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View Full Version : "useless kitchen gadgets" that are actually useful?


trapezoidal jellyfish
01-14-2010, 12:25 AM
Every so often, I hear someone mention this great as-seen-on-tv-style gadget they thought was a sham/waste of money/useless dust gatherer until they got one and discovered it's actually unbelievably handy to have around. Of course, I don't remember what any of them are, so I turn to you, benevolent Dopers. What's your favorite kitchen gadget that one wouldn't necessarily expect to be useful? Out of the hundreds of little things they have in the stores, what's actually worth paying for?

Cat Whisperer
01-14-2010, 12:34 AM
A good, high-quality garlic press. A lemon zester.

caverject
01-14-2010, 01:16 AM
A lettuce keeper. http://www.bonanzle.com/booths/tonianne/items/VINTAGE_TUPPERWARE_GREEN_STRAINER___3PC_LETTUCE_KEEPER

Knife sharpener.
http://www.everythingkitchens.com/chefs_choice_knife_sharpener_120.html

Aero-garden.
http://www.aerogrow.com/
fresh herbs

Superhal
01-14-2010, 02:11 AM
Any kind of garlic peeler, they're all equally effective. The garlic press has been very useful to me as well.

The magic bullet makes amazing margaritas.

kittenblue
01-14-2010, 03:12 AM
Egg-rite Egg Timer (http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Egg-Rite-Timer/dp/B00004UE75). I can't live without it. I WON'T live without one in the house. I give one to every new bride at their shower.

Mangetout
01-14-2010, 05:32 AM
Egg-rite Egg Timer (http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Egg-Rite-Timer/dp/B00004UE75). I can't live without it. I WON'T live without one in the house. I give one to every new bride at their shower.
I've got one of these and have never got it to work properly.

My favourites include a pastry blender (a bunch of wire hoops attached to a handle - rubs fat into flour to breadcrumb texture in a few seconds, much more convenient than doing it by fingertips.

And not really a gadget - it's a Victorinox paring knife (non-serrated blade, about 10cm). I've got three of them*
They're amazing - brilliantly slender and flexible, and the steel holds a really good edge. I use them for just about everything.


(*I had only one and lost it, so I bought two spares, beside myself in panic, then I found the original)

lost4life
01-14-2010, 08:56 AM
If you eat a lot of sliced apples, these (http://www.amazon.com/Oxo-Grips-Apple-Corer-Divider/dp/B00004OCKT/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1263480802&sr=1-1) are pretty handy. I don't know if I'd call it a gadget, but it works.

RealityChuck
01-14-2010, 09:03 AM
A Microplane grater (http://www.amazon.com/Microplane-35002-Fine-Grater/dp/B00004S7VK/ref=pd_sim_k_3).

Munch
01-14-2010, 09:06 AM
Knife sharpener.
http://www.everythingkitchens.com/chefs_choice_knife_sharpener_120.html
Useless? Everyone should have a knife sharpener. Keeping knives sharp is extremely important.

Ferret Herder
01-14-2010, 09:17 AM
Useless? Everyone should have a knife sharpener. Keeping knives sharp is extremely important.
I have to admit, I probably screwed up using it, but I had one of those and managed to royally mess up a knife. I was given one as a present and though I was suspicious of my ability, I read the instructions very carefully, then used a "steak knife" that I'd never used and gotten as part of a knife set (these days I only have the chef knife from it), and followed the steps as given. It didn't look good at all, like I had roughly shaved down the faces of the blade or something.

Because I apparently suck at this, I stick with a steel, and for regular sharpening, I have two guys who do my sharpening work. In bad weather, there's a guy in town who owns a dry-cleaners/tailors, and sharpens blades. On weekends in good weather, there's a man who has a push cart with a bell that rings when he pushes it down the sidewalk; built into the cart is a sharpening "wheel" driven by a foot-pedaled belt. He has some kind of strop as well. Charges a couple bucks a knife, and people come out of their houses with their hands full of knives to be worked on.

Chefguy
01-14-2010, 09:20 AM
Another vote for the Microplane products and a garlic press. I gave a Microplane grater to my sister for Christmas several years ago, as she makes tens of dozens of cookies every year and used to zest her fruit with an old-fashioned zester. When she opened the package, she gently mocked my gift, having never seen one before. A year later she called me and thanked me profusely for saving her a HUGE amount of effort.

