All posts in “Home”

Clams Are the Hands-Off Dinner Item You’re Not Making (but Should be)

Leftover wine is a non-issue. If sealed properly, it can be consumed the following night; otherwise, it can be improvised into a quick sauce for pasta or meat. But next time, rather than viewing wine as an ingredient to get rid of, consider using it as an excuse to buy clams. The recipe for clams with green garlic butter and leftover wine in Bon Appetit contributor Alison Roman’s Dining In is proof. With clams steamed in wine and garlic, coated with butter and served alongside crusty bread and white beans (optional but strongly recommended), it’s easier and faster than it seems — and just as delicious.

Littleneck Clams with Green Garlic Butter and Leftover Wine

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh parsley leaves (about 1 bunch), chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
6 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced (or 3 regular garlic cloves, finely grated)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 dry, acidic white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Blanc
3 1/2 pounds small littleneck clams, steamers or mussels, scrubbed and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, such as cannellini, drained and rinsed (optional)
1 lemon, quartered (for serving)
Crusty bread (for serving)

Smaller clams are better here, Roman notes. “The larger, chewier ones are great for things like chowder or pasta when they are pulled out and chopped, but to slurp one from the shell, you want them to be petite and tender. Littlenecks are a great choice (again, pick the smallest ones you can find, even if that means hand-picking at the grocery store or fishmonger), but extra-small cockles would also be fun.”

Preparation:
1. Combine the parsley, butter and two stalks of green garlic (or one garlic clove) in a food processor. Pulse until the parsley is finely chopped and well incorporated into the butter. Alternatively, finely chop the parsley and garlic and smash into the butter using a fork. Season aggressively with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the remaining green garlic (or garlic) and cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns bright green (or just before it browns if using regular garlic) and has softened, about three minutes. Add the wine and cook a minute or two, just to take the edge off. Add the clams and cover. Cook, shaking the pot every now and then until the clams start to open, five to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your clams and your pot.

3. Remove the pot from the heat and add the parsley butter, shaking to make sure the butter melts and gets into each clam. Transfer the clams to a large serving bowl or divide among four bowls.

4. If using, add the beans to the pot with the clam juice and butter. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer over medium-high heat for a minute or two, just to warm through.

5. Pour the beans (if using), melted butter and clam juice from the pot over the clams and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing and bread for sopping up the juices.

Buy the Book

The recipe above appears in Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes, by Alison Roman, published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Buy Now: $18

Note: Stories published on Gear Patrol may contain links to buy products sold in our curated store as well as by third party retail destinations. Items purchased through the GP store help directly support editorial initiatives. In some cases, we may also receive a small commission for the online customers we refer to external retailers. Learn more about our editorial policies related to commerce and affiliate sales here.

Get up to 70% off over 200 Items During Our Shop ‘Purge’ Sale

We’re never going to be the kind of people that could ever live with just a single season, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a favorite time of year. Our favorite time of year…

5 Things to Cook Sous Vide Besides Steak

Most of us don’t grow up cooking sous vide, so most of us don’t know how to get the most out of the cooking method. Is it for special occasions? Desserts? Showing off? The answer: all of the above. What a sous vide circulator lacks in cooking speed (most dishes require one to four hours in the bath), it makes up for in functions no other cooking method can claim. Here’s a beginner’s list of the five essential things to cook sous vide beyond a simple steak.

Eggs

Though sous vide steak gets all the headlines, it’s the prospect of flawless egg cooking that deserves more love. Few ingredients are as finnicky as the egg, and the degree-specific precision of a sous vide bath is the ideal vehicle to nail your perfect doneness with consistency. Use Kenji López-Alt as your spirit guide; his 2015 cookbook The Food Lab devotes more pages to the search of egg perfection than any other.

Vegetables

When it comes to vegetables, no one doubts the deliciousness of roasting or the convenience of steaming. But securing the veggie in a bag and cooking it between 180 and 190 degrees is the only method that preserves both the ingredient’s nutrient content and its structural integrity. In their guide to sous vide vegetables, the recipe and kitchen gear testing gurus at Cook’s Illustrated break down why the method works from taste to nutritional value.

Fish

Like with the egg, preparing fish with imprecise tools — your oven, stovetop or grill — can result in something nobody wants to eat. Fish is delicate, and dramatic temperature shifts during cooking often result in a product that’s overly dry or undercooked. Sous vide fish takes longer than other methods (around an hour), but it’s impossible to ruin. Unless your circulator malfunctions, the meat will be juicy with the fats properly broken down.

Cheap Meat

Ideal for the frugal home cook. Cheaper cuts of meat (like a pork shoulder) are rich in fibrous collagen that makes them tough and hard to chew when cooked with traditional methods. Like barbeque, sous vide is a low-and-slow cooking method that converts collagen into gelatin, creating tender protein out of the lowliest of cuts.

Flake Salt

Yep, salt. Forums focused on sous vide cooking are cornucopias of deep-cut food hacks, like the conversion of cheap kosher salt into the kind of flaky salt a la Maldon and Jacobsen. It involves first liquefying your cheap salt into salt water, then evaporating that into homemade salt crystals with low and steady heat; this takes anywhere between 12 to 24 hours. Use ChefSteps’s recipe as your guide.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Complete Buying Guide to Weber Grills: Every Model Explained

It was the early 1950s, the brazier grill was king and George Stephen was not impressed. Braziers lacked lids, leaving food exposed to rain and flooding the coalbed with oxygen, creating uncontrollably hot fires. According to Smithsonian Magazine, Stephen, a salesman for Weber Brothers Metal Works, was filling out orders for buoys from the Coast Guard and Chicago Yacht Club when it hit him — he needed a lid. He cut a buoy into two half-spheres, added legs and punched holes in the top and bottom for airflow. The Weber Kettle was born.

Weber’s original kettle remains its most popular grill today, but in the 60-plus years since its invention, the company has expanded. The Weber name is stamped on propane gas grills, smokers, electric grills and portable grills. There are sub-products under each category, each at different price points, and all with different features. Here’s everything you need to know about the most famous name in grilling.

Charcoal Grills

Original Kettle

Sizes Available: 18-inch, 22-inch, 26-inch

The OG Weber’s shape has been more or less the same since 1956, and beyond small component updates, it is effectively the exact grill Stephen set out to make — sturdy and weather-proof with manageable airflow and a reasonable price. It comes with Weber’s standard One-Touch cleaning system, an aluminum ash catch and a pair of solid wheels to move around with.

