More use out of useless gadgets

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bartl
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More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/16/13 3:05 PM
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A lot of kitchen gadgets have very limited use, and can be more trouble than they're worth for even that task. I started this thread to talk about those gadgets, for maybe better uses.
 
In another thread, someone suggested using an electric knife for cutting through frozen meatballs. Most people who have electric knives barely use them at all. I must admit that while, for food, they are of limited use (outside of cutting large roasts, I prefer a well-made sharp knife), they work GREAT for cutting through and shaping foam rubber to, for example, replacing fillings in old cushions.
 
But getting to food, I use a mandoline on a virtually weekly basis. It's easier to clean than a food processor, and I eat a LOT of salad (I use it mainly for celery, tomatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, and cucumbers). The problem with it is that the "guard" is, for most purposes, a joke, and the major danger of slicing your fingers with it if you're not using the guard. However, for about $20 extra, you can buy a cut-proof or cut resistant glove; in 3 years of using it, I've hit the blade with my fingers several times, but never got a scratch (note that I am NOT giving sources to avoid endorsing anything; you can easily look it up or ask at your local kitchen supply store).
 
So, what generally underused kitchen gadgets to you use?
 
Bart

Michael Hoffman
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/16/13 3:17 PM
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Well, the most underused gadget in my mother's kitchen was the stove. I use mine a lot.

EliseT
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/16/13 5:18 PM
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I once sliced a nice pepperoni sized circle off of my finger using a mandoline so I will never touch one again.
 
I use a pizza cutter for fresh pasta, cutting bar cookies, and a million other things.
 
I use kitchen scissors to snip up tomatoes or green chiles still in the can and for lots of things that are dangerous to cut with a knife.
 
I use a shot glass for making cookies and biscuits and as a measuring cup
 
I have my mom's old nut grinder, which is fast and fun to use but I rarely see them used by anyone else.
 

CajunKing
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/16/13 7:01 PM
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My blender has been used maybe 5 times
 
My slapchop has never been used
 
My electric coffee grinder has been used more for spices than coffee
 
I try to follow Alton Brown's advice - every gadget needs at least two uses or it doesnt get bought or put in the drawer

FriedClamFanatic
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/16/13 9:34 PM
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I had to Google what a slamchop was.  I use it mostly with nuts..it's why I bought it.  For Mirepoix or stuff like that, I have a small Cuisinart that sees a lot more use than it's big (heavy!!!) brother, especially now that there are only 2 of us. But the super=dooper(should I turn the "d" around?)  Mushroom slicer (and maybe hard boiled eggs?) has not seen the light of day since its first use.
 
However, the 25 cent bamboo tongs have earned their price a thousand times over, keeping my fingertips from getting 2nd degrees when puling "artisan" bread out the toaster without electrocuting myself

ces1948
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Wed, 07/17/13 12:54 AM
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I am disgusted with all my hard ice cream serving implements. I know I used to have better ones, one was like a shovel shape and the other was a small scoop made of weird material that would glide right through the hardest Ice Cream.

bartl
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Wed, 07/17/13 10:14 PM
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EliseT
I once sliced a nice pepperoni sized circle off of my finger using a mandoline so I will never touch one again.

I was lucky; I found out about the cut resistant/proof gloves BEFORE I bought my first mandoline. I will not cut ANYTHING on it without the glove on, even on those rare occasions (usually when cutting an onion) that I use the guard. I can definitely see the "once sliced, twice shy" attitude, though.
 
Bart

bartl
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Wed, 07/17/13 10:16 PM
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CajunKing
My blender has been used maybe 5 times
My slapchop has never been used
My electric coffee grinder has been used more for spices than coffee
I try to follow Alton Brown's advice - every gadget needs at least two uses or it doesnt get bought or put in the drawer

One thing I learned from Alton Brown (although it was obvious in hindsight): If the result is more liquid than solid, use a blender. If it is more solid than liquid, use a food processor. I have a combo unit (well, it was a blender, but the food processor attachment was only $15 more). I mainly use the blender to make hummos, which I make frequently. I must admit that, out of my mixing tools, my stick blender sees by far the most action.
 
