What kitchen gadgets do you have...and do you use them?

lavender_lassMay 11, 2011

I was watching my favorite cooking show, French Cooking at Home, with Laura Calder...and she was talking about getting rid of many of her kitchen gadgets. She's trying to simplify her cooking style (at least on this episode from 2009). So I wondered, what kitchen gadgets do you have...and do you use them?

Over the years, I've had a small food processor and a pasta maker (the crank kind) and a few other 'gadgets' that I never used and gave to my mom. She loves them and has had fun trying them out, but she's also retired :)

I would love to find an old time meat grinder...to make sausage, relishes, etc. That would be fun. My style of cooking is pretty old fashioned (learned a lot from my two grandmothers) and they did most things by hand or with a hand mixer, especially for beating egg whites. I rarely use my blender (except when one friend comes to visit, who loves homemade daiquiris LOL) and the microwave is a great way to soften margerine/butter, for the most part.

But that's just me. What about you? Do you have gadgets? Do you use them...and really enjoy them? Anything you would recommend that really helps you with your cooking/baking? Or, are you thinking about getting rid of a few things and simplifying?

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I have small side shoot food processor I use fairly often grating carrots.

We have microwave and plain toaster and crock pot.
I use our bread machine once in awhile. Since I am really watching my diet I backed off the bread for now. Maybe forever?? Sigh

We bought an air popcorn maker at Christmas on sale and love it. Much better then the old one we had that was so large and hard to handle.

I do have a blender I use in summer for iced coffee or fruit smoothies.

A hand mixer. Mostly I use a whip. Meringues are too hard for me to do by hand whip.

And of course the coffee maker and I do use a really small coffee grinder. Mostly for grinding flax seed for my muffins or sun flower seeds for granola bars. It rarely sees a coffee bean. I used to use the blender for this but the coffee bean grinder is so much easier to clean.

So I guess I do have a lot of kitchen gadgets/crap. I do use all of it. I do not feel it overwhelms our kitchen spaces. I am a pretty basic cook. I do not really plan meals ahead of time When we shop I just buy staples and put meals together that way. Most times I just grab a package of meat from the freezer to thaw and then decide what to cook it into.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:54AM
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I do use the microwave to make popcorn, sometimes...and I would like to get a coffee grinder, to grind up nuts. I've noticed Laura Calder uses hers for that...and a lot of fancy desserts have those ground nuts on top or rolled into the cake. She made this hazelnut cake roll that was so easy and just beautiful! My mom would love it, since it's filled with cream...very pretty and went together in under half an hour.

Why do you have to give up bread? Couldn't you make some healthier kinds...or is it the carbohydrates? I have a really simple beer bread recipe (you don't need a bread machine for it though) and there's no oil or fat in it...just a can of beer! LOL Since you bake it for half an hour, all the alcohol is probably long gone, but the yeast in the beer makes the bread rise. My husband loves it and it's a fun gift to make, especially for guys. Just put the dry ingredients together in a cute little plastic container, put it in a bread pan and tell them to add a can of beer and some cheese (if they like) and bake :)

We do have a toaster, which I use a lot, but no toaster oven. We used to have a coffee maker, but now I drink tea. My husband likes green tea, once in a while, but somewhere along the way, we quit drinking coffee. My dad still likes it, so I keep a few of those 'coffee bags' of instant coffee, just for him.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:49AM
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LOL Well there are carbs in the bread and I am kind of trying to lay low on the carbs. BUT the BUTTER. Well we will just not go there. Hehehehehe Yes Beer brerad is good. Mostly I use the bread machine for dinner rolls and just use it to make up the dough.Then I do the rest by hand. Cheating I know.

WE both are big coffee drinkers. My coffee bean grinder I got at a yard sale for a couple of dollars. Works great and would be perfect for quick chopping nuts. Mine has a top to push down that makes it run so you pulse it.

The air popper works better for popcorn than our microwave. Maybe the microwave is not strong enough??? The micro bags seem to only pop part way then burn.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 1:40PM
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I have a ton of gadgets I guess. I just sold my Country Living grain grinder because I seldom used it, and now I'm off grains completely.

