14 Silly Kitchen Gadgets

What are gadgets? While the terms gadget, utensil, tool and appliance tend to be used interchangeably, especially in advertising, gadgets are contraptions that are used for a specific purpose. It turns out that Americans are quite fond of our contraptions — to the tune of more than 1 billion dollars a year in sales. It’s no wonder that manufacturers, inventors, marketers and retailers are constantly on the hunt for new, unique gizmos to put on the market.

Some are great (where would we be without our vegetable peeler?) but I feel like the list of silly kitchen gadgets grows by leaps and bounds every year.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Just plain Silliness

The Melty Butter Knife

This is a product that promises to make spreading cold butter a breeze! It claims to use “heat conducting technology” that transfers the heat from your hand to warm the knife.

Unfortunately, a full 27% of Amazon users were not impressed, claiming that it did not work as advertised, while another 14% felt it was just ho-hum. On the flip side, almost 60% of users gave it a 4-5 star rating, stating, for the record, that was a fantastic little knife. Do you suppose this is a case of “cold hands, cold butter”?

I’ll just soften my butter out on the counter for a few minutes before I use it and save myself $19.95.

A Hot Glue Gun. For Cheese

It’s said to have a “proprietary cheese propulsion valve” that allows “complete control of cheese”. I’m sorry…what? Not only was I completely unable to type that with a straight face, I don’t even know what it means.

A full 66% of Amazon users gave this puppy a 4-5 star rating with comments that ask, “who’s ever had this much fun with their food?” and that it “perfectly squirts hot melted cheese”. It was even called the “perfect family activity” but I really had to struggle to find a user who had an actual use for it. One user built a house for her sons’ Legos out of cheese and crackers while another constructed an entire log cabin village in his room from pretzels and cheese. One even spoke of the very real prospect of Sunday morning cheese-wars.

Did the 1-3 star naysayers point to the absurdity of this product? The $50 price tag? Incredibly, their chief complaint was that it’s difficult to clean.

Perhaps it’s me, maybe I’m just not a fun person. And please don’t try to prove me wrong by inviting me to your next cheese and potato chip crafting party. I’m busy that day.

 

Trongs Prep and Eating Utensil

Translation: Little claws for your fingers so you never, ever have to come into contact with the food you’re eating. Of the 70% of Amazon users who thought they were aaaa-maaa-zing!, the comment I enjoyed most was the gal who used them “ because my work was having a hot wings potluck and I did not want to deal with a messy keyboard”. Because your work doesn’t have soap and water? I think there are bigger fish to fry there….

Not my cup of tea, but if you like ‘em, I’ve got a tip for you. The two pair pack has a cost of $49.31 but if you buy in bulk, you’ll get 6 pairs for $14.95. The company claims this is due to shipping costs. Let that sink in for a minute…

Square Egg Press — Because It’s Cool To Be Square

90% of users gave this gadget a 4-5 star rating, mostly because it’s “neat”, “cool” and “quirky”. One lady uses it because her eggs will stay put on the dashboard during tractor pulls.

Another user pointed out its usefulness for deviled eggs and, OK, I get that but the device seems labor intensive and time-consuming. It involves freezing the container for 20 minutes, peeling a hot hard-boiled egg, inserting it into the container and dropping it in ice water for 5 minutes. This is for each egg.

I guess you could drop $35.70 to get a 6-pack of these babies or take the long-winded advice from users who have put together assembly line instructions to make the most of their time in the kitchen.

It just feels to me like the reviewers here are trying to justify spending their hard-earned dollars on a device that will astound the ladies at the church picnic or convince their kids that they got eggs from a square chicken one time at the most.

Egg-A-Matic Skull Egg Mold

Oh, but wait! Here’s one for Halloween eggs!. His name is Fred. I’ll be if we look hard enough, we can find one for every holiday. If you think your friends would be impressed with square eggs, think of the hero worship you would receive if you could show up with seasonally themed eggs all year ‘round!

 

The Grate Taco Cheese Shredder

The maker of this taco shaped cheese shredder claims that you’ll want to make every day Taco Tuesday with this nifty grater that keeps your cheese “neatly contained until you’re ready to aim it at your enchilada”. That doesn’t even make sense considering that you must turn this “taco” upside down to grate which lets the cheese fall freely out of the top (or is it the bottom?). With both ends open, I can’t imagine that it “contains” anything.

