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Multitasking Unitasker Kitchen Gadgets

If you live or ever lived in a high-rise, depending on house rules, likely at one time or another you’ve scored freebee household stuff the neighbors moving in or out were getting rid of, where they’ll leave them by the elevator or in the lobby for whoever wants it. In our case, it’s often barely used or new stuff, with some for obvious reasons, as in, why would they use it? Would you?

Case in point this here Acrylic Bread Slicer. First of all, you can tell by the box age and design (and the really worn out acid-based price label not seen) this must have been one of them “As Seen on TV” products from the 70’s or 80’s. And here it was probably sitting in the owners storage closet over 3 decades having never been opened.

I must note, I normally wouldn’t take something like this, as I’m trying to get more unused stuff OUT of my place, not in, and “unitasker” kitchen gadgets such as this really have no place in my very limited living space.

Yet I looked at the Bread Slicer and after about to brushing it off, I then looked at it again and thought, “Hmmm? A bread slicer? Are they for real? They actually went from concept to patent, design, mass-production and marketing this?” Then thinking, “You know what? this could make for an interesting discussion piece on The Tasty Island!”

So I brought it home, took it out of the then-unopened box and analyzed it, thinking what else I could do with an Acrlylic Bread Slicer besides slice bread. Because if an Acrylic Bread Slicer is going to take up 1/4-cubic foot of precious cabinet space in my kitchen (I measured the box), it better well as hell do more than just slice bread evenly, gunfunnit!

Let’s see what Fox Run Craftsmen (a French Company, no surprise), the manufacturers of this product say it’s good for:

ACRYLIC BREAD SLICER
• Lets you cut uniform (1/2″ thick) slices every time
• Ideal for slicing homemade bread

And that’s about it for food. Just slicing bread, as meats, vegetables, fruits, cheese and even SPAM have their own slicing ‘n dicing proprietary kitchen gadgets that you’re supposed get for each particular task.

I suppose looking at again, while not for food, I could make a pretty cool looking clear “glass” cage for my pet “747” Cockaroach. But then if I do that, I’d never be able to use it for food preparation again.

Then how about this!…

Or this!…

Ah yes, that’s it! An Acrylic Mail and File Sorter/Micro Cutting Board/Bread Slicer! See, now instead of sitting in MY kitchen cabinet for the next 30 years taking up 1/4-cubic foot of wasted space as a lowly bread slicer, I’m making use of it actively in my home office as a paperwork organizer, also being able to use it as a chopping board for the green onions I add to the nama ramen noodles that I eat frequently at my workstation, while also being right there for the very rare occasion where I’ll need to turn a whole loaf of fresh-baked bread into perfect 1/2″ slices myself. “Hey Pomai, you wouldn’t happen to have a bread slicer would you?” “Well yes I do. It’s right here on my desk.” Hey, well wadda’ ya’ know? This one’s a keeper!

Obviously for sanitary and practical reasons that wouldn’t work. Yet all kidding aside, I wouldn’t doubt a patent similar to this idea has come across an attorney’s desk at some time or another. It’s gotta’, as it would be the “Swiss Knife” of Acrylic Bread Slicers, a.k.a. the “Bread Slice-O-Matic 3000!

Next up, well it’s systematic. It’s hyyyyyy-dromatic. Well it’s a Tortilla Fryer! “Go Tortilla Fryer, you’re burning up the nacho chips – go salsa, a go go salsa – go Tortilla Fryer the shell is about to split”…

So what else can we do with a Tortilla Fryer basket besides making fried tortilla bowls? …

I know! Despicable Me Katsu!…

Seriously though, I’ll try making a fried Lumpia Bowl and a fried Wonton Bowl, filling the fried Lumpia Bowl filled with fried bananas smothered with Biscoff Spread, and filling the Wonton Bowl with Chinese Stir Fry. Whooh!

Another kitchen gadget these folks who had just moved out of our building left for the taking was a brand new Presto TaterTwister…

While I still can’t think what the heck else I could do with this “TaterTwister” besides what it was designed for, I took it anyway, thinking this might actually make for some really interesting creations to feature on this blog. Oh like say Okinawan Sweet Potato Curly Fries. Or perhaps something curly that involves Biscoff Cookie Butter! We’ll see. If I don’t get around to that in a few months, it’s out of here and heading back to the free-for-all bench by the elevator.

While everyone’s seen the millions of infomercials and mail catalogs hawking every kitchen gadget under the rangehood and the sun, I’m so not biting for it.

