Got Gadgets?

drawer 3

drawer 2

drawer 1

As a cookbook enthusiast (note that I didn’t say ‘addict’, which is probably a better adjective), I just keep collecting. I should have become interested in another hobby, say, for example, stamps. It takes a whole heck of a lot less room to store 3,448 stamps than it does 3,448 cookbooks.

Naturally, the collector side of my personality has also seen fit to collect kitchen gadgets, ostensibly to use in preparation of the many exotic recipes I have never attempted. Some of them get used, some, not so much. Some I’ve never used, but they are so neat that I keep telling myself that one of these days I must drag them out and put them to the test.

So, pardon the question, readers, but what’s in your drawers?

Along with a book I once received about garnishes, came a full set of garnishing tools. Fortunately, the book explained their use, or to this day, I might still be wondering what the heck you were supposed to do with this tool (the twin curl cutter).

Twin Curl Cutter

Twin Curl Cutter

Then there is the extremely sharp “spiral slicer”, to “transform your vegetables into decorative coiled-up spiral ribbons”. There is a definite knack to using this tool. Firstly, to avoid spilling blood with the sharp blade, secondly, to turn vegetables into thin ribbons and not thick slabs the size of French fries. To the best of my recollection, this particular gadget was last used for dinner party guests in 1978. Truthfully, I’m afraid of it.

Spiral Slicer (very sharp!)

Spiral Slicer (very sharp!)

The “Food Decorator Tool” (designed and invented in America yet, not China!) is to be used to save time, make small garnishes like radish roses and orange cartwheels (I have never seen an orange doing cartwheels), and make your food look professional. I still haven’t figured out how to use it and as a result, my food looks amateurish.

The Food Decorator Tool

The Food Decorator Tool

Back in the 1980’s, I received some kitchen gadgets, which I still have, although for the life of me, I’m not sure why….call it nostalgia. The lovely cheese plane, with stainless steel and wood, is attractive, for sure. Unfortunately, every time I dragged it across the top of a block of cheese, it got gobbed up with gummy bits, which ruined the cheese and irritated the cook. No one said to use only with hard cheeses and I can tell you it’s the pits on cream cheese.

Cheese Planer

Cheese Planer

I also have held onto what I call the “pie pusher”, supposedly a cool gadget to assist in removing a perfect slice of pie (the first one is always the toughest). The idea is novel, however, in practice, the design is dumb. The little stainless steel pusher is only about an inch wide and in trying to remove a slice, it simply pushes a one-inch trough through the center of the slice, leaving the sides to fall away. Good idea, bad design.

The "pie pusher"

The “pie pusher”

Is anyone reading this of an age before the Sunbeam Mixmaster? Well, I was and I can remember helping my mother in the kitchen, pressed with the task of whipping some heavy cream with the muscle building, wrist aching, time consuming, hand beater. I still have two: one was my mom’s and the other belonged to my husband’s mom. Great collectibles, but haven’t been used since I joined the modernists in 1972 and received a Sunbeam Mixmaster, which unbelievably I still use (when I have such an occasion to beat something). Talk about takin’ a licken and keeps on ticken’, they don’t make’em like that anymore! Unfortunately, it’s only plain white, not the endearing harvest gold or avocado shade, which were so popular then.

Hand Beaters

Hand Beaters

Let’s talk about vegetable peelers, specifically for potatoes or carrots, or of similar density. I have several. The ergonomically cushioned handgrip peeler, which works just fine, and the small, fit on your finger peeler, which doesn’t. It’s clumsy, awkward and doesn’t seem to fit well on any of my fingers, except the pinkie and I’m no good at using that to peel potatoes! Once again, good idea, bad design. But still sitting in the back of the drawer (I am SO proud of my gadgets).

Finger Peeler

Finger Peeler

This nifty peeler I found at a local restaurant supply shop and knew I just couldn’t live without it. A peeler and receptacle for peels all in one….no kitchen counter mess and when you’re done, just remove the plastic receptacle, empty the peels and rinse. Voila! However, only works on a perfectly pristine potato, absolutely ovoid, no pits or eyes or lumpy knobs or strange shapes. If you buy bagged potatoes, you just know that the really mutant shaped ones will be buried somewhere in there, so forget using this gadget. Better on carrots.

Peeler with Container

Peeler with Container

Not too long ago, I was the recipient of the “Herb Mincer”. Its nine rolling blades look lethal to any self-respecting herb unfortunate enough to encounter it. I first tried it on a bunch of parsley (which I had carefully removed from the stems). One roll across the cutting board and I had a pulpy green mess, which still stains the board to this day. I had assumed the rolling blades were very sharp, in order to mince and not mush, however, this was an assumption. The blades are really just metal discs with no sharpness at all and you could put it to better use as a back scratcher. So, why do I keep it? Just can’t ditch the kitchen gadgets! Anyhow, one day I might start a museum of “It Seemed like a Good Idea at the Time Kitchen Gadgets”.

Herb Mincer

Herb Mincer

I recently bought what I could only call a guillotine cheese slicer. The cheese sits directly underneath a sinister looking blade, which when fairly heavy pressure is exerted, can make a nice slice of cheese, thick, thicker and thickest. Nice if you want a really thick slab of cheese, otherwise useless for anything thinner. Use the cheese plane instead, but don’t try it on cream cheese!

The "guillotine" Cheese Slicer

The “guillotine” Cheese Slicer

I also have a couple of wavy cut blades, to fancy up your French fries, carrots, etc. except that I can’t be bothered, so my poor husband has to make do with your ho-hum cuts of potatoes. Boring.

Wavy Cutting Blades

Wavy Cutting Blades

This nifty strainer is designed to be inserted into a standard sized can of tuna, flipped upside down and drained of oil or water, or whatever liquid the tuna is swimming in. Works like a charm, except I don’t do canned tuna and my husband rarely does. So, why is it in my kitchen gadget drawer? Beats me. Might also be useful in keeping hair out of the bathtub drain, but once you do, please don’t use it to drain tuna again.

Tuna Can Strainer

Tuna Can Strainer

So, readers, I ask again. What’s in your drawers?

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About vintagecookbookery

Cookbook lover and collector with a burgeoning collection of cookbooks. Reading and researching food trends, history of cooking techniques and technological advances in cooking, what we eat and why and cookbooks as reflectors of cultures is a fascination for me. As of November 7th, 2013, I hold the current Guinness World Record title for the largest collection of cookbooks: 2,970 at the official count on July 14th, 2013 (applaud now, thank you very much!) The current (unofficial) number is now 6,202. What next? More shelves!
This entry was posted in Cookbooks, Cooking, Cooking and Social History, Cooking Technology, Eating, Food Fads, Vintage Cookbooks and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Got Gadgets?

  1. What’s in my drawers is almost identical to what’s in your drawers. The main difference is I DO know how to use the cucumber spiral maker but can’t be asked.

  2. Pingback: Kitchen Gadgets 9/21/2013-Winner | Dishing it out with Clarissa

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