It would appear that I’m not alone. 7 of the 10 people who reviewed this product were compensated for their views and it still only got a 3 star rating.

Mildly disturbing

Bogeyman Egg Separator

This ceramic cup of repugnance is marketed as an egg separator but that doesn’t seem to be it’s main purpose. Why? Because it just doesn’t work. There seems to be a consensus that the holes are too small to be effective. Apparently, the whites just hang there like…well…boogers.

Even many of the almost 80% of people who rated it highly admit that they bought it for the shock value or collectibility of the item, not as a kitchen aid.

 

Condiment Dispenser Bottle Gun

This nifty picnic firearm comes with two refillable cartridges and a stopper to avoid accidental discharge (and presumed injury). On the off chance you should not consider this a gravely serious weapon of the highest caliber, the company is quick to warn you that this is not a toy, it should not be fired at the face or body of anything (man or beast) and it’s not suitable for children under 12 years old. I wonder if I would need a concealed carry permit to put this in my picnic basket?

The yayers and nayers are about equally split on this product. The nayers claim that it’s cheap and doesn’t work as advertised, although one user was quick to recommend that a Condiments Firearms Safety Course might be helpful.

The fans tell us that it’s a hit at parties and is especially fun for the under 12 set (the ones for whom this sidearm is deemed not appropriate).

As for me? I’ll keep that $21.95 right in my pocket. I couldn’t live with myself if someone were wounded on my watch.

 

Sir Perky Novelty Condiment Bottle Topper

This little guy lays his…ummm…below the belly button area across the top of your condiment bottle and when you’re ready (because this is all about what you want), he will release a liquid stream from his backside onto your sandwich. The advertiser recommends that you use protection and enjoy responsibly.

Sir Perky is also happy to stop up your wine bottle and hold your toilet paper.

Over 70% of reviewers have taken pleasure in spending quality time with this little guy but I don’t know, man. He seems like a creep to me.

Sir Perky…back away from my mustard.

Gone Dark Side

Spartan Knife Set

Canadian Philosopher Matshona Dhliwayo once said, “A warrior proves his courage in the heat of battle.” I guess there’s no way to know how this battle ended but about 80% of reviewers seemed to think it was a win as they got to keep the knives

 

Voodoo Doll Knife Holder

Nothing says, “Thinking of You” like this voodoo knife holder, especially when the knives themselves are made from Premium Stabbing Stainless Steel. While most reviewers thought this was a great conversation piece, others returned it for being creepy or because the humanoid is made from plastic.

And, yes, he was referred to as a “humanoid”. It’s like they’re pretending he’s not a person.

Honorable Mention

Monkey Peeler

A little pricey at $13.58 but there’s nothing really wrong with this one. It’s just that I saw the title and thought (in horror), “Who would peel a monkey?!?!” I decided to throw it in here to see if anyone else had the same reaction. Anybody? No?

So There You Have It…

…the silliest kitchen gadgets I could come up with. What do you think? Would you buy any of these? Why or why not? What’s the silliest kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without?

Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

Basic Homemade Tomato Sauce

Basic HomemadeTomato Sauce

3 pounds fresh tomatoes (about 8 medium)

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tbls lemon juice

Remove stems, if necessary, from tomatoes. It is not necessary to remove core or seeds.

Drop tomatoes in the blender and blend until smooth, in batches if needed. You should end up with about 8 cups of puree.

Put puree in a large saucepan, straining through a mesh colander, if desired, to remove seeds. Add salt. Simmer on low for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice.


Yield: 4 cups tomato sauce, 70 calories per cup

Hack: To make tomato paste, double line mesh colander with cheesecloth and place in bowl. Put 1 cup cooled tomato sauce in the colander. Cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight. Using cheesecloth, squeeze out any remaining liquid. Yield: 3 tbls.

Hack: Freeze cooled sauce in one cup servings in sealed freezer safe bags or containers for future use.



Tangy Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Tangy Sweet and Sour Meatballs

¼ cup water

3 tbls apple cider vinegar

1 tbls soy sauce

½ cup brown sugar

3 tbls cornstarch

2 tbls olive oil

9 meatballs (thawed)

1 cup pineapple juice

1 each red, orange and green pepper, cut in 1” pieces

1 can crushed pineapple, drained (8 oz)

Mix water, vinegar, soy sauce brown sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a heavy pan.  Add meatballs and brown on all sides.

Pour in pineapple sauce and simmer meatballs, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Add peppers and pineapple. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the meatballs have an internal temperature of 165℉.  Stir occasionally but gently so meatballs don’t break up. 

Add cornstarch mixture and heat until sauce thickens.

3 servings, 560 calories per serving

Hack:  Freeze leftovers in serving sized portions for future use.


Easy Classic Deviled Eggs

Easy Classic Deviled Eggs

(Courtesy: Suzanne M. Woodworth)

3 eggs

4 tsp mayonnaise

½ tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp honey

Paprika (optional)

Put eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover pan and bring water to boil. Remove from heat and let the pan sit, still covered, for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, drain hot water from the pan and fill with cold water and ice to cool. Peel eggs.

Cut each egg in half lengthwise and gently squeeze white to pop yolks out into a small bowl.

Mix mayonnaise, mustard and honey with yolks and scoop back into whites. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired

3 servings, 125 calories per serving

Hack: Hard boiled eggs keep in the refrigerator for one week so consider making a few extra while you’ve got the water boiling! They make a great snack alone, pickled or in egg salad.

 

 

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1” squares

1 tbls butter

⅛ tsp salt

⅛ tsp pepper

1 ½ tbls sour cream

1 tsp prepared horseradish

Place enough water in a saucepan to cover potatoes and bring to a boil on the stove.

Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

Add butter, salt and pepper. Mash using hand masher (or mixer if you prefer smoother mashed potatoes).

Stir in sour cream and horseradish, adding additional sour cream to obtain desired consistacy. 

Serve immediately.

One serving, 175 calories



Dining Solo — Who Says We Can’t Eat Alone?

Ever notice that people who are spied eating alone in public are vaguely frowned upon? They’re thought to be lonely people who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to find a partner or make friends. A hermit. A loser. Pathetic.

Dining solo is not for the faint of heart.

Many people will opt to stay home if they have no one to dine with but even that can’t help us to feel better about ourselves. How many times have you seen a TV or movie portrayal of a person happily enjoying a solitary meal at home? That’s right. Never. Instead it’s seen as the epitome of loneliness and is usually witnessed by an adversary peering through the window, realizing, at last, that someone they thought was bold, fearless, self-assured and confident is actually a desolate, empty and desperate recluse deserving of pity.

In the writing of this article I researched the synonyms for “lonely person” and guess what I came up with? “Single person”. I kid you not.

I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough. Who says we can’t eat alone?

We Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore

I’d like to clear something up right here and now. I DO have friends, some single and some married or partnered (that I’m also friends with). I could eat dinner with any one of them, anytime I wanted to.

And, yes, I’m single but only because I choose to be. After the death of my husband, nearly 15 years ago, I decided to live my life by focusing on what’s important to me. I’ve helped to organize a number of fundraising campaigns, traveled, pursued some hobbies I’ve always been interested in and have spent as much time as I’ve wanted with my friends, children, grandchildren, parents and siblings. I’ve worked where I wanted and moved on when it no longer suited me. I can eat whatever I want, with whoever I want, wherever I want. Even all by myself.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending 25+ years being married to a wonderful man and raising children. Now I’m thoroughly enjoying living my life for me.

It’s Not You

The US census shows that single person households have risen by nearly 30 million since 1960, while the number of married couple households has only risen by just over 20 million.

In 1960, 69% of the total US households were headed by married couples while households headed by single people only accounted for 13% of the population.By 2019 the number of married couples had dropped to 48% while the number of single person households had risen to 31%.

What does this mean? Why, in this world, where it’s easier than ever to meet people and find a mate, should the number of single people be rising? Is love dead? Is commitment a thing of the past? You may be pleased to know that studies show that love and marriage are still popular ideas among single people.

So what is it then? Is it simply because we can’t find that love we hold in such high esteem? Are single people destined to live a solitary life only to die alone and be eaten by their cats?

The fact is that both men and women alike, whether never married, divorced or widowed, are finding that there’s just no good reason to rush into things.

These days a woman can “safely” live alone and secure a job that allows her to support herself. Neither men nor women need marriage to lend them the respectability to advance in their careers, engage in social activities or even raise a family. We’re finding that we can live our lives while waiting to meet someone we truly connect with instead of feeling that we’re somehow not complete until we’re partnered.

So What’s The Problem?

Why does society still look at us with a raised eyebrow? Why do others assume we’re lonely? That we can’t possibly be happy without a partner? Maybe it’s simply because it’s happened so quickly that societal attitudes haven’t had a chance to catch up.

Or maybe it’s because we let them. Maybe some small part of us allows ourselves to be embarrassed by the simple fact that we want (and need) to eat.

Single people tend to be more socially connected and spend more time with friends and family members than their married peers, who tend to have a more contained existence that involves their own household. Singles often care more about their own personal growth and pursuing meaningful work, tending to follow their dreams while many married couples are more focused expanding on their material growth. This leads more singles to report being happier, more fulfilled and less lonely than some married people.

And, more importantly, singles have the freedom to pursue these things. We also have the freedom to pull into a restaurant simply because we’re hungry. Isn’t that what they’re there for?

Lastly, we have the freedom to take down time, to decide that we’d like some quiet time to ourselves, to eat what we want and not have to entertain anyone. I, for one, treasure my quiet evenings with a good meal, a book and the utter silence that allows me to rest my mind, body and spirit. That doesn’t make me lonely, desperate or sad. To the contrary, it makes me quite happy.

No Pity Zone


Hold your head up. Be proud that you’re living your life on your terms without settling, without compromise, without bending to the opinions of those who don’t know you well enough to know that you’re perfect just the way you are.

Because there’s no shame in being single.

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com




Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp

1 apple, peeled and sliced

¼ tsp vanilla

3 tbls cold butter, cut into chunks

3 tbls brown sugar

3 tbls old-fashioned rolled oats

3 tbls flour 

¼ cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350℉.

Grease a 2-cup, oven safe dish and put the apples in it. Sprinkle apples with vanilla.

In a small bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, rolled oats, flour and cinnamon. Top the apples with this mixture.

Bake until the apples are soft, about 20 minutes*.   Place under broiler if additional browning of the top is desired.


2 servings, 295 calories per serving

*It’s fine to use whatever type of apple you have on-hand but different apples have different textures and therefore require slightly different cooking times.



Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

 

Blue Cheese Dressing

 

3 oz blue cheese, crumbled

3 tbls milk or buttermilk

2 tbls sour cream

1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp)

1 tsp lemon juice

½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp ground mustard

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

 

Whisk together blue cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, mustard powder, and salt. Use an immersion blender if a smoother dressing is desired.

Allow to sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Dressing will thicken as it sits.

Store leftovers, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days

4 servings, 118 calories per serving

Hack: Many grocery store delis cut and wrap blue cheese for the shelf. If you can’t find the size you’re looking for, ask a clerk to cut it for you.

Hack: Blue cheese can be frozen but it will lose some of its creaminess and flavor.

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

 

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

(Courtesy: Amanda Buswell)

1 boneless skinless chicken breast (6 oz)

2 tbls cream cheese (1 oz)

3 tbls shredded cheddar cheese

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 slices bacon

Preheat the oven to 375℉.

Place the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and jalapenos in a bowl; stir to combine.

Cut a deep pocket into the chicken breast, taking care not to cut all the way through to the other side. Fill the pocket of chicken breast with the cream cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Wrap chicken breast tightly with bacon and place in a greased baking pan.

Cook for 30 minutes, or until bacon is crisp and chicken has an internal temperature of 160℉. You can broil the chicken for 3-4 minutes to further crisp the bacon if needed.

Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

1 serving, 556 calories

 

 

The 7 Best Ways To Be Healthy — Without Really Trying

Throughout history, the human race has always been known for our desire for a quick fix, our tendency to leap before we look. Unfortunately, there have also always been people who are perfectly happy to take advantage of that inclination, often with tragic results.

If we’re lucky, the tragedy we suffer is to our wallet but, far too often, the damage comes at the expense of our physical or emotional well being.

I’ve compiled a short list of trickster scams that have taken place in the past. Some are silly and others decidedly dark but all appear to be designed by con artists intent on separating John Q. Public from his hard earned dollar.

So light up your chamomile candle, pour yourself a glass of something green and enjoy these 7 best ways to be healthy — without really trying.

Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit

Candian salesman Charles E Fulford invented a product called Bile Beans to cure the condition of “biliousness” which was (apparently) caused by over consumption and high living.  So, instead of cutting back on rich, fatty meals, it was possible to solve the problem with these coated pills made from laxatives, menthol and licorice.  It was later touted as a cure for influenza and headaches.  Amazingly, this product continued to be sold through the 1980s.

