Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that for the longest time I would be FIRST in line to purchase the latest, cutest and what I thought to be the “must have” kitchen gadget. For example, I was in the home goods section of a major department store recently and saw a salt & pepper grinder set that was made to look like the face of a bunny with the grinders as ears. The set also had eyes on it for cuteness and to catch the buyer’s eye, I’m sure, as it did for me.
I really gave it thought since they were just such a cute gadget to have, but then it dawned on me, “Wait, I already have a perfectly good S&P set at home; no need for another”. So although that allure was tempting, I truly had to FORCE myself to walk away from the gadget wall before filling up my kitchen drawers with more things that my get one use, if that. I also knew that if I did come home yet another “cutesy” thing for the kitchen, I would NEVER hear the end of it from my partner!!
However, I’ve not always had the kind of willpower. Some gadgets for me have included apple, tomato and jalapeno pepper corers; “As Seen On TV” Veggie Slicers; egg separators (to get the yolk separated from the white of an egg when I could have just used my hand and fingers for the separation); a super-sharp veggie peeler with an attachment that can double as a mini-mandolin; a non-stick frying pan that can fry only one egg at a time and the list goes on.
I will admit some gadgets can be useful and perform “double-duty” in the kitchen which is always a help and cuts down on buying yet another gadget. For example, an egg slicer (the kind with metal wires that you push down for even slices on a hard-boiled egg) is great for slicing mushrooms evenly as well strawberries. And I have to give this nod to Rachael Ray for a great tip – see if you have any leftover plastic tops from quart sized containers (like you may get from your favorite delis & take-out restaurants). If so, keep two or more of them and use them for when you are slicing large amounts of cherry tomatoes perhaps for a salad or for a fresh sauce.
Depending on the size of those cherry tomatoes, I can fit between six to eight of them between the two plastic container tops. Keeping one had flat on top of the first plastic container top, take a serrated knife (which is always best when slicing tomatoes), slowly slice through the middles of the tomatoes (the bottom plastic container top will also help steady the tomatoes for slicing and catch any juices thus reducing clean up time) and you will have made quick work of what could have been a laborious & tedious task.
Look around in your draw of gadgets and see what you can find as truly useful in more ways than one. You may be surprised! And what you may no longer need or have not used since you purchased (I would say, if you’ve not used the items in at least six months – toss’em!) they can always be donated, I’m sure…or they make great additions to that future yard sale that we all are planning at some point, right?
Once one learns about more about proper cutting techniques, one will learn that having a quality set of knives will prove far more useful than a draw overflowing with nifty gadgets. As I’m learning from my on-line cooking culinary school – http://www.testkitchenschool.com/?Extcode=N2JCBLOG0 – having a chef’s knife; a paring knife; a serrated knife and a carving knife will prove far more cost-effective because they will last longer with proper care and regular sharpening. Also, once one gains more comfort after practicing chopping a bag of onions (Ya just gotta work through the tears when you practice that and work as quickly as you feel comfortable without cutting yourself!); mincing a clove of garlic and other items, one may also feel some satisfaction upon realizing that learning proper cutting techniques with a minimal amount of the best tools on their own is a basic skill any home cook/chef should try to master.
I’ll make further comments on cooking tools (pots/pans; knives; measuring cups, etc.) as I continue on with my lessons and share my experiences and insights with you. Meanwhile, I always invite questions, debate and suggestions to my blog at any time.