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Kitchen Gadgets

Posted by sehra (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 10, 06 at 15:32

What is your favourite kitchen gadget and why?

We are going to be moving soon and I will have to buy everything for my kitchen...I am so excited...well I love gadgets, but don't want to buy something that doesn't work! ( I have been depriving myself from kitchen stuff for the last two years, and I am going to burst soon!)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

#1 - Prep Taxi
#2 - incredible jar opener


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Will you describe Prep Taxi? Sounds interesting.
Thanks


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Here's a link to it. I got it at Sur La Table. It cost $10 and is worth it! It's great for picking up cut up foods and transporting them to the frying pan. Better than a spatula, becuase it has sides so the stuff doesn't fall out. Can you tell, I love this thing! If first heard about it on the Kitchens forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Prep taxi


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Thanks. That looks like a tool I will enjoy. Think I will order it this week.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

I would make a list of some of the things I would enjoy, and then if you have time start looking. Target has a good selection but we have a store in Minot called Gourmet Shop and it has the better quality of cookware, along with local food. Check the Dept Stores, some carry a better grade of gadgets and watch for sales and coupons. I would start slow, etc


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

My favorite gadget is my Rosle can opener. It's hand-held simple, makes a safety-edge cut through the side of the top of the can, does an excellent job on any can (even the deep-top soup pull-tabs so they can't cut me when I clean them for recycling), is dishwasher-safe, and has a lifetime warrantee. And, most important: it looks way cool!


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Rather than list actual gadgets, let me give some advice.

A gadget is something that should either make a particular task more efficient, or allow you do perform a task you might otherwise not do. Thus, what would be a silly toy to you might be indispensible in my kitchen. And vice-versa.

In each case, before falling in love with it (really easy to do, with gadgets) ask yourself some hard questions.

1. Will the gadget contribute to my enjoyment of the kitchen? If not, it isn't a tool, it's clutter.

2. Will I realistically get enough use out of it to justify it's pricetag? If not, it's clutter.

3. Does it fit my hand so that it actually makes the job easier or more enjoyable? If not, it's clutter.

4. Does it fit my lifestyle. If you use a dishwasher and the gadget isn't diswasher proof, are you going to change your cleaning style? If not, it's clutter.

5. Does it do the job it's supposed to do. If not, it's clutter. Unfortunately, this one, too often, can't be judged until you have it home.

Now then, before you get the idea that I'm really rational about gadgets, you need to come check my kitchen drawers and walls. They are filled with how-can-I-do-without-that gadgets that have been used only once. Or even not at all.

Just because I have no self-restraint doesn't mean I can't preach it. :>)


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Ooooo....that prep taxi....I could really use that. I've never seen one of those before - or at least I didn't notice it.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Gibby, it's the best thing I've bought for my new kitchen! If you have a Sur La Table, they carry it, as do "gourmet" kitchen shops.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Well after reading gardenlad's advice, I think the prep taxi is totally worth it! I hate using my knife to scoop things up, and my cutting board is too big to scrape things off of! Thanks dmlove, I can't wait to buy it!

I have a small pot scraper I bought, and I love it. I use it everyday to scrape my pots and pans without scratching the surface. I bought it at Golda's kitchen.

Gardenlad, since you have ton's of gadgets, which one(s) are your fav? or your least fav? I always seem to pick a gadget that doesn't work well. For example a bought a handheld herb slicer that looks like a pizza sclicer with many blades. What was I thinking?


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

What tool do you use for zesting a lemon (other than a lemon zester, of course, which I find pretty difficult to use)? Does a microplane work for this purpose?


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RE: Microplane

Wow, I just googled "microplane" and realize there are zillions of different types. Do I need multiple ones? What tools do they replace?


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

I bought an Orka silicone basting/pastry brush recently and I have found myself using it more and more. It has no bristles to lose in your sauce, it happily goes into the dishwasher, and it is more efficient than brushes for basting and for brushing pastry with butter, egg, or whatever. This was a good gadget purchase.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

DM, I have two different zesting tools. One is an actual zester, which cuts long, thin strips. The other is a microplane. Which I use depends on the intended end use.

Sehra, it's hard to say which is my favorite. Of those I use, my fave would be the last one that did the job intended.

