With Thanksgiv-ing on the horizon there are two things that stand between most folks and culinary perfection — finding the turkey baster and getting an accurate reading from your meat thermometer.
Ahh, those kitchen gadgets. They’ve been making them for centuries and advertising them on late night television infomercials for decades. Even if you bought it because you were worried it would never be available in stores or because you were worried about all those lonely under-worked operators standing by — or, like me, picked it up at a yard sale later — we all have gadgets we love, even if we can’t always find them.
Most of our kitchen gadgets were either given to us at our wedding 28 years ago or came in a Christmas stocking. Very few were actually acquired because we said, “Let’s go to the store; we need a melon baller.”
Our silverware drawer is a jumble of smaller gadgets kept behind and to the side of the silverware tray. We also have two other drawers devoted to gadgets. In that drawer are three bottle openers with church keys (bet most of you under the age of about 40 never used one of those) a little grater, a spiral whisk, a spatula, melon baller, cake server and the blades to the electric knife.
Those larger gadgets we own include a stovetop omelet pan with hinged lid, a microwave omelet dish, a two-egg microwave dish, a microwave bacon tray, a hand-operated chopper, an electric chopper and a huge Cusinart food processor.
Among the most unused gadgetry in the kitchen that hog the most counter and cabinet space are an electric fajita griddle, an electric skillet, a fondue set, a wok, an ice cream maker that doesn’t use ice, and a microwave soup and stew pot.
Nearly all those gadgets either work really well or save time — if you can find the gadget and all its parts fast enough. There’s a work-around for nearly all those items and often times it’s just easier to use a fork instead of the wisk, a bowl in place of the egg cooker and a paper plate in place of the bacon tray.
Some of our favorite gadgets are our George Foreman grill, our slow cooker and the Ginsu knife my folks gave us for Christmas one year. We’re now on our second slow cooker and second Foreman grill because we’ve used them so much. The knife — the one they used to cut beer cans with on TV before as a primer to its tomato-slicing prowess — is the original. For slicing tomatoes or bread there’s nothing like it.
The comedy sketch that the comedian Gallagher used to do about the Sledge-o-matic used to crack me up. Before pounding a vegetable with that huge wooden mallet he would throw out the same rhythmic sales pitch that they used to hawk one of my favorite gadgets of all time — the Veg-o-matic.
My mom regularly turned out mounds of French fries with that handy little tool. If you see one in good shape at a garage sale, grab it fast. It’ll make your life easier.