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Indispensable Kitchen Gadgets

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I shopped at Whole Foods today, and when I got home I had an email saying because I had shopped at WF, I have a $10 credit on Amazon Prime Day. I have no idea what to get. I'll probably just pass. I don't need anything.

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I found away to use my $10 prime credit. Our local homeless prevention center put out a call for bath towels. They have an Amazon donation account, so I bought towels and bottled water.

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Does anyone know if such a thing as a combo microwave/toaster oven exists?  Since my mother has started using a walker, I need to get rid of a kitchen cart and combining those two appliances would help.  We can’t stack them, since she would be unable to reach the toaster oven (that would have to be on top).  I have a small kitchen so getting more “open space” hasn’t been easy.

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I don't know anything about the combo ovens, beyond the fact that they exist.  But I Googled and found a ton of sites that rate them.  Here are three, and you can find a bunch more by just searching for "microwave toaster-oven combo":

https://www.kitchensanity.com/microwaves/microwave-toaster-oven-combo/

https://www.sullivansteakhouse.com/best-microwave-toaster-oven/

https://cooknovel.com/best-microwave-toaster-oven-combo/

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I had checked the reviews on many of those convection/microwaves and most either don’t mention toasting things like bagels or say they can’t toast.  I was hoping someone here might have hands on experience with one.

Granted, I could just buy a toaster, but then we are back to more clutter, not less.

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Well, that's too bad.  I just kind of assumed that an appliance called a microwave/toaster oven would actually . . . you know, toast.

My next step would be to check out reviews for some of them on Amazon and see if people who've bought one mention the toasting function.

I hope you have better luck down the road finding something that fills the bill.

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I wonder what they mean by doesn’t toast like doesn’t have a toast setting? Because even regular ovens toast. 

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This topic sounds fun since I am a gadget addict and I have to forbid myself to buy them anymore since I have a "few" tucked away in the cabinets. Things like a Sandwich Griller that makes 4 little sandwiches (remember those?), a Quesadilla maker, a bread maker and probably more that I can't think of. The most recent gadget is a mandolin that my MIL gave me money to buy because I was slicing potatoes for an au gratin one day she was here. Unfortunately, the first time I used it I cut a finger and then remembered why I didn't have one.

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Holy ancient gadget, Batman!

I was watching something on YouTube today, and one of those thumbnail videos was about testing very old kitchen gadgets that the presenter had found in a junk store.  I'm also a gadget addict, so of course I watched it, and she was funny and smart, so I watched her next video, and then her next one was about the inside-the-egg scrambler, sold by Ron Popeil back in the day.  And I said, "Hey, I have that exact gadget! Let's see if it still works!"

So I dug it out of the back of the gadget cupboard (every cupboard in my kitchen is the gadget cupboard, who am I kidding?), and dusted it off and plugged it in.  I couldn't find a switch or a button on it anywhere--it hasn't been plugged in for like a century, and I couldn't remember how to activate it.  Finally I figured that the pressure of the egg itself pushing down on the needle scrambler must be what does it.  So I put an egg on the needle, but I bore down too hard, and the egg cracked apart in the little bowl.  Anyway, to make a long story short (too late, I know), I took toothpicks and Q-tips and picked away any old invisible residue and then figured I'd sacrifice one more egg, and what do you know, I got it working!

Right now I'm hard-boiling two eggs to see how they come out.  From back when I actually used this gizmo, I remember that if you spun the needle for a long time, you got a solid yellow egg, but if you managed to hit the sweet spot, you'd get this beautiful yellow-and-white marbleized little oval sculpture.  Time will tell.  I love it when I can bring things back to life, even if they're useless to everyone but me.  I'll post photos if they're good.

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On 7/21/2019 at 9:32 AM, AngelKitty said:

This topic sounds fun since I am a gadget addict and I have to forbid myself to buy them anymore since I have a "few" tucked away in the cabinets. Things like a Sandwich Griller that makes 4 little sandwiches (remember those?), a Quesadilla maker, a bread maker and probably more that I can't think of. The most recent gadget is a mandolin that my MIL gave me money to buy because I was slicing potatoes for an au gratin one day she was here. Unfortunately, the first time I used it I cut a finger and then remembered why I didn't have one.

I remember the sandwich griller and coveted it!  I asked and got it for Christmas. As a kid, on the infomercial, what sold me were the cherry turnovers. 

I dutifully buttered my bread and carefully applied cherry pie filling. They were bad but I told myself they were really great. Then I have no more memories of that gadget. 

Racheal Ray makes a pasta pot that holds the full size of the noodle with no issue. I coveted this as an adult. I started stalking it for a good price and got one last year and I have to say I like it.  I used it last night, even. The caveat it’s big- 6 quarts (I think- maybe 8 and oval) so not good with little cabinet space. 

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Don't all noodles fit in all pots? They get soft when they hit the water. I have never had to cut up a noodle to cook it.

