It will likely come as no surprise that I have a lot of kitchen gadgets. Some I’ve bought, some have been gifts. Some lay forgotten and covered in dust, some get used all the time. I’ve even given a couple away, when I thought they would be put to better use elsewhere – or, to be honest, when they scare me! And there are some things that I don’t have…yet.
I’ve been contemplating a new addition to the kitchen (a toy, not an actual additional space!), and that contemplation has me thinking about toys and tools, used and forgotten. I’m willing to let you in on what I use and what I don’t, and I’d love to hear what you use in your kitchen. Or what you don’t, won’t or maybe just what you keep meaning to use…some day!
Let’s start off with the given away things. As previously mentioned, I’m afraid of things under pressure, and of vats of boiling oil. I was given a deep fat fryer once. It was used when I got it, but never used when I owned it. I am not overly fond of fried food, and I believe the combination of me, The Girl, heat and a vat ‘o fat is a bad combination. I also gave away – or possibly traded, I don’t remember anymore – a cream whipper. It worked like a charm, but the dread that I had to deal with every time I loaded a new cartridge made it one of the least used gadgets in the house.
There are a couple of things that I may have but can’t remember where I’ve put them. Things that I never liked -which is why I don’t care if they’re gone or just lost. Things like a pancake batter dispenser (difficult to clean) an electric crepe maker (I like the swirling and flipping involved in regular crepe making), a pancake cooking thing with hinges and plastic clamping bits and a fajita maker.
Ok, that last one I know where it’s hidden. It’s this big oval thing with a flat spot at one end to keep the tortillas warm and then a grill to cook peppers and meat strips on. It’s just…it seems like a lot of work. But The Girl bought it as a Christmas present one year, so I’ll keep it. And use it, just not as often as I should for the space it takes up.
We’ve had a few ice-cream makers too. One that we liked – by Donvier – eventually died. Something warped and the parts never really fit together again. We had a soft-serve maker once too. That was a gift. And if “soft-serve” means “completely liquid” then it was great. It went the way of the trash. In the end I couldn’t bring myself to make someone as frustrated as we were with the non-performance of the ice cream maker. There was a third one in there somewhere…can’t remember why we didn’t like it, but it’s gone too. We’re not big ice cream eaters so it isn’t something we’ve pursued.
I have two waffle irons. One that makes your basic rectangular waffles, one (a gift) that makes waffles in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. Yes, the kids would fill his ears with syrup. I questioned the whole idea of such a waffle iron but it was a huge hit with both kids. I think I’ll pass it on to my sister, now that she has babies. Not much call for Mickey Mouse waffles with teenagers!
I have a pizza stone. I’ve had it for years, actually, but only recently has it become something I can’t live without. I’ve always liked it for bread making, despite only being able to bake one loaf at a time. Primarily, though, I love it for what it does for pizza. Having reached a point where home made pizza is sooooo much better than store bought, having a stone that makes for a perfect (to me) crust is not something I’m willing to do without. Should it break, it’ll be replaced tout suite.
I have a slow cooker. I think I’ve never been without one, actually. This latest one, though, is a very specific make and model as recommended by America’s Test Kitchen. I love it, although it is really big. The one I had before broke, which wasn’t the tragedy you might think. It had the worst design ever. It was a gift, so I had nothing to do with the choosing.
The problem was the base was quite small, and then it suddenly widened out ( I tried to find a picture online of it, because narrow at the bottom wide at the top doesn't really explain the terribleness of it all, but it's as though the thing never existed). Fine if you were making a large amount of soup or something, but terrible for things like ribs or a roast or chicken. I may have to buy a second slow cooker in a few years, if both kids are far away. Truly, the one I have is monstrous!
There are lots of other toys and such, and perhaps I’ll do another post on some of the hand tools. In the mean time – for those of you that persevered and read to the end – how many of you have Dutch ovens? And do you use it? Love it? Hate it? I posed this question on Serious Eats, and have decided it’s time to get one, but I’d still like to hear from you guys too.