BiteClub, Techniques

My Favorite $5 Kitchen Gadget

I buy too many kitchen toys, and I suspect I'm not alone. Admit it: Anyone who watches Food TV, buys cookbooks, or owns an up-to-date Zagat's, to say nothing of the hardcore amongst us who actually read blogs about food and cooking in our spare time, owns an extravagant number of culinary gadgets. That many of them go unused is a virtual certainty, strange, medieval-looking devices that seemed so indispensable in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, but which turned out to be hard to clean or - worst of all - to require more work than the task they were originally meant to simplify...

Useless Kitchen Gadgets
My mezza luna, dough stippler, fish tongs...

I buy too many kitchen toys, and I suspect I’m not alone. Admit it: Anyone who watches Food TV, buys cookbooks, or owns an up-to-date Zagat’s, to say nothing of the hardcore amongst us who actually read blogs about food and cooking in our spare time, owns an extravagant number of culinary gadgets. That many of them go unused is a virtual certainty, relegated to that far-left drawer or too-low cupboard, buckets of strange, medieval-looking devices that seemed so indispensable in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, but which turned out to be hard to clean, rarely employed, or – worst of all – to require more work than the task they were originally meant to simplify (thekitchn.com provides a cute, if highly abridged, list of their top 10 offenders here).

Still and all, kitchen toys are wonderful things, and I happily employ them by the dozen: Chinoises, rolling pins, poultry shears, tongs, cast iron grill pans, my favorite spatula, even a salad spinner and all those nesting prep bowls… I can rationalize each and every one, given a enough meals to prep. On the basis of cost and functionality, however, few can compete with the humble dough scraper, for three simple reasons:

  1. It is cheap – really cheap. You could get a sexy, stainless steel version at Williams-Sonoma for $8, my Oxo version for $8.99, or – and this is what I would do – go to your nearest restaurant supply store (e.g., Meyers in Santa Rosa), and pick up a commercial version for less than half those prices.
  2. It takes up virtually no storage space. Small and essentially flat, standing upright or flat in a drawer, the thing will fit anywhere.
  3. It makes cleaning up faster, easier, and neater. While a dough scraper is essential for removing the crusty bids of dough that seem to bond chemically to your work surface, its true unheralded genius is its capacity to move piles of chopped stuff to pot or pan (simply scoop up the item to be moved with the blade), clear my workspace of debris as it accumulates (I always keep a large steel “scrap bowl” around, into which goes plastic wrap, onion skin, excess flour, whatever, all lifted cleanly from my board with the scraper), and then clean off my cutting boards and counters when I’m done, all without seeding our kitchen floor like some Johnny Appleseed of Trash and annoying my wife. And, surely, that’s enough?

Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year. If you visit restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, remember to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask and social distance.

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Comments

3 thoughts on “My Favorite $5 Kitchen Gadget

  1. Here’s a new kitchen gadget that no one has ever thought of – magnetic placemat holders. Free up a kitchen drawer or kitchen cabinet by relocating your placemats. I have one and use it everyday, and it’s great for small kitchens where space is a premium.

  2. @Crissi, you had me at “biscuits”! I have a virtual roll of pictures of all the really nice useless stuff (hand-hammered copper double boiler comes to mind), as well as great, cheap, basics like your pastry cutter or my one really good spatula.

  3. On the same note, I am passionate about my pastry blender. It is one of the most beloved tools in my kitchen. It’s perfect for crumbing flour and shortening for the flakiest biscuits, magical for crumbling hardboiled egg for egg salad sandwiches, and great for mashing bananas for banana nut bread. It even cuts up softer nuts like walnuts or pecans…and so much more. All yours for under $12! End of infomercial.

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