Kitchen Gear

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kitchen Gear Collectors, Brainstorm With Me

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Testing meat thermometers was a challenge.
  • Testing meat thermometers was a challenge.
Regular netizens of Bites may know about my side gig testing equipment for Fine Cooking magazine.

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?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Post-Deluge Kitchen Gear Shopping Style

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 10:51 AM


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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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't Wash Dishes — Re-Use Old CD Cases

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 2010 at 8:20 AM


Bites has been busy shoveling out the basement and running the bathtub full of water, so pardon the absence.

But now, with Metro water supplies in pretty good shape, there's no reason to panic. But don't turn on the dishwasher yet. Instead, do something your instincts have always urged you to do: re-use that CD spindle case. Admit it: you've always cried a little inside when you had to throw one out. From Gizmodo, this idea for putting them to good use.

At least one commenter also uses the top as a cereal bowl, while another warns of biphenols in non-food-grade packaging.

I admit to running a bathtub full of water on Sunday, and I saw someone buying four cases of bottled water yesterday at Trader Joe's. What are you doing for water conservation During The Other Situation 2010?

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Monday, April 26, 2010

All Tomorrow's Refrigerators

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Somewhere in upstate New York in an upscale retirement community, a former art director is just settling into his favorite chair with a cup of tea beneath a framed original of this.

1966 refrigerator advertisement
  • 1966 refrigerator advertisement

The Gemini 19, an appliance so futuristic it requires matching models to properly display it. So marvelously powerful that the user's head must be placed in a goldfish bowl for protection. (Goldfish bowl sold separately.)

Read the hilarious text — and see another futuristic refrigerator — at Paleofuture, a site documenting a future that never was. (There's much more at the site, but a lot of it is about boys imagining new ways to fly, which is pretty much always what the future is about, at least in the past.)

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Makin' Cookies With Photoshop Cook

Posted By on Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 10:50 AM

If you're like me, you love the idea of baking -- and especially the results -- but just don't have enough time, clean counter space or patience to do it. (Or maybe baking feels a little boring compared to the danger and sizzle of, say, deep-frying wontons? Could just be me.) Anyway, as someone who sits in front of a computer for most of his waking life, I am stoked to present the latest in digital manipulation: Photoshop Cook. Faux-dough shop, if you will -- sure to make baking the tool-selecting, dragging-and-dropping, batch-processing breeze all us office drones/lazy-ass bakers have been hoping for. Enjoy!

(HT to our intrepid art director, Elizabeth Jones.)

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Electric Can Openers: The Princess Phone of Tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 9:34 AM

It's obvious that vinyl records and phone booths top the list of once-important cultural items that will be cocktail conversation for the next generation. "Oh, my grandparents had a dial phone!" or "I have a photo of my great-uncle that was taken with a Polaroid."

In trying to go deeper, I've started a list that includes saccharin tablets, tonsilectomies, dried parsley and tractor feed printers.

1958 General Electric can opener
  • 1958 General Electric can opener
And electric can openers. It was only 10 years ago that a friend was dumbfounded by the lack of electric can opener on my kitchen counter, and admittedly, I was a little embarrassed.

The California fresh revolution, better transportation and advances in freezing mean that months pass without a single can being opened for a recipe. The last one was probably coconut milk, which is best opened with a bottle opener.

An electric can opener just seems like another thing to clutter up the counter. And another item -- like the electric skillet -- that's no better in its electric version that a really good manual model.

Help complete the list of buggy whip items -- kitchen and otherwise. Or, maybe you just can't do without an electric can opener. That's worth hearing about, too.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Greening of Nashville Takeout Boxes

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Ashley Currie, a Nashville entrepreneur, wants to help the planet by making takeout containers more green.

Currie has started a business offering eco-friendly food containers and other disposable foodware for restaurants, caterers and anyone planning a party.

Ashley Currie
  • Ashley Currie
Formerly a sales rep at the Scarritt-Bennett conference and retreat center, Currie has planned special events for years, and she noticed that customers are increasingly distressed by the amount of Styrofoam and plastic waste generated by even a simple party, what with all the cups, plates, flatware, napkins and such.

