Saturday, January 3, 2009

making coffee fun again

Like anyone who enjoys cooking, I love kitchen gadgets. I've tried not to buy unnecessary gadgets - things like egg separators, mango pitters, corn zippers, and powdered sugar spoons - because I've been cooking long enough to know that all you really need is a good set of knives and a few other tools to do most anything in the kitchen. Simplicity is usually best and helps you avoid drawers full of clutter.

Space is at a premium in my kitchen and ideally I'd love everything to be put away, leaving the counters bare and available as workspace. Anyone who has seen my kitchen will tell you that I never quite achieve this goal. I do give it my best shot, though, limiting my gadget indulgences to items that will actually be used when I cook, like this garlic peeler. I try to use the real stuff as much as possible and know what a pain it is to peel. And despite the fact that my husband thinks garlic is one of the most alluring fragrances ever, I would prefer not to smell like it for days.*

Now, I can't honestly say that I don't want a lot of silly gadgets. I go into housewares departments and ooh over things like vegetable peelers shaped like monkeys and spatulas that look like little people with suction cup feet. (I have a deeply embedded sense of whimsy, okay?) I even have a small butane torch because I really like crème brûlée but mostly because, hey, it's a torch! With a little blue flame! Whoo!

Anyway, I'll fondle a gadget in the store, imagining the wonders of its uses and how it will revolutionize my culinary skills, and then put it back on the shelf saying, "Oh no. I couldn't - I don't really need that." I pine for a while and then forget about it - until it shows up in my Christmas stocking like this fun little item...


It's a milk frother! It makes mounds of froth out of fat free milk to pretty up your coffee or put on fresh berries and I've been using it everyday since I got it. It literally takes seconds to use** - add a pinch of sugar before frothing to sweeten things up, top with a dash of cinnamon or cocoa, and I guarantee even the most mundane morning will seem a little bit more special.

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*Girls, on those special romantic evenings where you find you don't have any Love Potion #9 (also known as Hoppe's) handy, eau de stinking rose might serve as a good substitute to dab behind your ears...or at least that's what I'm told. (Seriously, though, if you do manage to get garlic fingered, just wet your hands and rub them on something made of stainless steel. Works like a charm. Heck, it might even be a charm, who knows?)

** Word to the wise, do not say to yourself, "Hmmm...I wonder how fast this thing goes?" and stick your finger on the little spinny bit at the end. As much as I love it, the frother has been relegated to the "things that have the potential to make Breda say owie" drawer, next to the santoku knives and microplane grater. Mindfulness is important, even in the kitchen.

19 comments:

Turk Turon said...

My favorite unnecessary kitchen gadget is the automatic burger-flipper. Let's say you have a broken wrist, and it's in a cast, and yet you have a contemporaneous need to flip burgers on a grill; how are you gonna do it? Using Turkco's amazing new auto-flipper! Just pick up the burger with the spatula end of the flipper, squeeze the spring-loaded handle, and the spatula executes a quick 180-degree flip for you! You can even do tricks! Half-gainers! Somersaults!
Actually it makes a mess, but the idea that somebody would go to all of that trouble and actually make such a worthless piece of kitchen kit is fascinating.

falnfenix said...

...i need SpatulaMan. NEED.

we've gained a few too many kitchen gadgets, mostly because we incorporated my full kitchen into his. one must-have item that's always out, however?

my LEGO egg timer. people ooh and aah over his cuteness, and he works well when there's way too many things going at once.


and, well, he's cute. :)

Breda said...

Turk - I'm not sure if you're kidding, but I would like photographic proof. Or a video ;)

fenix - Oh yeah. I love that timer. Also, there is a Measuring Cup Man and a Pastry Brush Man with a little punk rock blue 'do.

Bruce said...

I ordered one of those from an ad in the back of a magazine once. What a rip-off! The thing didn't...

Oh, wait. Never mind.

Note to self: Read the whole post before commenting.

falnfenix said...

oh goodness, Pastry Brush Man? eee! don't tell me these things!

Dock said...

I think my only must-have kitchen doodad is the hand-held blender - not the gun shaped kind but the miniature baseball bat kind.

However, I have visions of one of those big KitchenAid wonder mixers, and have for years. You know the one. With the PTO* outlet that lets you attach more stuff to it. Oh the pastry-bilities!