Bart

mar52
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Wed, 07/17/13 10:23 PM
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I cut strawberries and mushrooms with my egg slicer.
 
I can slice meatballs with my tomato slicer.

CajunKing
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Thu, 07/18/13 3:50 PM
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I love my stick blender
 
Made banana bread several times over the past few weeks (before the heat got tooooo hot) always used the stick blender and yummy it was

bartl
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Fri, 07/19/13 10:04 AM
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Well, from my point of view, a stick blender is NOT a little-used gadget; it turns other gadgets into little-used ones. :)
 
I've mentioned in other threads that there are a lot of as-seen-on-TV type gadgets which are good ideas, but so poorly made as to be useless. For example that combination whisk/spatula/tongs might have been nice if it could hold more than a single hot dog without bending; forget about making an omelet using it.

I have a rice cooker; I make about 2 pounds of rice, separate them into individual packets (using ziplock sandwich bags), and freeze them to make my own "instant rice". I also buy boneless chicken breasts on sale, steam them, cut them into chunks, and freeze them into single portion packets; good for instant dinners, and the rice cooker ensures that I don't have to take them out the minute they are ready. Don't use it all the time, but use it at least every couple of months.
 
Bart

brisketboy
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Fri, 07/19/13 11:08 AM
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I have a potato ricer that I have never used but still fumble with it every time I'm looking for my vast collections of measuring spoons.

CCinNJ
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Fri, 07/19/13 4:02 PM
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A potato ricer is great for draining/squeezing out moisture and works well as a chilled butter cutter.

bartl
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/21/13 2:25 PM
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I happen to love baba ganoush (roasted eggplant, preferably over a charcoal grill), scooped out and mashed with sesame paste, lemon juice, garlic and whatever seasonings you like, sometimes a little olive oil added for consistency), and found that  a potato ricer was great for that. I've also used it for hummos (the same thing with cooked chick peas instead of eggplant), but my family prefers it through the blender (see above) over the coarser, mashed texture, and the blender is easier.
 
Bart

kevincad
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/21/13 2:36 PM
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brisketboy


I have a potato ricer that I have never used but still fumble with it every time I'm looking for my vast collections of measuring spoons.

I hate "riced" potatoes, it's like eating school paste!

mar52
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/21/13 3:13 PM
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A can opener will open some of those plastic packages that are almost impossible to open by hand.  The type with a card inside and crimped all the way around.

ann peeples
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/21/13 7:25 PM
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Excellent, Mar! Thanks for that tip!

lleechef
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/21/13 10:10 PM
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brisketboy


I have a potato ricer that I have never used but still fumble with it every time I'm looking for my vast collections of measuring spoons.

A ricer is essential for making gnocchi!!!!

Michael Hoffman
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/21/13 10:13 PM
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Oh, Oh! You're going to make your gnocchi?

Michael Hoffman
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/21/13 10:14 PM
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Baked, with that Bolognese sauce?

lpatinga
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Mon, 07/22/13 3:18 AM
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The egg cutter also slices kiwi - works great for the fruit pizza

Root-Beer Man
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Mon, 07/22/13 11:48 AM
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Let's see...we use the potato ricer for making mashed potatoes, (works like a charm), the egg slicer does double duty as a mushroom slicer, too. But, we do have more than a few tools that don't get used very often, if at all. The blender actually does get used more than the food processor. Comes of having one of those old Better Homes and Gardens Blender Cookbooks.