TruCelt
01-14-2010, 09:48 AM
I have the original multi-tool, straight out of Blondie and Dagwood, which was left to me by my Grandmother. It opens any kind of container (including wine bottles), pokes holes in stuff, cuts things nothing else will cut, and makes all kinds of pretty stuff out of vegetables.

To look at it, you'd think it was completely useless. It just a red stripey wooden handle with lots of strange metal bits sticking out at the end. One of my most prized possessions!

Another vote for the magic bullet. I bought it for making baby food, but still use it constantly.

And the NuWave oven. It was a panic purchase when my regular oven died right before Thanksgiving. I use it at least three times per week.

otternell
01-14-2010, 09:53 AM
That SlapChop thing that you see on TV. Years ago (before the SlapChop made it to tv) Pampered Chef sold something similar - I love it. I have heard the Slap Chop brand is shoddy crap (YMMV) but the pampered chef version was well made and very handy.

Also, an olive oil sprayer. It is so nice to be able to add a little olive oil without having it concentrated in drizzles or puddles.

zweisamkeit
01-14-2010, 10:23 AM
Microplane graters, definitely.

A V-Slicer (http://www.amazon.com/Swissmar-Borner-V-Slicer-Plus-Mandoline/dp/B0000632QE) (that's the original and the best. I've had other ones that really sucked). I don't use it every day, but it's absolutely amazing. If you need to slice up a bunch of vegetables, this thing makes it go so quick. I like baking sweet potato 'chips' or making gratins (or slicing stuff up for stir fries) and this is way easier and faster than with a knife; the slices are a lot more even, too.

smithsb
01-14-2010, 10:33 AM
We used the Salad Shooter with great success for many years. Didn't work with some veggies but for mass quantities at a picnic - it was ideal.

Mahna Mahna
01-14-2010, 10:37 AM
I have to agree.... the Microplane zester is my number one choice. Mine gets used more regularly than all my other kitchen gadgets combined.

Other than that, a good-quality silicone spoonula is a godsend. I got a Williams-Sonoma one as a gift a few years ago and I used it so much I decided I need a couple of more... yes, it's pricey for what it is, but it's not as floppy as the el cheapo imitators and it's a million times more durable.

pepperlandgirl
01-14-2010, 11:10 AM
A lot of people mention garlic presses (and peelers), but why? You can just use the broad side of a knife or the heel of your hand to smash the garlic. Then it's pealed and "pressed".

KennerTheGreat
01-14-2010, 11:16 AM
I'll second otternell's SlapChop nomination. I have a knockoff (can't remember the exact brand) and it works great.

Dolores Reborn
01-14-2010, 11:16 AM
I love my lemon squeezer!

Athena
01-14-2010, 11:20 AM
A lot of people mention garlic presses (and peelers), but why? You can just use the broad side of a knife or the heel of your hand to smash the garlic. Then it's pealed and "pressed".

I dunno about you, but when I smash garlic the way you describe, it still needs to be minced. The pieces from smashing are pretty big, I typically want a very fine mince to my garlic. A garlic press gives you that.

I usually smash to peel, then throw it in the garlic press to mince.

Chefguy
01-14-2010, 11:26 AM
I dunno about you, but when I smash garlic the way you describe, it still needs to be minced. The pieces from smashing are pretty big, I typically want a very fine mince to my garlic. A garlic press gives you that.

I usually smash to peel, then throw it in the garlic press to mince.

You don't even need to peel it. The press will only pass the pulp through.

Munch
01-14-2010, 11:34 AM
A lot of people mention garlic presses (and peelers), but why? You can just use the broad side of a knife or the heel of your hand to smash the garlic. Then it's pealed and "pressed".

Presses are fantastic. I don't understand the need for a peeler at all.

ducati
01-14-2010, 11:35 AM
I
Another vote for the magic bullet.

Mrs. Duc has one, but it doesn't belong in the kitchen...

LiveOnAPlane
01-14-2010, 11:43 AM
I dunno if this qualifies, but once I got what I thought was a kitchen "gadget" but turned out to be just wonderful.

It was a potato ricer. Easiest and bestust way of making mashed potatoes I ever saw. I only later found out that this is actually what used to be a kind of "mainstream" utensil; it's just not so common any more.

Mister Owl
01-14-2010, 12:07 PM
A tomato shark.