All I need and use regularly at home to cook a good meal is a sharp chef’s knife, a solid cutting board, and good set of cookware & cooking utensils, plus a hot stove and oven, and I’m good to go. Other than that and other basic tools of the kitchen, here’s what I have as far as kitchen gadgets:

Benriner Japanese Mandoline (for cutting cabbage really fine)
Cuisinart Food Processor (with blender attachment; hardly ever used lately)
Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven (I’ve made oven-roasted Kalua Pig in this several times very successfully!)
Electric Hand Mixer (used mostly for whipping cream cheese for dips)
Electric Knife (GREAT to have for carving turkey and prime rib!)
Salad Spinner (for removing water from lettuce and chinese cabbages)
Electric Coffee Maker (the old fashioned ‘kine, not the fancy Keurig)
Pressure Cooker (the best thing I’ve learned about since Cookie Butter & Biscoff)
Rice Cooker (10 cup model, which is WAY too big for my home)
Weber Grill (at mom’s place; used for both smoking and grilling)

I used to have an Immersion Blender, them “motorboat” hand blenders you stick in the cup, but got rid of it, as it was gimicky and not worth the clean-up, which is why in general I avoid using gadgets as much as possible.

That’s it, and I plan on keeping that way. And if that gadget can’t do more than one thing, unless that one thing is something I eat or do often, that gadget won’t be considered in my home. My kitchen is too small to have its own “As Seen on TV” department.

So what’s your story on kitchen gadgets? Any of them that you multitask with, making more use out of other than what it was designed for? Got your own “As Seen on TV” department in your kitchen? Is there a certain unusual kitchen gadget that you could never live without? How about them new health craze “juicers” and “Nutribullet” high speed blenders? Into that? Any stories about your folks and/or grandparents and the kitchen gadgets from their generation? From the ridiculous to the most “rad”, let’s talk kitchen gadgets!

32 thoughts on “Multitasking Unitasker Kitchen Gadgets

  • October 24, 2013 at 3:22 am
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    Pomai: So you don’t have a rice cooker? Say it ain’t so! (I think you just forgot to list it) We got our first one as a wedding present, and my wife said, “A gadget JUST to cook rice?” Well, when she saw how easy it was to make rice in it, she was hooked! We are now on our 4th generation rice cooker. But I have bought all sorts of gadgets over the years. I had one of those combo blender/processer/meat grinder/stand mixers back in the 80’s…did make some use of it, but it took up a lot of counter space (not to mention storage of all the associated containers, blades, etc.) We had a bread maker and used it for a while before we realized that we were putting on the pounds from all the carbs! And we also had a variant of your bread slicer to go with it! LOL I think our last “gadget” was a stick blender. My wife and I were about to get rid of it when my son discovered that he could use it for making smoothies and other stuff, so it’s still at home. Good thing it doesn’t take up so much room. Funny how some appliances come and go… We had a toaster oven and a toaster for years, then got rid of the toaster, then the toaster oven went away and replaced by a microwave. Then years later, like magic, my wife bought another toaster and then another toaster oven (with more bells and whistles). Maybe ’cause now the microwave is built-in over the stove and that bare counter space looked to barren… Go figga.

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    • October 24, 2013 at 5:40 am
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      Keith-San,

      Ah, how could I forget the venerable RICE COOKER! I think that’s a requirement on the Hawaii Birth Certificate. There’s a disclaimer on the bottom of the BC that says, “This newborn shall bare claim to a rice cooker upon proper age of operation.” lol

      I was in Don Quijote a while ago shopping for a new rice cooker, and the rep for Tiger just so happened to be there and gave me tips on which one to select. He SWORE the new Induction Rice Cooker (retail over $200) cooks the BEST rice he’s ever eaten, also noting he can leave it on warm for over 3 days, and the rice is still good! So I’ll probably get one of those next, as the one I got I’m not happy with, as it burns the rice on warm.

      As for appliances coming and going, don’t EVER let your wife go down the kitchen gadget aisle at Costco or Sam’s Club. Almost guaranteed you’re going to walk out with a new gadget you thought you never needed, but somehow, now you need it. lol

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      • October 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm
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        hehe we have a rice cooker still. but i make rice the old fashioned way…on the stove! tis real easy tho. 2-1 ratio of water to rice. i like using an anodzied non-stick pot. good even heat distribution, and low chance of it to burn. after boiling rice and stirring with chop sticks…..you’ll know when to cover the pot, and reduce to a very low heat for about 10 minutes. resist the urge to open the lid! remove lid after 10 minutes to see if done. turn off heat and let the rice rest for maybe 5 minutes. done!

        i love the toaster oven….i use it as often as i can to make things like garlic bread, cookies, reheat meat……fried chicken….pizza…..lol :)

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  • October 24, 2013 at 5:29 am
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    I just love those infomercials form some of these gadgets. My favorite was for an air oven featuring Mister T. This 1/2 hour was pure comedy at it’s finest.

