Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kitchen Gadget Regrets

Today the NY Times posted a fabulous article about the kitchen tools you never needed. It mentioned one female chef who bought a salmon poacher, a weirdly elongated pot that covers two burners. It interviewed another chef who purchased an electric polenta maker in Italy, something that apparently Italians use daily but lived forever in his cupboard. It then moved on to a coffee connoisseur who went through several iterations of milk steamers and professional grade espresso makers to find a perfect cup of coffee.

I mean, seriously. Who on earth buys an asparagus peeler? Or does one really need an automatic butter slicer? Who buys these stupid, useless, pointless, unnecessary items??

The article then concluded by asking readers to submit their never used kitchen gadgets and sad stories of abandoned appliances. Apparently, the top 'never used' gadgets included: rice makers, slow cookers, garlic presses, food processors, and pizza stones. Smugly, I would like to note that I use every single one of these gadgets, and I use them quite often. I snorted at the idiocy of someone who hasn't yet discovered the wonder that is a crockpot meal after seventeen hours at church on Sunday, or the miracle that is a food processor slicing up apples for an apple pie. Or the magic of a garlic press when you have to 'finely mince' about eight thousand cloves of garlic for cooking copious amounts of Chinese food. Surely, ye novices simply don't understand the magic of culinary convenience.

However... as I applauded myself for not owning pretty much anything from Williams and Sonoma, I also sheepishly took mental stock of the completely useless gadgets I DO own. Most of them came from overzealous wedding registering. I've kept them all, because I did, after all, ask for them, and bless you friends and family for purchasing them for me. I do still have lofty aspirations for each and every single one. But here, in no particular order, is my own #gadgetregretslist:
  • The Griddler. Lovingly purchased for me by my wonderful Census coworkers. It was going to be so multifunctional! I was going to make panini sandwiches, AND griddle pancakes, AND grill chicken safely and humanely with no extra carbon monoxide burning from lighting coal! Turns out, I never eat panini sandwiches ever, pancakes turn out perfectly fine on the frying pan, and Matt grills our chicken on his manly portable baby Weber grill. Hmm.
  • The Spice Grinder. I even made sure to look up all reviews and find the best reviewed one. I read all about the wonders and superior flavors of whole, toasted spices, and how cumin powder was just so inferior to toasted cumin seeds that were then freshly ground, preferably with some whole coriander and possibly garam masala tossed in. Yeah.
  • Mortar and pestle. See Spice Grinder.
  • Sushi block/dishes from Crate and Barrel. They were so cute. They were so not useful for just about anything.
  • Cheesecake springform pans. I know there are people out there who swear by those. I bought them thinking that I would finally master the art of cheesecake, but as soon as I saw that they involve three blocks of cream cheese, I gave up.
  • Cheesecloth. This was supposed to be used for a multitude of things - straining regular yogurt to turn into Greek yogurt, keeping damp over rising bread (what rising bread?), wrapping around herbs to make a bouquet garni, blah blah. None of that has happened.
  • Mini bundt pans. I blame Williams and Sonoma for this one.
  • Pressure cooker. My mom uses hers ALL the time, and very effectively, and bought like six of them to bequeath upon my sister and me. But all I remember from her lesson on how to use it was "but if you do this, it'll blow up. And if you're not careful to do this, it'll explode. And if you don't wait for it to cool down enough, you'll burn yourself to death." So I'm too scared to actually use it.
Yeesh. I think I could go on and on... but I'll stop. It's your turn now... I KNOW you all have that 'one' thing you never use but can't get rid of. Fess up!


Matt said...

I would like to note that there are several other items that Jen left off the list that I felt should be on there. For example, the rolling pin that is only used for rolling over our legs after a "run". I might also submit the dutch oven that Jen has wanted for so long and has been used once.

However, those in glass houses should not throw stones and so I make my own submission... The Toasty Arepa Maker. People used them all the time on my mission in Venezuela and it was only $40, HOW COULD I PASS THIS UP!? I have used it like four times in as many years... I fail so hard sometimes.

Mallory said...

I haven't used my food processor yet but now I am inspired to make an apple pie. I also have a sandwich grill that sits in my garage, and I honestly don't know where I have left the waffle maker that was handy down because my brother got too many from his wedding. But I do want a rice cooker I just haven't been able to convince myself I will use it.

Aaron Tunell said...

I was given a pressure cooker a few years ago, and it is still in the box. The reason why, see Jen's post above :) Also, I was given a bread maker that I haven't ever touched, I prefer just to use my Kitchen Aid to make my own. Otherwise I think I use all of my gadgets.


Jenny said...

A quesadilla maker. Really?? Completely unnecessary when there is a perfectly good stovetop (and microwave) to use!

Emily said...

Your pressure cooker comments are hilarious- exactly why I haven't bought one. Anyway, we got a waffle maker that we never use (first b/c we didn't have counter space and secondly b/c I don't like cleaning it ha) and a george foreman grill that we also never use for the same reasons. Oh and we've been through three toasters and I haven't decided it's worth the counter space to get another.

abbynormal said...

I actually had to rummage through things a little to find something, which made me real happy to realize we didn't get THAT many totally useless kitchen items (David actually uses our mortar and pestle - and he wants a BIGGER one). The closest thing I could find was our non-electric ice cream maker. It's like a little soccer ball that you fill up with the ingredients and then just kick it around until it's done! Seems great for camping or other outdoor activities, but when we're at home and want ice cream, we never really feel like kicking it around the house.

Lisa Liechty said...

I'm with you on the rice cooker (love it. Use it all. the. time), the garlic press (who wants to have fingers that smell like garlic from chop-chop-chopping when it's so easy and effective to press it?), and the crock pot (hubby uses it to make meat for himself. Easy and tough to screw up). Pressure cooker--you're right. Waaaaay too scary. Never use the waffle maker or the sandwich maker, and the cheesecloth is still in the package. :)