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Go go gadget

Posted by Jeanne on November 14, 2009

Companies are eager and willing to invent items to assist you with every culinary task imaginable.  Mango cutter?  Avocado slicer?  Quesadilla maker?  They exist!

But you don’t need them.

They aren’t bad, or evil – they just aren’t necessary.  Much like the idea that it’s way too hard and complicated to make your own pie crust, all of these gadgets are designed to make you think you can’t live without them – and to sell more stuff.

Things you need to have a functioning kitchen:

One razor-sharp chef’s knife

One bread knife

One oven-safe skillet (not nonstick – preferably cast iron)

One non-stick skillet

One saucepan with a lid

One stockpot, also preferably with a lid

One colander or other large straining-type device

Two decent-sized cutting boards

One or two sheet pans

One or two 9″ layer cake pans

One large casserole-type pan – I have a 11×17 Pyrex for this; 9×13 would be more useful

A couple of mixing bowls

Utensils:  a wire whisk, a spatula (the kind you use to flip things), a scraper (sometimes also known as a spatula – a broken one is pictured below), heavy-duty scissors, a pair of tongs, some oven mitts, measuring cups and spoons.

Pizza dough was mightier than this guy!

One timer

One digital probe thermometer

Seriously, that’s it.  There are a lot of things that are nice to have, and make things easier, but that’s all you really need.

Things I don’t really need, but which are really nice to have around and which I use all the time:

Food processor, blender, and heavy-duty mixer

Springform pan

An enameled cast-iron dutch oven (expensive, but I probably use mine twice a week.  Maybe more.  Also, it’s pretty.)

DSCN1357

Giant, razor-sharp cleaver (I love that thing)

More cutting boards

A coffee maker and any other tools of caffeination

A pizza cutter

A box grater – like this one

A silicone baking mat (like a Silpat)

I really can’t think of much else – certainly you can buy kitchen gadgets until the cows come home, but you don’t need them to have a functioning kitchen.  Sometimes it’s nice to have more stuff than this, for sure – I have way more stuff in my kitchen.  But I’m trying to make the distinction between “need” and “want” here.

For example, I have one of these things that cores and slices apples and pears.  It is not necessary – everything that it can do, I can also do with a knife.  It is also what Alton Brown would call a unitasker – it can’t really do anything else besides core fruit and cut it into slices.  It’s not versatile.

And dammit, I love that stupid little thing.  So I keep it, even if it does add clutter to my kitchen.  I am not suggesting that anyone go through their kitchen and strip it of all their gadgets.

But think before you buy more kitchen “stuff” – ask yourself if you’ve already got something that can do the same job.  Because a quesadilla maker takes up a lot of space, and kitchen cabinet space is premium space in my house.

Besides, you already have a quesadilla maker.  It’s called a skillet.

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One Response to “Go go gadget”

  1. Adam said

    You had me up until you started in on the kitchen appliances.

    But I will have to say a stick blender is a necessity of any hard-core soup maker!

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