Mangetout
01-14-2010, 01:38 PM
A tomato shark.

I thought you'd just made that up, but now I've googled it, I want one. I tried using a melon baller on things other than melons (pears for example) and it was hard work.

Athena
01-14-2010, 01:48 PM
You don't even need to peel it. The press will only pass the pulp through.

Yeah, I know. But it's such a pain to clean the skins out of the press when doing multiple cloves that I prefer to skin 'em first.

beatlejuice
01-14-2010, 02:01 PM
I thought the mango pitter would be useless, but it works quite well. Although, you need to stand up to use it to apply the proper pressure.

SpoilerVirgin
01-14-2010, 02:08 PM
A grapefruit knife (http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/things-cooks-love-grapefruit-knife). I just got a second one for the office so I wouldn't have to constantly carry it back and forth from home.

MitzeKatze
01-14-2010, 02:34 PM
This is funny. I came to this thread to say "my garlic press!" and not only did everyone else beat me to it, but just before I came back I took my dog for a walk. I am currently listening to the audiobook Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain on my iPod while walking the dog and he just got to the part where he describes what home cooks should have in their kitchen (in his opinion) to make their food more like "restaurant quality" food. He went into a rant about garlic presses, how bad they are and even said:
Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, burnt garlic,
garlic cut too long ago, garlic that has been tragically smashed through one of
those abominations, the garlic press, are all disgusting. and Smash it, with the flat of your knife blade if you like, but don't put it
through a press. I don't know what that junk is that squeezes out the end of
those things, but it ain't garlic.

LOL. I don't care and still love my garlic press, but had no idea there was such a hatred of them by anyone. Oh and I have decided that Anthony Bourdain is a pretentious ass-hat. ;)

The other kitchen gadget that I love (and is surprisingly Bourdain-approved ;)) is my mandoline. My husband swore I would rarely use it, it would gather dust or I would slice off my fingertips, but I have found a gajillion uses for it and at this point probably couldn't cook without it.

Cat Whisperer
01-14-2010, 02:38 PM
Micro-plane, eh? I might have to invest in one of those - I have a banana-orange loaf recipe that calls for the zest of an orange that is to die for. :)

Mama Zappa
01-14-2010, 02:50 PM
You don't even need to peel it. The press will only pass the pulp through.
I must be doing something wrong with mine - I wind up with a flattened blob of stringy mush inside the press, and nothing outside of it, even if I've peeled it first.

Mine is an older aluminum one, with a rectangular "chamber" that's just big enough for one large clove of garlic. I haven't used it for garlic in years.

It does, however, do a nice job of cracking peppercorns and whole allspice when I'm fixing to brine a turkey :)

Mama Zappa
01-14-2010, 03:00 PM
I'll second otternell's SlapChop nomination. I have a knockoff (can't remember the exact brand) and it works great.
We've got the Pampered Chef version and while it's not an everyday item (usually when I'm chopping I need to chop more than will fit in that thing) it is deucedly useful at times.

Interestingly the thing I use it for most of all is ginger. You can grate ginger and have most of it wind up stuck to the "teeth" of the grater.... or you can put a small chunk of it on the cutting board and slap the heck out of it and wind up with a nice fine mince which is much easier than grating.

typoink
01-14-2010, 03:02 PM
It does, however, do a nice job of cracking peppercorns and whole allspice when I'm fixing to brine a turkey :)

! That's brilliant.

My contributions:

A digital probe thermometer. VERY handy.

An apple peeler / corer / slicer (the mechanical kind that twirls the apple through a blade). Prepping apples to make pies and pancakes and such is an annoyingly time-consuming process. Using one of these things makes it INSTANT, and they're pretty cheap. Doubles as a potato peeler, too, although not perfectly.

Electric Rotato. This thing WOULD be junk, but it actually works great at peeling potatoes and (more importantly) turnips. I HATE peeling turnips by hand. Breaks easily, though -- mine lasted less than six months before the clip that holds the blade in place broke.

Two-cup mini food processor. Works great, works fast, and easier to clean than a full-size processor (especially since it fits very neatly in the top drawer of my dishwasher).

Ferret Herder
01-14-2010, 03:02 PM
Some presses are better than others. I got the one that Cook's Illustrated rated most highly, the Kuhn-Rikon Easy-Squeeze Garlic Press. Leaves all that skin behind and minces the garlic up nicely.