I have a gizmo I inherited from my Mom that makes radish roses. Is it my favorite? Not hardly. But when I need to make radish roses, nothing compares to it. Sure, I can make them with a knife. But with that thingy I don't have to.

A lot depends, too, on how one defines a gadget. Is a mandolin a gadget? How about a food processor? On the other hand, isn't any blade that isn't a chef's knife or santuko a gadget?

If I absolutely had to pick, though, it would go to my collection of spring-loaded servers. I have them in sizes from 1 1/2 tsp to 1/2 cup and use them all the time for portion control. I would also list, as must-haves, a selection of whisks. And I don't know how anyone cooks properly without tongs. And......

Least favorite would be the cookie decorator kit I once bought in a fit of mental deficiency. I have no idea why I bought it, or if it will ever get used. It looks like a large plastic hypodermic needle, with a selection of tiny pastry tubes. Insane!

BTW, I second KitchenDetective's choice of silicone basting brushes. They are great!


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

it would go to my collection of spring-loaded servers

I'll bite. What's a "spring-loaded server"?

Which I use depends on the intended end use.

I don't need zest all that often, and don't really know which I'd use for what. What do you use the microplane zester for? (I already have the other kind)


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

An ice cream scoop is a spring-loaded server. Just imagine them in all sizes from as small as a half teaspoon to as large as a quart.

If you get them from a restaurant supply place (as opposed to, say, Bed Bath & Beyond) they will be numbered from 1 to 40. Those numbers refer to the capacity of the server in fractions of a quart. So to be practical, you might remeasure them and mark them (like with a dremel tool) in measurements that are more meaningful to you.

Just as an aside, professional ladles also are graduated and used for portion control.

The microplane will produce the equivilent of minced zest, which is what most recipes call for. A zester produces thin "strings" of zest, which usually are used as a garnish.

If you hold the microplane upside down the zest will accumulate inside it, rather than be scattered all over the counter.


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in addition

Just checked out that Prep Taxi. Kind of interesting.

If I'm moving more stuff than can be handily picked up with my knife, I use a stainless pastry scraper. It's about the same size as the Prep Taxi, but without the sides and back scoop.

If I didn't have that, I'd certainly consider the Taxi, though. I can see it as a very useful tool in most kitchens.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Thanks for the explanations gardenlad. I think a microplane is on the horizon (as I said, I have the kind that makes strips, but since I'd most often be using it for lemon tart or the like, something that does a finer mince would be better).

Re the Prep Taxi, actually, the fact that it has sides is its best feature! No more dropping chopped tomatoes or onions off a spatula and onto the floor! I even use the Prep Taxi to go to the pan from the prep area that's right next to the cooktop !


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RE: Never MT

Oh, I forgot to mention this one because it's not really a kitchen gadget (isn't for cooking or prepping), but I really love the Never MT. It allows you to use a huge bottle of dish soap with your soap dispenser. For some reason I'm not able to link to it, but if you google it, its under custom inserts.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

>Re the Prep Taxi, actually, the fact that it has sides is its best feature! No more dropping chopped tomatoes or onions off a spatula and onto the floor!<

Mebbe so. And I'm sure that's it's big appeal. But I can't remember the last time I dropped chopped veggies (or whatever) off a knife blade, let along off the pastry scraper.

If you're dropping things it usually means there is significantly more prepped stuff than will comfortably fit on the knife, spatula, or whathaveyou. In that case, it just makes sense to transfer it first to a bowl at the work station, then carry the bowl to the cooktop.

BTW, the microplane I use for zesting is called a "zester grater". The blade part is about an inch wide and 8 inches long. Among other things, the protective cover for it says "for grating parmesan zest coconut." But it's also great for other things. F'rinstance, I use it to mince ginger and sometimes even onions. It would probably work for grinding fresh nutmeg (although I haven't used it for that).

On your standard zester, if you're having problems, heres a tip. Instead of pulling the zester, as you would a vegetable peeler, try turning the lemon into the cutting rings. This is sometimes easier for people to do, and you wind up with beautiful zest strings.