Original Kettle Premium

Models Available: 22-inch, 26-inch

The middle-tier kettle is exactly the same as the Original, but adds three useful features: a built-in lid thermometer, hinged grates and a removable ash catch. The lid thermometer is useful for longer cooks, when the lid will remain on the kettle for longer stretches (high-heat cooks rarely use the lid or keep it on for more than a minute or two). The hinged grate allows you to lift part of the grate up to add more fuel without having to pull the entire thing out. A removable ash catch is great for those of us who would like to avoid ash-covered finger nails. Plus, it’s the only kettle that comes in different colors.

Master-Touch Kettle

The most-premium of the kettles adds Gourmet BBQ System grates (the middle is hinged, so you can pull it out to refuel the center of the fire), a warming rack and char-baskets. It has all the features from the Original and Premium kettles. Sadly, it only comes in black.

Smokey Mountain Smoker

Models Available: 14-inch, 18-inch, 22-inch

The pill-shaped Smokey Mountain drops the coalbed down a foot or two, adds a door to throw new coals on and comes with a porcelain-enameled water rack to keep things nice and humid. If you want food closer to the fire, there’s a grate beneath the top grate for charring.

Performer

Models Available: 22-Inch, 22-Inch Premium, 22-Inch Deluxe

The Performer adds a prep table, cooking timer and gas-fired charcoal starter to the standard kettle grill. It comes in a standard, premium and deluxe setup, the difference being a slightly larger prep table, the addition of a charcoal storage chamber and, at the highest level, an electric charcoal starter.

Ranch Kettle

The Ranch kettle comes in one size and it’s absolutely enormous. Easily the largest of Weber’s kettle-shaped grills, the Ranch is overkill for all but Weber brand loyalists that need to make more than 40 burgers at a time.

Summit (Charcoal)

Models Available: Summit Charcoal Grill, Summit Charcoal Grilling Center

The aptly named Summit series is Weber charcoal grilling taken to its peak. It has every premium feature available on a Weber grill in its toolkit, including, but not limited to: gas-fired charcoal ignition, one-touch cleaning, double-walled lid and bowl, hinged grill grates, temperature gauges, timers and more. Weber grilling nirvana, basically.

Gas Grills

Spirit

Models Available: E210 Two-Burner, E310 Three-Burner, E210 Two-Burner (Natural Gas), E310 Three-Burner (Natural Gas)

All Weber gas grills use a version of the brand’s GS4 grilling system, which includes an ignition system with a 10-year warranty, upgrades fuel tubes for improved heat distribution and “flavorizer” bars that catch grease before it causes flare-ups. The Spirit is the most affordable of Weber’s trio of gas grills. It comes with prep tables, side hooks and all-terrain wheels. Plus, you can get it in a few different color and size combinations.

Genesis

Models Available: Various color, size, storage and fuel source options

The Genesis series takes the basics from the Spirit grills and throws a few more features in. Namely, a side table burner, heating rack and porcelain-enameled steel body. Upgrading from the Spirit to the Genesis can be boiled down to one question: do you plan on grilling individual dishes or full meals? If the answer is the latter, go with the Genesis.

Summit (Gas)

Models Available: E470 Four-Burner, E470 Four-Burner (Natural Gas), E670 Six-Burner, E670 Six-Burner (Natural Gas)

Like the charcoal version of the Summit, the gas model is as feature-rich as it gets. It carries everything from the Genesis and adds burners, BTUs and some very handy automatic lights on the hood for nighttime grilling.

button]Buy Now: $TK[/button]

Portable Grills

Smokey Joe

Models Available: 14-Inch Standard, 14-Inch Premium

Miniaturized classics. While still not small enough to fit in a day pack, it makes for the perfect city-living, can-only-grill-in-the-park grill. It’s got Weber’s charcoal-standard ash catch at the base and airflow dampers on the lid (there aren’t any on the base, sadly). The main difference between the standard and more premium models is a home for the lid; the premium model (about $10 more expensive) has a hinge that holds the lid when not in use. Its 14-inch grill space is enough to fit about five burgers.

Jumbo Joe

Models Available: 18-Inch

The Jumbo Joe is just a larger Smokey Joe. It adds another four inches of grill space, which means eight burgers instead of five.

Go-Anywhere


Weber takes a stab at making a portable, charcoal grill outside its spherical comfort zone. The legs cleverly fold onto the lid and make it a bit more towable, it’s still Weber, which means it’s still heavy (14 pounds) and awkward to carry far. It’s big enough for six burgers (or about three steaks). Use it for car camping.

Q-Series

Models Available: Q1000, Q1200, 2000, Q2200, Q1400 (Electric), Q2400 (Electric), Q3200 (Natural Gas, non-portable)

The Q-Series comes in propane, electric and natural gas options at a variety of BTU levels. Its body is rust-proof cast aluminum and its grates are enameled cast iron. There are a few models under the Q line, but prices generally only climb with higher power levels and for options that come with fold-out side tables. It also comes in way more colors than most Weber grills.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

For Better Iced Coffee, Pros Swear by This $40 Amazon Buy

George Howell wasn’t sure how to make iced coffee work for his esteemed chain of coffee roasters and cafés. The way he sees it, iced coffee is vastly better than cold brew (and he’s not alone), but making it is a pain — you either have to pour hot coffee over ice and dilute the coffee with melting water, or wait for a blast chiller to bring a batch of hot coffee down to 40 or so degrees (which could take 45 minutes to an hour).

Then Howell found the Coldwave.

The $40 pitcher, readily available on Amazon, comes with a plastic insert with a whole lot of white tubes filled with water on it. After the insert is frozen overnight, fresh hot coffee is poured into the pitcher and the insert is dropped into the coffee. A minute and a half later, you have iced coffee.

Howell explains that the consumer Coldwave isn’t an elegant fix to his cafés’ commercial problem, and it certainly isn’t the end-all, be-all solution; after one, 16-ounce chill — about three good-sized cups — the insert must be rinsed off and re-frozen. But he thinks it’s just fine for iced coffee at home.

“It’s the best gadget for this I’ve found so far,” Howell says. “It’s dead simple and … it does the job faster and cleaner than anything else I’ve used recently.”

For home brewing during the warmer months, it still isn’t as easy as batch-brewing cold brew and keeping it in the fridge for a week. But it does allow you to brew your regular pot of hot coffee and chill it without adding much to your morning routine.