Considering that some people mash the garlic with the blade of their chef's knife and even puree it up with coarse salt on the cutting board, I fail to see how a good garlic press can "ruin" garlic. (Maybe he's only seen the shitty ones in use, I dunno.)

Mangetout
01-14-2010, 03:32 PM
The microplane zester is like a grater, right? I can see how that would be good, but my conventional zester is still going to remain a favourite, because sometimes (well, quite often) I want long, decorative strands of zest.

lazybratsche
01-14-2010, 03:34 PM
Useless? Everyone should have a knife sharpener. Keeping knives sharp is extremely important.

Absolutely. But a lot of knife sharpeners are total crap, and that includes just about anything you can by at a department store. At best they'll put on a very rough edge that seems sharp at first (because the rough abrasive put in microscopic serrations), but that will dull really fast. Overall, though, you're really just damaging the knife by removing the hardened edge.

I suppose a bad sharpener is a bit better than no sharpener at all.

KneadToKnow
01-14-2010, 03:41 PM
You can grate ginger and have most of it wind up stuck to the "teeth" of the grater

IIRC, Alton solves this problem by covering the grater with cling wrap before grating, then it all comes right off.

Waterman
01-14-2010, 03:47 PM
Here's my vote for the most unlikely but handy kitchen tool:

http://www.amazon.com/Oxo-Good-Grips-Pastry-Scraper/dp/B00004OCNJ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1263505285&sr=1-2

A pastry scraper! BTW - There are many brands and I'm not necessarily advocating Oxo as the only maker.

Probably my main use is for transferring food from cutting board to pot/pan. One of the few things that I probably use everyday.

Chefguy
01-14-2010, 03:53 PM
The microplane zester is like a grater, right? I can see how that would be good, but my conventional zester is still going to remain a favourite, because sometimes (well, quite often) I want long, decorative strands of zest.

You can get fairly long ones out of a Microplane grater by grating more slowly and using long strokes. Just like grating cheese.

For other items, I'll add Silpat (http://www.silpat.com/) non-stick baking sheets. Miracles, is what they are.

Athena
01-14-2010, 03:59 PM
This is funny. I came to this thread to say "my garlic press!" and not only did everyone else beat me to it, but just before I came back I took my dog for a walk. I am currently listening to the audiobook Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain on my iPod while walking the dog and he just got to the part where he describes what home cooks should have in their kitchen (in his opinion) to make their food more like "restaurant quality" food. He went into a rant about garlic presses, how bad they are and even said:
and

LOL. I don't care and still love my garlic press, but had no idea there was such a hatred of them by anyone. Oh and I have decided that Anthony Bourdain is a pretentious ass-hat. ;)

The other kitchen gadget that I love (and is surprisingly Bourdain-approved ;)) is my mandoline. My husband swore I would rarely use it, it would gather dust or I would slice off my fingertips, but I have found a gajillion uses for it and at this point probably couldn't cook without it.

Some presses are better than others. I got the one that Cook's Illustrated rated most highly, the Kuhn-Rikon Easy-Squeeze Garlic Press. Leaves all that skin behind and minces the garlic up nicely.

Considering that some people mash the garlic with the blade of their chef's knife and even puree it up with coarse salt on the cutting board, I fail to see how a good garlic press can "ruin" garlic. (Maybe he's only seen the shitty ones in use, I dunno.)

The reason professional chefs don't like garlic presses is the same reason you should buy fresh garlic, not the big jars of pre-cut garlic in the grocery store; smashed garlic gets bitter and icky tasting if it sits for a while.

If you mince garlic with a blade, you essentially are cutting it to little chunks and not releasing much, if any, of the oils & juices. If you're a chef in a professional kitchen, you do this hours before you actually use the garlic. If you press it (or even smash it, if you're really particular), you release the oils & juices, and they will go bad as it sits and waits for you to use it. That's why professionals prefer chopping it with a knife.

If you're a home cook, chances are you're pressing the garlic a few minutes before you use it. If that's the case, pressing works fine. But if you *do* plan on letting it sit for a while, by all means, chop it, don't press it.

Me? I like the press. I just make sure to press it right into whatever I'm cooking.

MitzeKatze
01-14-2010, 04:11 PM
<snip useful explanation>
If you're a home cook, chances are you're pressing the garlic a few minutes before you use it. If that's the case, pressing works fine. But if you *do* plan on letting it sit for a while, by all means, chop it, don't press it.

