Cooking with your basic chef's knife and frying pan is totally fine, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to slay in the kitchen and unleash your cooking potential with minimal effort? Do the words "minimal effort" draw you in like they should? Good.
Some of us can't cook rice over a stove. Some of us don't have the time to haphazardly stir a salad dressing with a whisk like some French saucier. Some of us try our best to get by in the kitchen with old world techniques, screw up, and wind up on the kitchen floor with an empty wine bottle and a crushed soul. It happens.
LET'S GET A FEW THINGS STRAIGHT:
Are you going to be a complete failure in the kitchen if you don't buy or possess the items featured here? Absolutely not. Are you a total loser if you just want to skim through life surviving solely off of PB&J's? Not in our book, you superstar. While the products we're about to talk about are pretty nifty, don't EVER let anyone pressure you into buying something you don't deem necessary yourself. Ain't nothin' wrong with getting by with what your mama gave you several years ago, and we mean that sincerely.
Having said that, take a gander at these glorious gizmos:
1. Rice Cooker
Let's face it: Unless you're patient, precise, or have perfected the craft over time, cooking rice over a stovetop sucks. For most of us, the rice at the bottom of the pot gets burned, while the top layer remains mushy, yet undercooked at the core of the grain.
Enter the rice cooker. This bad boy can give you your power back in the kitchen. The beauty of a rice cooker is you can just set it and forget it, so it's perfect for multitasking. It's also great for the gluten-free crowd, as it can cook anything from rice to oats to quinoa to that weird stuff they make beanbags with. Some can steam veggies, some function as a slow cooker, and some even lead a double-life as a pressure cooker! *gasp*
They range in price from $14 to $150. Our little munchkin cooker cost us $30, and it works wonderfully.
2. Vitamix (Or High-Speed Blender)
Okay, yes, the Vitamix is expensive. It's not that expensive, though. You only have to sign a deal with the devil and sell your pancreas to the black market to afford one. On the bright side, you do get the smoothest, richest smoothies in the world. You've got to pick your battles.
That being said, the Vitamix can make more than smoothies. It's a killer sidekick that can take on bread dough recipes, and it can blend up a perfect pudding, salsa, soup, dressing, sorbet, and even nut milk and nut butter. It's easy to clean as well. Just put a few drops of detergent into it, fill it halfway with water, and give it a whirl.
Vitamix, if you're reading this, $500 for a blender is INSANE. We love your product, but damn, everyone deserves a helping hand with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and your blender is perfect. PLEASE GIVE THE VEGAN IN SWEATPANTS' READERS SOME SORT OF DISCOUNT, WE BEG YOU.
3. Food Processor
This cute lil’ chopper was only $20. I guess you could forgo any kind of blender and make a smoothie in this, if you try hard enough (I’m kidding, don’t do th…you know what? Do it, I’m curious). With any brand you buy, you can expect to count on a food processor to help you make some killer guac, vegan parmesan, and the holy grail for herbivores; hummus.
This is perfect for all kinds of vegans: High-carb, raw, junk food, you name it. Dry blueberries for your coconut yogurt, power greens for a powdered mixture to add to smoothies, or mango slices for a stash of emergency carbs when you’re feeling sluggish. Buy nuts and seeds in bulk and dehydrate some less-than-perfect fruits you’ve got laying around, and presto, you’ve got trail mix for months!
Totally unnecessary, but SO cool. Take zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, carrot, or daikon radish, spiralize it, and boom, you’ve got gluten-free, raw veggie noodles. Sauté these bad boys with a sauce of your choice, and suddenly, dinner. We dare you to spiralize some sweet potatoes and bake up some shoestring fries to go with your veggie burgers. You'll go from an unpopular dweeb to a sought-after celeb in no time, and that is a promise.
This is the simplest tool, yet possibly the most handy. For those of you garlic freaks out there (I'm lookin' at you, Mediterranean peeps), there's nothing more satisfying that running a clove of garlic through a Microplane and getting the perfect garlic paste out of it. It's also great for zesting lemons and grating ginger. Best part? This sucker comes in all kinds of cool colors.
What kind of tools do you use everyday in the kitchen? What's a life-saving gadget you can't live without? Share it with the rest of us in the comments below!
-The Vegan In Sweatpants