Low tech stuff I recommendcreated: ; modified:
This is a list of low tech stuff I recommend having. The criterion for being “low tech” is me not expecting the thing to meaningfully improve in the next 5 years.
- Programmable electric switch - $15. I have a powerful lamp near my bed and use this switch to have it turned on automatically 20 minutes before the alarm. Makes waking up more pleasant.
- Laptop stand (IKEA Isberget) - $3. I work with a big monitor behind my laptop but always use this stand for video calls, since I use my laptop webcam for them and end up slouching really badly with laptop just being on the table. The stand also makes working on the laptop when I don’t have an external monitor much less painful.
- Standing desk - $500. I’m very skinny and cannot sit for long periods of time without my ass hurting and this desk has been absolutely incredible. I have a rule that I turn it to standing position in the beginning of the hour and at :30 minutes and I legit stand for a couple hours a day.
- Waterproof notepad - $4. Perfect for when I’m trying to write a new essay in the shower! (AliExpress).
- Mouse pad - $10. A pad makes using the mouse quite a bit more pleasant and makes sure I can work on any surface.
- Salad server - $3. I call this a “forkspoon”. It’s a fork but you can grab stuff with it like you would with a spoon! I basically no longer use normal forks because of this thing. Photo. (edit: several people have pointed out that this is usually called a “spork”)
- Colander - $10. I use it every time I prepare pasta, dumplings, etc.
- Cereal dispenser - $20. I store oatmeal and buckwheat in these. A big problem with eating healthy food instead of sweets and cookies is that sweets and cookies are just so much easier to get. These dispensers save 1-2 minutes every time I want to get some proper food and they dispense equally-sized portions, meaning that I know exactly how much food I’m getting. Photo. Video.
- Kitchen Scale - $20. Allows to measure things (not just food!) in grams rather than spoons and cups.
- Oven mitts - $10. They make it easy to handle plates from the oven.
- Power Strips - $5. I used to run out of sockets until I bought four of these with long extension cords for every place in the apartment I might conceivable need them.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste holders with holes - free/$10 I’ve been grossed out by toothbrush and toothpaste holders for many years because they have a tendency to accumulate water and make the things sitting in them wet. I finally bought a plastic cup and made two holes in it and now my toothbrush and toothpaste are always dry.
- Paper towels - $5. They’re cheap and they make cleaning up super easy. I basically stopped using towels in the kitchen. Photo.
- Ultrasound humidifier - $60. This thing really helps my skin not to become too dry during the winter. My hands specifically used to be extremely dry and now they’re good.
- Hooded bathrobe - $40. I find it much more convenient than using a towel after shower.
Steve Gadd points to Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet:
Correctly following the steps of a recipe is only part of the cooking process; you also need to keep food safety in mind so that the people you feed don’t become ill. Few cookbooks tackle this subject. First, it can be quite complicated; Modernist Cuisine has two lengthy chapters devoted to this topic, and that’s only a beginning. Second, people tend to get squeamish when you talk about pathogens, sickness, and fecal contamination. We believe it is important for every cook (whether at home or in a restaurant) to understand the basics of food safety. Following a few simple rules makes cooking at home a lot safer.
The first thing to understand about food safety is that the overwhelming majority of food poisoning cases occur because the food is contaminated—and at least 80% of the time, the contaminant is fecal matter (either animal or human). As you might imagine, eating feces is a bad idea for lots of reasons, but for food safety the point is that gastrointestinal illnesses are transmitted by germs (pathogens) in the feces. Nobody wants to eat feces; it happens accidentally through lapses in hygiene. The single most important thing you can do to eliminate foodborne illness is to practice better hygiene.
Good hygiene is critical wherever food is prepared or eaten, and the most important thing you need to keep clean is your hands. Proper hand washing is not just passing your hands quickly under a faucet—it means carefully scrubbing your hands with soap and water for a full 30 seconds and using a nailbrush to clean under your nails. That’s what surgeons do before an operation, and it is what a cook should do before cooking.
Nearly everything in a kitchen is covered in bacteria, even if it looks clean. Even food that arrives to the kitchen clean can become contaminated by pathogens that have been carried into the kitchen on other food, the bottom of a shoe, or other sources. According to New York University microbiologist and immunologist Philip Tierno, the two dirtiest items in a typical house are both found in the kitchen: the sink and the sponge.
To keep things as clean as possible and reduce the risk of cross-contamination, wash small kitchen tools, containers, utensils, dishes, and pans in a hot, sanitizing dishwasher. Or you can mix 1 Tbsp of Clorox bleach per gallon of water (about 4 mL of bleach per liter of water) in a bucket, and submerge your tools in it for at least two minutes. After you drain the bleach solution, do not rinse or wipe dry the implements or the container; doing so might recontaminate them.
Let everything drip-dry. Any residue of bleach that remains will be so faint that it will not affect the taste or the safety of the food.
Once a week, heat your sponge in the microwave on high for 1 minute, or toss it in the dishwasher with the drying cycle turned on. You should also stop using your dish towel to wipe down counters, hands, and equipment; it soon accumulates food, bacteria, and yes, feces. Dish towels should be used as nothing more than potholders. For wiping hands and other surfaces, switch to disposable paper towels.