Me? I like the press. I just make sure to press it right into whatever I'm cooking.

That makes sense, but doesn't explain why Bourdain was specifically against garlic presses for the home cook, and described what they produced as "not garlic". (As an aside, he was spot-on with what professional chef's use that are absolutely not necessary for home cooks to achieve similar results.)

I'm with ya on it, though, I love my garlic press and will continue to use it despite what any pretentious chef tells me, because I know what the results are. ;)

And I need to second whoever said "pastry scraper" I completely forget about that, but mine lives next to my right hand almost constantly when I am in the kitchen- I use it all the time for so many things!

And even though it isn't really a gadget as in "as seen on TV" I could, but would hate to, live without my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and all its attachments. It was expensive (to me) so I put off getting one for a long time, but now I hate to think about working in the kitchen without it. But I am an at-home wife and mother, cooking 2 or 3 full meals per day (most days) for a family of 6 (sometimes more) so your mileage will definitely vary.

Ferret Herder
01-14-2010, 04:33 PM
If you're a home cook, chances are you're pressing the garlic a few minutes before you use it. If that's the case, pressing works fine. But if you *do* plan on letting it sit for a while, by all means, chop it, don't press it.

Me? I like the press. I just make sure to press it right into whatever I'm cooking.
Oh no, I didn't even think of that. I put the cloves into the press as part of my "mise" work, then press right into the cooking food, cut any excess off with a little knife. It's easier that way, no need to handle the slightly sticky garlic bits.

Cunctator
01-14-2010, 04:35 PM
One of those adjustable gadget things that opens stuck jars.

freckafree
01-14-2010, 06:22 PM
Everyone is totally missing why garlic presses are so highly rated! It's because they're FUN! Squeezing something with all your might until it sploots out through little holes? It's a cross between popping...well, you know...and extruding Play-Doh! Awesome!

I pooh-poohed my sister's Toss & Chop (http://www.silvermk.com/product_detail.cfm?id=1) scissors. Then she bought me a pair. Now I can't live without them.

voguevixen
01-14-2010, 06:37 PM
My vacuum sealer has saved me a fortune in cheese. (I also use it to split up bulk buys of meat, but when you factor in the price of bags the savings are probably debatable.)

smaje1
01-14-2010, 06:45 PM
Another vote for the Magic Bullet (although I need to replace the cross-blade attachment - the rubber on the bottom of the casing has worn down and now it just spins around without the blades spinning).

I don't currently own one, but my mom had an awesome hand-held hard cheese grater. It makes grating parmesan and other hard cheeses a breeze:

http://www.lionsdeal.com/fmp-137-1090.html?utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=comparisonshopping

Starving Artist
01-14-2010, 07:00 PM
I bought a Susi garlic press (http://www.google.com/products?hl=en&as_epq=susi+garlic+press&as_oq=&as_eq=&num=10&lr=&as_filetype=&as_sitesearch=&as_qdr=all&as_rights=&as_occt=any&cr=&as_nlo=&as_nhi=&safe=off&q=%22susi+garlic+press%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=Q7xPS4KLL4fUNYLU1IwJ&sa=X&oi=product_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CB8QrQQwAA) many years ago upon the very strong recommendation of the Frugal Gourmet and I have never regretted it. It's strong, well-built, extrudes all the garlic from the clove, and comes with a handy red plastic device to clean out all the holes at one time, although I usually just scoop out the skin with a fingertip.

faithfool
01-14-2010, 08:19 PM
A spice grinder. And now this thread has reminded me how much I need to get a garlic press....

Brynda
01-14-2010, 11:14 PM
Everyone is totally missing why garlic presses are so highly rated! It's because they're FUN! Squeezing something with all your might until it sploots out through little holes? It's a cross between popping...well, you know...and extruding Play-Doh! Awesome!

I pooh-poohed my sister's Toss & Chop (http://www.silvermk.com/product_detail.cfm?id=1) scissors. Then she bought me a pair. Now I can't live without them.

WANT!!!!!!

EvilTOJ
01-15-2010, 03:39 AM
Food dehydrator. I bought one off an infomercial and I love it. Although I didn't use it last year, I normally dry out apple slices and my hop harvest in it. Erm, not at the same time though.

