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    Why I Love Nut Milk Bags (For More Than Just Straining Nut Milks!)

    Kitchen ToolsOne Simply Terrific Thing

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    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    The nut milk bag’s terribly-specific name screams unitasker! but it’s actually an incredibly useful tool that can replace many single-use or clumsy, large items in your kitchen and/or home bar.
    In terms of practical value, it’s right up there with a reliable cocktail shaker.
    The nut milk bag is made of fine, breathable mesh. Because of the airflow, you can use it as a container for drying herbs or edible flowers. It can also replace cheesecloth, fine strainers, coffee filters, and any of the other unwieldy gear you reach for when you need to separate solids from liquid. (And oh yeah, and it strains nut milks, too.)
    These bags come in various sizes, but this wide 12-inch size is the best overall. It can hold quite a lot (I used mine recently to strain chicken stock scraps), but also doesn’t seem excessive for straining smaller items like a batch of fresh ricotta cheese. The wide opening also ensures that you can fold it over a bowl or a measuring glass.

    I’ve had my current nut milk bag for around four years now and only just recently needed to grab an extra one, since quarantine life had me straining cold brew coffee and homemade cheese concurrently. Not only is this a versatile kitchen tool, but if you’re also a home bar enthusiast (like me!), then this also comes in handy for infusing liquors or straining that batch of homemade orgeat.
    The best part of owning one is saying goodbye to so many single use items, and those annoying threads from cheesecloth. And when you’re done with it, it folds up teeny tiny into your drawer until next time.

    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

    Elana Lepkowski
    Elana Lepkowski is a professional photographer, writer, and recipe developer with almost 20 years in the food industry. She began documenting her cocktails in 2011 after mixing drinks in her home bar for years, and her website Stir and Strain is now a widely recognized resource for cocktail enthusiasts. Elana has contributed to Serious Eats, Dinner Party Download, Imbibe, and numerous other publications. When she’s not concocting new syrups at home, you can probably find her at Disneyland.
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    Why I Love the Norpro Nut Chopper

    Kitchen ToolsOne Simply Terrific Thing

    Forget a knife or food processor! This glass hand-cranked nut chopper is the best way to chop nuts.

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    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    Are you nuts for nuts? I sure am, and not above deploying bad puns to prove it.
    To aid me in achieving maximum nut consumption, I love the Norpro Nut Chopper. It’s a smart upgrade to an old-fashioned gadget you may very well have seen in your grandmother’s kitchen.
    Why the Norpro Nut Chopper Is the Best
    I am usually not a big fan of single-use tools; that this nut chopper has earned a nook in my cabinets for years is a mark of its handiness.
    The Norpro Nut Chopper is the spitting image of an old relic I found at a thrift store when I was in my 20s that I still use out of stubborn sentimentality. It features a glass jar and stainless steel blades, and I highly recommend it over choppers made from plastic. The sturdy glass jar can withstand the stress from handling, while users report threads cracking in the jars of plastic models. (I remember customers returning plastic choppers to the cookware store I worked at years ago for the very same reason.)
    It chops nuts better than either you or your food processor, and the nuts are consistently sized. When you load nuts into the top compartment, depending on which direction you crank the handle, the blade will chop coarsely or finely and the chopped nuts fall into the jar below.

    One caveat about hand-cranked nut choppers is they’re not that great with almonds, which are perhaps a bit too hard for them to handle with ease. But that still leaves pistachios, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, and peanuts for hours of nut-chopping pleasure. (PS: Kids love using this thing.)
    As intended, I use the chopper for nuts only, and thus hardly ever wash it. The jar can go in the dishwasher if you like, but the top fares best simply wiped off.
    Cheers to good tools!

    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

    Sara Bir
    Sara Bir a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and the author of two cookbooks: The Fruit Forager’s Companion and Tasting Ohio. Past gigs include leading chocolate factory tours, slinging street cart sausages, and writing pop music criticism. Sara skates with her local roller derby team as Carrion the Librarian.
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    Why I Love OXO’s Garlic Press

    Kitchen ToolsOne Simply Terrific Thing

    Garlic presses get a bad rap, but if you find a good one it’s an incredibly useful, helpful tool. The OXO garlic press beats all others!

