I was a happy baker slacker over the summer with the excuse that it was mostly too hot too heat up the house, but winter, it’s a-comin’. When the house feels chilly, baking is one of my favourite past-times, cause it gives me an excuse to linger in a nice warm kitchen with a cup of tea and a book while the oven is on. And, it makes the house smell awesome.
Bonus: I leave the dishes for others to do, and they get rewarded with baked treats. So really, it’s a win-win all the way around.
I didn’t enjoy apple season nearly as much as I could have this year because after last fall’s stint of solo apple-peeling, apple-ring dehydrating, and crockpot apple butter making, I found it was a bit of a chore to do manually. My friend Olga, however, reminded me that an apple peeler was on her list of top 10 gadgets she couldn’t live without for a very good reason.
This week, I finally got one of my own!
Merry Christmas (early) to me, thanks to Lee Valley Tools; I got one of the kitchen gadgets on my wishlist that will make this season’s baking so much easier, especially since I’ll be helping out with Christmas dinner for the extended family again this year. I promptly whipped it out of the package, assembled it in 2 minutes, and celebrated by peeling apples. And already I love it. Imagine peeling and coring an apple in less time than it takes to wash it.
It’s eminently reasonably priced and hardly takes up any space at all – I can’t imagine why it took me so long to get one. No excuses now not to make all the apple things! Including lots and lots of apple chips, I think, because we all adore them as snack food, and peeling and coring a dozen apples was always the holdup to making our own.
When I think retro recipes, one of the ones from my childhood that stands out is the classic apple pie. My mom used to make them, but for some reason, I never did. But it was on my back burner for a long time, and my new apple peeler toy gave me the perfect excuse to create new tradition, and I decided to begin experimenting with pastry making with lard.
Turned out FABULOUS (and fabulously easy, by the way). No food processor or chilled butter or careful handling required for flaky deliciousness. I need to work on the aesthetics of my seals, but I’ve been told that practice makes perfect. I’ll post a recipe for lard pie crusts soon, after a couple more bake tests to make sure I have it right!
The other gadget I’ve had sitting on my list to Santa was the Danish Dough whisk, and I admit it was mostly because I’ve been hearing people raving about them for making bread and cookies all year – something I was completely mystified by because this looked way too fragile to handle something as strenuous as bread dough. But trust me, it’s a lot sturdier than it looks. Or at least, these ones are! The whisk part is at least as solid as my wooden spoons, and that’s EXCELLENT because after a couple of attempts of making bread in my stand mixer, I decided I didn’t want it to die a horrible death and switched back to mixing bread dough by hand.
I love making bread by hand but it takes patience, and sometimes muscle. BUT everyone says that this thing slices through heavy wet dough like a knife through hot butter. While I didn’t get to put it to the hard test yet, it did great for mixing up my pie crust.
I’ve also read that because of the shape of the whisk, every time you stir, it’s like stirring three times with a normal spoon, which is no doubt why everyone says these become one of their kitchen essentials. I bet these things will rock pancake morning this Sunday, too.
I’m really thrilled with the quality of Lee Valley’s products. It didn’t surprise me in the least to find out that they are a family-owned company with old-school values like customer satisfaction and integrity. So if you have a baker in your life, and you’re looking for some excellent quality gadgetry to make their lives easier, check out Lee Valley’s Christmas Gift Catalog!
I was compensated for this post with my spiffy new gadgets by Lee Valley Tools, and I’m glad they wanted to work with me, because I love well-made kitchen gadgets and hate how hard it is to find them. 10/10, will shop again.