Athena
01-15-2010, 07:44 AM
That makes sense, but doesn't explain why Bourdain was specifically against garlic presses for the home cook, and described what they produced as "not garlic".

Because he's Bourdain, of course! And also, I'm guessing, he didn't realized that if you don't let the garlic sit, it doesn't get all bitter & yucky.

JXJohns
01-15-2010, 08:13 AM
I've always enjoyed my Salad Spinner. (http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=9219279&sourceid=1500000000000003260370&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=9219279) I hate wet lettuce in a salad.

Sehmket
01-15-2010, 08:31 AM
Food dehydrator. I bought one off an infomercial and I love it. Although I didn't use it last year, I normally dry out apple slices and my hop harvest in it. Erm, not at the same time though.

This.

I use my dehydrator once a week or so. I've made Jerky in a hundred flavors, apples, peaches, zucchini chips, banana chips, strawberries, pears, and a bunch of different herbs. This spring, I'm planing a good-sized herb garden, and part of that reason is because I know I can save almost everything using the dehydrator.

joebuck20
01-15-2010, 08:32 AM
This is funny. I came to this thread to say "my garlic press!" and not only did everyone else beat me to it, but just before I came back I took my dog for a walk. I am currently listening to the audiobook Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain on my iPod while walking the dog and he just got to the part where he describes what home cooks should have in their kitchen (in his opinion) to make their food more like "restaurant quality" food. He went into a rant about garlic presses, how bad they are and even said:
and

LOL. I don't care and still love my garlic press, but had no idea there was such a hatred of them by anyone. Oh and I have decided that Anthony Bourdain is a pretentious ass-hat. ;)

The other kitchen gadget that I love (and is surprisingly Bourdain-approved ;)) is my mandoline. My husband swore I would rarely use it, it would gather dust or I would slice off my fingertips, but I have found a gajillion uses for it and at this point probably couldn't cook without it.

Alton Brown's not a big fan of them either. But then again, he's not a big fan of any "unitasker."

Snickers
01-15-2010, 10:23 AM
Huh. I have a garlic press, but don't use it any more - I always found it a pain to use and clean (it's likely that mine's not a very good one). Instead, I use a little lidded container to mince up my garlic. It's got little ridges in both the lid and the bottom - pop in your garlic, put on the lid, then rotate the two pieces around to mince it up. Works a treat! Can't remember the name though. Here, I'll amazon it: it's this (http://www.amazon.com/NexTrend-GT-Clear-Garlic-Twist-Clear/dp/B000173JMS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1263572412&sr=8-4)one. (I don't remember mine costing that much, but maybe it did.)

I think I vaguely recall some chef or other saying that using a press pushes out so much of the liquid in the garlic, and can lead to it tasting bitter (or some such). (Maybe they mentioned this in Cook's Illustrated or something.) However, ISTR that it's only noticeable if you have a pretty highly developed palate - I'd certainly never notice the difference, I don't think.

KneadToKnow
01-15-2010, 10:28 AM
Alton Brown's not a big fan of them either. But then again, he's not a big fan of any "unitasker."

Though he's got a few blind spots on that, if you pay attention. If I ever meet him in person, I plan to take him to task and ask him what else he uses his coffee grinder (the big burr grinder, not the little blade grinder he uses for spices, etc.), his 2-tablespoon measuring spoon, and his espresso machine for.

TruCelt
01-15-2010, 11:03 AM
Should have added the mortar and pestle. It's amazing how you can get actual flavor from dried spices with one of these! LOL!

About once a week I dump a bunch of herbs and pepper into it, then powder them and sprinkle them over a plate of olive oil. Dip french or italian bread and Oooooh, Ahhh!

I never use dried herbs without crushing them now.

typoink
01-15-2010, 12:37 PM
Though he's got a few blind spots on that, if you pay attention. If I ever meet him in person, I plan to take him to task and ask him what else he uses his coffee grinder (the big burr grinder, not the little blade grinder he uses for spices, etc.), his 2-tablespoon measuring spoon, and his espresso machine for.

But that's like saying an oven can only bake or a knife can only cut.

The "anti-unitasker" philosophy isn't really about only having multipurpose tools, it's about not using unitaskers when there's a multipurpose tool that does the job as well or better.

I'll grant you on the two-tbsp measure, though. :) Then again, I have one I got for free with a coffee bean holder.

