Obsolete(?) Kitchen Implements

I was watching Brokeback Mountain last night (no, this thread isn’t about ladels). There are juxtaposed scenes from the mid 70s of Jack and Ennis having Thanksgiving dinner with their respective families. I was distracted from Jack’s fight with his father in law over whether his son Bobby would be allowed to watch a football game while eating the dinner it took Lureen three hours to make by a single, stunning realization. “My God!” I exclaimed, “they used an electric knife!”

So you can see that the message of the film was not lost on me.

Anyway, some time in the early 70s both my grandmas and most of my aunts got electric knives and thought they were the greatest thing. But I don’t think I’ve seen one since 1981 or thereabouts. A quick google shows that they are still available. But do people still use these? Do you have one at your house?

When I was a kid, my mom had a potato ricer in the cupboard. I thought it was great fun to play with, but I don’t remember her using more than once or twice back in the 60s. Have you ever seen one?

Any other kitchen implements your parents or grandparents had that you don’t see any more?

My dad used the electric knife a few times a year, for carving the Christmas ham, the Thanksgiving turkey, and the occasional pot roast. I don’t know if I have it or my sister does.

My mom gave me a cast-iron skillet a long time ago. At the time she also gave me a cast-iron bacon press similar to this one. While the skillet is used all the time (and there are several threads here about the joys of cooking with cast iron), I have never used the bacon press. I’ve never known anyone who uses a bacon press, though I’ve seen actual or improvised presses used in diners.

I’ve seen but never used a utensil for making toasted sandwiches over an open flame - rather like an overgrown nutcracker, it has two pieces of metal which close over either side of the sandwich.

Edit - I don’t think I’ve ever seen an electric knife in use, but have seen a great many lingering around at the back of cupboards.

I have one of those. You can use them on the kitchen stove too.

We used to have an electric can opener. It was attached to the underside of the cupboard over the counter. You’d just slip the can in and it would grab it and go.

Almost entirely pointless, but it was relatively neat that it actually worked without dropping the can.

Most people I know use an electric can opener. I stopped using one years ago. They take up space. I prefer to use a manual one.

When I was a kid my mom would use an electric skillet fairly frequently. I haven’t seen one in anyone’s house since the '70s.

I still use an electric knife to this day. I have knives that would do a fine job of slicing up a turkey or a ham but the electric knife is much faster and does a better job of cutting meat off the boney areas.

My first thought when I read the title of this thread was a potato ricer. I have an aunt that used one, her specialty that her kids thought was a treat was ricing the spuds right on the dinner plate then covering it with canned parmesan cheese. They called it cheesy worms, I called it stinky maggots. Something my mother had in her kitchen that was used quite a bit was the french fry potato slicer. I rarely remember my mother buying frozen potato products of any kind, if we had french fries with a meal they were sliced fresh, salted and baked in the oven till brown on the outside and fluffy on the inside.


The Better Half has an electric knife, which he adores, and uses at every possible opportunity, even to slice French bread, when our serrated bread knife would, IMO, be much quicker, easier, and quieter. I think it’s a Guy Thing, “More power!” etc.

When I was a little girl, my parents taught me that this gadget was called a gilhoolie. I have one in my kitchen drawer, use it all the time, and am relieved to see that they still sell them.

But not at Wal-Mart. All Wal-Mart sells is the rubber “jar opener”. If you want a gilhoolie, you have to special-order it from an Internet vendor specializing in old-fashioned kitchen gadgets, so to that extent, I believe it qualifies as “obsolete”.

And while browsing around on the Vermont Country Store’s website, I realized that both my grandmother and my mother had double boilers which they used all the time, to do things like heat up food (especially creamy, sticky leftovers like scalloped potatoes) without scorching it. But I use a microwave for that.

I remember aluminum ice trays, with the lever in the middle. Man, what a PITA. “Won’t break or crack like plastic”, uh huh. :rolleyes: When my 25 cent plastic ice cube tray breaks, I just go down to the Dollar Tree and get another set. Beats wrestling with those evil frozen arms. And then the ice cubes shatter after all, leaving you with an ice cube tray half-filled with a jagged block of ice that WON’T COME OUT.

Plastic is much, much better. Don’t care how many landfills it uses up. :smiley:

My Mom uses an electric knife. It does a great job on hams, turkeys, and roasts, and also for cutting the crusts off a stack of party sandwiches.

My grandmother has a meat grinder, a huge, heavy, metal contraption with a vice-like bit that you use to attach it to the edge of the table. You dump meat in the top and turn the big crank on the front, and out comes ground stuff. I love that thing. It’s ancient; it was made in one of those countries that hasn’t existed in ages, like Yugoslavia or something. It’s something I’ve never seen in anyone else’s kitchen.

I use a percolator coffee pot every so often over a campfire. I use a ricer now and then with yams, hardboiled eggs, etc.

I bought a Universal Meat Chopper No. 333 for five bucks at a yard sale last month. I used it last week to grind up the lamb for shepherd’s pie. Dad had a meat grinder he used for making SPAM salad. It was plastic and had a suction base.

Alton Brown (the other perfect master) uses an electric knife for turkey.
I think Johnny andDDG are correct about percolators and aluminum ice trays.
I haven’t seen an aluminum ice tray for sale in years.
I still have a double boiler, and use it for fairly often.
ETA: Yes for camping percolators are still used, but you don’t see them in homes any more.

I wouldn’t call a potato ricer obsolete. I use my potato ricer probably once a week to cook ground beef. I get nice, evenly-sized crumbs in my cast iron skillet.

I see those at the supermarket. But on the rare occasion I have a balky lid, I just use an enormous pair (like a foot and a half long) Craftsman ‘channel lock’-type pliers.

Ditto, we use our ricer a lot! It makes for the smoothest mashed potatos, for one thing.

Anyone else remember the hot dog electrocuter? Back before microwaves, one would put one’s hot dogs in this contraption, with a metal prong on each end, and run a current thru 'em!

I had one of those in college!

BTW, anybody who thinks an electric knife works better than a regular one for carving isn’t using a sharp enough knife, or they haven’t carved enough meat for it to be second-nature to them yet. The electric knife does require less wrist strength, though.

I’ve got a meat grinder, inherited naturally. Best thing if you ever want to make baked hash.

What I don’t have, and sometimes miss, is a Foley Food Mill. Homemade applesauce is YUMMY.

My dad uses his electric skillet all the time. He makes just about everything in it.
When I got married (mid-90s), I was so glad to get one, since I’d always seen it used. While I did actually use it to make hamburger helper at the beginning, we finally realized it was a useless space-taker-upper and ditched it.