December 21, 2009

Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances--Good or Evil?

Photo: Plan 59

So if I were a hard-working, knowledgeable, helpful health blogger, this post would be a pre-holiday round-up of great kitchen-related products. That way, you could find cool things to buy your loved ones, which, in turn, would encourage them to do more healthy home-cooking and less scarfing up big-ass buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

But that would require a lot of thought and research! And I'm afraid I'm all tired out from reading 70,000 tweets a day and catching up on past episodes of Glee baking whole grain cookies and hand-crafting unique holiday gifts from recycled natural materials.

So instead, I thought I'd offer some opinions and observations about kitchen items. Because doesn't it seem like for every practical, time-saving, well-engineered tool or appliance in the kitchen, there's another silly, frustrating, or just plain evil one taking up valuable space? Whether you get them as gifts or accidentally purchase them, it can take a while before you can justify tossing them in the garbage or the Goodwill pile. Meanwhile, you've got to maneuver around them or figure out a way to use them anyway despite their impracticality.

Finally figured out a use for that Dial-o-Matic Slicer!
(Photo: The_bosshog)

And some of the most practical items you own may have annoying features that drive you crazy. Anyone else have opinions about kitchen stuff and how it works, or is it just me?

Things I hate:

1. Microwave ovens that keep nagging you when your food is done.

Regular ovens, which will actually burn your food if you don't remember to rescue it when it's done, do not default to a mode that beeps loudly at you to remind you to take things out. You have to set a timer if you want it to yell at you. So why do microwave ovens, which shut off automatically and will not hurt food left sitting inside it, have such a freakin' complex about hanging out for a minute or two with food left in there? What's the problem, microwave? Why do you give a damn if my plate of leftovers sits innocently behind your glass door for a couple of minutes while I get myself a beverage?

Plus, if you're busy with other things, the stupid microwave will keep on beeping periodically to make sure you don't completely forget to eat the food you've just heated. Does this happen to other people a lot? For me: taking out the recycling on a Sunday night--that's something I might forget to do. But remembering to eat a meal I just finished heating? Um, not a big problem!

And of course the most infuriating thing is that many cheaper microwaves (including the one we own) will not allow you to mute the stupid beeping or even turn down the volume. Great for early risers like me who want to heat things up while others are sleeping! Beep beep beep beeeeep!

2. Blenders that Won't Blend. Or Pour.

I never used to have an opinion about blenders until I became addicted to morning smoothies. But now I've discovered that not all blenders are created equal. (Equally? Damn, now both ways sounds wrong).

So anyway, which one of these two blenders would you guess works better: the shiny industrial-looking Cuisinart we bought my mother-in-law for Christmas a year ago?

Or the vintage Sears "solid state Insta-Blend" model that we are using while we're housesitting at a friends house?

Given the design elements, like the fonts, colors, and the fake woodgrain stick-on label (click on the picture to enlarge, if you care) we're thinking this thing is probably not a recent model. But heck, it's Sears--never known for its cutting-edge aesthetics.

And yes, as you've probably guessed: the homely and probably ancient Sears Insta-Blend kicked the hoity-toity Cuisinart's gleaming silver ass.

The Cuisinart can barely blend an overripe banana. Throw anything frozen in there? It freaks out and shrieks like a two year old having a tantrum. It makes these horrible "I can't take this much longer" sounds, like I've thrown a few screwdrivers and wrenches in there for kicks along with the spinach and mango chunks. Plus, when it does manage to finally chop up something up down at the bottom of the container? It figures its job is done. It's not interested in anything that happens more than an inch above the blades. So it doesn't create that efficient swirly blender-vortex that normally pulls stuff from the top of the container down into the grindy part. This thing just sits there grinding up the same couple inches of liquid until you either stop and stir, or throw the whole damn thing out the window.

Oh, and check out the Cuisinarts' non-functional spout! The pouring end is flat except for a miniscule decorative doohickey that serves to split the flow of smoothie into two streams, neither of which directs the liquid where you're trying to pour it.

In contrast, the vintage Sears Insta-Blend comes in a practical shape for pouring:

Even better? When you throw a bunch of food into it, fresh or frozen? The Insta-Blend actually blends all the items together! Amazing.