Once you learn how to do that you can then mince the strings, and you won't need a new zester. Of course I'd still get the microplane, because it's so versitile.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Padded tongs (Teflon tips or some other non-abrasive coating).
Rice cooker.
Wooden spoons.
Definitely, definitely variously-sized whisks, as G-L says.
Microplane zester.
Silicone spatulas in at least two sizes.
Old-time steel wok.
Burr coffee grinder.
See-through containers for everything in your pantry that does not come in bug-proof wrappers, e.g., flour, sugar, cornmeal, etc.
Flour sack towels.
Bayonet-style carving fork (indispensible during apple placement in tarte tatin, for example).
Variously sized cutting boards.
The kind of manual can opener that makes the edges of the top smooth after cutting it off the can.
Clear, glass, teensy bowls, so you can premeasure spices and have them ready to go before you start cooking.
A couple of sets of measuring spoons and measuring cups strategically stashed around the kitchen, so you can grab them wherever you are.
Baking soda.
White vinegar.
Flexible spatula.
Orca silicone mits (great for wet work like pouring a vat of pasta into a colander).
Colanders--stainless steel with tiny holes.
Hot pads, trivets, oven mits.
Cookbook holder (if you use cookbooks) with lucite cover, so you minimize drips.
Fine mesh sieve.
Strainers.
The Rubbermaid non-staining food storage containers that actually withstand dishwashers without clouding or deforming.
Ice tea maker (never had one of these until I moved to the South and now cannot function without one).


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

As I said before, one person's indispensible tool is another person's clutter. So, just for comparison:

Padded tongs (Teflon tips or some other non-abrasive coating)---I don't use non-stick cookware, so have no particular need for padded tongs. But not counting the grilling stuff, I have 3 or 4 in the kitchen.

Rice cooker. See absolutely no need for this.

Wooden spoons. Broaden this out to include paddles and other wooden stirrers.

Silicone spatulas in at least two sizes. Again, without nonstick surfaces silicone isn't necessary. I have several stainless ones, though.

Old-time steel wok. You call this a gadget? Then every pot, pan, and your stove is a gadget. A wok is an undeniable necessity.

Burr coffee grinder. For coffee I'd agree. For spices and other grinding chores a bladed one does fine. I have three.

See-through containers for everything in your pantry that does not come in bug-proof wrappers, e.g., flour, sugar, cornmeal, etc. Again, I don't see these as gadgets. I use canning jars for all these needs; along with holding grains, beans, pasta, etc.

BTW, cornmeal should be stored in the fridge, not in the cupboard.

Flour sack towels. I use terrycloth. And, again, don't consider them to be gadgets any more than my stove is a gadget.

Bayonet-style carving fork (indispensible during apple placement in tarte tatin, for example). I see no need for this at all. God gave us fingers, donchaknow.

Variously sized cutting boards. An interesting addition. I make cutting boards, as gifts and for sale, and fail to see the need for more than one size (unless you're in the market for one---in which case, 6 or 7 sizes would be nice ;>)). The exception would be those custom-designed to fit over the burners on a cooktop to provide more prep room.

The kind of manual can opener that makes the edges of the top smooth after cutting it off the can. Are there other kinds?

Clear, glass, teensy bowls, so you can premeasure spices and have them ready to go before you start cooking. I prefer stainless to glass for this, and have them in several sizes and designs. Not just for spices. Lot's of prep work consists of cutting and chopping and mincing stuff that then is held for one reason or another.

A couple of sets of measuring spoons and measuring cups strategically stashed around the kitchen, so you can grab them wherever you are. Yes!

Baking soda. Not a gadget, IMO
White vinegar. Not a gadget, IMO

Flexible spatula. Handy but not necessary.

Orca silicone mits (great for wet work like pouring a vat of pasta into a colander). I found them to be awkward. Ditto the pot-holder tube.

Colanders--stainless steel with tiny holes. For sure. Several

Hot pads, trivets, oven mits. Again, not gadgets in my mind.

Cookbook holder (if you use cookbooks) with lucite cover, so you minimize drips. Totally unneeded.

Fine mesh sieve.
Strainers. I would group these with colanders. How much they are needed really depends on cooking style.

The Rubbermaid non-staining food storage containers that actually withstand dishwashers without clouding or deforming. Being as I'm the dishwasher, I can't accept the rationale for these. Hand washing doesn't affect things the same way.

Ice tea maker (never had one of these until I moved to the South and now cannot function without one). A totally unnecessary applience; even less useful than a rice cooker far as I'm concerned. It doesn't take any effort at all to heat water for tea.