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    Photography Credit: Sheela Prakash

    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    For a long time, I was very anti-garlic press.
    I used to think a garlic press was the #1 most unnecessary kitchen tool, and I would get on my imaginary soapbox and share my strong feelings to anyone who would listen.
    But just a couple of months ago, I found myself retracting this bold statement after using the OXO Good Grips garlic press.
    WHY THE OXO GARLIC PRESS IS THE BEST
    My encounter with OXO’s garlic press was quite unplanned.
    After years of growing up with a constant stream of useless garlic presses, I’d always felt this tool never worked as well as it claimed to, and was a pain to clean. I promised myself I’d never own a garlic press.
    But when we went to stay with my dad a few months ago near the start of COVID quarantine, one night during dinner prep he pulled his own garlic press –the OXO one– out of the drawer. I grumbled, but when he insisted it actually worked, I gave it a try.
    It turned out OXO magically solved every single qualm I’d had with the garlic presses of my past.
    What’s ingenious about the OXO garlic press is you don’t have to peel the cloves. Slip one, two, or even three cloves into the press (yes, it conveniently holds multiple cloves), squeeze it using the comfortable, rubber-gripped handles, and the sturdy press efficiently pushes the garlic pulp out of its large hole.

    To clean it, simply flip the handles around and a red rubber strip pushes out the papery skin and any pieces of garlic that remain in the press. After that, it’s usually already pretty clean enough that a good rinse or a gentle wash is all it needs. If you don’t want to do that, you can toss the press right in the dishwasher.
    Since I’ve been using this garlic press at my dad’s over the past few months, I’ve become a total convert – so much so that after years of putting my foot down, I’ve already ordered one for myself to finally add to my own kitchen.
    Cheers to good tools!

    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

    Sheela Prakash
    Sheela Prakash is a food and wine writer, recipe developer, and the author of Mediterranean Every Day. Her writing and recipes can be found in numerous online and print publications, including Kitchn, Epicurious, Food52, Serious Eats, Tasting Table, The Splendid Table, Culture Cheese Magazine, Clean Plates, and Slow Food USA.Sheela received her master’s degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, holds Level 2 and Level 3 Awards in Wines from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), graduated from New York University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, and is also a Registered Dietitian.
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    Why I Love Weck Juice Jars

    Traditional water pitchers are fine, but Weck Juice Jars are the best—not just for water, but for iced tea, cold brew, or even as a wine decanter!

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    Photography Credit: Sheela Prakash

    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    Nothing against fancy carafes and pitchers, but Weck Juice Jars are what truly have my heart.
    I bought a set of three about five or six years ago and they’ve been one of the most reached-for items in my kitchen ever since.
    I initially purchased them because I was having trouble diligently drinking water throughout the day. While I wasn’t keeping track of how much I was sipping, I knew I wasn’t staying well-hydrated because I’d feel unnecessarily fatigued and end up with nasty headaches. Keeping a carafe full of water always within reach so that I’d have zero excuses, plus be able to roughly keep tabs on my consumption, seemed like an easy solution.
    I ended up settling on these Weck Juice Jars mostly because they’re incredibly affordable ($22 for a set of three 40-ounce jars) and also because they’re sturdy and I liked their cute, vintage look.

    Well, I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth over the years.
    I make it a goal for myself every day to drink two full juice jars-worth of water, which has been surprisingly easy, and I can vouch for feeling much better and hydrated.
    It’s not just the personal health goal that has made me love these juice jars, though; it’s the endless number of other great uses they have, too.
    I use them to make sun tea, store cold brew, as a substitute for a wine decanter, to make a small batch of pitcher cocktails, and even as a vase for flowers. Oh, and of course you can do as the name implies and use them for juice, too.
    I did end up buying plastic lids separately to be able to store them airtight without spilling in the fridge, and I’d recommend them. While you can use the canning lids the jars come with, the metal clips are fussy to unlatch if you’re opening and closing the juice jars frequently.
    I also love the look of these wood lids, but they’re unfortunately not intended for storing liquids. These cork lids are new since I bought my jars, though, and I definitely have my eye on them for the future!
    And I always get compliments when I keep a Weck Juice Jar filled with water or wine or whatever it may be out on the table when we have people over—an added perk!
    Cheers to good tools!

    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

    Sheela Prakash
    Sheela Prakash is a food and wine writer, recipe developer, and the author of Mediterranean Every Day. Her writing and recipes can be found in numerous online and print publications, including Kitchn, Epicurious, Food52, Serious Eats, Tasting Table, The Splendid Table, Culture Cheese Magazine, Clean Plates, and Slow Food USA.Sheela received her master’s degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, holds Level 2 and Level 3 Awards in Wines from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), graduated from New York University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, and is also a Registered Dietitian.
    More from Sheela LEGGI TUTTO

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    Why I Love the OXO Fat Separator

    If you love making meals like short ribs, bone broth, and meat roasts in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot, then you need this fat separator. It’s the best one!