My most used gadgets are my whisks, Kitchen Aid mixer, Pampered Chef food chopper, crock pots, and Seal a Meal.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 2:18PM
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I forgot one that is really important. My canner!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 3:32PM
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We have a lot of gadgets and small appliances. The Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor are used a LOT. I consider the microwave, toaster, and coffee pot to be standard appliances in any home- ours are used daily. We have a lot of attachments for the KA as well. Other things we use from time to time are the crock pot, small food processor, dehydrator, and coffee grinder.

We have far too many gadgets that aren't used, and need to go: Rice cooker, bread maker, electric wok, George Foremen grill, deep fryer, and a bazillion hand tools. Sure, a melon baller doesn't take up much space, but I'll bet we have three of them!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 11:12AM
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Been thinking on this. I have a friend that had an electric roaster. Marti maybe this is what you are calling a canner? Big thing. She uses it in her shop in the summer to bake in. Now I think this is some thing I would use if I had one. Summer meals get compromised when I am not wanting to use the oven. I usually try to double batch things so they can be warmed in microwave at dinner time which is the hottest time of the day here. And I do try to do this double batch cooking late at night when the evening breezes usually come up.Blows the heat out of the house. So maybe I do not need this roaster. Hummmmmmmm

Jay I am with you. Coffee maker toaster and micorwave for sure for us are gadget staples.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 2:51PM
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My grandmother had an electric roaster which was shaped somewhat like an oval crockpot. My canner is like a pressure cooker, only bigger. I can pressure 20 pint jars at one time.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 1:39PM
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Marti has the classic old canner, like the one MY grandma had.

Sorry I missed looking on the conversation side, a lot going on over here.

I have two melon ballers, very nice when you have watermelon or cantaloupe and the ballers make bite sized stuff for me and my parrots.

I also have a mandoline that is sharp as blazes, took off the tip of one thumb with it first time I used it. But it is the only thing I can use to make real fine shredded cole slaw similar to that my mother made. Best cole slaw ever.

I have a HAND HELD IMMERSIBLE MIXER. It is great for easy beating of wet stuff, or milkshakes, omelettes. Quite easy to wash up too.

A tall skinnyy pot with a wire basket insert is great for doing asparagus or boiled corn on the cob. You can tenderize the tough bottoms of asparagus stalks without cutting them off. I've also used it to boil pasta for just two people...pick up the basket and it drains quickly.

And then of course, a steamer insert that folds up like a flower, know what I mean? For broccoli or brussel sprouts or wedges of cabbage.

I have a 14-inch heavy duty cast iron wok made by Lodge that I'm saving for use with my new gas stove next winter. I love stir fry.

And I also have a cornbread pan, cast iron, love my cast iron pots and pans. And I have a cast iron pizza pan to use with that new gas stove.

I have a collection of French coffee pots from south Louisiana, they call them BIG-UNS down there. It makes one cup of really strong coffee French style, won't explain how it goes except they put in one TBSP of water at a time, have the pot sitting IN a pot of hot water on the stove, they also have the milk heating in a container sitting in the pot of hot water too. And I have a French press coffee maker, not electric, just manual. After our trip to Italy, I purchased a small Bialetti espresso and cappuccino maker. I really don't drink much coffee, but I LOVE espresso and cappuccino.

I love my Aroma electric rice cooker. And the Aroma electric hot pot, which heats up the water for my DH's instant coffee....yeah, I like the brewed stuff.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 9:24PM
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I used the Ninja, which I bought for making DF-in-law's food into a puree, the other day. He has been gone over a year now, so the machine just sits there.

DH does the grocery shopping here and I was craving nachos with beans, and meat, cheese, tomatoes...so I asked him to pick up some supplies to make them. He got me the meat (nice, since he is veggie), chips, but no beans! Then I remembered that he does not want to buy me "normal" cans of refried beans because of the salt and fat. He gets low-salt at Whole Foods,and he was not going there. So I had told him to skip the beans, I'd just use a can of black beans or aduki beans or whatever. Since he is veggie, we have a lot of beans around.

