Crazy Appliances--Jam Maker Anyone?

plllogJuly 15, 2014

I have a Belgian waffle maker. It only makes waffles, but it's a lot easier to use than a stovetop waffle iron. And I have an egg steamer, but it makes poached eggs as well as eggs in the shell, not that it's hard to steam eggs on the stove. It's cute, though. :) It looks like a chicken. :) So it's not like I think every single one shot appliance is stupid.

Even mini-pie makers and cake pop makers, which are generally the height of silly, have a use if they're for kids to have easy success on without getting in the way of dinner making in the kitchen.

I don't get this new jam maker though. Yes, an automatic stir is a great idea if one is alone and needs to go to the bathroom, but there are a lot of automatic pot stirrers on the market, which are a lot cheaper and easier to store, and work with a variety of pots. I can't figure out what this thing is supposed to do for you! It's been years since I made jam, but what I remember is raw hands from processing the fruit and some anxiousness over making and keeping the jars and utensils sterile. Actually cooking down the fruit is the easy part!

What am I missing?

What other silly appliances bemuse you?

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CA Kate

I think Williams-Sonoma must be the king of one-use appliances... just look thru' their catalog. I guess mine might be a Garlic Roaster. Why on earth would you need a special pot to do a roasted head of garlic?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:09PM
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I've managed to resist pot stirrers even though I'm the sucker for most gadgets.
Ah, yes. I remember now. the silliest waste of money for a gadget that not only didn't work, it made the problem far worse : EGGIES.
Silicon egg-shaped things that you crack an egg into to in order to hard boil. The egg is supposed to slip out and spare you the agonies of peeling an egg. Not on your nelly. The egg sticks like it's been glued in and the things take a long time to clean........

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:56AM
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I LOVE kitchen gadgets..... It takes an "AH HA" moment to think of a new use for single-use gadgets/appliances.

It reminds me of Easy Bake Ovens and all the recipes that were developed for them, and how popular these "toys" were for military people stationed all over the world. Every deployment to the Middle-East my Army Officer son-in-law was on, there were Easy Bake Ovens.

My granddaughter is taking several Babycakes Machines to college with her so she can make some healthy breakfast muffins, and is sure these little machines will make her all her spending money. She worked at Dunkin' Donuts and can perform miracles with a mini-donut maker. Cake Pops are another thing she got really good at and would sell "bouquets" of them in terra cotta pots.

WAFFLE MAKER - alternative uses:
-hash browns
-reheat pizza
-grilled cheese sandwich
-French toast

-EGGIES: For those of us who use dried whole egg powder, one thing you miss by not having shell eggs is a hard-cooked egg and all the things you use them in. I use my Eggies for making reconstituted dried eggs into "hard-cooked eggs" which can be used for making egg salad, added to tuna/salmon salad sandwich spread, Chop/Cobb Salad, Eggs Goldenrod, and any other application you would use a hard-cooked egg.

-BREAD MACHINE: My ZO can be used for making jam, but I never bothered.....

-POT STIRRER: My sister gave me one and it actually did work. Stove-top Rice Pudding (America's Test Kitchen Recipe) is about the only recipe I've used it. I guess I don't make many dishes that are stirring intensive other than that one recipe.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:29AM
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Grainlady, I'll bet your Pot Stirrer would be good for risotto, since it needs to be stirred almost constantly.

I'm trying to think of some one-trick ponies, but my mind is a blank.

Oh Plllog, tell me more about your Danish whisk that you mentioned in another thread. Would it be good for mixing my bread dough, prior to kneading? My regular whisk gets gunked up, and I wondered what your style is good for.

This post was edited by jasdip on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 22:43

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:41PM
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Yes, exactly, the Danish dough whisk mixes your ingredients lickety split, faster and better than an electric mixer. I learned about it years ago from a friend, who I think learned about it on GW. For many doughs, five passes through and it's all done!

Thanks, Grainlady, for all the alternative uses. And kudos to the granddaughter who will be fleecing her dormmates using appliances that can be used in her room! (I did forget that some of these can be used in dorms, nowadays, but would the jam pot?) I did try recipes with cheese (savory waffles) in my waffle maker a couple of times and the resulting mess made a definite no, though I did use it to cook a personal sized pizza dough ball and it make a very nice pizza crust waffle.

I take it the military use for the Easy Bake was that they were allowed to have lightbulbs in their quarters but not heating appliances?

The jam pot thing might actually be useful just as a pot for off book things, but if I understand it right there's Jam Mode and Jelly Mode and it runs for a time, asks you to add the sugar, then runs some more. The display shows a two digit number. I'm not sure if it's time, some kind of program segment, or maybe a temperature by pips setting, but it's not a temperature readout. I'm sure it's adaptable, but I'm still bemused that they have a special appliance to do the easy part. If you put the fruit, sugar and pectin in at one end (perhaps different compartments) and it came out as jarred jam when it was done, they might be onto something. And leave themselves open to massive lawsuits if anyone got botulism. :) It would have to have some kind of double sterilization cycle (heat and UV?) that cleaned itself as well as the jars. And it would be even better if it had a pressure cycle and seal tester. Did we just open a factory?