“This levels the playing field for iced coffee,” Howell says.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

How to Build a Smart Home, the Smart Way

These days, anyone can use their phone to turn on the lights. But a real smart home goes beyond parlor tricks. Building a capable, connected home that’s also convenient takes a bit of planning, a touch of know-how and more than a little restraint — not to mention a reliable internet connection. Choosing the wrong virtual assistant or investing in a doomed startup can turn your smart home real dumb, real quick, so study up on everything you need to know to put your connected home at the top of the class.

Beef Up the Broadband

Can you imagine walking into a house without Wi-Fi? Neither can Alexa. Strong, reliable internet is the first building block to any good smart home. Here, three things to consider.

Speed

Lightning-fast internet is not make-or-break when it comes to building a functional smart home. Asking your virtual assistant to turn on the lights or play the Bee Gees doesn’t require a whole tone of bandwidth. Video, on the other hand, is a different story. Security cameras and smart doorbells can devour a lot of data, depending on your quality settings — even if they only need data when they sense movement. If you start getting hiccups while streaming Netflix, consider upgrading your network speeds with your ISP or making sure your router’s up to date.

Coverage

Apartment dwellers can typically get away with a single wireless router, but people who live in larger homes with multiple floors or thick walls will be left high and dry. A Wi-Fi extender, like those made by TP-Link, can help fix trouble spots, but the best way to guarantee blanket coverage is with a mesh network that builds a network out of multiple nodes instead of a single router. Eero, an Amazon-owned company, is at the head of the pack along with Google Wi-Fi, but Netgear’s Orbi line is a solid alternative if you’d feel better trusting your homework to a company that doesn’t traffic in targeted advertising.

Security

Every connected device, from lights to thermostats, introduces a new entry point for hackers. Protect your network with a strong, unique password and change the default password of every gadget you bring home. You can also isolate smart home devices on a guest network if you want to get serious. Whether Big Tech respects your privacy is a whole other ball of wax, but products from companies like Google and Amazon offer better, longer-lasting support than cash-strapped startups. And always, always install software updates religiously.

Pro Tip

To avoid lag when you’re streaming Netflix, Facetiming or playing video games, lower the resolution of your security cameras, which consume more data than the average smart home device. Downgrading from 1080p to 720p will limit the strain on your home’s internet connection without throttling performance.

Keep It in the Family

Building a smart home isn’t quite as simple as buying a bunch of devices and plugging them in — you have to make sure they all work together. You may have happened into a bias towards one family of devices or another, and that’s fine! But if you’re making the decision in a vacuum, here are the pros and cons to consider before committing.

Amazon Alexa

Amazon was the first company to conquer the smart home, even if companies like Google and Apple have found their strides. That means Alexa is compatible with a large number of third-party devices, with dozens more all the time. It also has the unique ability to order groceries and other items from (surprise!) Amazon. Alexa isn’t as smart as its competitors when it comes to search or conversation flourishes, but for users who just want to turn on the lights with a voice command, she’ll do just fine.

Google Assistant

Google’s answer to Alexa is newer and more powerful, and it also works with a large number of third-party devices. But users who have an Android phone (which also features deep Google Assistant integration) will reap the full benefits. Gmail and Google Calendar users will find particular utility as well. Google Assistant can set appointments or dig through your email to find upcoming flight info. Voice-ordering from Amazon Prime would be the cherry on top, which is probably why it’s exclusive to Alexa.

Apple Siri

Of the big three, Apple’s smart assistant, Siri, is the least open to mingling. That means it’s awesome for people who have Apple products (HomePod, Apple TV) or use its services (Apple Music) but a harder sell for everyone else. HomeKit, Apple’s bridge between different devices, does indeed work with many devices, but you need an iPhone or iPad to take advantage of its power.

Pro Tip

Unlike Google or Amazon, Apple does not make money on data. If you’re concerned about privacy, or cautious when it comes to the prying eyes of Big Tech, Apple’s barrier to entry might just be worth the climb.

Walk Before You Run

Smart homes are supposed to make life easier, but with every new device comes a new potential problem. Will guests know how to turn on the smart bulbs in your bathroom? Will an internet outage render your video doorbell blind and mute? Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your smart home from growing into a techno-prison.

Own + Upgrade

Many appliances you already own, from your floor lamp to your Xbox, can be smartened up with an affordable add-on. Wemo Smart Plugs from Belkin start at just $35 and let you control just about anything from your phone. A $35 Google Chromecast turns any TV into a smart one.

A Novel Resistance

Do you really need a microwave you can talk to? As a general rule of thumb: Avoid buying products unless you can name the specific problem they solve for you. You might be able to find a use for a smart gadget you don’t actually need, but it quickly becomes a chore that costs you money and counterspace. Cover the obvious bases first — lights and door locks are a good place to start.

Play the Long Game

That clever gadget you saw on Kickstarter? Odds are it will flounder on its way to market, be abandoned in a few years or get acquired if it’s actually any good. Err on the side of gadgets from big-name companies with a no-going-back investment in smart home tech and money enough to pay for security upgrades and continued support.

Pro Tip

When it comes to building a smart home, the elephant in the room is installation. Who wants to rewire a doorbell to test a fun new gadget? Battery-powered devices like the Arlo Ultra security camera are on the rise and for good reason: they don’t take half a day to set up.

A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Ten of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “Build a Smart Home, the Smart Way.” Subscribe today.
Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

This Is the Best Stuff from Ikea’s New Catalog

Every year, Ikea drops an enormous catalog featuring thousands of its products. The 288-page book showcases plenty of Ikea staples, but it’s also the first look at some of the Swedish giant’s newest gear. In no particular order, here are five of Ikea’s latest we’ve got our eyes on.

Nissafors Utility Cart

Ikea’s ever-popular Raskog cart ($30) gets some competition. Just three levels of powder-coated steel with perforated shelves, it doesn’t stand out, but it’s exactly what you want out of a dirt-cheap cart. That simplicity allows it to work as a mobile kitchen cabinet, a bar cart or supplementary storage space.

Praktvädd Side Sleeper Pillow

Sleep was one of the larger themes in the 2020 catalog. In an effort to create more individualized products, the brand launched a series of sleep-style-specific pillows. Stuffed with a high-density memory foam core, this one aims to keep a side sleeper’s neck in line with their body throughout sleep, reducing stress on neck muscles and soreness.