Seizing upon a niche, she started iHospitality. Her inventory includes plates, bowls, cups, to-go boxes, cutlery, napkins, lunch trays, bakeware and bags. All are either recyclable or designed to break down into compost, even in a home compost bin. They are also biodegradable in a landfill.

The products are made from various materials such a bagasse (the pulpy material that remains after sugar cane juice is extracted). "Throw it in a landfill or compost it, and it will decompose and actually enrich the soil," Currie says. Bagasse is oilproof (neither butter nor olive oil nor down-home pork drippings will make it too soggy) and microwavable.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today We Put Wii Remotes and Dolls into a Blender!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 8:08 AM

If my study is filling up with small appliances, it must be time for a Fine Cooking Test Drive! (Parental guidance warning: Princess Barbies may be harmed later in this post.)

Blendtec blender. Son of Bass-o-matic.
  • Blendtec blender. Son of Bass-o-matic.
I'm testing blenders for a a late summer issue of the magazine. Research reveals that most people use a blender for smoothies, so we're stocking up on frozen strawberries and vanilla yogurt. The next-most-common usage is "icy drinks," meaning cucumber-ginger limeade (and margaritas and daiquiris). Limes and Triple Sec.

Then we'll test the darlings by pureeing cream soups.

But let's face it -- all those tests are hardly worthy of a good blender. And especially a really great blender, and our lineup has some classics: the Oster Beehive, Waring, Blendtec.

It was Blendtec who had this fantastic idea for blending. Dancing Princess Barbies! Glowsticks!

Two Wii remotes! Weezer even got involved!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Treasured Culinary Possessions

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 7:25 AM

"That's my great-grandmother's antique. [7UP bottle]. It was passed down to Mary Deil to Gussie Johnson to the great-great-granddaughter, me," says Janice Dunlap, a disabled retired cosmetologist in Waco, Texas.
  • "That's my great-grandmother's antique. [7UP bottle]. It was passed down to Mary Deil to Gussie Johnson to the great-great-granddaughter, me," says Janice Dunlap, a disabled retired cosmetologist in Waco, Texas.

The things that become antiques -- who can guess? These long-neck 7-Up bottles from the 1960s -- my cousin had one and I was so envious. This woman, part of a moving photo essay by Susan Mullally, has saved it through thick and thin, and it's her most treasure possession because (now brace yourself) it belonged to her great-grandmother.

(I know -- I can't do that math either.)

My oldest culinary possession is a handmade wooden sugar bucket owned by my great-great-great-grandmother. The most treasured is a rolling pin my grandfather made from a cherry tree on his farm. It's heavy, and the surface is impossibly silky, so it rolls beautifully. He also made knives, though they were hard to use and the blades dulled quickly. My mother finally replaced them all, but I have his whetstone.

Mezzaluna, fish-shaped bottle opener from Israel, grandma's sugar bowl -- what piece of kitchen gear is firmly attached to your heart?

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bake a Cornbread Beauty and Bag a Bounty

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 7:11 AM

Time to heat up the cast iron skillet and work on your cornbread recipe -- then submit it to the National Cornbread Cook-Off as part of the National Cornbread Festival.


With Lodge, Brown Stoveworks and Martha White all based in Tennessee, and the event held in South Pittsburg, Tenn., it is truly a locavore event. (Well, actually, Martha White is now owned by those Ohio Yankees at Smuckers but works to keep its local identity by promoting cornbread and the Grand Ole Opry.)

Submit an entree recipe that uses Martha White cornbread mix and is cooked in a piece of Lodge cast iron cookware. Ten finalists will compete on April 24 for a $5,000 first prize and a $3,000 Five Star oven. (A word from our sponsor: Five Star's performance is so impressive that this Tennessee product deserves to be far better known. It's built like a tank, heats like a blast furnace, and the pieces mostly come apart and go into the dishwasher.)

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