OTOH, IC reminded me of all those weird shaped hard boiled egg molds the Japanese have (cubes, stars, hearts, teddy bears, toy cars, rabbits, etc.) Those are cook in the shell eggs, peeled warm and pressed in the mold. I LOVE it that Grainlady uses the egg shaped ones to make her reconstituted eggs look like eggs!

Westelle, I do agree with you on the head of garlic roaster and have to think that it's either to save heat in the Summer or is meant to be a clever wedding present for rich people. I do have one of those little clay garlic roasting pots that go in the oven, though. :) I'm sure Grainlady's granddaughter or son-in-law could figure out great things to make in the electric one, but it's pretty darned silly. :) Sillier even than the jam pot. :)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 12:00AM
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Not 100% on topic but I'm thinking about things I've bought and used once or twice at best.

Pizza cones (Sur la Table) seemed like a fun dinner for the kids. Unfortunately it broke the first time I used it, and in retrospect it seemed like a stupid idea.

Zoji bread machine - I know how popular it is here, but I've only used it twice and created substandard bread that went stale in a day. I really need to dig that one out and try again.

Cuisinart ice cream maker. Been sitting on my dining room floor, unopened, since I ordered it back in January. My turn-off is the amount of cream that goes into ice cream. Of course commercial ice cream is the same, but somehow it seems much easier to ignore when you're not the one pouring all that heavy cream into a bowl!

Oxo food mill - I thought I'd use this a lot. But the pieces fall apart every time I turn it counter-clockwise to clear it. User error? Perhaps. But it took restraint not to throw it right out. (Instead it takes up room in the basement.)

Molecular gastronomy starter set - Seemed like an interesting idea, which gave me a small amount of different chemicals to experiment with. Watched the DVD that came with it and decided I had no interest in the silliness they were making.

iSi whipper. Bought around last November. This one I'm sure I'll use. Some day. So it hasn't gone in the basement yet. Still in the back of a cabinet.

Thermapen. Talk about the ultimate unitasker. All it does is take temperature. Just kidding, I love it. It's been lost for a few days and I miss it terribly, but it'll show up again. It always does. I just hope I didn't leave it out in the rain like my last one. Expensive mistake.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:53AM
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I love going to the Goodwill store. Not to buy stuff, I love to see what stuff other people are throwing away.

Top on the list, coffee machines. Half of the shelves are packed with them. A thousand models of coffee makers.

Second on the list are bread makers.

In the many years, I have never seen cast iron cookware in Goodwill. I am not sure that is because people love them and refuse to give them up. There is a possibility that people are buying mostly light weight non-stick. That's why stores don't sell cast iron. A cast iron Dutch oven with contains weighs two tons, and impossible to clean.

I am not a gadget person, but I have drawers full of never-used one-use tools. For some reason people just assume that I love gadgets, and they keeep giving me more.

Want to see my museum of garlic presses?


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:13AM
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That robo-stirrer would be WONDERFUL when I have an attack of tendonitis so bad I can't pick up a spoon.

The "blink and it's burnt" stuff like risotto

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:30AM
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I think it would be such great fun to see the gadgets in dcarch's kitchen! ! !

I went through some kitchen stuff I packed away years ago and laughed at all the nonsense in there. Do I really need an avocado slicer? or a pineapple corer so no matter what size you buy they all waste more good stuff than cutting by hand? or an olive tray that neatly lines them up single file?

Funniest thing, I think, that I have and still use is my mold for making square hard boiled eggs. The kids, then grandkids, then pot luck dinners makes everyone smile when I tell them I have square chickens. Totally silly, I know.

As for my new Zoji breadmaker, I use mine every week when I make gluten free bread that browns the top nicely, to sell at my Farmers Market. My other 2 breadmakers from Goodwill are used for wheat bread dough and pasta dough because my hand kneading stopped at the arthritis age I am. All go humming along together and when those stop, Goodwill has many, many more for $10.

Truthfully, I think matching "good" china, fine Irish crystal, and sterling silver flatware are so 1890's, ridiculously expensive, and can't get washed in a dishwasher. Our lifestyles today do not include servants hovering over us for each course. We don't even have courses!