Or am I misunderstanding what the noodle pot does?

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On 7/31/2019 at 3:01 AM, possibilities said:

Don't all noodles fit in all pots? They get soft when they hit the water. I have never had to cut up a noodle to cook it.

Or am I misunderstanding what the noodle pot does?

Heh, heh, Rachael Ray does know how to market things. It's just an oval pot so it's long and you don't have to worry about bending the pasta. Trust me, if I actually had an income now, I would probably buy one.

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Hmmmn... does it heat evenly? My stove burners are round, so I'm imagining an oval pot would not sit evenly over the heat.

I should probably just look for a photo of it.

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10 hours ago, possibilities said:

Hmmmn... does it heat evenly? My stove burners are round, so I'm imagining an oval pot would not sit evenly over the heat.

I should probably just look for a photo of it.

Mine are old school burners. It heats evenly and I love it. Keep In mind- I was likely sold on a gimmick. 

Edited by KnoxForPres
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I started using a somewhat shallow Dutch oven-style pot to cook pasta in. This pot came in one of those sets, probably from Macy's. I like that I don't have to stand there and wait for the spaghetti to bend so I can fit it into a saucepan. 

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I had no idea so many people didn’t just use a stockpot with a pasta insert, so I guess that’s my indispensable “gadget”.

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26 minutes ago, biakbiak said:

I had no idea so many people didn’t just use a stockpot with a pasta insert, so I guess that’s my indispensable “gadget”.

I have one of those it is a large pot with a pasta insert that you lift out to drain the pasta. Very handy!

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39 minutes ago, Gramto6 said:

I have one of those it is a large pot with a pasta insert that you lift out to drain the pasta. Very handy!

I have one as well.  You can also use it to steam vegetables when there are too many to fit in a normal steamer and also boil potatoes (although I use the Instant Pot for cooking potatoes now).  I think if you have a standard 8-quart stockpot, you can get an insert that will likely fit in it, even if your pot didn't come with one.

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I forgot about another use for the strainer insert:  blanching.  My husband goes insanely overboard when fiddleheads are in season--he usually buys 25 pounds of them.  And of course they have to be frozen, because who can eat 25 pounds of fresh fiddleheads?  You have to blanch them first, and getting them out of the pot and into ice water is so much easier with the insert, rather than fishing them out with a spider or a slotted spoon a few at a time.  So anyone else who's married to a crazy person might find this useful.

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2 hours ago, Mondrianyone said:

I forgot about another use for the strainer insert:  blanching.  My husband goes insanely overboard when fiddleheads are in season--he usually buys 25 pounds of them.  And of course they have to be frozen, because who can eat 25 pounds of fresh fiddleheads?  You have to blanch them first, and getting them out of the pot and into ice water is so much easier with the insert, rather than fishing them out with a spider or a slotted spoon a few at a time.  So anyone else who's married to a crazy person might find this useful.

I had never heard of these so I checked with google and found this on the the Spruce Eats website: "As always with sauteing, heat the pan first and then add the oil or butter to coat the pan before tossing in the ferns. You may be tempted to cook them just a bit and keep them crisp but know that fully cooking fiddleheads reduces the chance of food poisoning from these wild-grown delicacies."  I didn't know if you knew about this but I thought it'd be good information to have.

Edited by wilsie · Reason: left out a word
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Thanks, @wilsie, that's very sweet of you!  We've been gorging on fiddleheads for years now.  We live surrounded by native Mainers who are experts on them, we buy them from a very reliable forager, plus we both researched ferociously before we first cooked them and then before we first froze them (which we had heard wasn't a good thing to do, but if you do it right, it's fine).  Fiddlehead Fred (not his real name) eats them all year long and hasn't keeled over yet.

This is a pretty good summary of how to prepare them.  Anyone who has a bad result can blame Canada.   🤢

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1 hour ago, Mondrianyone said:

Thanks, @wilsie, that's very sweet of you!  We've been gorging on fiddleheads for years now.  We live surrounded by native Mainers who are experts on them, we buy them from a very reliable forager, plus we both researched ferociously before we first cooked them and then before we first froze them (which we had heard wasn't a good thing to do, but if you do it right, it's fine).  Fiddlehead Fred (not his real name) eats them all year long and hasn't keeled over yet.

This is a pretty good summary of how to prepare them.  Anyone who has a bad result can blame Canada.   🤢

You are more than welcome.  Wow, so much good information available!  You really did your homework.  I'm glad you were able to figure out how to freeze them.  It's such a treat when you get to have something you love out of season.

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Anyone have something like a soda stream device? I'm trying to drink more water, and this morning I was wishing I had some Perrier rather than plain water. I keep seeing ads for the gadgets that make carbonated water. They look very tempting.

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32 minutes ago, chessiegal said:

Anyone have something like a soda stream device? I'm trying to drink more water, and this morning I was wishing I had some Perrier rather than plain water. I keep seeing ads for the gadgets that make carbonated water. They look very tempting.