Yngvar Chair

Ikea’s 2018 Life at Home found young adults are living with roommates longer and getting married later. This means lengthier stays in smaller apartments that you don’t plan on investing serious money into. Yngvar chairs aim to make that period simpler. They’re under $100, stackable and fairly neutral-looking — an ideal blend of space-saving, non-commital affordability.

Symfonisk Wi-Fi Bookshelf Speaker

Ikea’s collaboration with Sonos has rightfully received the most spotlight of any of its new products. It’s the easiest, most affordable way to get yourself into the world of Sonos speakers and it looks and sounds solid. It’s a no-brainer for the speaker-less.

Kolbjörn Indoor-Outdoor Shelf Unit

Though there are many sexier products hitting Ikea stores in the coming months, things like this indoor-outdoor shelf unit are what the brand does best. It’s sturdy, simple and can work as garage storage or a book shelf.

Instant Pots Are Overrated

As an Italian-American woman, I’ve been cooking since I was tall enough to stand on a step stool and help my mother roll cookie dough. For Christmas last year, instead of an expensive bag or shoes, I asked for an expensive Dutch oven and a cast-iron skillet. When I’m feeling especially stressed, or sad, or overwhelmed, I retreat to the kitchen. Cooking is both how I show love and how I escape, losing myself in the process of preparing a meal.

And that‘s why I think we need to pile all of the sous-vide machines and Instant Pots in a mound and burn them.

Over the past handful of years, it’s become so that I can’t mention a meal I’ve made or a recipe I want to try without someone telling me about the fancy (and definitely bulky) new gadget they’ve bought. The story is the same whether it’s an Instant Pot or an air fryer. First, friend plunks down money, sometimes hundreds of dollars. Next, friend uses new gadget with vigor, usually for about a month. Finally, inevitably, the shine wears off and the miracle gadget exists only to occupy valuable cooking space and collect dust.

Someone at brunch recently asked me if I have a rice cooker, and I found myself answering, You mean a pot and some water? in full screech. There are only so many times you can hear the same story of time, space, and money wasted before something snaps. (For the record, they had no retort.)

Of course, there are kitchen tools I think qualify as actual innovations. I adore my immersion blender. I couldn’t cook without my Dutch oven. And if someone asks me to roast a chicken without an instant-read thermometer, they’ll likely be served an undercooked bird.

But these tools are as useful to the professional as the novice. The gadgets I take umbrage with are those that take the skill out of cooking — the hands-off, set-it-and-forget-it types. I dislike Crockpots, Instant Pots, rice cookers, sous-vide machines and those weird molds you crack eggs into in order to poach them. (KitchenAid mixers occupy a gray area; I understand why they’re useful, but until I have a much bigger kitchen and arthritis in my wrist, I don’t see myself ponying up for one.)

This isn’t misplaced snobbery; it’s quite the opposite. Cooking doesn’t have to be some insanely complicated undertaking. The recipes that get me the most praise are typically the unfussy ones. The delicious sauces, comprised of four ingredients and some spices, that bubble over the stove for an hour. The seasonal ratatouille that involves nothing more than chopping up vegetables and letting them mingle in a pot. The perfectly seasoned steak seared over a ripping hot skillet, which cooks in minutes but took me months to perfect. These recipes don’t involve crazy amounts of time, dozens of obscure spices or a kitchen the size of a laboratory — just a little time, effort and patience.

These bulky, trendy gadgets, on the other hand, perpetuate the idea that cooking is inherently complicated and time-consuming, and do nothing to actually teach the user how to cook. They reduce the art of cooking to “just toss some things into this pot and walk away.” They lull the user into complacency and reward the bare minimum. I find that sad.

It makes me cringe to realize that cooking is no longer considered an essential skill, and that there’s social currency in claiming yourself too busy to pull together a meal. Kitchen innovations that take the knowledge out of cooking help to reinforce this nonsense, and actually divorce the cook from her meal. When I know I’m going to be making a ratatouille, spending my time chopping and dicing each vegetable by hand, I take care to pick the best veggies available. The same impulse doesn’t exist when you’re chucking things into a Crockpot before running to work.

Good meals are best made with simple ingredients and a good set of pots and pans. A good cook can get by, forever, with: a cast-iron skillet, a Dutch oven, two small pans (sauté and sauce), a good set of knives, a slotted spoon, a cookie sheet, a roasting pan, a ladle, two spatulas and a regular spoon. With those tools and just a bit of planning, you can avoid spending the time and effort the trendy gadgets claim to save.

Most of my cooking is done during a three-hour window on Sunday. I make sauces, stocks and other bases, like rice or quinoa, by throwing some ingredients into a pot and letting them simmer. (Sound familiar?) While that happens in the background, I prep as much as I can for other meals. I chop vegetables that can be cut ahead of time, like broccoli or brussels sprouts. Or I roll and fry meatballs so they’re ready to be sauced and served later over spaghetti squash, or alongside some greens.

After a few hours of prep work, I’m always halfway to a decent meal throughout the rest of the week. When I’m ready to eat, I just assemble some puzzle pieces. When the stock is already made and the vegetables already chopped, making soup comes down to boiling. Putting together any pasta dish with a pre-made sauce is the definition of simple.

I’m all for things that make cooking easier and more accessible, but not dumber. If you want to save time, learn some foundational recipes, practice making meal-prep lists and reacquaint yourself with that old, well-made pan in the back of your cupboard. If you want innovation, learn to make all those elements work together, with skill and confidence, and you’ll surprise yourself with what you can create. That’s where the true innovation in cooking lies: with the cook. I think it’s time we remember that.

A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Ten of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “Death to the Instant Pot.” Subscribe today.

Homemade Pizza Dough Is the Ultimate Blank Canvas (It’s Easy, Too)

Good pizza starts with great dough. As with so many foundational recipes, working with high-quality, flavorful ingredients is paramount. Few know it better than Chris Bianco, James Beard Award–winning chef and proprietor of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona, and an artisanal pizza pioneer. Of a dough’s four ingredients — flour, water, yeast and salt — it’s flour that has the greatest effect on flavor. (Bianco recommends working with a freshly milled organic flour for a crust with a good chew.) Making the dough is surprisingly uncomplicated, and working it into form is a matter of letting gravity do what it does best. What’s left is, effectively, a blank canvas.