    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    Separating the fat out of cooking liquids is a kitchen task that I wouldn’t have thought could be streamlined in such a delightful way. But now that I have such a nice fat separator, I’m much more inclined to make dishes that require that step.
    WHAT IS A FAT SEPARATOR? 
    Growing up, and then in my own kitchens as a young adult, I always had a small, very simple fat separator. If you don’t know what I mean by fat separator, it’s basically a clear plastic measuring cup with a pour spout that, with the help of gravity, separates the fat from the rest of the cooking liquid when you’re making a soup, stew, or braise.
    When I was writing my Instant Pot cookbooks I found that I was using my fat separator a lot — so many pressure cooker recipes are for meats that release a lot of fat when cooked, and you need to separate the fat out of the cooking liquid to finish making the sauce.
    With my old-fashioned fat separator, it was very tedious to pour the liquid through a strainer into a bowl or pitcher and then run it through the separator, one cup or so at a time. It made a lot of extra dishes, too. The frustration of repeating that task so many times inspired me to search online for a better fat separator — surely the designs must have improved since I was a kid, right?
    Yep, they sure had.

    OXO MAKES THE BEST FAT SEPARATOR
    The OXO Good Grips Fat Separator is OXO’s most expensive fat separator model, but not outrageously so, priced at $25. It would make a great housewarming gift or holiday present for that friend who is really into making their own bone broth. (I’m sure you know someone in that category, right?)

    I like a lot of things about this fat separator. For one thing, it has a 4-cup capacity, which is very generous, plenty large for one pass when I’m separating out the drippings from a chicken or turkey.
    Another nice design feature is the strainer attachment on top, so there’s no need to strain everything separately into another container first.
    And finally, my favorite innovative feature is the release mechanism, wherein you squeeze the trigger handle to open a silicone valve, pouring the liquid out of the bottom of the fat separator. This method makes it much easier to tell when you’ve strained off all the fat down to that last drop of cooking liquid – way better than traditional fat separators that pour out of a spout.
    My favorites pressure cooker recipes are short ribs, oxtails, pork loin roasts, and beef bone broth. If you like to make these sorts of recipes, do yourself a favor and upgrade your fat separator! You won’t regret it. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Why I Love the Sweese Butter Dish

    Kitchen ToolsOne Simply Terrific Thing

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    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    I went a very, very long time without a butter dish.
    There’s no good reason why. I just never got one, even as I winced every time I crumpled the ends of a butter wrapper to close it back up, smearing a bit of butter on my hands in the process, and knowing some of that butter was going to end up smeared along the bottom of my refrigerator drawer, too.
    It was an ineffective system that I have now remedied thanks to the large ceramic Sweese butter dish ($21 from Amazon).

    I like its classic looks and the tight-fitting beech lid, which has a silicone ring seal you can also remove if you just want the top to rest loosely on the container.
    But most of all I love its size: it measures 6″ x 3.5″ by 2.7″ inches, which means it’s deep and wide enough to hold two standard sticks of butter (four if you really pushed it) or one European-style stick of butter, like Kerrygold or Plugra. It’s really more like a bowl for butter, and because it’s so deep it also prevents butter from hitting and sticking to the lid – a mess-free bonus! And while you have to hand-wash the lid, the container can be put in the dishwasher. (Yay!)
    When I’m in bread-baking mode and baking a couple loaves a week, I just keep the butter container on my counter so the butter is always soft and ready to use.
    Claudia has a butter dish very similar to this, and is also a major fan:

    I love that I can scoop the butter out rather than have the butter sit on a tray. It also holds a lot of butter (which is great for my family) and stays clean thanks to it being more of a bowl. I also leave it on my counter. I haven’t had an issue with butter going bad, but we go through a lot of it!

    Cheers to good tools that solve messy problems!