KneadToKnow
01-15-2010, 01:33 PM
The "anti-unitasker" philosophy isn't really about only having multipurpose tools, it's about not using unitaskers when there's a multipurpose tool that does the job as well or better.

My rebuttal is entirely in the form of a quote:

In my kitchen, there is only one unitasker.

Postariti
01-15-2010, 10:04 PM
I didn't think much of those George Foreman type indoor grills. Then I got one, and it was the best thing ever. I was living alone, and I used it almost every day.

oliversarmy
01-16-2010, 12:06 AM
My wife bought a Pampered Chef can opener which, at the time, I thought was not her wisest decision.

Nonetheless, the thing works great. It's so much easier than a regular can opener, plus it leaves no sharp edges and you can put the top back on the can and put it in the fridge and use the contents later.

The funny part is, no matter how much I've tried, she can't use it. She thinks it should work as a regular can opener and she refuses to use it and gets mad when I when I try to show her how it works.

I love her anyway.

Maserschmidt
01-16-2010, 08:42 AM
Here's my vote for the most unlikely but handy kitchen tool:

http://www.amazon.com/Oxo-Good-Grips-Pastry-Scraper/dp/B00004OCNJ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1263505285&sr=1-2

A pastry scraper! BTW - There are many brands and I'm not necessarily advocating Oxo as the only maker.

Probably my main use is for transferring food from cutting board to pot/pan. One of the few things that I probably use everyday.

When I worked in a bakery I always had one of close at hand...you could use it for a million things, from scraping down a board to cutting dough to scooping something up. Not sure how much I'd use it at home, though.

PunditLisa
01-16-2010, 09:22 AM
GoodGrips potato peelers are the best in their class and they're less than $10. Don't buy the cheap-o versions as they are a waste of money.

I love my PamperedChef Food chopper for dicing up onions, celery, carrots, etc. Wish they made a mini version. http://www.pamperedchef.com/ordering/prod_details.tpc?prodId=240&catId=4&parentCatId=4&outletSubCat=&viewAllOutlet=

Also love their Apple Wedger http://www.pamperedchef.com/ordering/prod_details.tpc?prodId=10342&words=apple

FallenAngel
01-16-2010, 11:11 AM
I pooh-poohed my sister's Toss & Chop (http://www.silvermk.com/product_detail.cfm?id=1) scissors. Then she bought me a pair. Now I can't live without them.

I'm not seeing any possible way this could be faster or more useful than a standard knife. I'm curious. 'Splain please?

irishgirl
01-16-2010, 11:57 AM
I use my small hand blender/chopper/whisk far more than I use my big Magimix.

Personally I like the cheap, old fashioned vegetable peelers with horizontal blades like this (http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.manufactum.de/manufactum/grossbild/24230_1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.manufactum.com/Artikel/24230/RexVegetablePeeler.html&usg=__OVW2bmv7gm2KcN5JbTzEvQSLzN8=&h=700&w=700&sz=72&hl=en&start=19&sig2=OSWYQP8n-DyVBAAIyvWARw&tbnid=Up8iviZfWfUOiM:&tbnh=140&tbnw=140&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dvegetable%2Bpeeler%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den&ei=BvxRS_HOPJGd-AaQv8S9CA). No, it doesn't look fancy, but I won't cut myself with it and it peels things much faster for me than the type where the blade is vertical.

My citrus juicer (http://www.saltandpepper.co.uk/cms_images/product/large_LemonJuicer.jpg) is also not exactly hi-tech, but it is a boon for those with small hands and not much upper body strength.

MitzeKatze
01-16-2010, 12:32 PM
When I worked in a bakery I always had one of close at hand...you could use it for a million things, from scraping down a board to cutting dough to scooping something up. Not sure how much I'd use it at home, though.

I use my pastry scraper for all those things at home. I make a lot of bread and bread products though, so it may not be as handy for someone whose dough production is less frequent. Mine has measurements on it (inches I believe) which is infinitely useful to me, and while not sharp as a knife would be, can be used to chop herbs quickly and handily. I use it frequently to chop and scoop butter, herbs, and small pieces of dough. I use it to scrape together looser doughs and to scrape the pastry board clean. It is the very first utensil I pull out when I begin preparations, and the last one I put away when finished. It lives by my right hand so it is always within easy reach.