One Hit Wonders

I am emphatically anti-clutter in the kitchen. Well, actually, most places in my house but especially in the kitchen. I like a clean, streamlined space. If my kitchen is dirty, I clean it before I cook in it. My weirdness is already well-established. My husband learned the hard way when he moved in that I do not tolerate multiples of any kitchen item (except silverware, dishes and wooden spoons). His favored corkscrew? Gone. I already had a similar one. His wine glasses? Out. I’ve got plenty. Ditto for cutting boards, cookie cutters, coffee pots, whatever else I already had and did not need. Don’t even get me started on single use kitchen gadgets! Most of these are pure clutter and seem utterly ridiculous to me, albeit as such, often entertaining. It was a relatively tense moment when I asked him to prove the utility of his milk foamer under intense scrutiny before I would consent to its continued residence in our cupboards.

I am not without my vices however. I cannot deny an abiding love for the following single use items, some admittedly silly.

I must confess a deep attachment  for my rice cooker. I have owned one since receiving my first model as a high school graduation gift from my grandma. Priceless bit of magical machinery. Lasted 25+ years before I had to replace it. That little baby kept me and my poor hungry college friends fed on many an impaired occasion when the sobering and nourishing power of white rice was desperately needed. My mom gave me my first egg cooker as a joke one Christmas. It was a branded model, Foghorn Leghorn (for those who understand that reference) and I instantly fell in love. This ridiculous little machine pays for itself by turning out perfectly hard cooked eggs every time without requiring me to boil water or set a timer. I am emphatically anti-timer. Related item – I also have an egg slicer, because I like eggs on toast without having to squish everything up using a knife getting crumbly yolk all over my hands. Stupid, I know, but I like it. A salad spinner is indispensable because, um, I like salad and wish to avoid food borne illnesses.

In the interest of complete transparency I also own an electric kettle (life changing for this tea drinker and I’ve never looked back), a lemon twist cutter (I like martinis), and a tortilla press – I’ll tell you more about that one later, but homemade tortillas are a cinch, dirt cheap, taste great and make you look like a rockstar in the kitchen. Worth the cupboard space. Otherwise, I’m pretty much opposed to over stocking my kitchen drawers.  I mean if you use it, fine, but if not, get rid of it! For most things I use a knife, sometimes scissors (much overlooked versatile kitchen tool), a pan, the stove, and the oven to get things done. More on my favorite kitchen essentials to come and a collection of my all time favorite stupid kitchen gadgets here can be found on instagram @stupidkitchengadgets.

Stupid Kitchen Gadgets Haiku Poem by Kc is me AKA Karyn Shomler

Knives

Knives don’t have to be intimidating. The right ones can make the cooking experience so much more enjoyable. Don’t get all freaked out when I say “the right ones”. By that I only mean, the ones that suit YOU best. Ones that fit in your hand comfortably, feel sturdy but not too heavy and have a sharp blade. You won’t feel like you have to work hard to cut stuff when you are using the right knife.

I love travelling and staying in rental places with a kitchen. I know I’m weird, most people think of vacation as including a break from cooking, but this is how I relax. And I usually bring my own knives. I’m not trying to be all pretentious, but it really does affect my whole experience if I have to work with shitty tools, so I bring my own.

I have had the same set of Global knives for almost 20 years and I still love them and use them everyday. My favorite is a big badass cleaver-kinda situation. Great for chopping veg, which I do a lot, and the wide flat blade is perfect for whacking garlic. I also have a serrated knife for slicing bread and stuff that is softer like tomatoes. My small paring knife is perfect for smaller jobs like taking the tops off of strawberries, opening packages (I know, it dulls the blade) and peeling potatoes. Not sure why, but I prefer to peel potatoes in my hand with a small knife. It just feels right, but as previously mentioned, I’m weird.

As far as care goes – don’t put them in the dishwasher, wash them by hand, don’t put them away wet, keep the blade sharp (less chance of cutting yourself with a sharp blade than a dull one), use the non-cutting side to scrape food off of the cutting board and don’t use them to open packages  🙂

Why Just 4 Paragraphs?

I value concise writing.

I don’t want to tell you what to think or try to convince you to think like I do.

I will tell you enough about what I think to hopefully get your own mind working.

4 is my favorite number.

Have Knife, Will Travel

The knives in rental homes invariably suck. That’s why I have learned to bring my own.

Too much baggage you say? I think not. Cooking is one of my biggest creative outlets, and I enjoy doing it every day, home or away.  It is legitimately my hobby, and just like other people might bring their golf clubs or tennis racket on a trip, I bring my favorite knife.

Cooking with shitty knives makes cooking feel like a chore instead of a joy. When I cook I most love that feeling of being “in the flow”, creating, planning, timing, moving with ease about my kitchen and a cheap, dull knife blocks that flow. I’ve got to work harder to make things happen and that’s not fun. But with my trusty steel in my hand, I can navigate a rental kitchen with all of its crappy, mismatched cookware, dreaded induction cooktop and weird smelling utensil drawers. And that is part of the adventure – making delicious food in unfamiliar and less than ideal circumstances. But my knife, my most useful and beloved tool, that I won’t compromise and travel without anymore, lest cooking become a bummer and a burden.

And I get it why rentals don’t stock good knives. People don’t know how or don’t take the time to care for them properly. They throw them in the dishwasher (shudder), instead of washing and drying them lovingly by hand. They use them for all variety of non-cooking related jobs such as opening bags, boxes and beers. Or as a substitute for other tools like screwdrivers. They leave them out in the sun, sand and surf. So why bother? Those of us who care enough can and will just bring our own.

Kitchen Gadget Haiku

Stupid Kitchen Gadgets Haiku Poem by Kc is me AKA Karyn Shomler

Where stupid kitchen gadgets abound,

Overflowing drawers and cabinets,

I use a knife.

 

Not really a classic haiku, but when have I been known to follow the rules?!

As I’ve already stated, ad nauseam, I prefer to use simple, versatile tools. Like a knife instead of a garlic peeler, an avocado cutter, banana slicer or pizza scissors. Rarely do I find these single use gadgets to be time savers or more effective tools (except my hard-boiled egg slicer, judge me if you must). Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE stupid kitchen gadgets! I find them entertaining, puzzling, often hysterically funny and sometimes just plain odd.

A few of my favorites: The motorized ice cream cone (so you don’t have to turn your cone manually to avoid drips, like a sucker). The countertop rotating pizza cooker (um, oven?). The egg cracker (when you just can’t be bothered). Corn cob kernel remover (for those who don’t own, say, a knife?). Would you believe I actually owned the hot dog maker at one point in my life? It was called the “Hot Diggity Dogger”. It looked like and pretty much functioned as a classic toaster. Load the appropriately shaped slots, push down and heat your hot dog bun and frank at the same time (Thanks Darlene). Ingenious! And soooo many more!

I welcome any great finds out there, send ‘em in.

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Stupid Kitchens Gadgets from kc is me AKA Karyn Shomler