BelleReve
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Mon, 07/22/13 11:57 AM
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18" chopsticks - great for retrieving food from hot pans and fryers, wrap a scouring pad around the tip, a little dish detergent, and it's good for jugging the sides and corners when cleaning narrow-mouthed jars and pitchers.  Also, once in a while, the metal cap of a chandelier bulb breaks off into the socket of my ceiling fan, and the base of the chopstick fits exactly into the cap and I can unscrew it out of the fan.
 
potato masher - good for mashing hard-boiled eggs for egg salad, and potato salad.  

mbrookes
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Mon, 07/22/13 1:32 PM
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I use my pizza wheel for cutting cheese straws or any "shaped" pie crust.

mar52
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Mon, 07/22/13 3:47 PM
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I make my quiche filling in my Vitamix.
 
 

CCinNJ
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Mon, 07/22/13 9:51 PM
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A (quality) pastry blender is good for breaking-down cooked ground beef.

bartl
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/23/13 9:25 PM
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mar52
I make my quiche filling in my Vitamix.

A Vitamix is a pretty expensive thing to have without knowing how your are going to use it in advance; did you get it as a gift?
 
Bart

mar52
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/23/13 9:47 PM
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I had the old all stainless model with the spigot for years.  When they came out with the new one they gave me a huge dollar amount on my trade-in....
 
Then they let me keep the trade-in which I sold.
 
Wish I didn't jump on the first one out.  It has this Gawd-awful metallic, neon blue sticker on the front of it.
 
I've also gone through their experimenting with new lids.  They kept sending me the latest version lid as mine failed often.
 
Great company.  I think I've owned it for about 25 years. 
 
Oh, I used to drink lots of fruit/vegetable drinks.  Not so much anymore but I use it for a lot of things like beating large amounts of eggs at once.
 
 

mar52
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Tue, 07/23/13 9:48 PM
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Is it wrong that I used my spider to clean the cat litter box?
 
I "had" two spiders.

Foodbme
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Wed, 07/24/13 1:13 AM
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ces1948

I am disgusted with all my hard ice cream serving implements. I know I used to have better ones, one was like a shovel shape and the other was a small scoop made of weird material that would glide right through the hardest Ice Cream.

Found the secret to scooping hard Ice Cream------25 seconds in the microwave!!
Softens it up just enough to make scooping doable without getting too soft. Experiment a little plus or minus depending on the power rating of your microwave.

mar52
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Wed, 07/24/13 1:55 AM
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I do 15 seconds in my microwave.  That softens the exterior and enough that I get what I need.
 
Which is a lot.
 
More than 15 seconds in my microwave melts too much of the ice cream.

Charlotte1988
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Thu, 07/25/13 10:06 AM
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My flatmate's got an egg cutter, which he uses quite often, but the other day my boyfriend and I fancied grated cheese. We don't have a grater and so put a slice of cheese in the egg cutter and it kind of worked :)

BelleReve
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/28/13 12:05 PM
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Rasp style, fine-holed Microplane - I wouldn't consider this a useless gadget at all, but I originally bought it just for grating cheese, but get so much use out it for other things like - garlic, ginger, nutmeg, zesting limes/lemons.  It fits nicely in the kitchen drawer, and is a snap to clean.
 
 

Michael Hoffman
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/28/13 12:40 PM
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ces1948


I am disgusted with all my hard ice cream serving implements. I know I used to have better ones, one was like a shovel shape and the other was a small scoop made of weird material that would glide right through the hardest Ice Cream.

I just take a scoop, or whatever I'm going to use, and hold it under hot water for about ten seconds. It glides right through the ice cream.


CajunKing
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/28/13 1:24 PM
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Michael Hoffman


ces1948


I am disgusted with all my hard ice cream serving implements. I know I used to have better ones, one was like a shovel shape and the other was a small scoop made of weird material that would glide right through the hardest Ice Cream.

I just take a scoop, or whatever I'm going to use, and hold it under hot water for about ten seconds. It glides right through the ice cream.

 
I do that or if I am dipping for a crowd, I have a cup of hot water and just dip the scoop back in when it gets too cool.

Michael Hoffman
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Re:More use out of useless gadgets - Sun, 07/28/13 1:35 PM
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As I recall, soda fountains (c'mon folks, you really remember soda fountains) kept their ice cream scoops in warm water.