*Power Take Off which is tractor jargon. I'm in Texas.

Breda said...

Dock, you must get a KitchenAid. You'd never regret the investment. It really is that awesome. Someday I'd like to get a pasta maker attachment for mine.

Kathleenie said...

The milk frother is an all-time best gadget -- it has made my hubbie swoon over his hot cocoa!

I do agree on the KitchenAid though, simply indispensible.

falnfenix said...

i'd like to third that opinion on the KitchenAid. best appliance EVER. i love mine, and would be lost without it.

DirtCrashr said...

We have one of those garlic peeler tubes that my wife uses, while I tend to go full-turbo Jacques Pepin on it and smash it with the flat of the knife...

Melissa B. said...

Thanks...I'm always on the prowl for unnecessary, but fun, gadgets! Hey there, you Superior Scribbler, you! Melissa B., The Scholastic Scribe, here, checking in with fellow Scribblers! BTW, I've got a couple of things on my mind today. First off, don't forget Sx3 tomorrow...it's a stitch! And I've got a pretty good chance of snagging a superior blog award...thanking you in advance for your support!

Chris said...

we got one of those frothers for free in a liquor gift pack (I forget, probably an Irish cream) and it has been fantastic. Use #287 is for making scrambled eggs with a pyrex mixing cup. Fantastico!

Liz got the kitchen-aid mixer for Christmas last year. I was not able to top it as a gift, I didn't even try. I took the coward's way out and played the "getting back from Iraq 4 days before Christmas" card...

Kitchen Gadget Girl said...

I love kitchen gadgets! My favorite one is my microplaner (which I actually used to plane a burr off my mixer, long story). Useless gadgets? Humm, definitely not the garlic peeler. I agree with you there. How about gadgets I have too many of, like 6 sets of tongs. Really, how many do I need?

Ted said...

I'm with DirtCrashr. Lay the flat of your chef's knife on the garlic clove, and smack it with your hand (on the flat, not the sharp edge, duh). You want it partially crushed/flattened, because the papery cover will pop right off.

Of you can be lazy like me and use the tube o' crushed garlic. Probably losing my cooking cred with that one, but it stays fresh longer for me. Green sprouts coming out of your garlic cloves mean bitter garlic.

And yes, the Kitchen Aid is the Flippity Floppity Floop. Expensive Flippity Floppity Floop, at that.

Breda said...

Hmm...chopped garlic vs. smashed....could this be the new Glock vs. 1911?

I sometimes smash my garlic but then, sadly, it gets all smashed. Other times I like to work with a pristine whole clove.

Haji said...

But see, the whole "crushed/smashed/peeled" situation means that I can buy more knives! I've wanted to try a fluting knife on garlic for quite a while, as well as a lot of the small job work I need to do that a 3" paring knife is just a bit large for. OK, I admit that it isn't a bit large, but I have to convince myself that a fluting knife is imperative. I'm stickin' with it!

BTW, if you don't have a 4" chef's knife, ya gotta get one of those bad boys! Mine's a Messermeister Meridian Elite. Best knives I've ever had, and I'm at least familiar with just about all of 'em after almost 15 years sellin' 'em. Check it out here:
http://www.messermeister.com/index.php?act=GetContent&cid=2&pcat=7&prodID=174

docjim505 said...

Haji,

Why, oh WHY did you have to recommend yet another kitchen knife for me to drool over? My finance and family are already considering intervention due to my knife fetish...

Breda,

I know what you mean about the unnecessary kitchen gadgets. I enjoy browsing in stores like Williams Sonoma, but often I pick up some little do-dad, peer at it, and ask, "So... What... IS this???"

Proudly Modest said...

Man, I saw one of those milk frothers like two years ago and I've been regretting not buying it ever since. No, really. Every so often I go to make myself like some hot cocoa or something and just before I start drinking it I remember that milk frother and sigh. It would have been an excellent investment of two-ninety-nine (it was a pretty cheap milk-frother).

The English Major said...

To easily peel garlic...
Take one clove of garlic, place it under the flat of a large cutting knife on top of a cutting board, whack the top of the blade firmly, and remove peel in one piece.

My dad taught me that this thanks giving!

Hannah