    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

    Cambria Bold
    Cambria Bold is the Product and Lifestyle Director for Simply Recipes. She has almost a decade’s worth of online editorial experience and know-how, first as the Managing Editor for Apartment Therapy’s green living site Re-Nest (RIP) and later as the Design and Lifestyle Editor for The Kitchn. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two little girls. And, yes, this is her real name.
    More from Cambria LEGGI TUTTO

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    Quarter Sheet Pans

    Kitchen ToolsOne Simply Terrific Thing

    While we’ll never give up our half sheet pans, don’t forget about quarter sheet pans! These smaller-sized pans are perfect for small-batch cooking and prep.

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    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    Half sheet pans get all the glory. They’re the go-to for roasted vegetables, chocolate chip cookies, and sheet pan dinners.
    And while I would never be without at least two of those pans (I currently have three), not enough love goes out to the half sheet’s smaller sibling, the quarter sheet pan ($22/2 pack).

    This is the sheet pan for small batch cooking and for cooking for 1-2 people. This is the pan I pull out when I want to toast some nuts in the oven or roast just a couple sweet potatoes or beets.
    It’s what I use when I want to cook a bunch of different things at one time, but individually. I can fit four of these pans in my oven, two side by side, which lets me pull out the vegetables or chicken thighs or salmon filets when they’re done, and let the rest keep cooking.
    A quarter sheet pan is also terrific for prep and storage.
    I use it for seasoning pieces of meat (the high lip contains juices much better than a cutting board or plate), breading, and for holding anything I need to freeze first: balls of cookie dough, a large bag of chicken broth. I can actually maneuver a quarter sheet pan into my freezer, which I cannot do with a half sheet pan!
    As for cleaning? I can submerge a quarter sheet pan entirely under water in my sink! Big fan.

    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

    Cambria Bold
    Cambria Bold is the Product and Lifestyle Director for Simply Recipes. She has almost a decade’s worth of online editorial experience and know-how, first as the Managing Editor for Apartment Therapy’s green living site Re-Nest (RIP) and later as the Design and Lifestyle Editor for The Kitchn. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two little girls. And, yes, this is her real name.
    More from Cambria LEGGI TUTTO

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    Precut Parchment Paper

    Kitchen ToolsOne Simply Terrific Thing

    It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference. Precut parchment paper for sheet and cake pans is a time-saving, annoyance-busting product that is worth having in the kitchen.

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    Welcome to One Simply Terrific Thing, our ongoing series highlighting the small tools and kitchen goods that make life better!

    I have a confession: I get inordinately annoyed every time I have to use a roll of parchment paper.

    The problems:
    The roll never tears cleanly.
    I always over- or under-estimate the amount needed to cover a sheet pan.
    The roll wants to win at all costs. You want the paper to lie flat on the pan? Good luck with that.
    The trace-and-cut method for cake pans leaves scraps that aren’t sized for anything useful, so I have to throw them away.
    Speaking of which, it’s just a hassle to measure and cut parchment paper! And I always think I do a poor job of it, too.
    Anyone else feel this way?!
    The answer to this frustration is simple: precut parchment paper.
    You can get them sized for half sheet pans and 8″ or 9″ cake pans. For the sheet pan size, I love the precut parchment from King Arthur ($24.99 for 100 sheets). They’re more expensive than other brands on Amazon, but they’re made in the USA and each sheet can be used three or four times (great for back-to-back cookie baking sessions!).

    I’ve also tried and like these precut parchment sheets from Baker’s Signature ($13.95 for 100 sheets). They are thinner than the King Arthur parchment sheets, so better suited for single use baking, but otherwise they’re a great value.

    For cake pan parchment rounds, I’ve used both these 9-inch cake pan rounds from Zenology ($7.99 for 50 sheets) and the 9-inch cake pan rounds with tabs from Baker’s Signature ($9 for 120 sheets).

    Both pulled cleanly away from cakes when I made them, but the Zenology round fit perfectly into my 9-inch USA Pan cake pan, while the Baker’s Signature round was a tad big and didn’t sit flat in the bottom of the pan. It didn’t affect how my cake turned out, but if you’re buying pre-cut parchment, a perfect fit is part of what you’re looking for. But the pull tab is a nice feature.
    All told, I don’t see myself going back to parchment rolls anytime soon.

    This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

    Cambria Bold
    Cambria Bold is the Product and Lifestyle Director for Simply Recipes. She has almost a decade’s worth of online editorial experience and know-how, first as the Managing Editor for Apartment Therapy’s green living site Re-Nest (RIP) and later as the Design and Lifestyle Editor for The Kitchn. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two little girls. And, yes, this is her real name.
    More from Cambria LEGGI TUTTO