Hey. This is Matt, the stay-at-home geek dad in Northern California. You’ve found the G33kDadShow! and this is Episode 6: Top 5 Tools and Gadgets from the geek dad kitchen. Thanks for listening, let’s get to it!
Hello and welcome to the G33kDadShow! I am so excited to be here with you. We have been on a bit of a hiatus since the last episode. I apologize and I have a very cool episode coming up for you today. We’re stepping away from the server room and into one of my other favorite rooms in the house, the kitchen. If you want to follow along with the show notes for episode 6, you can find them, at g33kdad.thestrangeland.net/6
As a full time dad, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and preparing meals for my kids and my wife. Speaking of my lovely wife, she works the graveyard shift from 6pm to 6am so she doesn’t eat with the rest of us during her work week. That means the meals I make have to be good as leftovers or as a reheat meal while she’s at work. I have several staples that I make all the time. We don’t eat a lot of red meat at our house but we do eat a lot of chicken, pork, and seafood. We are blessed to live in one of the most fertile parts of the country so we have fresh fruits and veggies available most of the time. If you like peaches, plums, apricots, cherries… this is a great place to live. Also, nearby, we have festivals for asparagus, artichokes, and a world famous garlic festival.
In order to prepare all this good food, I have several kitchen tools I rely on and I want to tell you about them in this episode of the G33kDadShow! If you want to follow along with the show notes, you can find them at g33kdad.thestrangeland.net/6. Ok, let’s get to the list…
- Slow Cooker / Crock Pot
- NuWave Oven (fast cooker, lol)
- Egg Cooker
- Hot Water Kettle
- COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE
Let’s take a look at these in some more depth.
First, my slow cooker. I use it all the time in the fall, winter, and spring; but not so much in the summer. Typically I use the slow cooker for soups and stews. These are not typically “summer” dishes in California. I do, however, make the occasional pork shoulder or roast chicken in my slow cooker. There are many resources on using a slow cooker for just about any meal on any day. If you are a reddit user, I encourage you to checkout /r/slowcooking. There are lots of great recipes floating around, as well as discussions on different kinds/brands of cookers. It’s an active community and an example of one of the best parts of reddit, in my opinion. My current favorite easy slow cooker recipe is to put a whole, cut-up chicken in the pot and pour over a jar of your favorite salsa. Cook it on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8. When it’s done, pick out the bones and use the meat mixture for tacos, enchiladas, or any other Mexican dish. It’s superb. I have also successfully made some of the best Chicken Tortilla Soup by following a recipe I found on youtube. I will link to the video in the shownotes. Chicken Tortilla Soup
The next item on the list has become famous among the late-night infomercial crowd; it is called a NuWave oven. I started the list with my slow cooker, this my friends, is a fast cooker. It uses three types of heat, conduction, convection, infra-red, to cook food from the inside and the outside at the same time. Because of this, you can pull frozen food out and put it right in the NuWave and cook it. And it comes out great! Can you imagine putting a whole, frozen chicken in the oven and baking it for an hour? You would have half-frozen, salmonella bird. But in my NuWave, that frozen chicken is ready in a little over an hour and it tastes like it came from the rotisserie at the grocery store. Brilliant! It cooks all types of meats from frozen to perfection in such a short time, but it doesn’t stop there. It roasts vegetables, it bakes cookies, and it is the best thing on the planet for reheating cold pizza. I’m telling you, this machine is so worth the price. I don’t remember the last time I turned on my actual oven…. ok, so, I got a take n bake pizza a week or so ago. That was the last time. Still
Next we have an item that I got in the last year and a half or so and I don’t know how I lived without it. It is from Cuisinart and it is called the Egg Central egg cooker. Now, I will have links in the shownotes which you can find at g33kdad.thestrangeland.net/6. At our house, we love hard boiled eggs. However, the really awful part about them is trying to peel them! It never works. This little cooker will cook up to 10 eggs to hard boiled in about 10 min. It uses steam to do the cooking and these eggs peel perfectly every time. It’s amazing. It comes with several inserts which enable you to poach eggs as well as make steamed omelets. I never do anything but hard cook eggs in this machine and it’s worth every penny. Even if you never eat hard boiled eggs but perhaps you make a batch of deviled eggs at Easter or dye eggs with the kids, I think this little gadget is perfect for you.
Hot Water Kettle
This next item is a staple in homes all over the UK and Ireland. In fact, many Brits I talk to can’t believe we don’t have these. I am talking, of course, of a hot water kettle. As Americans, we don’t drink as much tea as our UK cousins. However, these handy items can be a boon to your kitchen, as well. Do you ever make Jell-o? Or how about instant soup? How many recipes do you make that call for hot water? These kettles do one thing and one thing only. They boil water. Simple, straight forward, easy. Mine is a Hamilton Beach model called the Programmable 1.7 Liter Kettle, model no. 40996z . I chose this particular kettle for two main reasons. The first is, the kettle sits on a base which provides the electrical connection to the heating element in the bottom of the carafe. This means I can lift the kettle off the base and I don’t have to drag the cord across the counter to my cup. The other reason I wanted this kettle is it has variable temperatures it can heat to. Different types of tea call for different temperatures of water. Also, if I am making instant soup for my kids, I don’t want the water all the way to boiling or the soup will take forever to cool enough for them to eat it. I know a hot water kettle isn’t the sexiest item, but if you get one, you may wonder how you ever got along without it. In fact, I will be bringing this item up again in the next section.
COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE
So, lastly, we address, not a gadget per se but more of a daily requirement. That is, of course, coffee. I love coffee and tea. I drink hot coffee and tea from about November 1st to about May 1st. Then I switch to iced versions. To this end, I have several ways to make coffee at my home. The one that gets the most use is my Keurig. For anyone who may not know, a Keurig is a single-serve, hot drink maker. The coffee or tea or other hot beverage comes in small plastic cups and then hot water is forced through the cup and into the waiting mug. Keurig brewers have a following and plenty of detractors, as well. Chief among the complaints are the amount of waste that is generated by the k-cups. Be that as it may, I love my Keurig and I use it for hot coffee and iced coffee all year long.
I also have a French Press…. ok, I have 3 of them. I love this simple little way to make coffee. You scoop coarse ground coffee into the carafe, pour over hot water, let it steep and then press the grounds to the bottom of the carafe. The coffee is smooth and has a bit of a creamy mouth feel. I’m a cream and Splenda guy, usually. However in the fall, I always pick up a bottle of Torrani Syrup in the Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie flavor. It is so good. Earlier I mentioned my hot water kettle would be making another appearance. The particular model I have also has a timer feature similar to a drip coffee maker. That means I can set a time and temperature and have the kettle come on in the morning. That way, I can come downstairs, scoop my coffee, and my hot water is all ready to go.
Lastly, I will tell you about my espresso maker. Espresso is one of these things that never existed until someone invented the machine to make it. Legend is an Italian man was upset that his employees were taking too long for their coffee breaks. To fix this, he invented a machine to force steam through coffee grounds in order to brew the coffee stronger and faster. Espresso was born. Now, I love espresso, I just don’t love the time it takes to make it, measuring the grounds, pressing them down, starting the machine, and hoping it all comes out right. Because of this, I let my espresso machine sit and gather dust for quite a while. We had received a Breville Cafe Roma machine as a wedding gift and I think I had used it 5 times in as many years. Then, I discovered espresso pods. Pods are small, filter pouches with a compressed espresso puck inside. It is similar to a tea bag. You place this in the portafilter of your espresso machine and then start the machine. It works great; no mess, no measuring, no packing… just a couple of great shots of espresso ready for drinking or making into a latte, cappuccino, or other drink.
So, I do have a couple of other items that I didn’t think warranted a whole section. I have an electric steamer/rice cooker, I have a Ninja Blender and Food Processor, a waffle iron. All of these serve a purpose in my kitchen, but the items in the main list are my “daily drivers”; they are the things I use most often when preparing meals for my family. In a previous episode, I talked about making veggies your kids will eat. The link will be in the shownotes for this episode. Making Veggies Your Kids Will Eat You can find the shownotes for this episode, episode 6, at geekdad.thestrangeland.net/6. Pair that episode with this one and you will have a good start toward outfitting a geek dad kitchen.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this episode of the G33kDadShow! We’ve discussed several things that I use to make my work in the kitchen easier and better for my family. Do you use any of these things? What other things are essential in your kitchens? I’d love to hear from you. You can send me email, the address is email@example.com. If you are on twitter, you can follow me or on Google+. You can find those links on my website at g33kdad.thestrangeland.net/contact. This fun little chiptune you are enjoying is Quantum Leaper by Azureflux. Earlier in the show, you heard Convalescence II: Love Again by Anima, and Sands of Time by Psychadelik Pedestrian. You can find these tracks and many more at the Free Music Archive. FMA has music in every genre imaginable all with freedom respecting licenses. Go check them out and find some new tunes! The G33kDadShow! is hosted by the Internet Archive. In the archive you will find other podcasts, excellent live concert recordings (I particularly enjoy the Grateful Dead shows!), articles, ebooks, videos… even old-school video games you can play right in your web browser. This podcast would not be possible without the Internet Archive, so big thanks and much love to them, some of the best people in San Francisco as far as I’m concerned.
Thanks for downloading this episode of the G33kDadShow!, your podcast about the intersection of parenting and technology. Our next episode will be about movies and the kiddos; we will talk about appropriateness of movies for kids, which movies a g33kdad makes sure his kids see, and look at the pros and cons of going to the movies with kids vs staying home to watch. I hope you will join us. I hope to have that episode out just after the Thanksgiving holiday so watch the feed for that one.
For now I will say, “Take care of yourselves” and “See you next time!”