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:54AM
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ROTFL!! Nancy, I have courses! But my "good" china is just showy cheap crap. :) Love the thought of the square chickens. :)

FOAS--I love my OXO food mill, which I got because it was so much easier to use (and cheaper) than the fancy one. Just to be sure...the disks go hump side up, with the tabs in the channels, and the crank is locked in to the slots on both sides (there's a slide lever on one side of the bar)? It shouldn't be able to fall apart if both sides of the bar on the crank are slotted. If you're sure it's on tight, and it's still a problem, e-mail OXO and let them know. They'll replace it.

I welcome all merriment, even if it's at the expense of gadgets I use. :) I don't have a problem with well designed kitchen gadgets that work and earn their space in the drawer. The problem with things like the jam pot and garlic roasting machine is that they're big and so exceedingly specific. OTOH, I love my wire avocado slicer and my coring pineapple slicer. Sure, I don't need the avocado slicer for one avocado, but for laying out a tray for company, it's an invaluable time saver. It's not like I can slice an avocado on my mandoline!

For the pineapple slicer, I try to choose a pineapple that's the correct size to fit the gadget, which is amazingly fast and easy, and takes very little strength to use. There's really very little waste if the pineapple isn't too big and it gets all the pips if the pineapple isn't too small (we always have lots to choose from). There's nothing I hate more in kitchen prep than standing there for an hour cutting out all the pips and making my hands raw. Now we have pineapple any time and there's none of that dread. I also love the sectioner that makes it into chunks while it's still on the cutter. :) I love my garlic press too, because it's really easy to use, and all the oils and goodness that get squished out fall in the pot rather than being lost on my cutting board. :)

I only have a little drawer with gadgets. It includes the above, a couple of reamers (which I find really useful), and some occasional things like tinsnips for cutting artichoke leaves and holders for corn ears. The useless ones I would get rid of if they weren't such winners in a game of What Does This Do? are these weird resin rings that are supposed to take the rind off a melon. Unlike the wire avocado cutter that removes the skin and slices a complete half an avocado at once, these rings only work on a wedge of melon at a time, and don't seem to do anything that a knife couldn't do as well or better with the same amount of time and effort.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:07PM
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Ah, I forgot one gadget that I use pretty much every day. It peels, cores and slices apples in one quick spin.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:56AM
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If it made no pectin, long cook jams and had a jelling temperature gauge somehow built into it, I could see the utility. That's the kind of jam that requires watching and fussing and could be made easier with a gadget. Pectin jams hardly need to be stirred anyway!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:43AM
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Posted by nancedar "----I think it would be such great fun to see the gadgets in dcarch's kitchen! ! ! ------

Oh yeah, I have a few unusual tools.

I will post one later on a new thread. Lars' pizza thread made me think of it.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:05AM
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Quesadilla Maker. I only bought it because DGD loved quesadillas; but her taste changes weekly so I've only used it once.

For an activity at the CF Bread Camp in Michigan, I had a Gadget Game. I shipped 34 of my most unusual gadgets to Sheshebop's house, laid them out around the dining room table each was assigned a number, gave a numbered list to the campers to identify the gadgets. I was surprised at number of gadgets that campers couldn't identify. But then they are the real cooks and they don't need gadgets; gadgets are my crutch. Probably the most unusual were the asparagus peeler and the watermelon deseeder.

I also did the Gadget Game on the CF (posted a picture of each gadget) for those who weren't at camp could participate. Online participants emailed me their guesses; the winner received a prize.

Egg Squarer: Thanks to Jessy for finding this years ago. I have had a lot of fun with it.

This post was edited by mustangs on Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 20:37

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:41AM
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The L.A. Times, about 20 years ago, published a full page chart that was supposed to be unusual and arcane table service pieces, and I was kind of horrified that I knew what they all were and didn't think most of them were all that odd.

I thought I was up on prep gadgets, too, being that I find them interesting, even when they're stupid. Cathy, you had me totally stumped! So I googled the asparagus peeler, and I can see how it would make peeling asparagus for a crowd much easier, if you're minded to peel it. "Watermelon deseeder" got me pictures of the Israeli Pomegranate deseeder (I have one of those, though I always forget to try using it!), and "watermelon seeder" got me pictures of farm equipment! So I finally found a thread where you had posted a picture from the game. I didn't find the game, but further investigation of the picture gave me your caption that it was in fact the watermelon deseeder.

How does it work? I was thinking it was going to be a tiny little spoon on a long shaft, or something akin to a baster that sucks the seeds out. Usually, one opens the melon, removes the heart, cuts around the seed band, and then slices the rest, with or without rind. So, does the seeder just kind of tunnel through the seed band? Does it require a particular sized watermelon like the pineapple cutter requires an average sized pineapple? I'm all agog!!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 3:35PM
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I love the waffle iron to make quickie cinnamon rolls and other things that Grainlady mentioned.

I also love the dough wisks shown.

Watermelon Seeder: Yes, it tunnels through the seed band. It's not real effect on larger melons but then I only bought it to stump people.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 8:43PM
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