape and Tomato Cutter, $10

Slicing grapes and tomatoes the old fashioned way takes forever. If you’re not interested in doing the two plates-and-a-knife method, as demonstrated by this brilliant dad, pick up this handy device.

Buy on Amazon

12. Nesting Bowls, $195

If space is at a premium in your kitchen, consider investing in this set of stainless steel nesting prep bowls, which also includes a colander, a mesh sieve, and measuring cups. (There’s also a plastic set for half the price.)

Buy on Amazon

13. Lifefactory Glass Food Storage, $17

These glass containers serve as both food storage and bakeware—even the silicone sleeve can go in the oven! Comes in three sizes: one cup, two cup, and four cup.

Buy on Amazon

14. Pancake Batter Dispenser, $10

Making pancakes has never been this clean: Load the batter in the stainless steel dispenser, hold it over your griddle, and squeeze the handle. Goodbye wasted batter, hello perfectly round pancakes!

Buy on Amazon

15. Cuisinart Combo Steam and Convection Oven, $300

Another smart combination device for small spaces, this oven broils, bakes, and toasts. There’s no oil, so your dishes are healthier, and steam heat cuts cooking time by 40 percent. You can even proof bread in this bad boy!

Buy on Amazon

BONUS: Hedley & Bennett Commis Apron, $83

No chef should look like a hot mess when he leaves the kitchen. Keep it clean and stylish with this apron.

Buy on Amazon

nextArticle.image_alt|e
arrow
History
The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Google
arrow
Animals
Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View
Google
Google

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.
Google

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios