If you are a fan of Alton Brown and his long-running TV show, Good Eats, then you are familiar with the term unitasker – and Alton’s clear disdain for these one trick ponies. Think for a moment about a cherry-pitter. Sure, if you eat a lot of cherries, if may be worth the small investment as well as the real estate you sacrifice in your ever-jumbled gadget drawer. But for most of us, having a tool that does ONE thing isn’t a wise acquisition – most of the time. But there are some tools that, while they are only designed to do one thing, do it so well that they are worth not only the hit to the wallet, but deserve their own dedicated shelf in the cupboard.
I remember when I purchased mine about 2 ½ years ago (a little ahead of the “spiralizing craze”). I was both excited and apprehensive- the possibilities were endless. About the size of a shoe box, it’s not a small tool that you can just tuck away in a drawer. I knew that my shrinking storage capacity was about to take a huge hit with the addition of a tabletop spiralizer. And while I was intrigued at the idea of “zoodles” (zucchini noodles), I wondered if I would really break it out and use it. At first, I will admit, it didn’t the light of day very often. I didn’t have space for it in the kitchen so it was relegated to a storage shelf, where it lingered due to my “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. But one I finally used it a few times and got hooked on the ease, I’m happy to report that not only do I use it with great frequency, I find myself eating more vegetables and fewer refined carbs (i.e. pasta). And it makes dinner fun – because who doesn’t love a good curly fry over a matchstick?
My slow juicer lives on the countertop – and I have very limited counter space in my small kitchen, so that’s a ringing endorsement right out of the gate. Nothing else out there could do what this piece of equipment can – take whole, fibrous fruit and vegetables and turn them into a healthy, satisfying glass of refreshing juice. Sure, you can do what’s called “whole juice” in a high powered blender, but for me, this is the way to go. It strains out the pulp (I’m not a lover of pulp), it’s quiet, it’s pretty easy to clean (given all that it does), and it processes the produce so slowly that it doesn’t heat things up or change the taste. And, if you’re into things like wheatgrass, this will take care of it with no hesitation. Most countertop juicers specifically state that they aren’t suitable for wheatgrass.
OK, so this is a “gimme”! Because if you are a coffee drinker: the casual “one cup a morning” kind or the dedicated “you won’t see me with my travel cup” kind, you love your cup o’ joe. My coffee maker is neither an entry level nor is it top of the line. I have a Breville Grind Control, which runs about $300. It has a built in grinder, a nice water filter, and super easy to use interface. And the kicker? It makes darned good coffee. Which is really what it’s all about.
Microwave Popcorn Popper
I was a bit apprehensive when I first saw these coming on to the market. We’ve been able to buy microwave popcorn in super easy, ready-to-use packaging for years. But with all of the reports about the additives found in microwavable bags (and the associated risks), I felt they might be on to something. These types of poppers can be made of glass or a heat safe, culinary grade silicone. They all come with a vented lid that allows air to escape while you pop corn in your microwave in a matter of minutes. Most don’t require oil, so there is a calorie saving feature there (if you use it in such a way, it works fine without the oil but does taste a little better when you use a small amount). The bowl can get a bit hot, so be careful when removing it from the microwave. I do find a few more unpopped kernels than I might in a traditional bag, but with the savings and the knowledge of what’s in my popcorn, I’ll toss a few kernels once the movie on Netflix has ended.
For the most part, I like for my kitchen tools to be as versatile as possible. But there are some gadgets and appliances out there that are worth their weight in salt.