Many of the best recipes I’ve created in my photobooth-sized kitchen have come from answering a simple question: How can I make this using the fewest possible tools? The only thing I hate more than dirty dishes is making them clean again, so I’ve learned to coax double-duty out of pretty much any gadget or appliance. The other night, I was making polenta, inspired by a dish my boss Tina Ujlaki had raved about earlier in the day: polenta mixed with pureed Swiss chard. I didn’t have any Swiss chard handy, so I opted for parsley and crème fraîche. Instead of dirtying a blender (which is very annoying to clean, especially when it's spackled with week-old polenta) I tossed them into the pot with the polenta and mixed everything together with my immersion blender (which is much easier to clean). Not only did this magic wand make short work of pureeing the parsley, it transformed my semi-lumpy polenta into a soft, creamy puree. Why didn’t I think of this before? Usually polenta this smooth takes more patience and endurance than I possess; now I can make it much quicker AND save myself from washing yet another hard-to-clean tool: the whisk.