Sticky Non-Stick Pans

Even if you manage to buy a brand that's non-toxic, it sure seems like the "non-stick" feature has been oversold. Sure, stuff doesn't stick for a while, but after a few years? Seems like the non-stick cookware is just as clingy as the other stuff.

Fancy Food Processors

This is my own particular neurosis, because I know other people use these and love them and I'm just too lazy to learn to use one properly. The Lobster drags ours out every now and then, and she swears it saves all kinds of time. But (1) the sharp blades scare me; (2) it seems to take forever to gather everything up, pre-slice things so they fit in there and clean up later without accidentally amputating a digit; and (3) whatever blade I've used makes the onions so wet and mushy they taste boiled even if you saute them. (Choose another blade? That would require thought, experimentation and more cleaning!)

I'm sure most of you love your food processors but tend to opt for knife or blender.

Evil Plastics Everywhere!

So a while back I wrote about the possible dangers of endocrine-disrupting BPA's and other toxic substances found food containers and kitchenware. And as a result, I've started using more glass and ceramics, and avoiding certain canned goods and plastic containers. But holy cow, once you start looking around the kitchen... plastic is everywhere! What about the coffee maker that's had hot liquid running through it for years now? The old tupperware? The plastic mixing bowls? And so much of the food straight from the grocery store comes in some sort of container that now seems suspect. I try to remember which of the little recycling numbers are good and which mean trouble, but lots of our old kitchenware doesn't have numbers on it. Yikes!

So enough complaining for now.

Some Kitchen Things I Love:

My Big Ass Coffee Cup:

Yeah, I know, portion control theory advocates small containers, but we're talking COFFEE here. And I happen to take mine with a ton of heated nonfat milk. A friend of mine used to work at a certain ubiquitous coffee franchise, and brought me several of these giganto 20 ounce mugs which I treasure, even as I feel slightly embarrassed for advertising a big corporate chain I don't tend to patronize myself. But now they don't even make these mugs anymore! Just a smaller version. I even take one with me when I travel, because I'm freakishly attached to my morning coffee ritual. Breaking it up into several tiny mugs just won't do.

A Good Garlic Press

Garlic presses, like potato peelers, cheese graters, and pizza-cutters, are the sort of item that can be incredibly useful or not depending on how well-made they are. Many brands of these things do not work all that well, so when you find a good one, you can become very passionate about it. I had a couple of crappy garlic presses before my current one that wouldn't smush the garlic reliably unless I peeled the clove first, but this one mashes on through the peel like it's nothing. I heart you, garlic press!

Salad Spinner

I will try not to notice for the moment that the thing is plastic, and just hope it is a good kind of plastic. Because between toxic pesticide residue (non-organic) or gritty dirt and the occasional small slug (organic) you gotta wash your lettuce. I never think ahead, and I hate soggy salad! Plus, I love the whole pumping whirring ritual.

Toaster Oven

I love the way these take almost no time to preheat, and on summer days, don't turn the whole kitchen hot like a regular oven can. Also, the "bake" element and the "broil" element are both right there on either side of the food, so if I'm lazy I can sometimes skip flipping something over by first baking, then broiling.

The only thing toaster ovens don't do very well? Make toast. Go figure.

So I'm hoping some of you also have opinions about kitchen items? Any favorites? Any gadgets or features that try your patience?


  1. I'm with you on the big ass coffee cup-why get up to pour another cup when I can get like 6 cups in my favorite mug.

    I'm convinced that if I enjoyed cooking my weight would be a huge issue. I'm a terrible cook-but I am excellent at chopping. Basically my family lives off of fruit, vegetables (and a vile tasting entree that I attempt!)All the tools I really need for my kitchen are a cutting board and a good knife.

  2. I love kitchen gadgets...I cook a lot. Here's some of my faves:

    Cuisinart coffee maker with a caraffe pot - keeps coffee warm all day with no bitterness and will even grind the beans. Yum.

    Braun hand mixer with chop attachment - I can blend soups, make oat flour and all manner of yum.

    Kitchenaid pro blender - it ain't a vitamix but this baby can blend ANYthing in there and damn if it isn't delicious and smooth. Louder than a cyclone but works great.

    Whippit - those cool looking Whip cream cannisters are amazing. Cream + cartridge and you have instant whip cream - no mess. YUM.

    My bread robot is my new best friend too...

