27 November 2021

Weekend Cooking: What's New in My Kitchen, Fall 2021

Today I'm doing something a little bit different for Weekend Cooking. Instead of a cookbook review (come back next week, when reviews resume), I thought I share four kitchen items I'm loving this fall plus a new recipe I tried for this year's Thanksgiving dinner. If you're still looking for ideas for gift-giving, I can recommend everything here.

I've provided links in the descriptions below, but rest assured that they are not affiliate links. They lead you to the manufacturer's website. Note that you can likely find better prices on the gadgets if you shop around.

A photo of an air fryerYou might recall that last winter I bought an Instant Pot air-fryer lid from one of my neighbors. I thought it'd be a good introduction to the supposed wonders of a small convection oven. As it turned out, we loved the idea of the air fryer and especially liked using it for roasted vegetables. What we didn't like was washing the pressure cooker inserts. After seeing a recent America's Test Kitchen video rating air fryers, I decided it was time to get a dedicated appliance. We opted for ATK's top ranked fryer, which happened to be the Instant Vortex 6-quart. I love the easy cleanup, and so far it works like a charm. It's fairly quiet, and I love that I don't need to turn on the big oven just to roast some Brussels sprouts. So far, we're pleased with the purchase.

Photo of steel measuring cupFor the last couple of years, we've gotten more and more interested in mixing a weekend cocktail (or two). My favorite measuring device for bar tending was a plastic OXO angled 1/4 cup measure. It works brilliantly for measuring ounces and tablespoons, but it doesn't look very elegant on the bar cart. Last spring I discovered that OXO makes a steel version of the same little measuring cup, so I bought one. It looks nice enough for company, works perfectly, and washes up easily. This would make a great little stocking stuffer, or add an OXO cocktail shaker (we have one) and you have a nice themed gift.

Photo of an ipad standA few months ago, I read an article about making the transition from printed cookbooks to digital cookbooks. One of the tips was to get a sturdy, adjustable stand for your phone or tablet. Not only can you adjust the angle to avoid glare, but your device is elevated and less likely to suffer from an accidental spill. I picked up a silver-colored stand from Lamicall. It easily holds my devices, even with their covers on, and indeed it's useful when cooking from a digital recipe. It's also great for much more, such as reading during lunch or watching a show when cooking. We've already bought a second one to give as a Christmas gift.

Photo of a notebookThis favorite is probably a little idiosyncratic. As you know, I've become a meal planner over the last few years. Along with that, I thought it'd be a great idea to have a record of our meal plans for those weeks when I was feeling lazy or uninspired. I'm also always on the hunt for a good way to keep track of the recipes I've made and loved, whether out of a book or a website. I finally caved and designed a notebook on the Agendio site. The website can be a bit overwhelming at first, but Agendio allows you to design your own notebooks and planners. The photo shows the cover I choose and the screenshot shows one of the spreads I designed; click to enlarge. [Yes, the "Week of" should really be to the left, but that's my mistake.]

Scan of notebook pages

Each week, I have a place to write down the 3 to 6 dinners I plan plus a column to write down what I need to pick up at the grocery store. The other page provides a place where I can record the recipes and where I found them. Then I included six pages I designed for writing down the recipes themselves (not shown). The pages are numbered, and I put an index at the front of the notebook so I can easily find whatever recipe I'm looking for. If I'm too lazy to write out the recipes by hand, I can print them and glue them into the book. I also included a couple of note pages for each week, and I'm glad I did. It was great to have a place to make some notes about Thanksgiving dinner, which I hope will help me next year. My book will last for 15 weeks. I started this system in mid-October and love it. I'll likely order another notebook when this one runs out.

Photo of cheesecakeFinally the promised recipe. Last week, Mr. BFR asked me if there was such a thing as pumpkin cheesecake. I laughed and told him yes. That's what he wanted this year for Thanksgiving instead of traditional pie. I made the Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon-Sour Cream Topping, which was originally published in Gourmet Magazine about 20 years ago. The recipe is now available on the Epicurious site, which is the one I linked to above. Note that Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen also has a version of this cheesecake. Next year I'm going to use her food processor method. Anyway, the cheesecake was a huge hit. I'd make this for any fall celebration or dinner party. It was easy to put together and looks so pretty with its ring of pecan halves. (The photo is my own.) To find the original recipe, or Perelman's variations, click on through the links.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 11/27/21, 7:22 AM  

The planner sounds like great fun. I bet my sister would love having something like that...

And thank you for sharing the cheesecake. It looks elegant. I made pumpkin bread with a cream cheese spiral, and I was happy with how it came out, too.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 11/27/21, 7:39 AM  

Great reviews! I like the planner with the grocery list. And of course the air fryer delimma has been ongoing here and I will keep your comments in mind when it is time to purchase. Thank you!

Tina 11/27/21, 8:50 AM  

We have a similar bourbon/ liquor measuring cup. Lately I’very been sticking with wine but Doug measures every night.
Love the planner. I have one for my appointments where I’ve also recorded my books and meals.

Mae Travels 11/27/21, 8:55 AM  

Pumpkin cheesecake was a turning point in our family Thanksgiving history. I made one once, and we all decided that it was better than pumpkin pie, but that we all really preferred other flavors. And we never made another pumpkin pie! Apple, chocolate, pecan, key lime…. yes. Pumpkin … not for us! I’m sure your beautiful cheesecake was as good as it gets. But….

best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

gluten Free A_Z Blog 11/27/21, 9:35 AM  

I'm always interested in ideas and reviews. I love the idea of the iPad stand for recipes. Thanks Beth

Jackie McGuinness 11/27/21, 10:39 AM  

I use my laptop in the kitchen, thinking maybe a stand would be good for it too.
I record my favourite go to recipes in my blog and keep an index on a page in my blog. I do have a big folder of paper recipes (never mind all the cookbooks) that I am trying to reduce.
I always hated anything pumpkin until I made a pumpkin cheesecake years ago, and now make a pumpkin mousse that I love.

Greg 11/27/21, 5:46 PM  

I like that cocktail mixer... and I've been thinking about an Instant Pot.

Laurie C 11/28/21, 4:26 PM  

I love the little measuring cup with its pouring spout! I make a lot of cocktails but I'm a messy bartender and am always spilling when I pour from a regular shot glass measure. I will have to subtly hint that I would like one for Christmas or else just buy it for myself!
I made a pumpkin cheesecake one year and we had so many Thanksgiving desserts that we didn't even cut into it, so I froze it and brought it out at Christmas and it was great!
I think I would like an air fryer, too, but our kitchen is small and not well laid out and already cluttered with appliances like a second microwave because our over the-stove one stopped working years ago and there was some reason we couldn't get one to fit that space. So we use the one over the stove for storage. #lazyhomeowners

Claudia 11/28/21, 4:27 PM  

I've been considering an air fryer, and that one looks good. They're out unfortunately. I was never a fan of pumpkin pie, but that cheesecake looks delicious.

Marg 12/1/21, 4:01 AM  

Cheesecake is always a hit here!

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