My comments should not be taken as either an endorsement of, nor a negative statement about KitchenDetective's choices. The whole point of gadgets is that they make the job easier, more enjoyable, performable for you! That somebody else doesn't agree is just a difference in style, not a right/wrong sort of thing.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets..long

Gardenlad, I can see you are very passionate about this topic! It is fair to say that what one person may consider a great and useful gadget or tool you may consider it a peice of trash and useless. We are just sharing what we like and works for us; it may not work for you. I have to say I love your passion :o)

I was trying to put a list together of the gadgets/tools I want. One of them is a set of silicone items. Kitchendetective mentioned a few silicone items that I really want: pastry brush, gloves, spatulas and tongs. I have various pots and pans, some have teflon therefore I think the silicone spatulas would work great and I love how they mix everything very well. Do you think I would still need wooden spoons? Kitchendetective, what brand of silicone items do you have?

Someone had mentioned, on another thread, about an electric peppermill. I also saw this at a restaurant and would love one. My joints in my hands aren't so great...does anyone have one of these peppermills?

I am also looking for a great set of containers for leftovers etc. I saw some clips on each side of the lid. Does anyone have any of these? I also saw some container for storing fruit and veggies in the fridge.

After reading the posts I will for sure get a microplane.

Kitchendetective, tell me about this ice tea maker...

Cutting boards: how many do you guys have? and what are they made of? I know you are suppose to have one for fruits and veggies and another for meats. I've seen restaurants using coloured ones to differentiate between items. I would say that a small cutting board is great to have when you just want to slice one small item...of course my mom would laugh...she can cut anything while holding it in her hand!

A cook book holder was mentioned...i've always wanted one! Okay I am one of those who only cook with a cook book. Which brand do you suggest.

Gosh can I actually say more...(yes)

I want a meat thermometer, what would you suggest...(i can't cook meat!)

I just emptied all my thoughts onto this post...has anyone actually read the whole thing? ;o)


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

shera, I have some of those containers with snap-lock lids and I think they're terrific. Very easy to open and close -- much easier, I think, than the typical kind where you have to push to top on. I think mine are called "Snap Lock" but don't quote me! They carry them at Bed Bath & Beyond. There's another brand I saw at Zabar's in NY I think called Emsa. In any event, the concept is wonderful.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

The ice tea maker is a very tacky plastic thing made by Mr. Coffee. You pour water in the top, put teabags (Luzianne ice tea blend) in the filter section, put ice in the pitcher and turn it on. You have ice tea in about 5 or 6 minutes and can totally ignore it while you do other things. I am cooking for 10 these days and it frees me up. I do not use Teflon pans, but I do use quite a few Le Creuset Dutch ovens and soup pots. I prefer the soft edged utensils on the enamel. True, many of the above aren't technically gadgets, but they are things I use all the time in the kitchen. As to brand names, some of this stuff is so old that I don't remember. I use those flat silicone pads as trivets--most cookware stores have them. I don't use the tubes. I use several cutting boards because I have three different prep centers in my kitchen. I will have to keep G-L in mind next time I need a new one . . . The gloves are Orcas as are the silicone brushes. The rice cooker is another item that frees me up--an Indian friend gave it me as a gift in 1983 and it's still going strong! Very simple plug in one, not a fancy, fuzzy one. Meat thermometers--I know I should use one, but I have not found a satisfactory and reliable one. Anyone want to weigh in on this one? If anything else comes to mind, I will post again.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

>It is fair to say that what one person may consider a great and useful gadget or tool you may consider it a peice of trash and useless. <

Isn't that exactly what I've said, several time?

>I think the silicone spatulas would work great and I love how they mix everything very well. Do you think I would still need wooden spoons?<

If you're buying silicone utensils I don't think wooden ones are necessary. Just better looking. However, you should make sure with the silicone that you get both the soft, flexible kinds, and the hard, stiff kinds is you're actually going to replace your other stuff. Pay attention, too, to the handles. A lot of the silicone I've seen has handles that are too soft or too brittle. Usually, the cheaper the tool the less attention they pay to the handle quality, because that's where they can cut corners.

What I would do is think of any utensil like a knife, and handle it in the store the same way you will be using it.