    I'm with you on the bigass coffee cup thing. And it has to feel good clasped in your hands. All part of the ritual of morning caffeine therapy :)

  3. lol My kitchen cupboards are clogged up with gadgets that are used once or twice and then (permanently) stored away...

    I'm with you on the beeping microwave. To make matters worse, my washing machine (not a cheap make or model) beeps when a load is done and REFUSES TO STOP beeping until it's either emptied or switched off... It drives the cats mad and I can see no way of turning that 'function' off... Ironically, there is a middle-of-the-night 'economy' setting. How economical is three hours' sleep in between unloading a washing machine?!

  4. The appliances and gadgets in my mom's kitchen is mostly useful. We don't have any of those crazy and useless gadgets that cost a lot of money. We're all about practicality.


  5. I do Agree. Lots of unnecessary kitchen appliances definitely neither going to help you to loose weight if you are overweight nor helping you to stop from gaining weight.

  6. Crabby, you and I sound like equals in the kitchen as I'm intimidated by many gadgets - seeing as my cooking stinks and all. But my all-time favorite thing to use in the kitchen (do spatulas count as gadgets?) is a mini food processor that I use for making my famous pasta and bean soup. It is tiny, efficient and could cut through most of the rain forest without so much as a whimper - unlike your wussy Cuisinart blender.

  7. Ack the microwave ding thing drives me NUTS!!! I really wish there was a way to turn that damn feature off but I have yet to figure that out. Ranks right up there with the reminder buzzer on my dryer that I can not turn off since it doesn't have a way to do that.

    I think that some gadgets are helpful but most become dust collectors in my home since I seem to be much more efficient at using non-gadget cooking techniques.

  8. I tricked out my kitchen earlier this year, and ended up having a great garage sale. It cost me more to make my ice cream then to buy it at the local grocery. My blender didn't blend, and certainly didn't crush ice, and cleaning the darn thing was a nightmare.

    In the long run, I kept my microwave (doesn't everyone?) and my rice steamer (which I mostly use to steam veggies and dim sum) and my George Foreman Grill (which I simply can't live without, and use just about every day at LEAST once).

    Other than that, I don't even have a hand mixer since I stopped baking.

  9. Gadgets? What stinkin' gadgets?

    I'm a widower living alone, and my inner caveman rules in my place.

    If I have a big knife, a big spoon, and a big bowl, then I have everything I need to fix and eat my favorite meal of a salad-like serving of chopped roma tomatoes and chopped red (or orange or yellpw) sweet bell peppers.

    The only other gadgets might be a microwave and a microwave-safe cup to melt some butter to drizzle over my tomato-pepper salad.

    Gadgets aren't for cavemen.

  10. Sorry, Crabby, I just can't get past the Mango Spinach smoothie image long enough to even ask which wonderful garlic press you found at last. And I even like spinach!

  11. My absolute favorite appliance is my juicer! I make freshly pressed vegetable juice every morning which really helps with my veggie and fruit intake for the day.

    Love my electric kettle for press pot coffee and cups of tea at a whim.

    My microplane zester and good grips peeler get lots of use.

    And the break maker, I make homemade whole grain bread twice a week for my husband's lunch sandwiches, can never go back to nasty store bought bread after having homemade.

  12. I agree with the microwave beep. Does my microwave think I'm so incompetent? Doesn't it know that I don't have 12 arms and I might need a minute? Sheesh.

    I'd also like to second the salad spinner. It's probably the most used gadget in my kitchen.

    I also love my Epicurean cutting board. It doesn't hang onto bacteria (good for cutting chicken) and won't dull your knives. Compared to my plastic cutting boards, this one makes chopping easier. I got mine here:|4|1||4|cutting%20board||0&cm_src=SCH

  13. I live by one school of thought (that of Alton Brown) there's only one unitasker in my kitchen, and that's my fire extinguisher. If I can't think of at least 4 ways to use something, forget it.

    That best friends are my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and my Big @$$ Coffee mug (although mine is used for tea and hot chocolate. Not a coffee drinker here).

  14. I turn into a psychotic mess when I'm hungry, so I've been known to scream at my fancy cuisinart blender when I've manually stirred it several times and reblended, but when I go to pour my smoothie out...Plop! Solid frozen strawberry! Argh!!

    I love my bread machine. For unknown reasons every time I try making bread by hand it turns into a blob of slightly cooked dough. But the bread machine just magically takes basic ingredients and turns it into bread!