I have had a SodaStream for so long that I  don’t even remember when I got it, it was a gift so I don’t use it a ton and mainly just use it to make soda water for cocktails because I never remember to pick any up at the store but it works well for that and has held up. I like that it doesn’t have to be plugged in or anything so you can put it anywhere. I would probably buy a new one if it broke so I guess that’s an endorsement! 

Edited by biakbiak
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I have a Soda Stream as well, and I also mainly use it for parties to make club soda.  But they are really easy to use and the CO2 bottle lasts a fair amount of time for the money.  You can buy flavors, or you can make your own.  My mom likes the sugar free grapefruit one, and she doesn't use the full amount recommended, so it's like a hint of grapefruit and it's pretty refreshing instead of cloying.

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1 hour ago, larapu2000 said:

I have a Soda Stream as well, and I also mainly use it for parties to make club soda.  But they are really easy to use and the CO2 bottle lasts a fair amount of time for the money.  You can buy flavors, or you can make your own.  My mom likes the sugar free grapefruit one, and she doesn't use the full amount recommended, so it's like a hint of grapefruit and it's pretty refreshing instead of cloying.

Do you have the model that doesn't require power, just works by pressing the button to put the carbonation in?

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6 hours ago, chessiegal said:

Do you have the model that doesn't require power, just works by pressing the button to put the carbonation in?

Yep!! No electric needed!

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I ordered a SodaStream on Wednesday through Amazon Prime. It's not arriving until Tuesday. WTH Amazon? I thought the point of Prime was next day delivery.

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12 minutes ago, chessiegal said:

I ordered a SodaStream on Wednesday through Amazon Prime. It's not arriving until Tuesday. WTH Amazon? I thought the point of Prime was next day delivery.

I have been also noticing longer shipping times; sometimes a prime item will take 7 days. It’s not Christmas so I’m not cutting them any slack. 

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I'd have one on my counter now if I had gotten my lazy ass off the couch and gone to BB&B.

ETA: I asked my husband to put grab bars in our shower. Those got delivered next day.

Edited by chessiegal
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My SodaStream arrived today - it came by UPS. When I checked tracking last night, it said it had arrived in Baltimore at 7:34 pm. I thought it ought to be able to make it 30 miles in one day. Sure enough, it was here by noon. You'd think Prime members should get FedEx overnight.

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I have a Drinkmate.  I bought it after buying the Fizzini, which I don't think is made anymore.  I thought the Fizzini would be easier on counter space, which it was, but it went through CO2 cartridges the way a Hummer goes through gasoline.  I like the Drinkmate, but you can only make so much fizzy water at a time, since the bottle's size limits you.  So the alternative is to get multiple bottles (say, for a party) or forget it and buy a soda siphon, which I think is my next purchase (along with a whipped-cream siphon, but that's a whole other story).  Maybe I should just start stockpiling seltzer.

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On 8/30/2019 at 9:52 AM, chessiegal said:

I ordered a SodaStream on Wednesday through Amazon Prime. It's not arriving until Tuesday. WTH Amazon? I thought the point of Prime was next day delivery.

Prime is two day delivery, supposedly. I too have noticed a delay in several items I ordered that were listed as Prime. We pay the extra the least they could do is make good on their promise!

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I took a shower and got dressed this morning with the intention of putting the clean dishes away from the dishwasher. When I got to the kitchen, I found that the dish putting away fairy had struck again!

I am loving my SodaStream. No more buying bubbly water at the store.

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I bought a Faegor brand multi-cooker instead of an InstantPot. It's huge and I've used it 4 times. I'd like to donate it.

I looked at Goodwill's site and it appears they will not accept it. There is a consignment shop nearby where I've seen food processors and stand mixers. I guess I can ask them if they'll take it.

Anyone have other ideas? I'm not interested in Craig's List or eBay.

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17 minutes ago, chessiegal said:

Anyone have other ideas? I'm not interested in Craig's List or eBay.

Habitat Restore might take it. Salvation Army near me takes things like that but I have seen them at Goodwill so that must depend on where you live.

A small shelter, food program or church would probably appreciate it but that might require legwork. Our municipal environmental agency has a list of local charities and what items they take to help cut down on people throwing them away but I realize that not everyone has that available to them but it couldn’t hurt to check. 

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12 minutes ago, biakbiak said:

Habitat Restore might take it. Salvation Army near me takes things like that but I have seen them at Goodwill so that must depend on where you live.

A small shelter, food program or church would probably appreciate it but that might require legwork. Our municipal environmental agency has a list of local charities and what items they take to help cut down on people throwing them away but I realize that not everyone has that available to them but it couldn’t hurt to check. 

Thanks! I'll look into those kinds of places.

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Still loving my instant pot, and I need to buy a new food processor. I've needed one for a year now. As inexpensive as possible, but still able to do a good job. 

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