Published 12/14/2007
by Eddy Robey M.A.
  Issue: 8.11
Some of My Favourite Things
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A friend of mine, who is also a writer, has remarked on the popularity of lists. Our latest conversation on this topic happened whilst I was rattling off one for her. She raised the topic, and wound up taking notes on the list of suggestions which poured out of me.

Jeanette thinks I should write some lists, and it's probably a good idea. Readers have requested them before. It's always seemed rather problematic to me, because what most readers want to know are the ingredients and tools I use around the house and kitchen.

Why should that be a problem? Well, doing such a list involves writing a disclaimer, which may not be believed. I know this because at the beginning of my career, I recommended a product, only to be accused of being on the take. That was so upsetting, I just stopped telling readers my preferences. Now, I'm going to give some more recommendations, so here goes. I don't get any money or free samples from anyone.

This list of items is in no particular order. All of them have delivered an excellent performance, not only for me, but also for friends to whom I've made private recommendations. Some are old favorites, others new to the market. You will need to do web searches to learn where they are sold, and prices.

Wearever Brand Cookware
This is an old, established company. They make many lines of pans and bakeware. I use the most expensive items they manufacture, but the price for them is well below that of other, more fashionable brands. Their air-insulated bakeware will make all the difference in helping you bake evenly and without scorching. I use nonstick cookware, but never nonstick bakeware, because a nonstick finish on bakeware can lead to baked goods being overbrowned before they are fully cooked.

Plastic and/or Silicone tools with a metal shaft
I've bought many brands of these, all work well, provided that they have the metal shaft. Tools which are all plastic may bend and cause you to spill or drop food. I never use metal tools, regardless of whether a pan has a nonstick coating. Metal tools leave fine scratches, even on uncoated stainless. Those scratches become dirt traps, and cause food to stick.

DeLonghi Tabletop Convection Oven
I have two of these, one large size, and one toaster-oven size. The large one has a rotisserie included. Both can be used as dehydrators for drying fruits and vegetables. Both will deliver meats which are crispy on the outside, and juicy within because they reduce cooking time by about 1/3 even when using a lower temperature setting. Both will let you bake perfectly crisped cookies and pastries in less time. Convection baking doesn't work for cake or bread, but is ideal for everything else.

Braun Multiquick Professional Immersion Blender and Attachments
This immersion blender comes with several attachments: whisk, mini-chopper, small pitcher, ice crusher, and a large carafe which allows you to use it in the same fashion you would a conventional blender. Included is a bracket, so you can mount the small power unit on the wall. One of my favorite uses for this is to puree soups and gravies. You can get them completely smooth right in the pan. It is also perfect for making baby food.

Barkeepers Friend Powdered Cleanser
This cleanser is much less abrasive than other brands. It doesn't contain chlorine, and is not a disinfectant. However, it does two things which no other powdered cleanser does: remove rust stains, and hard-water film without etching surfaces. When I want do disinfect as well as shine a surface, I first spray with a foam bathroom cleaner, sprinkle with Barkeepers Friend, then use a scrub sponge to wipe stains away. This is much superior to trying to use other lime-dissolving cleaners which run all over the place, and can burn your skin.

Dawn Power Dissolver Spray Foam
This cleaner is a real marvel. It is safe to use on aluminum, stainless, enamel, and glass. You can use it as an oven cleaner, to get burned food off a stovetop, or remove stains from the bottom of pans. Just spray the non-aerosol foam, allow it to sit for 30 minutes, and the worst oven spills will wipe clean with a scrub sponge. A real bonus is that this stuff won't asphyxiate you the way other oven cleaners do.

Mr Clean Magic Eraser
It really is magic. It looks like a fine-grained sponge, but works like an eraser, using only water. My favorite use is removing the fine film which can remain on the edges of casserole dishes and baking pans when you've used vegetable oil spray. I use one to clean my stovetop, where it removes grease and cooking stains in no time. You cannot use it on the inside of nonstick pans, bit it will keep the outsides gleaming.

Borax and Baking Soda
I use 1/2 cup of each for every full-size washload of fabric, and cut the amount of detergent in half. They work in any temperature of water, with any machine-washable fabric, and will not fade colors. This combination will kill odors, even in gym clothes. When doing whites, these boosters allow me to use non-chlorine bleaches which are much less harsh on elastic. or delicate fabrics. Borax is a wonder at removing the dingy look of mineral residues from hard water.

Grand Patrician Ultratouch Towels by Westpoint Pepperel
These towels use a silver ion technology to keep microbial buildup down. They're 100% Supima cotton, very thick, soft, and generously sized. I will add a hint here, that I never buy any color but white for household linens. Everything matches, and if you follow my advice about laundry additives, they will look new for many years.

Wamsutta Hotel Suite Bed Linens
This collection is 100% Pima Cotton Sateen, and has a 500 thread count. Don't be fooled by "bargains" on bed linens which claim to have a higher thread count. Unless you are going to pay $1000 a set and more, those higher thread count sheets are made from sweepings which will not be durable. Wamsutta gives an honest thread count using true single-ply yarn. These are smooth and soft, a real pleasure.

Reynolds Release Aluminum Foil
This costs more, and is worth every penny. One side is coated with a nonstick finish which is so good it works without a bit of oil spray. Just perfect for putting on top of a casserole, and getting a perfect top finish. The texture is thick enough that it won't rip while being handled. It comes in two widths, for lining any pan.

Please do let me know, dear readers, if you'd like further lists, and how these products worked for you. It is my hope that some of what I've learned during forty years playing balabusta will be of help.

Copyright 2007 Eddy Robey

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