FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings, food lovers, and welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Feast, once more featuring me. And what fun we’re going to have too, because I have toys to show you!

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn HeinBut first, the roller-coasting fun that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. With the rise in temperature so does my golf game continue to improve. Not in great leaps and bounds, as one would like, but slowly and surely. I’m even trying smarty-pants shots. Admittedly not all of them pay off but one day soon they’ll begin to. I can feel it in my waters… Or maybe that’s just an omen of where my balls will end up if I continue the smarty-pants act. We shall see!

Right, as always we need a lovely read for you to check out. This week we’ll look at my latest release, The Falls.

THE FALLS

Cover of The Falls by Cathryn HeinWill losing the home she loves mean finding the place she belongs?

For as long as she can remember, Teagan Bliss has wanted to manage her family’s property. She’s invested everything in the farm, knowing that when her parents retire she’ll be ready to take the reins. But when a family betrayal leaves her reeling, Teagan is forced to rethink her entire future.

Heartbroken, Teagan flees to her aunt’s property in the idyllic Falls Valley. Vanessa is warm and welcoming and a favourite of the locals who drop in regularly for cocktail hour. Teagan soon catches the attention of sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, and with a new job, new friends and the prospect of a new relationship, she slowly begins to open up again.

But the village is a hotbed of gossip and division and when Teagan gets caught up in town politics, Lucas and Vanessa become concerned. As the tension in town escalates, Teagan must decide who to trust. But when she realises those close to her have been keeping secrets, the fallout may split Teagan apart forever.

Talking Books Blog described The Falls as “A knockout of a read that had me completely captivated from the first page…” And this great story could be yours with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Big W or your favourite bookstore.

All set? Now come join me in playtime!

My Favourite Gadgets

Ooh, I adore a good gadget. They call to me from the windows of cooking shops and chef’s supplies, from catalogues and department store shelves, and don’t get me started on the sink that is the internet. I have been known to escape for hours into Peters of Kensington, Kitchenware Direct, Kitchen Warehouse, and places far flung.

I’ll admit to buying quite a few items that I’ve never used and probably never will. Those ravioli cutters I bought spring to mind, along those wanky steel rings for plating up salads into perfect Kitchen junk drawertowers. And silicone egg poaching pods. Who the hell thought those were a good idea? Me, obviously, seeing as I have half a dozen of the useless things clogging my kitchen junk drawer. Palette knives are another dud buy, along with dough cutters. I mean, I know they’re lovely and I have used them, but it’s far easier to grab a knife from the rack, and god knows I have a pile of those things too. Knives of every persuasion, from teeny-tiny fruit knives to giant cleavers and the most beautiful carving knife from Toledo. What do I use most? The cheap Chinese chef knives with the soft steel that sharpen fast and blunt just a quickly. Mind you, at least I don’t cry when I break the tip off those, unlike my others.

Yes, I cry over broken (good) knives. Doesn’t everyone?

But, you know what? For every dud gadget I own, there’ll be another that’s paid for itself many times over. In fact, there are a few things I’ll admit to being perhaps a tad obsessed by.

Like…

The Best Whisk Evah

I bought this in Cologne, Germany, and wish I’d bought one in every size plus the one with the Teflon-coated balls on the end. Over ten years on and I’m still stroppy that I only bought this one, and live in fear of it somehow disappearing from my life. This whisk is the GOODS. Seriously. It whips faster than any other whisk, ingredients don’t get caught up like they do with balloon whisks, the beads catch every corner, it makes a satisfying noise when you use it, and it’s plain cool. I would go back to Cologne just to buy another of these whisks. ‘Tis the truth.

Me with my beloved whisk

El Cheapo Knife Sharpener

$14-99 from Aldi and one of the best gadget investments imaginable. Before this baby I’d persevered with steels of all persuasions, without success. I don’t care what the purists say, sharpening knives the proper way when you have no prowess has knobs on it. But with this, a few strokes through the slots and my knives are back razor sharp. Yeah, they’ve probably had about ten layers of steel stripped off them in the process but I don’t care. At least my knives get used now. Before they sat in their racks all blunt and annoying because I could never get them sharp enough to use again once the store edge wore off. Now they are. I rest my case.