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    • October 24, 2013 at 5:42 am
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      Dean-San,

      Well waddaya’ know… like just about everything else, that Mr. T FlavorWave Oven infomercial happens to be on YouTube…

      “Enough with this Jibber-Jabber. I pitty the fool who doesn’t pick up this new FlavorWave Oven…”

      Reply
  • October 24, 2013 at 5:33 am
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    Oh yeah, I remember my mom once bought a Veg-O-Matic! It was fun to play with, but the copped food came out all kapukahi!

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  • October 24, 2013 at 5:38 am
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    And before there was that “Tater Twister”, you could get “free” with your Ginsu knives a gadget that you stuck into a potato and spin it around to cut curly fries… looked like a nail with a knife blade welded on… We also have a German-made mandolin that came with some cool blades…my kids’ favorite was one that could make waffle-cut fries. It also had a cutter that made fine shoestring slivers of veggies like cucumbers and carrots… great for garnishes and salads and cold soba!

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    • October 24, 2013 at 5:52 am
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      The Japanese Benriner Mandolin also includes several blades with various notched spaces for making julienne cuts. Like German made kitchen gadgets and knives, the Japanese gadgets and knives are known for unrivaled SHARPNESS. Years of making limb-severing Samurai swords have paid off.

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      • October 25, 2013 at 3:43 am
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        Pomai:

        Wow… I just remembered that I bought one of the most iconic gadgets: the Ronco Rotisserie Oven! “Just set it and forget it!” LOL But you know, it works! I did all kinds of seasoned chickens, and burgers, chops, sausages, a rib roast and even charsiu and they all came out excellent! My wife’s biggest beef about the thing was the clean up. Yes everything can be washed in the dishwasher, but eventually, there is a lot of baked on grease splatter inside the cooker and on the glass door that had to be cleaned so that was my job. Plus, it takes up its share of counter space so it gets stored in the pantry and you know when something is out of sight, you forget its there. So there has been that cycle of “If you’re not going to use it, throw it away! ” followed by a renewed effort to use it, clean it and put it away, then it starts all over again… So my solution was to give it to my daughter as a housewarming “gift”. She says she uses it all the time, so at least it lives on… now I gotta do charsiu in the oven the old fashioned way…

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        • October 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm
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          KeithF,

          According to the book “The New Cook’s Catalogue” written by first James Beard Foundation Award for Best Television Food Journalism, nominated for two Cable Ace Awards and a national Emmy in connection with travel and cultural history, noted journalist, chef and food writer Burt Wolf under “Electric Roasters”; he singles out the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ as being probably the best one on the market doing exactly what it is intended to do and one with the easiest clean up.

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  • October 24, 2013 at 7:18 am
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    a little off-topic but did you know that the SPAM cutter comes in 9-slice or 10-slice?

    Good to know when making massive quantities. I was part of an assembly line project for making Spam musubi to feed a large group when the person in charge specified the cutting group to use only the 10-slicer. You make more musubi, all the slices are the same size slice (the 9-slice has 1 bigger slice) and you’ll know when you hit your goal by the # of cans used. Who knew?

    I saw someone grate a large quantity of ginger with an immersion blender with the extra strong motor (comes with mini processor-type container). Instead of grating a tiny amount daily, grate a little more and store in refrig. A definite wrist-saver!

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    • October 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm
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      Anela,

      Wow, 9 SPAM slices vs. 10/can eh? Wow, that’s really “slicing” figures tightly at the bottom line for cost savings! Then you get the “Bambucha SPAM Slicer” model: 3 slices per can. lol While one might think something like a SPAM Slicer is silly, I can see if you’re on a production line as you experienced how something like that would make things much more efficient vs. cutting manually slice-by-slice with a knife.

      Did they use any liquid with the ginger when grating it with the immersion blender? Such as water or oil? Most blenders work most efficiently when there’s a liquid to help it distribute evenly, right?

      I used to use an old coffee bean grinder to grind peppercorn, mustard and coriander seeds for making herb rubs.

      Reply
  • October 24, 2013 at 7:24 am
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    Oh boy! I been looking to get something like that tat twister. I like curly fries but never got around to find one. Which store carry it?

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    • October 24, 2013 at 7:46 am
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      Never mind. I found one on Amazon for 14.99. Sorry.

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  • October 24, 2013 at 9:39 am
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    My friend gave me a big salad spinner more than 15 years ago. I’ve never used it as it was intended. It’s the perfect size for the trifles I make (2 layers of cake & pudding & cool whip & toppings). I’ve probably made at least 50 trifles by now.