Charles came up with the idea in the 1890’s when he was in Australia hawking a newly patented medicine invented by his uncle–Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People.  Made from iron sulphate and Epsom salts, they claimed to cure pale and sallow complexions, as well as  rheumatism, nervous headache and heart palpitations.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Another Round Of Radium, Anyone?

Radium was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie in 1898.  Shortly after, an entrepreneur by the name of William J. A. Bailey (who possessed zero medical or scientific degrees) sold America on the idea that it was a cure for, well, just about anything.  Radium infused lotions, blankets, suppositories and even injections were marketed with vague claims of aiding in the improvement of bodily health, manly courage, vigor, joyous vitality and female troubles.

In 1925, what might be the first energy drink was marketed.  Radithor was sold in 2-oz bottles and claimed to contain triple distilled water instilled at least 1 microcurie each of the radium 226 and 228 isotopes.  It was marketed as “Pure Sunshine In A Bottle”. This product finally came off the market in 1931 after the high-profile death of industrialist Eben Byers from radiation poisoning after consuming the drink daily for 2 ½ years. 

Please Pass The Grass

These days wheatgrass claims to be a superfood with all kinds of benefits such as lowering your blood pressure, stabilize blood sugars, improve cognitive function and boost your immune system.  The idea of wheatgrass being the holy grail of natural medicine was the brainchild of Ann Wigmore. Born in 1909, she was raised by her grandmother, a self-taught naturalist, who restored Ann’s health after beginning life as a sickly baby.  At some point, Ann began to believe that grass and weeds was the path to good health. She even credited eating grass for healing her two broken and gangrenous legs after a car crash when she was 18.

Soon enough, she began to refer to herself as Reverend Ann Wigmore and preaching that grass and weeds were the manna referred to in the bible. She opened the Hippocrates Health Institute to promote the controversial claims that grass and weeds could cure everything from cancer to AIDS.  Despite having no science to back up her claims and having been sued twice, her institute (now renamed Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute) continues to operate,  bringing in a net profit of over a million dollars in 2019, all of which is tax exempt due to their non-profit status.

Honorable Mention

In the early 1900’s, La Parle Obesity Soap promised to wash away fat, tone skin and firm up flabby muscles “without dieting or gymnastics”.  Turns out it was just soap.

The Molby Revolving Hammock claimed that laying facedown on their hammock was the secret to a long life, health and vitality.  “All the keen relish of a healthful existence comes to the man or woman whose spine is straight, strong and supple, with no tension on the sympathetic nervous system and with every spinal nerve relaxed.”

Upton Sinclair wrote “The Fasting Cure” in 1898, which promoted fasting as a healthy practice to improve health and cure disease.  Fasting has been promoted throughout history as a beneficial practice and still continues to have its advocates even today. The problem with Sinclairs fasting ideas?  He claimed that fasting for 40-50 days uninterrupted could cure tuberculosis, syphilis, epilepsy, heart disease and cancer, among other ailments. And, no, he wasn’t a doctor.  He didn’t even play one on TV.

In the 1950s came the canned soup casserole craze. Mix any kind of canned soup with any meat and any kind of canned vegetable.  Crumble some potato chips on top and bake it until it looks like something you’d want to eat. Who wants to waste time in the kitchen when you could be watching TV?

Do Me A Favor

We’re fortunate in this day and age that we have ability to investigate the many miraculous claims that seem to come at us a mile a minute.  We literally have the information at our fingertips so do me a favor, would you?

As good as it sounds, take a minute to investigate before you dive into any new thing.  No, not just foods or health gadgets but anything that seems too good to be true. Keep in mind that there’s never a hurry.

Only six left?  Trust me, they’ll make more.  (Unless it’s a dud and then you can be thankful you didn’t waste your money!).  Offer only good for the next 15 minutes? Check in 14 minutes and I’ll bet you’ll still have 15 minutes. And why would they give you 15 minutes to make a decision?

Who does this?  Shysters, of course.  Shysters do this.

Anyone with a great product to offer welcomes the feedback you’re likely to find if you search it so give them the opportunity to show you what they’re the real deal.

What about you?  What “deals” have you seen or fallen for in the past?  Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia

Cynthia@cynthiaeats.com