I've mentioned CSN Stores before - they provided the deep fryer I recommended, and offered me another review opportunity. It always takes me forever to pick something out to review, because they sell so much: I could get a stool for the kitchen, a density meter for candymaking, a new utility knife since the one I use is good but ancient. Those are possibilities for the future, but with Thanksgiving coming up I decided to get a good thermometer.
There are a plethora of cooking thermometers sold, some specifically for candy and jam making, some handheld infrared thermometers, some meant for meat. Thanksgiving implied the last type, and I looked around, checked out brand names, and settled on something from Taylor, known for their reliable thermometers.
Specifically I got the Taylor Connoisseur Wireless Thermometer with Remote Pager and Timer.
That mouthful of a name doesn't really tell you what you want to know. Here's how it works: although they call it a "wireless thermometer," that refers to the included pager, not the probe. It's easy enough to use: you plug the probe into the meat or potato or whatever you're baking, and it's connected by a thin flat wire to the thermometer, which you rest on the counter outside the oven. With most ovens this works fine. Some grills close tight enough that they can crimp the wire. And I believe a pizza oven would melt the plastic on the wire, but there aren't many circumstances under which you'd be cooking a pizza to temp.
The thermometer is set to beep when the probe reaches a certain temperature, which you set yourself. Although it gives you the option of picking "beef, pork, poultry," etc., as well as a range of doneness, I prefer to just set the temperature myself. Keep in mind this Thanksgiving that the USDA recently reduced its recommended turkey target temperature to 165, not 180, having screwed up royally the first time.
The pager will work anywhere in the house and blinks periodically to let you know that it's still in communication with the thermometer - so if you go outside to where your brother-in-law is deep-frying a tofurkey or something, you'll know if you're still in range of the thermometer unit. Shortly before the thermometer reaches its target temperature, both it and the pager will beep, letting you know to finish whatever you're doing and get ready to go to the kitchen. It beeps again when the temp is reached.
So this is very cool. I happened to test it out (on a roast turkey) when I wasn't doing much else, but it would have been even handier if I were busy cooking other things, or talking to company, or what have you - no need to keep popping into the kitchen to check the turkey, no need to worry you'll lose track of time.
The one flaw isn't really a flaw, it's just a feature that isn't included, and might be available on more expensive models: it would be nice if the pager included a display of the current temperature, so you know how close you are to your target. There's a big difference between having two hours to go and twenty minutes to go, especially when you're coordinating the multiple dishes of Thanksgiving. The thermometer unit itself does display this information, so whenever you're in the kitchen you have access to it - it would just be nice to have it on the pager too.