My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

milk-frotherI’ll admit it, I’ve had a long love affair with kitchen gadgets. Let me set eyes on an infomercial for the latest “must have” gadget, and, well, I must have it! Fortunately, procrastination, laziness, and my bank account have stopped me from calling in and buying the gadgets I see on TV. But let a friend mention a spectacular gadget to me, or have a chef on a TV food show demonstrate something new, and I hit the stores looking for it.

Many of these wonder gadgets have been tossed out over the years, for not being quite as wondrous as hoped. But right now, I’m still feeling the love for two inexpensive gadgets (under $10). One is at least eight years old, and the other is just a month old.

The older gadget is my microplane zester/grater. After watching about the millionth TV chef add lemon, orange, or lime zest to a recipe for a “burst” of flavor, I finally decided I needed this gadget. I probably used it twice to add actual zest to a recipe, and then gave up on that notion. But along the way, I discovered that I could make better use of the microplane zesterĀ  to grateĀ  garlic (much easier than the stupid garlic press I bought) and Parmesan cheese.

My new, favorite kitchen gadget, is a tiny, battery-operated milk frother I picked up a few weeks ago for less than $2. I purchased mine at Cost Plus, after hearing a friend rave about hers (purchased at Ikea), but I’m certain they’re available all over. I’ve been making a lot of hot chocolate, Earl Grey lattes, and warm milk with sugar free syrup this winter, but while tasty, they never quite equaled the stuff I’d buy in a local coffee shop. When my friend told me how much better her hot chocolate was since she’d purchased the frother, I decided to take the plunge.

She was right! I still make all of my hot drinks with 1% or skim milk, but with a few seconds of frothing, the beverage tastes much thicker and creamier. My little frother is really cheaply made, and I’m not sure how long it will last. So this weekend, I’m either going to pick up a few more cheap ones, or invest in a slightly more expensive frother (but no $100 frothers for me).

Do you have any favorite, inexpensive kitchen gadgets you can’t live without? How do you use them? And do you have any kitchen gadgets that you thought would be fantastic, but instead, are relegated to a back cupboard?


10 thoughts on “My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

  1. dick

    I don’t know how expensive either gadget was, because my wife purchased them, but since I do most of the cooking since I’m retired and my wife is not, I’m the one who uses them. I too have a zester thingio which I use a lot, especially for fresh ginger. But she also bought a plastic thing with a whirligig shape on the bottom of a handle, the sole purpose of which is to break up ground meat when browning it. It works ten times better than a fork. I think she bought it at a Pampered Chef party.

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  2. LinnieGayl

    Dick, I’ve never even thought of using my zester thing on fresh ginger, but that’s brilliant (especially since I have a big hunk of ginger in my refrigerator right now).

    That thing to break up ground meat sounds interesting. That’s one I haven’t heard of.

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  3. Missie

    LOVE my microplane. Well worth it, but I think I use mine just a smidge more than you do, Linnie ;-)

    And I’m with you — Dick, that thing to break up ground meat does sound quite intriguing.

    Several years ago, my mother-in-law gifted me with a little min-processor/chopper thing that I have gradually come to use more and more often. I’ve seen similar models on sale for $20 or less.

    I also really enjoy my pastry wheel — much easier than trimming my pastry with a knife, and it’s also handy for cutting other kinds of dough, as well, such as flour tortillas and homemade noodles and what not. Ditto my hand-held pastry cutter — much easier than using 2 dull knives.

    I think the microplane was $20, but worth it for me, as it otherwise takes me about 45 mintues to zest an orange. The pastry wheel and pastry cutter were under $10, I think.

    And after years of futzing with trying to make an aluminum foil rim for my pie crusts, I “invested” all of $5 in an aluminum pie rim — I use it every time I bake pumpkin and other similar pies.

    I also found some gadgets reduced for clearance sale at the bargain price of $1 each and I really enjoy them — a lasagna cutter/server and two very serious 3-pronged meat fork things.

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  4. LinnieGayl

    Missie, I don’t make pies anymore so that pie rim would be wasted on me, but it definitely would have come in handy in the past.

    A lasagna cutter/server sounds very useful. I’m going to have to look for one of those, because I pretty much butcher my lasagna when I cut it :)

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  5. Tee

    dick: …a plastic thing with a whirligig shape on the bottom of a handle, the sole purpose of which is to break up ground meat when browning it. It works ten times better than a fork.

    I’m going to have to look for that thing maybe at Bed, Bath and Beyond or some such store. That sounds wonderful, since I usually use the bottom edge of a plastic spatula to break up hamburger now (when I cook, that is). That works, but this other item sounds much more effective.

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