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What odd or especially useful kitchen gadget do you love?   Go to last post Go to last unread
#1 Posted : Friday, August 29, 2014 12:13:09 PM(UTC)

As I was quickly cleaning and packing some blueberries for the freezer this morning before work I realized I would not have attempted to do it without my handy measuring colander from Chef's Planet that I picked up at a discount store several years ago.  It looks like a 3-cup plastic measuring cup with holes on the sides and allows me to measure, clean and drain berries in one step.  I really love it for raspberries and other tender berries.

My other indispensable tool is the pair of onion goggles my children bought me for Christmas many years ago.  I cannot chop onions without profuse tears flowing and as a result have cut myself numerous times.  I remember an article years ago in Cooks Illustrated talking about all the methods they tried to prevent or reduce tears from chopping onions.  I think I tried them all - the burning candle next to the cutting board, trying to chop or cut under water (what a mess!) and whatever else they suggested as useful.  But I still remember their comment about the best technique was to wear swim goggles and how the only drawback is that they make you look like a kitchen terrorist!  Well, a few years later someone else must have read the same article and came out with the onion goggles.  They look like a combination of sunglasses and swimgoggles and they absolutely make you look like a kitchen terrorist or a googly-eyed alien but boy do they work!  Luckily I can still see well enough without my regular glasses to cut onions wearing them with no problem.  I cannot imagine doing onions or shallots without wearing them anymore and have purchased many pairs as gifts for friends and relatives.

I took a photo of these two gadgets this morning but cannot get it to post here so you will have use your imagination as to what these things look like.  What odd little gadgets have other EYB cooks found that the rest of us need to check out?

#2 Posted : Friday, August 29, 2014 2:06:20 PM(UTC)

As a throw-in to a larger utensil order last summer, I bought a very small narrow-bladed silicone spatula. I thought it would be a handy item for getting the remains out of jars, etc., but was surprised and a bit disappointed at how short it was: less than six inches long (I hadn't looked closely enough at the description). 

But it turns out to be the perfect tool for a job that I do fairly often, especially at this time of year: scraping down the mortar and pestle when mashing garlic and salt to a paste, or making any spice or aromatic paste.  I'd been very reluctant to involve any of my existing spatulas in this work out of concern for lingering garlickiness or other aromas, and they were mostly too big to be handy in any case.  But here's a utensil that can be dedicated to the job, lets me get the most out of any pounding and mashing session, and makes it easier and more pleasant to use the heavy granite mortar & pestle.

It's also just the right size to extract spicy goop like ginger-chile puree out of the immersion blender blades.

Surprisingly, it hasn't held on to any of the strong aromas it's been exposed to; the silicone has a very slick finish, and a quick rub with baking soda paste and rinse leaves it pristine.  Now I wonder how I managed without the tiny spatula for so long (A: with a lot of messy and inevitably wasteful finger-wiping).

#3 Posted : Friday, August 29, 2014 2:33:13 PM(UTC)

Hillsboroks, we need a picture of you *wearing the goggles* <g>...

#4 Posted : Friday, August 29, 2014 2:46:12 PM(UTC)

My kids took a "blackmail" picture of me in the onion goggles that Christmas but I have managed to "lose" it.  I took a photo of the goggles on my dining room table this morning and tried to post it but my old trick of putting it on my Facebook page and then copying the URL isn't working today.  My goggles are lime green and black but you can get them in tortoise shell, black with red, hot pink and other colors so they are kind of wild looking but I love them.

I too bought a couple of the tiny silicone spatulas at a cooking store in Canada a couple of years ago while on vacation and also wonder how I managed without them.  Mine came in a set of two, with one being a little concave like a spoon and the other longer and thinner like yours.  They are the first thing I grab when I'm working with a smaller bowl or trying to clean something out.

#5 Posted : Friday, August 29, 2014 3:56:00 PM(UTC)

I love the idea of the kitchen terrorist!

I haven't got any super specialised gadgets, but I would not be without my jar-opener! And I don't mean my husband.

#6 Posted : Friday, August 29, 2014 5:38:45 PM(UTC)

It's not particularly odd, but I absolutely love my pastry blender -- I've even been known to pack it when going on vacation! To be fair, most of our family vacations are house-rental situations where we do a fair amount of cooking during the week, and it comes in very handy when I make scones for the group. I could make do without it, but it's small enough to be worth taking when I remember.