Shaped into a circle, the dough counts as pizza; spread across a baking sheet, it becomes focaccia. When it comes to toppings, anything goes. Try adding ‘nduja, a spicy spreadable Italian sausage; drizzle high-quality balsamic; top it with foraged mushrooms. For sauce, Bianco favors his namesake brand of canned tomatoes, Bianco DiNapoli, crushed by hand, mixed with basil and a pinch of salt and left to mingle (no cooking required).

Pizza Dough

Makes enough for four 10-inch pizzas

Ingredients:
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (105–110 degrees Fahrenheit)
5 to 5 1/2 cups bread or other high-protein flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
1. Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Give the yeast a stir to help dissolve it, and let it do its thing for five minutes. You’re giving it a little bit of a kick-start, giving it some room to activate, to breathe.

2. When the yeast has dissolved, stir in 3 cups of flour, mixing gently until smooth. You’re letting the flour marry the yeast. Slowly add 2 cups more flour, working it in gently. You should be able to smell the yeast working — that happy yeasty smell. Add the salt. (If you add the salt earlier, it could inhibit the yeast’s growth.) If necessary, add up to 1/2 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

3. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and get to work. Slap the dough onto the counter, pulling it toward you with one hand while pushing it away with the other, stretching it and folding it back on itself. Repeat the process until the dough is noticeably easier to handle, 10 to 15 times, then knead until it’s smooth and stretchy, soft, and still a little tacky. This should take about 10 minutes, but here, feel is everything. (One of the most invaluable tools I have in my kitchen is a plastic dough scraper. It costs next to nothing, and allows me to make sure that no piece of dough is left behind.)

4. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in a lightly greased big bowl. Roll the dough around to coat it with oil, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place until it doubles in size, 3–5 hours. When you press the fully proofed dough with your finger, the indentation should remain.

5. Turn the proofed dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into four pieces. Roll the pieces into balls and dust them with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for another hour, or until they have doubled in size.

6. The dough is now ready to be shaped, topped and baked. If you don’t want to make four pizzas at once, the dough balls can be wrapped well and refrigerated for up to eight hours or frozen for up to three weeks.

Shaping Pizza Dough
“Hold the top edge of a piece of dough with both hands, allowing the bottom edge to touch the work surface, and carefully move your hands around the edges to form a circle of dough. You have to find your own style, but I usually just cup my hand into a C shape, turn my hand knuckle-side up, and drape the dough off of it, allowing gravity to do its work, so it gently falls onto the floured table. Imagine you’re turning a wheel. Hold that dough aloft, allowing its weight to stretch it into a rough 10-inch circle. Don’t put any pressure on it by pulling or stretching it, just let gravity do the job — you want that aeration and cragginess. Keep it moving, and it will start to relax.

At this point, you’re ready to make a pizza. Lay the dough on a lightly floured pizza peel or inverted baking sheet. Gently press out the edges with your fingers. You will start to see some puffiness or bubbles now. Jerk the peel (or baking sheet) to make sure the dough is not sticking. If it is, lift the dough and dust the underside with a little flour. Tuck and shape it until it’s a happy circle.

Top the pizza and slide it in the lower third of the oven — pre-heated at maximum temperature for at least an hour — for 10–15 minutes, until the crust is crisp and golden brown.”

Buy the Book

The recipe above appears in Bianco: Pizza, Pasta, and Other Food I Like, by Chris Bianco, published by Ecco Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. Buy Now: $22

All the Gear the Most-Advanced Kitchen in the World Uses

These days, Nathan Myhrvold, 59, mostly makes food, but it wasn’t always that way. The polymath studied four different fields of physics and collaborated with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge before founding a software startup that was bought by Microsoft, where Myhrvold spent 13 years as Bill Gates’s CTO.

Myhrvold is listed as a coauthor on over 800 patents. His newest creation is Modernist Cuisine, the most scientifically exhaustive cookbook company ever. Myhrvold’s titles — Modernist Cuisine, Modernist Cuisine at Home, Modernist Bread and the forthcoming Modernist Pizza — represent the height of research in their respective categories.

“We’re the guys who bake bread in a waffle iron just to see what happens,” Myhrvold says. “We can’t get by accepting what’s already been done wholesale.”

From a blow torch to a custom-built 3-D pizza scanner, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the gear that goes into the most cutting-edge recipe research on the planet.

Outfitted with everything from rotary evaporators to soft-serve ice cream dispensers, Myhrvold calls Modernist Cuisine’s Bellevue, Washington Cooking Lab “a culinary wonderland.”

Sous-Vide Circulator

“I think we were one of the first organizations to seriously experiment with this tool back in the day. It’s good for applying a gentle, consistent heat — to make tough or delicate meat tender and whatnot. Nowadays, if I’m making a spot prawn pizza, I’m not going to put the prawns in the oven, I’m going to cook them sous-vide.”

Blow Torch

“Traditional cooking picks a single technique [then] tries to compromise elsewhere. To cook a steak where the outside is brown and appetizing and the inside is done perfectly, you’re better off in almost all cases cooking the inside one way — a sous-vide, a combi-oven — and separately cooking the outside.”

Wine Refrigerator

“Wine fridges are great for fermenting sourdough bread. You could proof bread in a refrigerator, but it’s too cold and takes too long to develop. We did extensive testing and determined [the best temperature to be] fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit, which is a wonderful coincidence.”

Induction Burners

“My absolute favorite heat source for cooking in a pan. Boiling water, cooking in a sauté pan, frying food — nothing beats induction. The way induction works, you wind up making the pan hot, but not the room hot. You can also control it more precisely than with a gas or electric stove.”

Left: Myrhvold loves pizza so much Modernist Cuisine is writing an entire book about it (no publish date has been set). Right: “If you think electric knives are only for Thanksgiving dinner, you’re woefully misinformed,” Myhrvold said.

Rotary Evaporator

“If you follow a recipe and it says to thicken something by boiling it down on the stove, what you’re concentrating is going to taste cooked. Raw flavors taste radically different than cooked flavors, and rotary evaporators let us concentrate those.”

Electric Knife

“I would never use one of these to slice a turkey but they’re fantastic for slicing bread. Reason being, you typically cut bread with a serrated knife, which is basically a saw. You have to move the saw back and forth perfectly or else you get an inconsistent cut. With an electric knife, one stroke and you’re done.”

3-D Pizza Scanner

“There are different ingredients and techniques that increase or decrease the volume of a loaf of bread or puffiness of a pizza. But how do you measure that directly? How do you tell that objectively? By god, we made a scanner. It’s accurate to a small fraction of a cubic millimeter.”