    I also love my food processor, but it is definitely a b**** to clean.

    Crockpot: not so much. Too big and heavy and all it does it bake everything to the sides so you have to soak it for 3 decades before you can begin to clean it. I guess I could use the plastic liner...but then...PLASTIC!

  15. I'm loving these comments--not only am I laughing out loud at some of them, I'm getting Gadget-Lust from some of these suggestions!

    And I swear spinach and mango DO taste great together in a smoothie! Just need juice, or milk plus a little honey or sweetener.

  16. I would like to say I adore my vitamix---but I just LIKE it.
    the husband I swear would marry the thing if he could yet Im still harboring lottsa love my cheap yet sturdy old school osterizer blender.

    go figure.

  17. I'm still stuck on the purple switchplates in the blender pictures - can't take my eyes off of them! I do love my new Kitchen Aid blender - it grinds up frozen fruit quite nicely. Plus it has a pour old Kitchen Aid did not. Weird, I know.

    I use a salad spinner all the time and never thought of it as being plastic - I guess because the food isn't in it for very long?

    Love my colorful flat cutting boards, and am hoping for a mandolin for Christmas - all the slicing of my salad veggies by hand is getting old!

  18. Cookie press! I love it, its from Pampered Chef. (I guess that since this is a health blog, I shouldn't be singing the praises of cookies, cookie presses, or anything sugary and salty and fattening... ah, too bad)

  19. Consider that annoying microwave reminder ding from another point of view: the distracted cook. Before I upgraded to my dinging microwave, more than once I'd put meat in the microwave to defrost, and totally forget about it until way later. What to do? When in doubt, throw it out? Risk e. coli infection? I always erred on the side of caution, and ditched the food. Doesn't happen anymore with my handy reminder ding. And as for regular use, I'm usually waiting for the food anyway, so no issue there.

  20. Shelley, I did not know you could use a musical instrument to slice vegetables!

    I suppose I should go google mandolins, but I prefer to think of you playing tunes and chopping produce on the same contraption.

  21. All I know is, I am ridiculously happy to have received a new microwave for Christmas.

    The old one was some ginormous mid-'80s vintage monstrosity the ex dragged in one day, which had to be turned on with pliers because the knob was missing and which took up six of the ten square feet of counter space I have in my kitchen.

    The new one is small and cute and has a turntable and doesn't have to be turned on with hand tools and leaves room on the counter for things which are not the microwave. It's amazing.

    I also have one of those little single-serving blenders, because all I ever use a blender for is smoothies (and the occasional pureeing of spinach for palak paneer) and only for myself, so having a huge blender is a total waste.

  22. This is the funniest post ever. You need a funny post button so we can all vote. Thanks for making me howl and have my boss look at me cross-eyed!!!

    um, yeah..ok, what was my point? Oh yeah - this was one funny post!

    Oh - wait - I love kitchen gadgets. I will use them one or twice and then stock pile them in the my cupboards. They will come in hand during the Apocalypse, I'm sure. The only gadgets I use on a consistent basis are my french press and microwave (with the annoying "your food is ready" beep).

  23. lol I listened to the microwave beep for 30 minutes last night. My hubby had warmed something up for himself and for some reason the "friendly reminder" wasn't enough for him. Seriously, I finally gave up waiting on him to notice and threw his food back in the fridge. Guess he wasnt too hungry after all.

  24. I love my coffee maker. It's not special, I would love any functional coffee maker, cuz I love coffee!

    We bought a fancy juicer many years ago with way too many parts that is a huge pain in the butt to use, so we don't.

  25. My problem with the huge coffee cups is the coffee gets cold so quickly, long before I can drink it all.

    I have a mini food processor that I use for a couple of small jobs. Other than that, they seem like so much more trouble than just pulling out a good knife and a cutting board, so I won't be getting one any time soon.

    I do find my Vita-Mix to have been worth it -- it gets used at least twice a day.

  26. 1) It never occurred to me to put garlic in a press before peeling it. Now I shall go home and test my press.

    2) I had an immersion blender then got rid of it before I did much cooking, and now I wish I had it again. Milkshakes! Blended soups! The possibilities aren't endless, but I certainly make enough recipes that having one would help.