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  • October 24, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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    Pomai,

    One of my most favorite kitchen play toys is my NESCO American Harvest Jet Stream Oven from 1990s. You can still get them through the company web site: http://www.nesco.com/ Normal price is $199.99 and sale price is $179.99. I use it to convection bake, roast, grill, bbq, broil, fry, steam, make my 12”pizzas and air pop popcorn. I have two sets of expander rings so I can roast a 22 lb. turkey in it. It cooks 3 times faster than conventional ovens, up to 2 times faster than convection ovens and as fast as a microwave oven. The two food racks allow oil and grease to drip down into the lower drip pan so you have healthier meals. I can cook a whole meal at one time (grilled lamb chops, baked potato, steamed vegetables and baked dinner roll). It has a timer that automatically shuts off and sounds an alarm that food is done. When not in use it stores on its side standing up in a kitchen cabinet not using a lot of space.

    My other play toy is my T-Fal Actifry deep fat fryer and multi-cooker: http://www.t-falusa.com/ I notice the price recently has dropped from $249.99 to $199.99. The Actifry is made in France and it does excellent French fries up to 2 lbs. only using 1 tablespoon of oil. When I make my chicken wings I don’t even add oil and the wings come out nice and deep fried crispy. Make great fried rice, Chinese Braised Pork Belly, stuffed peppers, chili, soup and even bakes muffins. It has a stirring paddle that turns the food so you don’t have to stand over it meaning you can be doing something else. At end of time the timer will alert you food is finished cooking. Best thing is the clear cover that keeps any spattering oil and fumes in the Actifry thus keeping the kitchen clean. Between the USA website and UK website: http://www.afrecipes.net/ there are close to 400 tried and tested recipes.

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  • October 25, 2013 at 9:02 am
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    e Pomai,
    re: immersion blender to grate ginger
    no. no oil or water. Just peel the ginger and cut into chunks. Put into the ‘chopper bowl’ and grind (has to be the type with chopper bowl and blade). Costco has one for $30. I think they were originally sold at dept stores for $100+. Beats lugging out the HUGE food processor for a small amount or grating by hand. Can also grate daikon.

    A coffee grinder is great for grinding spices but then you need TWO! Don’t want your coffee smelling like tumeric, eh? Luckily, they are small.

    Kelli — I have never made a trifle but I thought the same thing! The shape is perfect.

    Ken’s gadgets/appliances sounds like its fun to make tasty food!

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    • October 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm
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      anela,

      The immersion blender I had was a small Cuisinart model that could barely crush ice, let alone mince ginger, which is very fibrous. Sounds like that one you’re talking about got some good power. I love dipping stuff in shoyu with lots ‘n lots of grated ginger!

      Yeah, the small coffee grinder I used for grinding herb seeds became dedicated to that task, as I wouldn’t my coffee tasting like Corned Beef, nor vice versa.

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    • October 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm
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      anela,

      Cooking with these toys is fast and fun with easy clean up. My goal was not to spend more than 30 min cooking any meal. I hardly ever use my regular stove/oven or microwave anymore.

      I have been using the NESCO American Harvest Jet Stream Oven since early 1990. I am on my second one. The first one was so overworked it finally died after 16 years of constant use. The newer model is better with direct drive for the fan. It is the first table-top hot air stream oven ever made and often copied but never duplicated in cooking speed and quality.

      There are two other air ovens trying to copy the Jet Stream. FlavorWave and NUWave and both use convection heat and Infrared cooking (one uses far infrared waves and the other uses near infrared waves.

      NUWave comes out the most expensive especially with shipping and a 3.5 lb. whole chicken cooks in 59 ½ min.

      The FlavorWave is manufactured by the same company and market under two different names (FlavorWave and Secura Halogen Infrared Turbo Convection Countertop Oven) The Secura being cheaper of the two. A 3.5 lb. whole chicken cooks in 1 hr. 38 min.

      NESCO American Harvest Jet Stream Oven has pretty much kept the same price over the years and does not use Infrared cooking. It cooks a 3.5 lb. whole chicken in 49 min. A 12 lb. whole turkey with 2 expander ring cooks in 1 hr. 45 min. The expander rings are not whole but come apart making for compact storage. A 22 lb. whole turkey requires 3 expander rings and the vertical holder and cooks in 2 hr. 20 min.

      I have a pressure cooker like Pomai and make bbq ribs. 15 min in pressure cooker then 15 min in Jet Stream Oven for tender fall off the bone bbq ribs. Pressure cookers cuts 70% of the cooking time.