Digital Thermometer

“If you’re on the hot line at a steakhouse, training involves 200 steaks or so — after that, maybe you won’t need a thermometer to track temperature. No amount of regular practice, pressing on the meat with your thumb or whatever else, will make you capable of gauging temperature. Honestly, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t use one.”

A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Ten of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “At Work: Nathan Myrhvold.” Subscribe today.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

You’re Smoking Meat All Wrong (Yes, You)

This may come as a shock to would-be pitmasters everywhere, but more smoke does not mean better barbeque. Plumes of billowy, opaque white smoke spilling from a pit is a tell-tale sign of poor fire control. What you really want is a consistent, fast-moving stream of blue-grey smoke — so thin it’s barely visible. Here’s why.

Thick smokes is unhealthy (and it tastes bad)

All smoke carries particles that give flavor to food but thick smoke carries them in bittering, borderline unhealthy doses. WHY IS SMOKE UNHEALTHY? LAYMAN’S TERMS, PLEASE.

Thin, wispy blue smoke, on the other hand, provides a flavor boost without smothering your food. As a general rule of thumb: the harder it is to see the smoke coming out of your chimney, the better.

Good smoke comes from hot fires

Smoke is a “visible collection of a variety of solid, liquid, and gas particles left unburned during the combustion process.” Thick, white smoke is the product of more particles left unburnt during combustion. Translated into barbeque terms: white smoke is the sign of never-alive or nearly-dead fires.

To counteract this, leave exhaust vents open to maximize oxygen intake to your coal or wood bed. This will increase the temperature of the flame and ensure your chosen fuel is fully combusting and creating only the good smoke.

Water is the enemy

Depending on who you ask, the majority of barbeque-approved woods are made up of 50 percent water. Burning water-logged wood means steam, steam means a cooler fire and a cooler fire means bad smoke. This is also why soaking wood before barbequeing makes very little sense. To get around the water problem, only buy seasoned wood that’s air- or kiln-dried to eliminate as much of the wood’s moister content as possible.

Good smoke requires patience

Just because your fire is hot doesn’t mean it’s ready for food. Both wood and charcoal will emit white smoke when first ignited; as the fire gets hotter, white smoke gives way to a dark grey smoke which, if given ample oxygen to feed on, then becomes hallowed blue smoke. In other words, let your fuel source burn until it’s hot enough to produce the good stuff.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Beatles Songs Reimagined as Vintage Book and Magazine Covers

There’s no denying the cultural impact The Beatles have had in the more than half a century since they formed in Liverpool. Their impact is so prevalent that there’s even a Wikipedia article about it.…

Collectors Will Lose It Over This Vintage Cast-Iron Skillet Sale

C.W. Welch, who goes by Butch — or, depending on how well you know him, Cee Dub — has made evangelizing camp cooking his life’s work. The former Idaho conservation officer has penned cookbooks, run a camp cooking school in the Texas Hill Country and, well before Youtube began christening his successors, hosted a 39-episode exploration of cast iron camp cooking for KWSU in Pullman, Washington. Welch is attached to his cast iron, but he’s not cooking on anything made this century.

Like many cast-iron cookware enthusiasts, Welch prefers the iron of yesteryear, skillets bearing long-gone names such as Griswold and Wagner. He calls finding the old pieces his own “modern treasure hunt,” which is good news for collectors, enthusiasts or just people interested in acquiring vintage cookware: starting this weekend, multiple years worth of his vintage collecting is going on sale.

Hosted by Best Made Co., Welch’s 100-plus pan lot includes cast-iron skillets, saucepans, mailboxes and, yes, Dutch ovens. Some were made as recently as the 1960s, others were poured pre-1900, but all were cast and poured by hand “before the modern wonders of computers and mechanization,” Welch said.

Shop in person at the company’s New York City and Los Angeles stores starting Saturday, July 20, and online the following Monday. From $38 to $498, the Best Made Co. sale is stocked to the teeth with old-school iron. Here’s a preview of what to expect.

Griswold No. 9 Camp Dutch Oven

“The [Dutch ovens] struck a special chord with me simply because Dutch ovens have been my stock in trade for the last forty years,” Welch said. This large camp oven was made in the 1910s by Griswold, vintage cast iron’s most revered name.

Lodge No. 3 Skillet

Lodge didn’t always make skillets that feel like sandpaper. Before 1950, the Tennessee company turned out smooth, hand-poured cast iron just like many of today’s boutique brands. This No. 3 (6.5 inches) was made in the 1920s, and the smooth surface makes for easier cleaning, seasoning and all manner of food-flipping.

Griswold No. 8 Skillet

Welch said one of the most frustrating aspects of collecting vintage skillets is the inability to find matching lids. Lids very in both size and era made, and a difference in either means the set is worth less. That only partially explains the pricetag on this 1930s Griswold.

The No. 8 Griswold is a roughly 10.5-inch pan made in the latter stages of the brand’s life. It’s also in exceptional condition, meaning the price shouldn’t come as a surprise to other collectors. It’s the cooking equivalent of a Goldtop Les Paul.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Will Coffee Ever Cost $20 a Cup? Yes, and Sooner Than You Think

Lucile Toniutti, a molecular coffee breeder with the nonprofit organization World Coffee Research (WCR), wants you to know the cup of single-origin you ordered this morning might not be around tomorrow.

“It’s difficult to talk about sometimes with coffee drinkers, you know,” Toniutti says.

Last year, more coffee was harvested than ever before in history. Traditionally tea-drinking nations, like China and Japan, now also have booming coffee cultures. Some projections indicate global coffee demand could still double by 2050. But by the same year, thanks to rising global temperatures, roughly half of the Earth’s land suitable coffee-growing will no longer be viable for coffee farming. In other words, to keep pace with demand, producers will need to grow twice the coffee with half the space.

“We’re going to have less coffee, higher prices and coffee that is less differentiated in taste and lower on the quality scale,” says Dr. Tim Schilling, WCR’s founder and the newly appointed head of WCR Europe. “If everybody is okay with the fact that we are going to be paying $10 to $15 a cup for crappy coffee in thirty years, that’s fine.”

But there’s hope. It comes in the form of a lab-grown variety of coffee called the F1 hybrid.

Unlike crop staples like rice, of which there are more than 500,000 known varieties, barely 125 different varieties of the coffee plant have been found; of those, we only drink two. This has led to what can be described as a “genetic bottleneck,” in that the plant’s gene pool is too shallow to effectively adapt to the world changing around it.