  27. The thing I love most in my kitchen? My husband, who's taken a shine to cooking :-)

    But seriously? My kitchen is the size of a shoebox (really. NO, really) so we can't have a lot of gadgets. Most used and favourites are the French Press pots, the water cooker, a GOOD set of knives, a VERY good quality pan and ricecooker. Oh and my handmixer kicks ass with frozen berries to make smoothies. Those huge mugs from that ubiquitous coffee place? I have several but I get the employee discount ;-) and we still have them... my favourite is the Beijing mug.

    You don't have the peel the garlic before you put it in the press???

  28. I hope that the blender designers of the world take note of your helpful diagrams!

  29. Much like the microwave beep, my smoke detector annoys me when I'm busy burning things. It goes off. I hit the "STOP SCREAMING AT ME" button and it does, but it gives five more mini screeches at one minute intervals for the next five minutes. Each time it does that, one of my cats complains bitterly.. fearing that it's just going to go off again. I should just learn to cook.

  30. I'm with you on the microwave! One little beep would be more than enough!

    My number one kitchen item, s good dull knife! and a wooden cutting board. Every time I use a very sharp knife(not in the OR)in the kitchen I cut myself. With a dull one, never :-) I'm like the marines, I get it done with less!

  31. You're right, the tone of beep from the microwave is spectacularly nagging. Usually, I'm microwaving when I'm hungry so it's not like I'm going to wander off and forget all about it.
    I'm not that big on appliances but I do love my electric tea kettle (British, don't you know). And I'm pretty fond of my slow cooker and bread maker, both of which (if asked nicely) get busy while I'm out at work and greet me with yummy smells and dinner when I get home.

  32. I love my kitchen gadgets. Please give the brand of your garlic press. Mine leaves over half the clove in the hopper, I stopped using it.
    Immersion blender, couldn't live without it.
    cast iron cookware--love it to death. Saute, sear, stir fry then finish up in the oven.
    Capresso hot water pot--beautiful as well as great functioning.

  33. One of my friends just made cookies in a toaster oven last night and, even though I'm not a REAL cooker, I couldn't help but notice the convenience of using That as opposed to a regular oven. Not to mention they make a great gift.

  34. Oops forgot to mention the garlic press brand: The Pampered Chef. Got it as a Christmas present years ago, and it still smushes great!

  35. I hadn't realized my good fortune in having a microwave that beeps once (and then sits quietly blinking "end" over and over until you open it) before I read the comments. I thought the one at work that beeps three times a minute until you pay attention to it was the anomaly. I'll be careful when I have to replace this one.

    My Chemex coffee pot has no plastic parts, of course.

    My blender was given to my parents as a present some time in the late sixties (harvest gold with fake wood grain labels--a clue) and still turns diced potatoes into latke makings, although it's been making strange noises lately. Since I don't pour anything out of it--I spoon the potato-egg mix into the skillet--I don't know whether it dribbles or not.

    I have coffee mugs in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, depending on how much coffee I want and how fast I intend to drink it. Not a "one size fits all mornings" person.

    My new oven has a Delay Start and a Cooking Time setting, which means I can put a sweet potato in the oven, set it, and forget about the time. I haven't been able to think of anything else I cook that doesn't need a preheated oven, though. And the oven does have a nagging beep!

    Garlic press? I've never made anything that called for not-whole garlic cloves. What am I missing?

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  36. I love my big cafe-au-lait mugs that I drink tea and cocoa out of. Love my blender that whizzes things to a pulp.

    I hate that I stupidly used a sharp knife in my favourite non-stick frying pan tonight and cut it a few time.

    I also buy giant buckets of chopped garlic at Costco so don't need a garlic press. I am also quite fond of my lemon and lime squeezer.

  37. So funny! I am so bad in the kitchen! I do use my microwave a lot so I best stay away from saying bad things about it! :-) I love my toaster oven that I also bake my meatloaves & chicken in BUT I so agree with those dang blenders! I tool back plenty before I settled on the one I have.

    And SO YES on those friggin non stick pans!

  38. Funny, and just plain true! I read somewhere that a good way to weed out kitchen gadgets is to put them all in boxes in the garage. As you use one, bring it back in the kitchen and find a place for it. After a few months, whichever ones haven't been used they should go straight to goodwill. I haven't done it yet. I'd probably be left with a spatula and a pizza cutter. :)

  39. 1) That picture? I NEED that dress!
    2) I feel the exact same way about food processors. They are the devil. Just taking one apart and washing it will convince me to never use it again.
    3) Now I want a salad spinner. Darn you.

