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Kitchen Gadgets to Love or Laugh At

They’re everywhere. Catalogs, commercials, pop-up ads, blogs, emails and TV shows are regularly telling me that I need some kitchen gadget to make my life easier.  Certainly there are some necessary items for any kitchen, and since each cook has an individual cooking style, the collection of gadgets will vary from kitchen to kitchen. 

A gadget is designed to make a task easier.  I can separate an egg with my hands, so an egg separator is an unnecessary gadget for me.  I can’t peel potatoes with my bare hands, so a vegetable peeler is not a gadget, but a necessity.  I can hull strawberries by hand, so I don’t need a strawberry huller.  And where would it live, anyway?  It would never be in the drawer where it belongs, so I would have the strawberries cleaned in the amount of time it takes to find the darned thing.  I keep seeing a pineapple corer/slicer on one of my favorite cooking shows and we joke that we really need that.  For the number of pineapples I core and slice each year, it seems pretty unnecessary.  Again, where would it live?  Our kitchen is the perfect size for us, but there isn’t unlimited space for every gadget imaginable!

So what’s in my gadget drawer?  There are a few very important tools I use a lot.  I use my two-handled citrus squeezer all the time.  Lemon seeds in my food are a pet peeve and this handy item takes care of that.  And using the leverage from the handles makes super quick work of a bunch of lemons or limes.  I stopped buying prepared salad dressing a couple years ago, so I add a squeeze of lemon to some yummy oil for the freshest tasting dressing you can imagine.  And for squeezing lime juice into guacamole this tool is key.

I’ve had a garlic press for years, and I must admit that when it was first given to me, my first thought was ‘What do I need THAT for?’ I’m perfectly capable of peeling and chopping garlic. But WHOA!  I think that gadget gets used almost every day.  It’s so fast and easy to get 3-4 cloves of garlic into a skillet in no time flat.

One of the greatest kitchen tools I have is an immersion blender.  These are wildly popular now, for sale in every kitchen catalog and seen being used on the Food Network, America’s Test Kitchen, and Chopped.  Mine is ancient, and stained slightly yellow from dozens of batches of curried butternut squash soup.  Before the immersion blender, I had to ladle the chunky soup into the food processor and risk getting burned in the process. In this case, the tool makes the job easier by saving steps, and not having to pull out, use, then clean the food processor.  I use it for black bean soup, winter soup, and smoothies, too. 

There’s an apple slicer in the drawer that I don’t use that often but it makes quick work of coring and slicing apples for pie.  It doesn’t peel them though, so there’s no time savings there.  It’s kind of big and I curse it when I’m trying to get things to fit, but when it comes time to make a pie, I’m glad I have this sturdy little tool.

To eschew HFC’s back in the 90’s, I started using an olive oil sprayer instead of commercial non-stick spray.  It promptly clogged. And leaked. And so it was back to drizzling a little oil in the pan and swirling it around.  I tried two or three of them before I gave up.

I took a look at ‘kitchen gadgets’ on-line and had a good laugh. I found a hard-boiled egg slicer.  Hmmm, mine’s called ‘a knife.’  Now if someone could come up with a fool-proof method of peeling hard boiled eggs, I’d be right there!  I also found several egg crackers. Why in the world does anyone need one of those? There was also a jalapeno corer. That’s something I might use once (to make stuffed jalapenos) but unless you are coring a lot of jalapeno peppers, I hardly think that purchasing and keeping track of one is necessary!  But the gadget that made me laugh the most was a banana slicer.  Really?  Unless you’re slicing a whole lot of bananas every day, I can’t imagine needing this bit of plastic.

Besides the gadgets, there are a few tools in the drawer that I’m not prepared to live without.  A good set of knives,  a knife sharpener, two sets of measuring spoons, an instant-read meat thermometer, an oyster knife, kitchen snips for cutting herbs,  a bottle opener and a couple good corkscrews are all drawer dwellers that make my cooking and entertaining go more smoothly.

What’s in Your kitchen drawers?