The weekend passed, and I did not get around to using my nacho supplies. So Tuesday night, after work, I needed to make my nachos. I don't usually cook after work due to sore feet and knees, but I really wanted to make nachos and not waste the supplies. But here I was, tired and hungry, and I realized that without refried beans I would have no way to keep the "stuff' on my corn chips! So I pulled out the ninja and opened a can of black beans, tossed in a few slices of onion and a pinch of cilantro and pulsed that little blue bullet until I had bean puree. It was much too soupy. So I fired up a fry pan, put in some oil and within minutes the induction top had those beans sizzling. I tossed them around the fry pan until they were mush instead of soup and, -tada! refried beans. Pretty good tasting for pure guesswork, too!

By then, though, I was too tired to "assemble" nachos and put them in the oven, so I ended up just scooping the ingredients onto my chips. The chips broke, no match for my now-thick beans. It was messy, but good.

But I used that Ninja tool for the first time since I tucked it away on the pull-out tray in the new kitchen, about 11 months ago.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 10:57PM
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My latest thing is a FOR LIFE teapot, with a stainless infuser. I've gone to mostly loose tea and am very busy exploring the different flavors. One surprise taste from the Asian Supermarket was artichoke tea! And then a really fine Bigelow Pomegranate Pizzazz, now I'm waiting for the other spicy Bengal Tiger, sort of cinnamon and such.

I credit Lavender Lass with firing up my interest in teas, and the NEED to drink lots of stuff with no calories, of course that is an effect of diabetes.

Another great PRODUCT that I love, is all the flavors of BETTER THAN BUILLION....which comes in Beef Base, Chicken Base, and Ham Base. I never do things halfway when I get interested, so I bought all three. Really great. And any one of them could flavor up a pot of rice, or a pot of potatos or soup. The bouillion stuff counts as a FREE FOOD, as much as I want, on the food list from the hospital. A bit salty for my taste, but not so much that I turn my nose up at it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 12:46PM
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I am adding to this thread as things have changed for me since it first started.

With my hands in such bad shape and pain I have started using my food processor so much more. I am even considering moving the old Hoosier into the kitchen and using the roll top section for an appliance garage. I do not like things in my kitchen on the counters or visible but I can not easily lift the kitchen things right now to be able to use them. Slicing potatoes by hand used to not be a big deal. Now I can barely hold a knife. Last night I used my processor to slice the spuds and it was so much easier for me.

I can also put my blender in there. I can always move the Hoosier back into my studio if it does not work out. The biggest problem is getting it out of the studio with every thing that is in the way. AND the island desk into the studio. They need to swap positions. LOL

Hahahha the upside of this pain and whining is I have lost weight because some times it is just too much trouble to hold a fork or knife to feed me.Not a highly recommended diet but it works.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 3:13PM
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Shades- You get some help, moving those things! The Hoosier would be wonderful in the kitchen...practical and vintage. You find so much great stuff, so where do you shop? Vintage flea market, garage sales, Salvation Army, all of the above?

I'm going to sort through my kitchen drawers in the next few weeks, as soon as it gets too cold to go out and garden. The kitchen really needs a good 'fall cleaning' but then, the whole house could benefit from that! LOL

Hopefully, we'll get everything spruced up for the holidays, and then it's time to start thinking about gardening again...even though it will be the end of March/first of April, before the daffodils start blooming :)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 8:39PM
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Whelp I got the project mostly done. I need better latches on the upper cabinet doors as the cat Abby has decided I put that there for her to open doors and climb up into. GGGGRRRRRR

Both pieces were on wheels !!!! All furniture should be on wheels. LOL

The old stuff has come from all over. I remember the hooser came from a liquor store in Challis. Just some thing they were selling on the side.Most of my stuff really is just junk. Yard sale stuff thrift store.

