Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kitchen Gadgets No One Needs

The other day, Yahoo published an article titled "Kitchen gadgets no one needs."

I am here to tell you: I agree with the majority of the article.

The Margaritaville machine
You know what else works?  A blender.  Heck, some refrigerators with built-in ice makers will have their own crushed ice setting.  The thing is, I know I'll probably buy one of these eventually.  For those of you who remember the South Park episode that shamelessly made fun of this machine: yeah, I know...  You have my full permission to mock me if/when I ever buy one.  I can't justify the expense for now, and I've managed to get this far in life without one.  I don't have the space for it in my kitchen either!  Sure, it chills and mixes things to a perfect proportion.  It is still a ridiculously expensive item, especially if you don't entertain often.

Microwave omelet maker
I guess they marketed this item towards college kids and moms in the 1980s who were amazed  they could just microwave breakfast.  As truly innovative as microwaves were in the 80s, you should not use them to make eggs .. ever.  The result is just plain nasty!  The only exception to this rule is sheer desperation (like I said, college kids!).  Let's face it, folks - college kids aren't really known for their discerning food palettes, and that is perfectly okay.  They might be able to tell you how to cook ramen noodles in some of the most inventive ways using a computer tower case and an iron ala MacGyver style, but do not trust them if they recommend this item to you!

Banana slicer
You know what else slices a banana?  A butter knife!  Even a spoon will do the job, you twit!  It's dull, and I promise it won't hurt more!  For years now, mothers everywhere have mastered the art of adding sliced bananas to their children's cereal.  Heck, if you want to show some "super powers", take a needle and poke a hole along the seam of a banana peel.  Turn the needle to the left and right to cut the banana slices without poking through the banana peel; repeat.  Then peel the banana, and voila!  You will amaze some gullible kids with your awesome pre-sliced bananas!

Quesadilla maker
I'll admit it: I have one.  No, I didn't buy it, I swear!  My dude bought it for $3 during a clearance.  If you ask me, that should have been hint #1 as to why this item shouldn't been purchased.  You know what else makes a great quesadilla?  A pan and a knife.  I haven't used this thing *ever*.  I'm still not sure why we've moved this thing around to so many different houses over the last few years.

Pressure cooker
I had a friend who loved his pressure cooker.  He learned a little trick from watching Iron Chef.  He would bring it to cookouts and boil bratwursts in them before putting them on the grill for a little char.  It prevented them from bursting like they tend to do when they are cooked entirely on the grill.  If you cook with tough cuts of meat, sure it might help break them down easier.  You should probably practice on tenderizing your meats the old fashioned way - with time - first.

Garlic peeler
The article was spot on with this one.  Take your chef's knife, lay it flat on top of the garlic clove (sharp side pointing away from you), and just smash the side of your knife onto the clove.  Voila!  The skins will be broken up and easier to peel away.  Here is another tip for dealing with garlic: either use latex, powder-free gloves, or rub a teaspoon of lemon, lime, or orange juice on your hands to get that garlic smell off of your hands.  I keep a little squirt bottle of the lemon or lime juice in my fridge, and it comes in handy for dealing with stinky foods like garlic.  If you go with the citric juice method, just be careful if you have any minor nicks or cuts on your hands.  Of course if you are unsure if you have any nicks or cuts on your hands, you will figure it out very soon!  :)

A wok
I tried buying a wok at the grocery store.  After one use, it turned black from the creosote, and it rusted.  I returned it to the store and decided to try to find a better one.  I searched all over, and they all seemed to be made from a very thin metal, and they seemed to be designed for a bunsen burner.  Ultimately, I bought a non-stick Breville electric wok.  I know most Asian cuisine chefs would shake their head in disgust at the idea of an electric wok, but I love this thing!  Wok cooking is supposed to be done in phases.  You're supposed to move things and stick them along the upper sides of the wok once you're done prepping them.  This gets them away from the heat source while still keeping them warm.  You reintroduce them to the rest of the dish once you're ready.  With the varying temperature dial, it will take some experimentation before you grow accustomed to it.  The Breville wok will take up quite a bit of real estate in your cabinets, so I only recommend it if you have a lot of cabinet space. 

Hot dog cooker
Come on, now!  This thing is about as hokey as it gets.  The article was spot on with this one too.  Toaster ovens are awesome!  Personally, I love my Breville Smart Oven.  I don't even own a toaster; I just use my toaster oven instead.  They sell a compact version of the Breville Smart Oven.  If you can, you should use a toaster oven instead of the large oven.  It will save a lot of energy, and it won't heat up your house in the already-hot summer months.  If you're not too limited on counter space, I recommend going with a bigger toaster oven in order to cook bigger things (like chickens as the article recommended) in them.  Which brings me to the next and final item...

Pizza baker
Once again, I agree with the article!  Toaster ovens and ovens will do a much better job, and they are much more versatile!  The Breville Smart Oven comes with its own round pizza pan, and they sell a pizza stone that will fit in the oven.  You will need to preheat the pizza stone before using it to cook a pizza.  I personally don't own or use Breville's pizza stone since I prefer to bake deep dish pizzas.  I do have a pizza stone, though it doesn't fit in my Smart Oven.  I have used it for frozen pizzas in the past.  Now I use my Smart Oven if I'm heating up a frozen pizza.  Incidentally, we are going to sell our old toaster oven in our garage sale next weekend.  If any of my Seattle-area friends are interested in it, let me know!  It still works great too.  We just needed a bigger one.  It especially comes in very handy when we are making big turkey feasts with multiple side dishes.

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