“Without a big gene pool, every change in an ecosystem has the chance to cripple the plant. Basically, it’s extremely fragile,” Toniutti says. F1 hybrids possess what she calls “hybrid vigor.”

The concept of the F1 hybrid isn’t new. It was conceived in the late 1990s, and the first varieties were planted in the early 2000s, albeit with less-advanced methodologies and scientific instruments. Today, WCR is able to identify specific strings of genetic and molecular code that indicate disease resistance, crop yield, high cup quality and more, helping them to select the best two parents with the most biologically diverse DNA set. The result is the modern F1, which grows faster, bears fruit a year earlier and is less susceptible to disease.

But hybrid breeding isn’t easy, or cheap. The coffeea plant is a self-pollenizer, meaning it has both male and female reproductive organs. Every seedling offspring is inbred, which precludes them from being true F1 hybrids. “They carry recessive and dominant traits from past generations,” Toniutti says, “this dulls the strengths of the F1.”

For now, the only way to produce F1s is through cloning and in vitro fertilization. Both methods are expensive to perform, which means the plants demand a high price. According to George Howell, a longtime flag bearer for small coffee farmers, the math doesn’t add up.

“The cost is multiple times higher than just taking a usual seed to plant,” Howell says. “From a farmer’s perspective, that expense is too high to justify. The question becomes, can it be made affordable, and is it going to be one of those monopolistic things where we’re always paying a fortune for it?”

So what happens if people like Toniutti can’t crack the code? Hannah Neuschwander, Toniutti’s colleague at the WCR, suggests looking to El Salvador, which as recently as 2012 was among the brightest and most well-supported coffee origins in the world. Then political turmoil, gang violence, drought and an outbreak of rust leaf struck the country in quick succession; today, El Salvador produces 70 percent less coffee.

“That’s the risk if we can’t get these hybrids out,” Neuschwander says. “Origins will start dropping like flies, and the wealth of producing nations will vanish.”

A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Ten of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “The Race to Save Coffee.” Subscribe today.

It’s Time You Cooked with a Carbon Steel Skillet — The Lighter, Stronger Sibling to Cast-Iron

In recent years, there’s been much ado about cast-iron cookware — and with good reason. It sears beautifully, lasts forever and makes for great Instagram posts.

All that said, cast-iron isn’t exactly unique in its attributes.

Carbon steel — popular in professional kitchens across the globe — accomplishes all of the above and then some. “With carbon steel, you have more flexibility,” says Keith Freeman, Business Manager at Blanc Creatives, an award-winning crafting studio handmaking premium carbon steel cookware. “It’s going to be lighter than cast-iron, the walls will be more sloped rather than straight up-and-down, it’s going to be closer to true non-stick and it’s much more durable.”

Those sloped walls, Freeman notes, help when sautéeing, tossing and flipping food (like eggs or pancakes), which is made a more manageable task by the lighter weight. Your typical cast-iron 10-inch skillet weighs anywhere from five to six pounds; a carbon steel pan of the same size, meanwhile, will likely be between three and four pounds. Because carbon steel pans are pressed from discs of perfectly flat and smooth steel, the pieces will naturally take on non-stick quality, but due to their rough surfaces, most mass-produced cast-iron skillets will not. Finally, there’s durability to consider: although cast-iron may seem tough, it’s brittle to the point that it can crack or break if dropped. Not true for carbon steel.

Blanc pieces — which start at $195 — are made with thicker steel than that found on restaurant-centric models, conferring the pieces with more staying power.

All this begs the question why this magical culinary wonder-tool hasn’t invaded all our kitchens, affording each of us high heat cooking and superior maneuverability. After all, you could make the argument that the carbon steel pan reigns supreme where cooking is taken most seriously: professional kitchens.

It’s all about what’s available, Freeman says.

“Frankly, there really hasn’t been many carbon steel pans made for consistent, prolonged home use,” Freeman says, positing a lack of quality products, which stems from the difficulty with producing large amounts of good products, is to blame. Restaurants often use cheap, thin-gauge carbon steel pans — such as those from De Buyer — that buckle and warp over time. Though such cookware is fine for occasional use in the domestic kitchen, Blanc pieces (which start at $195) are made with thicker steel (about 1/8-inch sheets), which confers the pieces with staying power inexpensive restaurant-centric models may not carry. They also sport elongated handles that aim to reduce heat levels when cooking.

Ultimately, what you cook with comes down to some combination of convenience, preference and price. But there is a reason those who cook for a living so often wield a carbon steel skillet: it’s lighter, it’s versatile and it’s durable as hell.

Get the Low-down on Blanc Creatives Gorgeous, Handmade Carbon Steel Cookware

With cookware, function comes first. But quality craftsmanship can carry its own aesthetic weight, and Blanc Creatives is a testament to the beauty that stems from blending premium materials with thoughtful design. Read the Story

Heir Makes the Most Beautiful Water Pipe We’ve Ever Seen

Bongs and water pipes function slightly differently, but they’re essentially both filtration devices used for smoking tobacco, herbal substances or, most commonly in our experience, the electric lettuce. The idea behind it and the basic…

One of Panasonic’s Best Trimmers Is on Sale for Forty Bucks Off

Panasonic was founded in the early 1900s as a manufacturer of lightbulb sockets, but our experiences with their products growing up was limited to high-end televisions, turntables and stereos. Once we were old enough to…

The Pens the Gear Patrol Staff Couldn’t Live Without

Part of working at Gear Patrol is participating in neverending product debates: Are boutique skillets worth the price? What are the best wireless earbuds for running? Can a single watch count as a collection? But the most passionate debates always revolve the things we all have and use daily. Like pens. From the mighty Sheaffer to the humble Bic, these are the pens you’ll see around the GP office.