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  • October 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm
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    I have an immersion blender, which I love and use almost weekly. I also have a Yonanas banana “ice cream” maker, I used it a lot when I got it. I don’t think I’ve used it once in the past year though. Finally, I have one of those sandwich maker thingies, the kind that have 4 wells. I use it occasionally, but not as often as I did when I was a kid. I loved that thing when I was a kid (my childhood home had a bit of an as-seen-on-tv graveyard. We had EVERYTHING, seriously). If I liked eggs and omelet type things, I might use the sandwich maker more often. Maybe. Actually it’s sort of a pain, I should probably get rid of it.

    I honestly do have as-seen-on-tv/in-catalogs lust. Even though I work in marketing myself, I’m a marketer’s dream. I believe all claims; I am the ultimate sucker! Whether I need them or not, I lust after gadgets (I saw an ad for a makeup airbrush machine, and I thought I NEED that – even though I wear very little makeup and no foundation, which is what the machine is for!!!!). Fortunately, I have enough self control and look, but don’t buy.

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    • October 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm
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      I remember us talking about your Yonanas banana “ice cream” maker in another post, but can’t remember which one. I also thought I had done a post on kitchen gadgets before, but for the love of God, couldn’t find it.

      My mom once got into QVC, until I think she maxed out one of her credit cards and that was it. At that time, she had all kinds of QVC “stuff” around the house. lol

      I still say the way to get rich is to invent or market anything that involves makeup and women’s shoes. CHA-CHING!!!

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      • October 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm
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        Actually, the easiest way to get mega-rich is become a successful cult leader. No out-of-pocket, etc.

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  • October 26, 2013 at 2:15 am
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    Pomai, the family just love the turbo oven on the counter and use a lot for all kind thing. It fast in roasting oven baked potato fries making pizzas. It less engery than regular oven. My aunt mailed to us for Xmas a few years.

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  • October 27, 2013 at 12:53 am
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    Salad spinner is one of those cool things man. Get the pump or the one with the handle, if you get the one with the draw string you’re asking for it. OXO makes a great one.

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  • October 27, 2013 at 1:02 am
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    Souza-San,

    The Salad Spinner I have has a crank that turns gears within the lid section to boost the RPMs of the basket that spins in the big bowl. Works great. Removing the water really helps keep the lettuce and Chinese cabbage that’s part of my daily diet nice and crisp.

    Never heard of a draw string salad spinner. Sounds like a 2-stroke lawn mower engine starting deal. Nightmares! lol

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    • October 27, 2013 at 10:22 am
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      The draw string was old school as seen on TV crap. You got it right on the 2 stroke

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  • October 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm
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    You know, these things are cool to look at… but I was doing a concert tour in Japan, and I saw a guy with unbelievable mad ninja chef’s knife skills…. and I couldn’t help but think of all these gadgets. I would think that he would just laugh at all of them. ;o)

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    • October 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm
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      Marcus,

      Exactly my point. What’s sad is watching the “Next Food Network Star”, where some of them can’t clean and fillet a fish properly to save their life. Most Japanese Chefs – especially sushi chefs – would be doing CIRCLES around them when it comes to knife skills! I mean seriously, you can’t be considered a chef without being able to clean a fish properly. That’s back to knife skills 101 class!

      Reply
  • October 28, 2013 at 1:52 am
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    Love the gadgets you found – the tortilla basket thing looks like it would cause injuries in the kitchen, especially when hot fat is concerned. My fave kitchen gadget is my batter maker – you put the ingredients into the plastic container, put this odd little mixing bit in and put on the top and shake! I’ve had mine since the 70s – true story and its still going strong!

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  • October 30, 2013 at 8:51 am
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    I have a vegetable spiralizer (kind of like the tater twister). Love it for making zucchini noodles. We don’t eat grain pasta, but sometimes have the craving, and this thing is fantastic. Of course you can use it for any firm vegetable – we also make spiral fries and sweet potato fries. I love how fast it is; that’s what keeps me from making them by hand – the time it takes. I want to buy one for each person in my family for Christmas, but they’d probably think I was crazy.

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  • January 24, 2014 at 5:51 am
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    My mother gave all her daughters a electric tea kettle for Christmas one year, we just smiled at each others, another gadget… but years later, we are still using our electric tea kettles. I am now on my third generation, I got a T-Fal Vitesse which I use daily, it does a much better job of heating water than a microwave. These are very popular in Canada and Europe, not so much here it seems.
    Another gadget I love is my mini-prep Cuisinart. I usually stay away from “As seen on TV”, they seems to be too hyped and expensive to me.

    Reply

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