Choosing Chip and Dip Sets

With the chance to test nine chip and dip sets, I spread out homemade dippers, fresh dips, and home-canned salsas. Learn more at
I recently had the chance to test and photograph nine chip and dip bowls and platters for The Spruce Eats—much to the pleasure of munchie-loving friends who got to dig into the photo-shoot spread. I was surprised not just by the variety of sets and styles but also by the ways I could fill them. I’m not sure what my editor expected when she asked me to test whether the sets could hold “other finger food,” but I took the opportunity to spread out homemade pita wedges and crackers, home-smoked cheese, fermented pickles, and every type of salsa in my home-canned stash.

Each set had ideal uses, even if you just want to dump in a bag of chips and jar of queso. Some would be ideal for a fancy holiday spread, others can be taken to a bonfire party, and still others are made for curling up solo by a fire.
Learn about choosing and using chip and dip sets


Kitchen Favorites: Kitchen Knives

Between canning and teaching, cooking and testing, I’ve learned the value of a sharp knife. Learn more at
One thing I’ve learned from teaching workshops in other people’s kitchens is the value of a sharp knife. At home, it can be easy to ignore the dullness of a blade because we’re used to the feel of it in our hand. We think, “Oh, I just want to finish cutting this tomato and eat; I’ll sharpen after I clean up” (and then rarely do). When I’m in someone else’s kitchen, and especially if I’m trying to show off neat, clean slices, dullness becomes obvious—and embarrassing if I brought my own knives.

So I started paying more attention to the knives I own and how I treat them. I offer one of my favorites in my recent piece for The Spruce Eats: a Misen Chef’s Knife. I’ve relied on it heavily through canning and teaching, cooking and testing, for the last 18 months, and I still can’t believe how sharp it was out of the box and how easy it is to keep sharp. I’m such a fan of this knife that I gifted it (and its smaller sibling, the paring knife) to family last Christmas, along with ceramic honing rods for continual sharpness.
Learn about choosing and using kitchen knives

Kitchen Favorites: Garlic Rocker

When I kept the Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker, I was determined to justify its position in my tiny kitchen. And I’ve done just that. Learn more at
When I was asked to test an array of garlic presses last year, I hadn’t expected to keep any for my own kitchen. I grow and use piles of garlic; I’m just comfortable rock-chopping it for Sourdough Garlic Knots, slicing it for Spanish Shrimp in Garlic Oil, and roasting and squeezing it onto everything. When I owned a garlic press, it just took up space in my utensil drawer, sitting unused far too long before I gave it away.

Then, when I’d finished testing garlic presses, the look, feel, and easy use of the Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker made it hard to give up. So I tucked it into my utensil drawer, determined to make it useful enough to justify its position in my tiny kitchen. And I’ve done just that, as I share in my latest piece for The Spruce Eats.
Learn about choosing and using garlic rockers and presses

Choosing Wooden Spoons

I reach for wooden spoons all of the time; when baking, sturdiness and handle comfort matter most. Learn more at
As the holiday baking and gifting season begins, you may want to check out my recent piece for The Spruce Eats. I tested a dozen wooden spoons for the website earlier this year, using each of them to stir multiple batches of cookie dough or quick bread batter, as well as sautés, soups, pasta, and more.

I reach for wooden spoons all of the time in my kitchen, but they probably get the most use when I’m baking. Overall, I found that sturdiness and handle comfort mattered most when mixing doughs, especially dense ones. Some spoons I tested had additional features, like an edge shape that easily scraped down a mixing bowl or a small rubber scraper on the top of the handle that could clear out a measuring cup. A few had a shape that worked best when gripped a certain way to mix dough.
Learn about choosing and using wooden spoons