>Cutting boards: how many do you guys have? and what are they made of? I know you are suppose to have one for fruits and veggies and another for meats. <

Who writes those "supposed to" rules anyway? Trust me, there are no cutting board police going to enter your house to check.

While I do own several, I actually use only one constantly. It gets properly cleaned and conditioned after each use, so there's no reason not to use it for both meat and veggies.

I know some celebrity chefs even tout the idea of having a separate board for chicken. To all of this I say, houey!

Of course, anyone who does buy in to the "you need several boards" message should contact me, and we can custom design all your boards.

Of late I have been using cutting boards that fit over the cooktop burners, to provide more work surface. But they are used more to hold already-preped foods (sometimes in containers, sometimes not) out of the way then to actually cut on.

And I have a separate chopping block for when I'm butchering large cuts. Chopping blocks and cutting boards are constructed differently, incidentally, and there's more involved than just thickness of the board.

>I want a meat thermometer, what would you suggest...<

This is a decision made strictly by pocketbook. The best are the ones with remote probes. The probe stays in the meat the whole time it cooks, while the gauge remains outside. But they're kind of expensive.

Other than that, you pays your money and takes your choice. Regular gauge---digital---pop up. Whichever you like best.

As important for you is a good oven thermometer. Most ovens do not heat to the point you set. So an oven thermometer assures you are cooking at the temperature you want.

>I just emptied all my thoughts onto this post...has anyone actually read the whole thing?<

I did, I did!

>I use several cutting boards because I have three different prep centers in my kitchen.<

Sorry. I understood you to say that different sized cutting boards were a necessity---and that's the point I disagree with. For different prep centers, absolutely. No need to keep shifting them around.

I'm in the process or redesigning my whole kitchen, and there won't be _any_ cutting boards as such, because all the counter tops will be constructed as if they were oversized cutting boards. But until that happens.....

> I will have to keep G-L in mind next time I need a new one . . .<

Please do. I love building them, especially when I can custom design them to fit someone's specific decor.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

I think the best gadget I ever had was the citrus peeler I got from Tupperware parties. It kind of looked like a crochet hook, with a gently curved tail that fit perfectly under the skin of an orange or lemon to lift it off. It also had a thingy to peel off perfect strips of zest. My only problem is that I can't find it now, and I've never seen one to buy.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

I just thought of a brand: my spatulas are clear (sort of a translucent whitish), very flexible, and have a metal (brudhes stainless?) handle. I got them at Williams-Sonoma. The handle is rounded so it is comfortable, they can withstand about 500 degrees F, and they can be washed in the dishwasher. I have an older Le Creuset one, but it is less flexible, and I am not even sure they still make the ones with metal handles. It has been a very long time since I looked at L-C stuff.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

I ended up picking up one of the long/skinny microplane thingies....1/2 for fine grating, such as citrus zest, and 1/2 for coarser grating, such as hard cheese. It's made by "Cuisipro". It has a "hand-guard" so when you're grating on the fine part, the coarse part is covered and vice-versa. I was a little skeptical because the ends are rounded (why?), but it worked perfectly for zesting lemons for the lemon brownies (see cooking forum). A definite keeper!


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

After reading all these tips I see one thing I want. One of those zestors that cut the strips for garnish.

As someone else mentioned different people like different things. After trying the silicone mitts I would never buy any other kind. They don't get wet and they don't stain. I used to use canning jars for storing flour, sugar, pasta, etc--not any more. One day I found a chip in the top of a jar. Where did that tiny glass shard go? Now I use non-glass containers with wide tops so I can just dip a measuring cup into it and shake off the excess. Another thing Ive done for yearsI use a paper plate on a cutting board to chop/cut fruits, bread and veggies (not exactly a gadget). The plate works as my prep-taxi too. The one new thing Ive just gotten and love is my electric knife sharpener. I have a stone and a steel (I think thats the name). My knives were never more than medium sharp. I bought the Presto sharpener at Amazon because it got rave reviews. My knives are now SHARP. Even the old cheap ones that live in the junk drawer.


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RE: Kitchen Gadgets

Nice tip about the paper plates, Bean Counter.

The ones at the dollar store are certainly cheap enough. I wouldn't serve food in them (too flimsy), but for this purpose they'd be ideal.


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