Archive | April, 2009

Chew on This: What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?/ What’s your least favourite kitchen gadget?

26 Apr


Opinion # 1 By Chris Garbutt

I don’t know whether what I have would be considered gadgets. A pasta machine? Gadget to some, but hey, I actually make fresh pasta, so to me it’s a tool. Ice cream maker? Again, I  make ice cream with it.

Tool. Blender? Mandoline? Microplane grater? Potato scrubber? Meat thermometer? I use them! Calling them gadgets just diminishes these tools to fetish objects.

Now, there are some tools that make no sense to me. An egg separator (especially this one) seems unnecessary. There’s a garlic press in my drawer, but I find it easier just to chop garlic with a knife, and I don’t see why the pieces have to be so small. And a countertop steamer seems crazy when you can just use a pot on the stove.

And then there are the truly bizarre. How about pizza scissors? Or finger food utensils?  Or a banana slicer!

I’m a simple guy. I don’t need a whole lot of fancy tools – though I like them, and I do dream of a nice gas stove. What I do need are a few simple things to get my job done. Number one: a good sharp chef’s knife. The knife itself is my favourite tool, but the sharpness is a little more difficult. So my favourite kitchen tool, if I had one, would be my very own knife sharpener. I’m not talking about a honing steel here, but an actual sharpener, so I don’t have to bring my favourite knife into the kitchen store every few months.

But I can’t finish without mentioning the kitchen tool closest to my heart: the wooden spoon. I have nothing more to say about the humble wooden spoon except that it makes me very happy every time I grab one to stir the onions as they saute in my pan.

Opinion # 2 By Stephanie Dickison

I think at one point in my career as a food-obsessive, I had a single purpose gadget for everything.  Though I never succumbed to the dreaded pasta maker and I’ve never had the storage or counter space to own a food processer, I have had at various times:

– a melon baller

– an avocado slicer

– a strawberry huller

– a papaya seeder

Most of these were thoughtful gifts from friends and family and not all of them ended up at the back of the cupboard.

And while there are a ton of gadgets I would love to have (—–), there are 2 that have remained, for well over a decade now, indispensible for me.

The Mini Chopper

My Mom bought this for me one Christmas or birthday from a list that she’d asked me to provide.  At one point, it did seem like I had every kitchen appliance and ingredient, so it’s no wonder she couldn’t keep track.

She bought this little wonder at Wal-Mart, I think for either 9.99 or 14.99 and honestly, it is fantastic.

It is like a mini food processor, which is perfect for me as I still don’t have the counter or cupboard space for the real deal.  And for such a little thing, it whops a punch.  I make everything from homemade breadcrumbs for making chicken parmigiana for my fella; blending together avocado, lime, cilantro and whatever else I have on hand for amazingly smooth guacamole; and mixing eggs, green onions, herbs de provence and various cheese for a silky, sexy quiche.

Really, I could be using it for pretty much every meal that I make, but I like to use it only occasionally so that I don’t take it for granted.

I like it that much.

Hand Blender

A guy I used to work with and who I swore was gay but was not as he was always trying to kiss me gave me a Braun hand blender in 1991.

This guy knew that I loved to cook and back then, I was just starting to do catering on my own and I guess this was his way of supporting me, while hanging around in case I needed someone to make out with. Weird.

I still have it and use it to make luxurious, yet ridiculously easy homemade soups.  The white body has turning to a masking tape beige and there is a small crack in the base, but otherwise it is still trucking along.

The best thing about it is that no matter what the ingredients (or often in my case, the leftovers) are, blended with some water, spices and a whole lotta love, it creates an incredibly comforting soup.

I know you can do way more with it than that, but for me, it’s been helping me create some really memorable soups since 1991.

I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I don’t know what happened to that guy other than he married and had kids.  Wherever he is, I can’t imagine that he would believe what an everlasting gift it’s been.