#7 Posted : Friday, August 29, 2014 7:48:30 PM(UTC)

Not really a kitchen gadget, but contact lenses worked real well for me for chopping onions.

#8 Posted : Saturday, August 30, 2014 7:35:12 PM(UTC)

I have some odd gadgets I cannot live without.  They are mostly using in Japanese cooking, but I also use some of them for regular cooking as well. 

#9 Posted : Saturday, August 30, 2014 7:45:07 PM(UTC)

Care to guess what this is for?  

#10 Posted : Saturday, August 30, 2014 9:38:52 PM(UTC)
Ooh Rinshin you get the prize for the strangest kitchen tool so far! My husband and I have been trying to figure out what this is for. So far we have guessed something to do with pressing water out of tofu or a tool to make noodles.
#11 Posted : Sunday, August 31, 2014 5:00:36 PM(UTC)

Very close.  It's to make tokoroten "noodle" which is made from agar agar.  Agar agar does not require refrigeration to set unlike jello.  But this is served chilled and in summer with either vinegar sauce or ponzu sauce with nori and smidgen of hot Japanese style mustard.  You can use to this make other types of "noodles" using jello or agar agar. 

#14 Posted : Monday, September 1, 2014 12:49:48 PM(UTC)

That finished dish looks very refreshing!

Rinishin, what's the Japanese name for the noodle-maker?

#15 Posted : Tuesday, September 2, 2014 5:46:44 PM(UTC)

Originally Posted by: ellabee Go to Quoted Post

That finished dish looks very refreshing!

Rinishin, what's the Japanese name for the noodle-maker?

It's called tokoroten maker.  Tokoroten is traditionally a summer food.  The wooden tokoroten maker is used to force the jello like formed agar agar called tokoroten through to make the noodles.  It is normally served with either rice vinegar or citrus juice like yuzu, mirin and small amount of water or ponzu sauce.  It can be used as salads as well.  You can add any type of taste to the agar agar itself too. 

#16 Posted : Wednesday, June 15, 2016 6:16:38 PM(UTC)
Where would I be without my cherry pitter? I suppose it could pit olives too, but I've never tried. From the days when I prepared masses of summer fruit salad for our neighborhood July 4th party, to my early forays into jam making and now roasting fruit from the Farmer's Market, I would be lost without it. I especially like pitted and halved cherries roasted without sugar until the juices are thick, spread over yogurt.
#17 Posted : Saturday, June 18, 2016 8:44:09 AM(UTC)
@hillsboroks, I know this post is a year old but thought I would chime in regarding tears when chopping onions. My eyes used to tear up something fierce when chopping even the smallest shallot, much less 3-4 onions for a larger dish. I had tried everything, including goggles, which worked but is kind of a pain. Anyhoooo a few years ago I found the BEST remedy - works every time (for me). I bought one of those small desk-sized fans and place it where it blows across my cutting board when chopping onions. Works like a charm - has never not worked for me. Now, anytime I chop even a single small onion, I do not do it without that fan! I did find though that the little fans are a seasonal item, generally available at Target and the like only during summer months. Maybe worth a shot for you!
#19 Posted : Monday, June 20, 2016 5:05:30 PM(UTC)

pgarcia I love the idea of the little fan by the cutting board, especially in the summer!  Like you I cannot even mince a shallot without the tears streaming down my cheeks if I don't use my onion goggles.  I have gotten so used to my onion goggles that it is just second nature now to grab them out of the drawer whenever I pull out the cutting board and an onion.  I may have to try a small fan just for the heck of it and I will definitely remember this when I am away from home and don't have my onion goggles available. 

#20 Posted : Monday, June 20, 2016 8:06:52 PM(UTC)
Like I said, it has truly never not worked for me. Let me know if you try it!
#21 Posted : Tuesday, June 21, 2016 1:10:04 AM(UTC)

pgarcia, What a great idea! I happen to have two desk fans sitting on the counter that just arrived in an Amazon order. I bought them for additional breeze power on my seedling propagation rack. Now I guess I will have to buy another one for the seedlings since I will be diverting one of those to the kitchen. :)

#22 Posted : Friday, June 24, 2016 1:35:58 PM(UTC)
@anightowl, let me know how the fan works for you!
#23 Posted : Saturday, June 25, 2016 4:44:50 PM(UTC)
I have a table-knife-sized round-ended blunt blade with a slight curve at the end, which performs its one job so well... with one deft motion, it separates half an avocado from its skin.
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