Knife Sharpener

Porcelain Pastry Beads

Once upon a time I used to go through bags of rice and beans, simply for blind baking tart bases. Not anymore! Now I simply pull out my pastry beads and away I go. They’re nice and heavy, cool fairly quickly and store away on the shelf in an old passata jar next to my rolling pin. Great investment! Oh, but do not drop the bottle or container they’re kept in, or spill them when lifting from the pastry case. Ever. These beads bounce, far and high. You’ll be picking them out of your home for the next year.

Pastry beads

Microplanes

What did we do before Microplanes? Can you remember the torture that was zesting citrus before these came along? The zester in particular is a must in any kitchen. You need one of these, oh yes you do. It is a thing of much beauty and will transform your zesting life.

Mircoplane Zester

Mandolin Magic

Like The Best Whisk Evah, I’m a little obsessed with this gadget. I bought it in Stockholm from a lovely big cooking shop that I discovered during my wanderings. The truth is I wanted a pure stainless steel version but the price of the one I had my eye on put me off. This one cost 495 Krona – about $80 or so – and it’s a cracker. It slices and shaves and juliennes and crinkle cuts and cleans up a breeze. Yup, those Swedes sure know a thing or two about design.

Mandolin

Mortar and Pestle

There’s something very satisfying about bashing things in a lump of granite and watching tough foodstuffs like lemongrass pulverise into pastes. The pestle makes a really cool ring when you use it, and the fragrance of the ingredients when they release all their goodness makes the cooking process even more exciting. I have two of these. A mid-sized one for small jobs and then the big mama for things like curry pastes.

Mortar and pestle

The Mixmaster That Will Not Die

You have no idea how much I crave a new mixmaster. I look at all that lovely new technology out there and want to weep because I can’t justify buying any of it because my 20+ year-old Sunbeam refuses to die. The engine occasionally overheats when mixing highly resistant things like dough but even then it keeps churning away. Sometimes, when I’m feeling naughty, I walk away from it in the faint hope it’ll vibrate its way off the bench, but no. It stays there, whipping, mixing, doing its thing as it’s always done. I hate it. But I love it too. Oh, faithful cooking servant.

Mixmaster

There are lots of other gadgets I could wax on about – my pasta machine, digital scales, Mouli, the humble garlic press, so many knives (now that they’re kept properly sharp), the really cool sieve I bought specifically for making one sauce and rarely use, a bazillion pots, pans and tins, that work of art meat tenderiser I bought in Vienna (cos they know aaall about schnitzels there) – but the above are the tools I can’t do without. I love them. Like, really, really love them. Which is a perfectly normal way to feel about a life-saving kitchen gadget, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

What about you? What’s your favourite kitchen gadget? Or maybe there’s one you want some clever-trousers to invent?

Share away. You might entice me, or someone else, to a new obsession!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. There’s lots of cool stuff on here. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

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Friday Feast recipe index link.

15 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

  1. Avatarchristine stinson

    Hi Cathryn, and congratulations on both ‘The Falls’ and the upturn in the golfing fortunes. Re favourite kitchen gadget. it’s a dead heat between the microplane and the stick blender with mini whizz attachment that makes soups, crumble toppings, etc, so much easier. I’ll be keeping my eye out for one of those knife sharpeners. I’m still using my grandmother’s old hand held whetting ‘stick’ with pearl handle. While it still does the job – and is good for the arm muscles, too! – I’d love something that takes a lot less work.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I can’t recommend this knife sharpener enough, Christine. It’s made an enormous difference in the kitchen. All our knives are razor sharp whereas most were blunt, no matter how hard we tried to hone them. I simply don’t have the knack with the steel or whetstone, and it’s stupid having good quality knives lying around blunt, not being used.

      Aren’t Microplanes the best? I couldn’t live without mine. They’re just invaluable.