Bic Round Stic Grip Xtra Comfort Ballpoint Pen

“I’ve tried every type of pen. Ballpoints, fountains, rollerballs. These cheap Bics work the best and I’ve been buying them, in bulk, since high school. They have the ‘fine tip’ (‘fine’ is important), they’re inexpensive and, most importantly, they don’t run or smudge.” — Oren Hartov, Assistant Editor, Watches

Uni-ball Grip Fine (0.7mm, Knoll logo)

“The Uni-ball Grip is a classic — simple, smooth and saturated. This one has the Knoll logo, which happens to match my tote bag.” — AJ Powell, Project Manager, Gear Patrol Studios

Inventory Mechanical Pen

“The Inventery Mechanical Pen is one of those writing instruments that just feels right in your hand. Every pen stroke feels strong and deliberate. Ink delivery is smooth from its German Schmidt P8126 ink cartridge. The design of this pen is very minimal; it looks like it’s just a stack of 3 cylinders. However, it features a flattened edge so it never rolls off your desk, which is good because this 57g pen is machined out of pure brass.” — Hunter Kelley, Associate Designer

Skilcraft US Government Retractable Ball Point Pen

“I got turned onto these ballpoint pens by an editor at my college paper who had been in the Army. He always had a whole mess of them around the office and I would always take them. What I enjoy about them is how strikingly plain they are, yet they stand out. They are a bit sleeker than most retractable pens, they barely have any branding and have these three silver bands on the barrel. They write OK, too — smoother than most ballpoints, in my opinion. These pens have been made in the USA by National Industries for the Blind for US Government agencies since 1968 — and remains virtually unchanged. Being made for the government they have to meet some lengthy requirements, including being able to write continuously line for one mile and work in extreme temperatures.” — Charles McFarlane, Content Producer, Gear Patrol Studios

Caran D’ache Metal Ballpoint Pen

“The hexagonal body ensures that it’ll never roll off a table or pad, which is a nice little detail. It’s got a smooth action and the classic pocket clip completes that retro look Caran d’Ache is going for with this one. This one is made even more special as it was an anniversary present from my wife, and since it takes Goliath ink cartridges I’ll have it for the rest of my life.” — Ryan Brower, Project Coordinator, Editorial Operations

Rotring 800 Mechanical Pencil

“I’m an inveterate sloppy writer with commitment issues that extend to putting ink on paper, so using pens just stresses me out. The only problem is that nice mechanical pencils are rarely pocketable, and the few that have retractable tips tend to be butt ugly. The exception, which I’ve been loving for the better part of two years, is the Rotring 800. With a fully retractable tip mechanism, angular German design and hefty metal body, it’s a joy to fiddle with, look at and use. But it does come with a fair number of caveats, the main one being reliability. I read dozens of reviews complaining of permanent mechanical failure (I’ve had nothing of the sort so far) and wobbly tips (a real but purely aesthetic issue) but I’ve yet to have serious or unfixable problem that couldn’t be solved with its eraser’s built-in unjamming rod or a little bit of fiddling. Still, I worry every time I drop it.” — Eric Limer, Editor, Tech

LePen 4300 Series

“My 4th grade teacher, Pearl Bayliss — a fellow lefty with similarly poor handwriting — evangelized the LePen, and I’ve followed suit. Its felt tip makes my shitty writing look better (think about how your signature looks in sharpie versus fine point) and something about the ink composition means that when you drag your left hand across freshly written words, things tend to stay put.” — Henry Philips, Deputy Photography Editor

Pilot G-2 (0.5mm)

“This pen is the equivalent of a Toyota Highlander. Widely available, versatile, ‘no-worries-if-lost’ price, premium Japanese build quality, reasonably handsome. The gel offers thick, opaque coverage on most surfaces while avoiding that dreaded railroad effect and the retractable function keeps paper and pockets tidy, at least for me. Oh, and it’s safe on a plane. The circumference of the barrel fits my hand the best and though it’s a bit slower at drying and maybe not as loved by the pen nerds, it suits me best. I don’t need anything fancier, but then I don’t feel like I’m slumming it either. Why 0.5mm? Because 0.3 is like writing with an X-Acto knife and 0.7mm is essentially a crayon. 0.5mm seems to roll the smoothest within the confines of my office jockey note-taking work life.” — Eric Yang, Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Sheaffer Intensity

“When I received this as a gift, the idea of ‘appreciating’ a pen was new to me. But a smooth twisting action to reveal or conceal the tip turned out to be as satisfying as the feeling of actually writing with it is. With a nice heft in the hand, it looks super sharp to pull out something obviously ‘nice’ like this in the right situations.” — Zen Love, Staff Writer, Watch Desk

Pilot G-2 (0.38mm)

“There are many reasons that the Pilot G-2 0.38 is my favorite pen but to put it simply, it doesn’t let me down. Many pens are great but there is always one fatal flaw. I have found none with the 0.38. It somehow puts down a thin line of ink that is heavy while never skipping a beat. The click action is sturdy and bouncy for all of your nervous ticks. The grip is commanding and comfortable. I love this pen so much I often buy a twelve pack just to give to people in the office. I then see them using the 0.38 for the next year.” — Joe Tornatzky, Art Director

Zebra G-301 Retractable

“As someone who uses a paper notebook and is left handed, finding a pen that won’t leave streaks on the paper and my hand can be somewhat challenging. This Zebra G-301 Gel Retractable Pen is a very solid everyday pen that travels well and doesn’t leave a mess. Be aware that the pens do run out of ink quickly so stock up on refills if possible.” — Zach Mader, Vice President, Advertising & Partnerships

Pilot The Better Retractable Ballpoint Pen

“I first used these in college to take notes which, coincidentally, was the first time I’ve used a pen until it ran out of ink. They’re affordable, for one, but the Better Retractable feels perfect, from its ribbed grip to its confident click. These write smoothly and come in three colors and various point sizes; I prefer the 0.7mm fine point.” — Nick Caruso, Coordinating Producer

Pilot Precise V5 Stick Rolling Ball Pen (Extra-Fine)

“I’m currently out of stock of my favorite Pilot Precise V5 Stick Rolling Ball Pen in green, which I started using because my old boss swore by them — she did all her edits in green to make the document look more uplifting, rather than super negative with a bunch of red marks all over the place. I followed suit and used these for as long as I could, but my backup is the classic Bic Round Stic Xtra Life Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point. The grip is just right, the black ink doesn’t smudge and it’s lightweight to boot. The flow of ink is perfect whether I’m writing out a to-do list, story ideas and thank you notes. It hasn’t run out on me yet.” — Meg Lappe, Staff Writer, Outdoors & Fitness

Zebra Blen (0.5mm)

“Nendo, the Japanese creative firm that designed this pen, described it as the pen equivalent of a compact car ‘that fulfills small needs of our daily lives.’ In other words, it’s not for the pen enthusiast, it’s for my dumbass, and I love it for that. It’s got a not-too-sticky rubber grip, the tip is brass-weighted and the clicking noise makes me just a little too happy.” — Will Price, Staff Writer, Home & Design

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.