I still need to fine tune things in studio and kitchen but already Hoosier is great where it is and the ability to easily get to the appliances is a big help. Not that getting them from a shelf below cabinet is all that hard. For me now it is. sigh. Good news is my hands are getting better. This has been pretty miserable.

I am going to jazz up the hoosier a little bit. I am not at all concerned to devalue it as it is not a good one. Crappy wood not pretty oak. Painted and all. Then I will get a picture. Adding fru fru to the top is out of the question Again Abby has her own opinion on what belongs up there and has cleared it twice already of what she does not like. This dang cat is more like an Orangutan than a sweet little kitty.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 2:21PM
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Shades- Oh, good...pictures! You're right, furniture should have wheels.

Your kitty sounds like one of my mom's. He is a sweet boy, but he climbs on her bookshelves, when she's talking on the phone. He only does it, when he feels he's being ignored...not that he's spoiled :)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 1:48PM
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yes, pics of the cabinet in your kitchen!

I sure understand about the hands tho - i have 2 trigger thumbs and they've really been acting up lately. it hurts the whole 'pad' at the base of the thumbs. all around it really. very painful. it really hurts to turn the round doorknob in my old place (where I still am...)

i'm wondering if one of those apple slices rings would be worth getting. I like to slice my apples up but just haven't felt up to it lately so I'm not eating as many of them. I see those 'ring' things in the grocery even but wonder if just any one will work good. or should I be concerned about what brand it is?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 12:57AM
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Steph, are you talking about the corer/slicer? I have one (from the dollar store) and I always use it to slice and core my apples.
BUT.............. it takes a good bit of arm strength to push it thru a large apple.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 8:49PM
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Steph. On your trigger thumbs. you can help yourself some with that. Just at the base of your thumb you will feel a little bump that is not supposed to be there. Keep massaging it. It will hurt some but do it anyway. Then work your thumb open and closed slowly when ever you think about it with your other hand. Massaging and working it. Heat pads help. Rice in cloth bags microwaved. I cured my trigger thumb totally doing this. It is a swelling of the tendon sheath getting caught under the another tendon or whatever. this is what makes it snap and hurt when it suddenly goes through the too narrow spot. It took me a couple of months to get this all healed but it was totally worth it and it did not require the surgery so many have.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 9:19PM
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idie - yes, a corer/slicer! I see them at the grocery, W etc - just been afraid to buy (spend a few bucks) and have it be a waste. arm strength? not much of that anymore... I've really gone downhill... lol! are there any gadgets that'll do that easier?

couldn't open a bottle of pepsi earlier - so I took a knife to it and cut off the top and then poured it into another bottle I'd finished earlier using a funnel... what a bummer.

when I go out tomorrow (hopefully) I'll have to get one of those thingies to twist off caps.

Shades - my thumbs don't pop anymore. actually, only 1 ever did that. my neighbor about 2 acres away said she could hear me scream when it did tho... I had 2 shots in it (I think it was 2) and it quit popping. it's still very painful to move or use quite often. can't trust me with 'em. i can drop anything at the drop of a hat - or 'pain of the thumb'...
I don't feel a bump on the right one - the one that popped but I do on the left. I'll work on massaging that bump!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 10:45PM
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Always need a little clean up after grouting in the day light. I am working tomorrow so might not get back here to comment.

This is the Hoosier moved into the kitchen

And this is a close up of the glass work I added to it. I added mirrors on the three little top doors and then the green cream checker board. I think I mixed two eras. Oh well.

Steph if you can do it as I said above it will remove most of the pain for you. REALLY give it a try. When ever you are going to be sitting relaxing just take a hot pack to your chair with you and work on it. I had the same weakness and screaming pain. Now it is all well just from the heat and massage.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 11:52PM
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I love the old kitchen gadgets from the 40's and earlier, especially the pre-electric ones. Some I use like my egg beaters and graters. Others like my marmalade, mayonaisse and malt makers not so much. I also have a pea sheller, cherry pitter, apple pealer, nut cracker and meat grinder that if nothing else look good on my hoosier. Oh and my butter churns and ice cream machine. All set if the power goes out...lol!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 7:03PM
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