Janet's Notebook
The Daily Grind Never Tasted So Good

Time-Tested Mortar and Pestle

Up until very recently the extent of my experience with a mortar and pestle involved dipping a tortilla chip down into the mortar to procure another bite of guacamole! However, thanks to member Chip Burrus of Glen Dale, WV, my kitchen has been opened up to the wonderful possibilities of this fantastically simple tool.

You may recognize the mortar and pestle as the iconic symbol associated with pharmacies. It was traditionally used to crush various ingredients prior to preparing old-timey prescriptions. Over the generations, mortars moved out of the pharmacy and into the home kitchen where they are used in the preparation of ingredients for dishes like the aforementioned guacamole, salsa and even member Ann Morell's Basic Pesto. (In fact, my bit of research taught me that pesto gets its name from the pestle! How neat is that?!)

Now, if you're anything like me, that right there is enough to make you want to run to your nearest kitchen supply store and pick of one of these for your very own!

Chip most enjoys using his mortar and pestle to bring out the true flavors of his herbs and spices... like in his tasty Barbecue Sauce recipe. Fresh or dried, a quick grind in the mortar makes flavorful oils in the spices really come alive! Even without a mortar and pestle, I've found that rubbing herbs between my hands before tossing them into a recipe makes a big difference. It's a fast and easy way to brighten up your dishes and get the most out of your spices.

Chip sent me and the Just A Pinch Kitchen Crew a note to let us know that the mortar and pestle is his must-have kitchen gadget, and to make sure that we weren't missing the mortar boat. Well, thank you, sir... You've opened our eyes and our spice cabinets to a whole new world!

What is YOUR most useful kitchen gadget? I'm always on the hunt for new tools and would love to know what you think I should try next!

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Cheryl Morgan - Jul 9, 2010
Read the comment about beans - used to make many bean soup (any I had on hand) delicious & quick!
Cheryl Morgan - Jul 9, 2010
When my children were in their teens, and very active, I couldn't live without the pressure cooker....Good meals, quick & easy...
gail chetelat - May 17, 2010
My Nu Wave oven is a gold star winner. Saw the infomercial on TV & it looked so great but the shipping charges were prohibitive. Went to Bed Bath & Beyond & there it was with my 20% off coupon to beat It is really FABULOUS. My picture shows NY Eve...I did filets, lobster tails, mini corn, green beans & red potatos...FABULOUS!!!!! I use it many times each week. I have even baked cookies in it!!!
judy huffman - May 16, 2010
the new pineapple corer from qvc or hsn. can,t remember which one i ordered it from but it,s a great tool to have if you love pineapple like we and our grandchildren do. easy as pie to use. cut the top off and set this on top over the core and turn till you get to the bottom. perfect slices every time!!! also my electric cooker, wouldn,t be without one.
kathy hodges - May 16, 2010
I bake my potatoes in a dutch oven (or like) pan with a lid , add 1-2 inches of water and bake 350 for an hour.Saves bunches on foil and the potatoes are delicious.I have four children and we all love baked potatoes.
Debbie Ucci - May 12, 2010
Not a crock pot Lori...use the pressure cooker. I bet sweet potatoes would be delicious as well. Be sure and try beans, you will not go back to the old way of cooking them all day.
Lori Lassiter - May 12, 2010
What a GREAT idea baking potatoes in the crock pot....can't wait to try sweet potatoes this way tooo!!
Thanks for sharing this idea Debbie!! I want to try the beans this way too!!!
Debbie Ucci - May 12, 2010
Try your pressure cooker to make baked potatoes. Take four potates, make several deep pricks with fork in each potato, stand upright in the pot, add about 1/2 cup water and pressure cook about 15 minutes. They are like sweet juicy mashed potatoes in a shell. M-m-m-m-m good! I also use my pressure cooker to do beans now. Done in 30 minutes after a day or overnite of soaking. No more 4-6 hour wait for a pot of beans and I actually like them better this way.