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'America's Test Kitchen' changed my kitchen

'America's Test Kitchen' changed my kitchen

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As I washed the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner, I wondered about a gray plastic object in my hand. It appeared to be a strainer, with a grid of holes in the bottom.

Also puzzling to me was a measuring cup with a tube on the pouring side.

It turns out these two objects go together; you set the strainer in the measuring cup then pour your turkey pan drippings into it.

The strainer allows liquid and small pieces to pass through, but keeps out the bigger globs you don’t want.

Then, in the measuring cup, the grease rises to the top and as you pour your drippings into the gravy-making pan, the liquid you want flows out through the tube, leaving the grease behind.

This is one of several cooking aids that has come into our house since my husband retired, began watching "America's Test Kitchen" on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) and incrementally assumed daily cooking duties.

I still bake pies, birthday cakes and cookies, but Dave has taken over day-to-day meal prep. (Yes!)

I was reminded of this recently when I received a news release from WQPT-TV, Ch. 24, announcing a free event celebrating the 20th anniversary of “America’s Test Kitchen.” Beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, WQPT is inviting the public to Scott Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Center to tour its culinary lab, taste food samples prepared by college chefs, listen to talks from a gadget expert and perhaps win a test kitchen giveaway.

In the Gaul household — as elsewhere — "America's Test Kitchen" has had a noticeable effect on what we eat and how we prepare it.

In addition to the gravy strainer, our kitchen now contains a garlic press, lemon zester, pepper mill, rice steamer and a very heavy Lodge brand Dutch oven. We also have steel cut oats, quinoa, Panko bread crumbs and farro.

And the faithful recipe box I turned to for meals, mostly casseroles, while our children were growing up has fallen out of use as a new group of recipes has taken root in a fat manila envelope in a different cupboard.

It’s here where you’ll find new favorites such as Parmesan Chicken and Detroit Pizza. The latter is a type of deep-dish pizza that gets its name from its city of origin, where factory workers used rectangular steel pans to store their nuts and bolts.

When factories stopped using these pans, a pizza entrepreneur bought them up and started using them to make his product.

I also have grown accustomed to Dave using words such as “proof” in relation to bread dough and “bloom” in reference to the flavor released by spices when warmed in olive oil.

It’s a pretty amazing consequence of watching TV.

Free tickets to the WQPT event are available online on the WQPT Facebook page, facebook.com/wq ptpbs/events, or by calling 309-764-2400. And the culinary center is at 500 Belmont Road, Bettendorf. (Technically Riverdale.)

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