First up is the Knork. The Knork is a better version of a pie fork, as it is usable both right- and left-handed and is intended for use with any food, not just a pastry. Not only does it remove the need for those awkward steps unique to the American style of eating (a holdover from Colonial days when the Brits still ate like civilized folk), but it actually provides a useful tool for anyone who doesn’t have a second hand. And it’s available in plastic; think about how this could make eating at a cocktail party so much easier! In tandem with one of those plates with the built-in stemware holder, that is.
The Knork is also available for the food-service industy. Richard Blais, of Top Chef fame, apparently uses Knorks in all of his Flip Burger Boutiques. Ostensibly, this eliminates the need to purchase and clean knives. Makes sense.
Joining the Knork in this new wave of cutlery innovation is the Chork. Created by an enterprising amateur sushi eater, the Chork is composed of two pieces that function apart at the tips as chopsticks and together as a fork on the reverse end. When it was first introduced back in the spring, it got some enthusiastic thumbs up, but I don’t see a use for it myself. At sushi restaurants, I unapologetically use my hands to eat sushi, a fork to eat everything else and for every other Asian food, I’m just all fork. I can use chopsticks almost as well as a fork, but — quite frankly — that’s not saying much. I’m a completely graceless eater thanks to a couple of old injuries. And general clumsiness.
*Let's be real: Americans.
Egullet got the spring cleaning urge a couple of weeks ago. After the success of 2009's Don't Shop Now month in urging gulletteers to better steward food resources by cooking from pantry and freezer, The Great Freezer Clear-Out of 2011 seems logical.
What people found in their freezers was a snapshot of the owner's habits and whims. As a preface, it's worth noting the surprisingly large number of people with more than one freezer. With a big garden, a catering business, friends who raise livestock, or a deer hunter in the family, it makes sense. Ordinary suburbanites with giant freezers — I wouldn't have expected that.
One poster shared an epic freezer hoarder story: Her friend owned an appliance store, and delivered an extra-large chest freezer to someone just across the state line. The delivery team transferring the old freezer's contents to the new one began finding packages of meat that were five and 10 years old. What to do with it, they asked the buyer? Put it into the new freezer, she declared. Same with the layers of 20-year-old, 30-year-old and 40-year-old meat. At the bottom, a package of meat was dated 1947.
"That's why we clean out our freezer," wrote commenter runwestierun, "so we don't have appliance people in other states talking about us."
After the jump, the most expected and unexpected items in the freezer.
Outdated and outmoded kitchen equipment gets a whole second act in vacation houses and beach cottages, as I was reminded at a friend's farm over a cozy winter weekend.
Every drawer and cupboard yielded something from a past generation. White Ironstone dishes, plates and cups (shown here), represented a really popular piece of Americana kitchen culture until the advent of microwave ovens, which heated the Ironstone to scorching temperatures.
The counter displayed a set of colored cut-crystal cordial glasses from someone's great-aunt's trip to Vienna in 1963, and also oversize "free-form" wooden salad bowl and tossers from the early 1970s.
The Crock-pot was Brady Bunch avocado green, but more important, it was festooned with dancing mushrooms, the very emblem of the 1970s kitchen. Mauve ruffled "country" dish towels from the early 1980s completed the look.
There were macrame owls, another iconic 1970s decor theme.
The Betty Crocker cookbook on the counter participated in the wayback theme. It was open to a delightfully retro recipe from the 1950s. Check it out after the jump.
I'm an Alton, leveling off tablespoons and monitoring temperatures with an AP Chemistry lab precision. That's why i'm a better baker than she is. I don't have the years of experience that allow great chefs to determine when the oil is the perfect frying temp just by looking at the shimmer of the surface. But I do know that 365 degrees works great for me.
Before the article, the pressure cooker made occasional appearances for corned beef or chicken stew. Now I use it several times a week to steam whole fish, make cheesecake, stew apples for applesauce, cook whole spaghetti squash, make Indian dal, cook brown rice in 15 minutes and risotto in 8 minutes, no stirring. A pressure cooker reduces cooking time by about 70 percent less time, which means that a tough beef brisket is ready in about 1 hour.
Therefore, I can screech into the driveway at 5:30, prep ingredients and serve risotto by 6:15 or pot roast by 7.
Up next on my (very long) kitchen learning agenda induction cookers, which use copper-wrapped metal and a ferromagnetic cooking pan (steel or cast iron) to create heat through induction rather than conduction. It's much more efficient, directing 90 percent of the energy to the pot, rather than the usual 50 percent of an open burner. Now I have the idea to combine technologies.
This intriguing geegaw is a homemade inkjet printer head that creates text in sugar instead of ink. It was constructed using a piezo buzzer as a control valve, whatever that means. The picture reminds me of the sugar-and-food-coloring letters you can buy in the grocery store to put on a birthday cake — but much, much cooler.
Go here to see the single-drop injection captured on video using a timed strobe.
The recent replier ZenSojourner, a 36-inch long screed on her decades-long gadget spree, wins the prize. A metal thing to rid hands of onion smell, a ceramic disc that is supposed to keep milk from scorching, a mango corer, a hamburger press and special brushes to clean the inside of the garbage disposal. That last one wins the prize, but there are at least a dozen other contenders on her list. Mango corer?
I accumulate gadgets reluctantly and am quick to purge what isn't being used. I just got rid of a little carton-of-eggs-shaped mold for making Jello Easter eggs. (Hey, it's fun if you have kids.) And the oversize cake dome that takes up half the space in the biggest cabinet in the kitchen? Its days are numbered.
When more arrived, she folded in the leaves and pushed the now-square table up to another square table for 8 seats (a few were children).
I hoped more people would show up, to see what else this simple-but-effective design would do. What if we made two partial circles with the flat sides pushed together — would that hold 10 people? Or three tables with the flat parts together and the round ends out — would that hold as many as 18 people?
Sure, dining room tables at home perform like this. So maybe the innovation didn't reach the level of our Innovation Issue, but how many times have you seen it at a restaurant? Right — none. And how many times would it have been a big help? Exactly — lots.
Over the past two years, the kitchen has been cluttered by a succession of gadgets and appliances including box graters, grill woks, juicers, toaster ovens, electric skillets and blenders.
Next week I'm pitching another round of ideas at the new editor. I've got some good ones, and I'm looking for the killer, the one that will be impossible to turn down. Maybe microwaveable cookware? Ice cream freezers? High-end bakeware?
Bites readers have great kitchens and lots of sophisticated cookware — what piece of gear or small appliance tugs at your culinary curiosity?
Flood-damaged kitchen owners, set your sights high. Get the best of the good stuff when you rebuild, using this handy guide.
Case-in-point: This carbon fiber-handled refrigerator (at right) from Gorenje, whose sound-tracked, multi-channel, interactive website is too expensive to view with unshielded eyes. This atmospheric site doesn't explain why carbon fiber handles are better, and no pricing information is available, but those just add to the mystery of this wicked handsome beast.
Since you're the busy kind, you'll need gadgets that multitask, like this YouTube ready microwave, with a screen where the viewing window would normally be. You can watch "David After Dentist" or your kid's piano recital while the Lean Cuisine cooks. Just be sure to keep Annoying Orange videos far from this voice activated coffeemaker unless you want hilarity to ensue.
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