Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giddy for Kitchen Gadgets and Gizmos

We are all have our weaknesses, right?  For some it's shopping, for others it may be chocolate, and while I can agree with both of those I have another weakness.  Kitchen gadgets.  Yes, all those things that most people can't wait to get rid of when they down size, or decide they don't like to cook, I love.  For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated by kitchen gadgets. As a child I remember the whirly rotating whisks that rapidly spun as you cranked the wooden handle. I loved to whip eggs using it when making scrambled eggs. And then there was the chopper, with its triple blade and it too had a wooden handle, which was used to chop anything from eggs for egg salad, cooked chicken livers for chopped liver or anything else that needed to be chopped and diced. There was also a metal cherry pitter that hand handles that looked like an industrial syringe, and every summer we would pit cherries for pies, tarts, or just because it was fun to use.

As my love for cooking grew, so did the appeal of kitchen accessories. I started out with a garlic press, I had a garlic roaster, and folding pie molds to make hand tarts or empanadas with. My collection grew instantly when I became a representative for Pampered Chef.  I had the pizza stone and clay baker and clay bowl, which made juicy tender chicken when you put the bowl over the baker. And of course I can't forget to mention the apple and potato peeler, corer and slicer, which made cork screw ribbons of apples or potatoes.  Later on I took an evening job at Williams Sonoma, where I really got the goods! With their 40% discount and monthly contests they ran I was in kitchen heaven! I don't think I took home much of a paycheck.  I won an electric bread maker machine and numerous Calphalon pots and pans. I got a pasta machine, ravioli press, pastry bags and tips, a hand chopper, lemon zester, melon baller, ice cream scoops for making perfectly round cookies, and all the rage at the time was the Silpat, that rubbery non-stick mat, which I have only used twice by the way, and so much more. Which leads me think, do I need all of these gadgets, gizmos and machines?

Yes, I need them! This is really not an unhealthy plea, for I actually use most of what I have. I have collected all of these items in an effort to make my love of cooking easier, and for the "just in case" moments. Just in case I want to purée my soup in the pot, I have an emulsion blender. Just in case I want to make french bread in the shape of a heart, I have a baking tube for that. Just in case I want to take my home grown tomatoes (which I will grow some day soon I hope), and use a food mill to make the perfect tomato sauce, I've got that too. Having all these gadgets also makes me feel confident in the kitchen, like I can tackle any recipe because I've got the right tool. I also feel a little chefy having all these tools of the trade. It's fun for me!

I admit I do have a couple of "as seen on TV" gadgets, like the Betty Crocker Bake'n Fill pan (which I have used and works well), and the Pancake Puff pan (I have yet to use) which makes little puffy pancakes that you can fill with jelly or pudding. My latest useful additions to my collection, however, is a corn peeler which scrapes the corn right off the cob, and a pineapple slicer and corer. Yes, I could use a mandolin (yes, I have one of those too) or a good old fashioned knife to cut the kernels off, but this tool does it so much better.

Through the years I have weeded out some items like the bread maker and an electric wok, and a deep fryer, which actually I'm sorry I let that one go. Now, there are some gadgets that I think are silly and I would never buy, like the pickle grabber.  It looks cool, with is three prongs that retract in and out of a pen like case, but I would use a fork or maybe even my fingers to get a pickle out of a jar. And toast tongs also would be among the silly item list. See, I'm not totally out of my mind, but I may be out of drawer and cabinet space!

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