  40. I really, really need a salad spinner!

    I got a food processor three weeks ago and I use it every day. It's been a long time coming...

    My blender also sees a lot of use and I have an okayish garlic press (much better than the previous one).

    I do not have the following: microwave oven (good riddance!), toaster oven and non-stick cookware.

    What I do have and use regularly is a JuiceFountain juice extractor.

    We're moving to a new house in January and I think all my handy appliances will actually fit on the counter AND leave me plenty of working space! Woohoo!

  41. the kitchenaid stand mixer we got last christmas is currently my favourite: bright red and great for all kinds of stuff including the home made bread my husband makes. Other must haves: sharp knives (and sharpener), swivel veggie peeler, blender that can crush ice (so many can't!), electic kettle (it's that Brit thing again). Less essential but fun: tortilla press, expresso machine, icecream maker, popcorn maker (air popped, so practically healthy!). I agree on non stick pans- we now have well seasoned cast iron and steel pans, and they don't stick at all- and if the "coating" is damaged by a knife or overenthusiastic scrubbing, it rebuilds with use. The microwave comments made me laugh- i need that feature on my oven timer, which just beeps once, but leaves the oven on. Not the microwave which switches off!

  42. I've had that prob with non stick pans before, but when i got my first BRAND NEW SET i actually read the instructions. said to season them with olive oil periodically to keep them non stick!

    i looove the vitamix, Crabby.. thanks! it made it totally doable to make homemade babyfood - But now it's in safe keeping in the basement.. but we just found out that I'm going to be making more for baby #2!!

    and for thawing said babyfood? i'd throw it in the ancient microwave we have (you can pick from either cook or defrost. that's IT) and then forget about it completely. done the same thing with frozen meat. truly annoying.. i actually wish mine had the annoying reminder beeps! I can't tell you how many times i've put my lunch in there and sat down to feed Lilly, only to find my lunch cold 2hrs later.

    my coffeemaker tho.. i loooove that! we went thru several in 2yrs because of our stupidity, but then i found one that opens up in the front so i don't have to slide the dumb thing out from under the cabinet every time i make coffee and then slosh water when it goes back. The hubby moves it anyway, making a mess.

  43. Thank you for sharing the garlic press info! Pampered Chef, while often over-priced, is sometimes totally worth it. Sounds like the garlic press is one of those items...

    I'm all good with our blender - one of those retro-looking Osterizers. Plus you can use it as a verb, which is so much more fun than "blend" - "Honey, we need to Osterize the butternut squash soup now!" See? Awesome!!

    The kitchen gadget to which I'm most attached is our toaster. Mostly because it took us so long to find the right one, I think. I've been married almost 5 years, and the toaster we registered for and received as a wedding gift was a pretty, 4-slice Oster toaster - that worked like crap and completely stopped toasting things after about 8 months. I did friggin' RESEARCH on toasters. For MONTHS. We knew we wanted a 4-slice, and it had to toast to at least two different levels simultaneously (husband likes his toast light, while I like mine nearly burned), which limited our options some. I had a couple of fancy fancy fancy ones on the list, but we decided $400 was too much to spend on a toaster. We finally settled on a $100 KitchenAid, and we LOVE it. It still works just as well as it did the first day we got it, and there is no indication it's planning on quitting any time soon. For those hunting for a new toaster, we got this one but in all stainless:

  44. I love my gadgets! Microwave and toaster oven, definitely, but I also give the bread maker and rice cooker regular workouts. How did I live without them? I can't eat regular bread now that I'm in the habit of getting the good stuff with no preservatives and vague taste of plastic wrap.

    I don't use my veggie steamer as much as I used to, or my crock pot, but I love them both. The crock pot is a wonderful time-saver for certain types of meals and has saved my butt more than once. Toss everything in, turn it on, go away. How much easier does it have to be?

    I like my dehydrator, too. I use it for veggies in season, which I then store in the freezer or with dessicants in glass jars. Then I use the veggies in recipes as needed. A can of garbanzo beans, some curry and onion powder, and a handful of dried spinach leaves (which reconstitute in the liquid while cooking) results in a delicious meal over rice, in just a few minutes!