      I upgraded my stick blender thing this year too to a Braun one. Nearly included it in the faves list but I’m still learning all it’s bits. Makes bloody good mayonnaise though, and great for curry pastes when you can’t be bothered pounding ingredients in a mortar and pestle.

  2. AvatarDB Tait

    I want that knife sharpener! I’ve only just got one of those balloon whisks and I love it! You’re must be even better. I do love my hand held mixer. Great for egg whites.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Next time Aldi has them on sale, DB, (and they seem to every year) grab one. It’s changed our kitchen life and all for only $14-99!

      I’ll admit that my whisk, while doing an adequate job, doesn’t whisk egg whites as well as a balloon whisk or the stick blender with a whisk attachment, but you can’t have everything!!

  3. AvatarJessy

    Hi! Cathryn,

    Thanks for sharing kitchen gadgets that are useful to you.My favourite kitchen gadgets are my mortar and pestle, electric chopper, knife sharpener , juicer and grater.I do have a few of those silicone egg poaching pods.Just used it once. My pressure cooker saves heaps of time and have a mixie with a three jars.The big jar is for mincing ,the medium jar is for grinding and small jar is for powdering.Before I used to use the coffee powdering machine for powdering whole spices like black pepper corns and whole cumin seeds. As spices is a major part of our cooking. Cooking is hard work but the end result is that you eat homely cooked food.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Exacty, Jessy. There is nothing like home cooked food. All that love, care and generosity.

      I use our old mini coffee grinder for spices sometimes. Will be using it tonight actually for the Sri Lankan curry I’m making. I like using the mortar and pestle but sometimes it’s easier to use the grinder and I find it does cassia bark/cinnamon sticks much better than I can.

      Thanks so much for dropping by!

  4. AvatarVictoria

    I feel your pain re knives, Cathryn. I hate nothing more than a blunt one and I have a drawer full of those. I LOVE your Aldi knife sharpener. I want one!

  5. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    Kitchen gadgets are cool and there are some pretty funky ones around. I reckon my dad was the gadget king, every time, and I mean every time a new gadget was advertised he’d go and buy it. A few things that was used a lot was the egg slicer, ice cream machine and the wall mounted electric can opener.
    I just recently bought the slap chopper, I love it. It’s great for nuts and fresh herbs. And I can’t do without my hand held electric beater, slow cooker, ninja blender for smoothies or my Kenwood mix master – it comes with so many great attachments – favourites are the dough hook, grater and mincer.
    Love that whisk of yours, Cathryn, might check out David Jones for one they seem to import all sorts of goodies from overseas. I have this big orange hand held gadget that slices onions and potatoes similar to your one, Cathryn, mine though was bought from the caravan and camping show and is not designed as wonderful as yours, as I said hand held but awkward. I’ll swap ya, lol.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I reckon I know the orange slicing gadget you mean, Sue. They’re basically the same as a mandolin but without the stand. You have to hold it while you slice. Does the same job but not as easy to use and the mandolin I have comes with all these groovy attachments for fancypants slicing. Very cool!

      Had to smile at your story of your dad and his gadgets. Remember 70s and 80s television with all the K-tell gadgets? There were things for cutting glass so you could make tumblers from old beer bottles and all sorts of wonderful do-das.

      Had to google your slap chopper because I wasn’t sure what it was and discovered it’s just like the chopper mum had when I was a kid! I LOVED banging that thing!!

      1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

        Loved the 70s and 80s, I think they’re bringing back a lot of the old gadgets our parents used to use when we were kids, maybe just a little more advanced. I called it the slap chopper, hee hee, it’s actually called the slap chop. When I bought this about a year ago I remember saying to Steven, “omg my mum had one of those, I just have to buy it,” lol.
        Wouldn’t it be great if we could add photos with our comments on your blogs just like on FB!? Than you can see all our cool gadgety stuff too.

        1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

          I was only thinking the same thing the other day, Sue, about the photos in comments, I mean. There have been many times when I wanted to do that myself. I’m not sure there’s a way to do it, but I will investigate!

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