The long-awaited season of alfresco dining has finally returned, and the last thing we want to see when we open our picnic baskets is a cracked pie or a leaky bowl of coleslaw. A sturdy carrier is our greatest ally when preparing for an outdoor feast, and luckily, there are plenty of dependable totes, bowls and baskets designed to get your precious cargo to the park in one piece. Here are a few trusted picnicking sidekicks that are worth investing in this summer.
What’s your favorite piece of kitchen equipment? I’m not talking about your fancy stand mixer or mega-speed blender. I’m talking about the thing that time and time again assists in the smallest of kitchen tasks. For me, hands down, it’s a spatula. But the difference in all the brands on the market can make a mega-watt difference. I’ve used spatulas that heated up to the point I could almost wipe the outside coating of plastic off after it hit something hot, like soup or a sauce, so always make sure to use ones that are heat-resistant to 500 degrees F. I’ve also tried those oversized spatulas that should be used only when trying to mix 50 gallons of cookie dough in an industrial kitchen.
And how about getting the remaining mustard or ketchup out of a jar or bottle? It says there’s 9 to 15 ounces inside, but I would guarantee you toss out a good 2 ounces each time because it’s so challenging to figure a way to get the remaining spoonfuls out.
One of the most recent additions to the Food Network website is the addition of product guides, guides in which readers are offered insight into some of the products that editors believe are among the best in helpful cooking tools, tabletop items and edibles available online. A lot of these product guides are tied to the season, like Food Network’s Summer Cookbook Guide. In August the editors began working on our fall product guide. Thanksgiving may be several weeks away, but we have to start working on these guides as early as the summer months to make sure that every edible product that gets selected for the guide has been tested (i.e. eaten) and approved by our staff.
For about two weeks, our office was flooded with an array of samples — from gourmet marshmallows to specialty cocktail mixes and Thanksgiving gumballs (turkey-flavored included!). After organizing a formal tasting within Food Network’s digital department and consuming probably 20 times more than our daily allowance of sugar, the most-popular products were chosen.
These new steamers make it easy to get your veggies.
The Steam and Dine set is ideal for the office: You can fill it with fresh veggies in the morning and cook them in the microwave for lunch, then the whole thing collapses for the trip home. $10; aladdin-pmi.com
Unlike old-fashioned metal steamers, the Lotus is made with silicone and plastic, so it won’t scratch your pots. $17; josephjoseph.com