    What hasn't proven very useful to me is the food processor. Generally speaking, I can chop with a knife just as quickly, and the cleanup is a lot easier.

  45. I can tell from the design that your Sears blender was made by Oster -and they make the very best blenders. Really.

    I just replaced one that I'd used for 30 years (and looked very much like the one in the photo - because I finally broke a part that could not be replaced.)

    They blend anything.

    My favorite kitchen tools: a clay pot in the winter, my gas grill -technically not in the kitchen but I use it almost every day. My Bunn coffeemaker.

    Like you, I use a blender or a knife- no food processor here.

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. I am late in commenting though that never stops me from commenting.
    My favorite gadget is the spoon.
    2nd to that is the coffee funnel thing with papers
    and 3rdly (is that a wordly?) a saucepan so I can boil water.
    I am also fond of my sink and my oven. And lighting is also good.

    I like this lemon squeezer too.

  48. My Sharp microwave is probably 20 years old or more... beeps once and shuts up about it. No problems with my old nuker, it also does double duty as a convection oven.

    Blender is a Vita-Mix, can't live without it. Last one lasted 20 years... hope this one does too!

    Big ass coffee cup... that's hubby's department. His plastic tumbler holds a full 32 ounces. At least his Bodum Columbia french press is stainless steel. I drink 12 ounce mugs o' green and other tea. Three cheers for the For Life fine stainless steel infuser.

    Love my Henckels Santoku knife. I have a food processor, mostly use the knife. Food processor takes up most of the dishwasher's top rack. Knife takes up none.

    LOVE the Zojirushi rice cooker! Makes super great steel cut oatmeal! Nice for lentils, brown rice and quinoa too.

    Other favorites are the Cuisinart Griddler and my Cuisinart electric wok. And my set of Microplane graters. My mother's old plain grapefruit knife. No idea how old THAT is... 40+ years at least. The Zyliss garlic press. Old but going strong.

    I guess my gadgets and appliances fall on the good side. Love me my kitchen gadgets.

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  50. Nice post. I found it while trying to find a solution to the damn microwave reminder beep problem. For my GE Spacemaker there is NONE. Every time it goes off it's like it's calling me an idiot for something that I DON'T CARE ABOUT. I swear I'd disassemble it and rip out the speaker if it were mine.

    I prefer to have my big ass coffee mug too. I also designate for myself a big ass Wawa travel coffee mug with the small mouth to keep the ice in my water out of my mouth as I sip.

    I think it's very cool what you said about promoting brands that you don't necessarily support. I neatly covered everything in electrical tape.

  51. Although your comments about the the comparison with the Sears Counter Craft Insta Blend are hillarious...they are so true!

    I bought my Sears mine back in 1986, retired it in 2008 when I went with all Stainless in my kitchen bought a very nice and impressive looking Oster blender and my Sear blender was stored (luckily!!!).

    A month ago I was blending white cheese with Basil and Spinach for a pesto sauce and the Oster quit on me wiht 30 minutes to go on serving dinner!!!! If I used it more than 5 times a year since 2008 (no moe than 20 in its life span is too much).

    Them I remember I still had my Sears blender and guess what it owrked and great!!! Thats when I noticed that my "old" blender was actaully more powerfull than the new one! Not a bad investment for $25.00 that it cost me new back in 1986!

  52. I was on line searching for a gasket for Guess What? My Sears Insta-blend 14 Speed Solid State Blender!! My mother gave me mine after I got married in 1975. It could have been a Christmas gift at some point early 80's. About 5 years ago, the clutch went out on it. I shopped for months for a new one & even bought one & took it home but upon examination decided it would not last near long enough (& didn't have enough speeds!! LOL) so I returned it. Next I began searching on line. Lo & behold I found one on E-Bay for $15.00 from someone's grandma's estate sale & bought it!! I was SO excited! I have been using it daily for over 4 years to make my morning smoothie with frozen fruits & carrots & it blends everything smoothly in one minute! I just pray it lasts till I die!!! LOL
    Another old time favorite is the Freeze Fountain which grinds ice & I can make my own Iced Cappuchino. Mom got my brother & I each one MANY moons ago when my now 30 something boys were very young. Mine is still working. My brothers Fountain died & I found him one on E-bay.


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