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Ready, set, emulsify

Chef'n Emulstir makes smooth emulsions, perfect for salad dressings

It's like a bendy straw, but for grown-ups. Amazon

All cooks have things they'd like to try more often: one thing on my list as soon as the weather gets warmer is to try making more of my own salad dressings. As of now, I'm still using plain old vinegar or store-bought varieties.

However, making a great emulsion can be intimidating. Will I add the olive oil too fast? Am I going to waste a half of a cup of my good olive oil before getting it right? What if my arm cramps?

OK, so I'm exaggerating, but salad dressings do require quite a bit of elbow grease. If I'm going to try out new dressings as often as I'd like, then it might be worth it to add another gadget to the arsenal to help out.

The Chef'n Emulstir Emulsifier and Salad Dressing Maker is an inexpensive gadget that swirls and spins oil into water-based liquids, creating a smooth consistency instead of the beady mess that would probably result from my weak stirring.

The trick is in the oddly shaped stirring spoon, actuated by a lid-mounted handle and designed specifically for maximum movement of the oil particles in the bottle. Since oil is an insoluble fluid (one that does not dissolve in water), it needs to be mixed with other liquids rapidly so that the droplets are reduced in size until they are indiscernible individually by the naked eye. The Emulstir works quickly to make sure this happens.

The gadget, shown here in Arugula, is available on Amazon for $14.95.