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Useless clutter?

What did you buy, have high hopes for & then almost never use? After reading a rave review I purchased an electric knife sharpener. What a waste! It's noisy, takes forever, doesn't even do the job. I've reverted to a old-fashioned stone + professional sharpening when needed. So the pricey sharpener sits there...unloved & unused...

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  1. That d*&n Romertopf clay pot that sits on the uppermost shelf gathering dust. There have been threads on what to make in those types of unglazed pots, but nothing has sounded good that I couldn't make more easily and happily in the Le Creuset dutch oven.

    Keep meaning to leave it out on the street for a neighbor to take.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Millicent

      Can I have it?

      1. re: Millicent

        Oh I'd love that pot too!! I make romtopf basically every year.

        1. re: PicklingJessica

          Ummm...isn't a Romertopf a clay pot meant for roasting chicken? And isn't romtopf a bunch of fruit layered with booze? Am I missing something (like a joke maybe)?

          1. re: GG Mora

            Sorry I misread it! Yes, you're right and I am off on a hunt for learning to read better :).
            My grandmother was german and she made her romtopf in a clay pot. Got great result with it.
            Again, sorry for the confusion :).

        2. re: Millicent

          I can't say I use mine often. Maybe not more than once a month or so but I would never call it clutter. It's a wonderful thing for things as diverse as chicken and bread. It's also something I'll always want in my kitchen.

          1. re: Millicent

            Amen on the Romertopf. My dust collectors: Electric pasta machine, ice cream maker, crock pot, Nesco electric roaster, garlic press (tastes better minced with a knife or just smashed), ricer, deep fryer, and the bread machine - which I DID use religiously for years and then became bored.

          2. Our kitchen is pretty small with a very limited amount of cabinet space. I use to be a "try the new thing" person but with this kitchen I really think out what I buy, especially when it comes to things like pots, skillets and other cookware.

            I did buy a fairly expensive French mandoline which resides for the most part in the dark recesses of a cabinet. I find that by the time I get it out, set it up, get it adjusted I can slice or whatever with a knife much quicker. I guess if I was slicing 5 lbs of potatoes or something I might reach for it, but for just two of us, pretty much a waste.

            1. Oh let's see... At the moment the winner is a drying apparatus for mushrooms and herbs that was a gift but that I have only used once. I just dry things in the oven instead.
              Otherwise I am pretty careful what knickknacks I buy and the "useless" stuff is most of the time gifts from people who do not cook or things I thought I'd like but then revert back to the old-fashioned way. When I got a kitchen aid I found myself wondering how I had managed all the years before.

              1. Garlic press, garlic peeler, basically any of the junk for dealing with garlic, it's so easy to pinch the damned thing, break the hard skin then peel and cut or work into a paste. I'm *glad* however for the soap-shaped stainless steel that cleans my hands.

                I once bought quite an expensive machine that mixed, kneaded and then extruded pasta. It was so heavy and bulky that I only hauled it out twice and the extruder gummed up like crazy. Eventually I learned to make my pasta by hand. Shaping it is still a bitch with the pasta roller but I'm looking into the KitchenAid attachment that will make it a 2-hand (as opposed to a 3-hand) proposition.

                6 Replies
                1. re: rainey

                  See, I'm the opposite. I use TONS of garlic, and I can press a half cup a lot more quickly than I can peel and chop two or three bulbs. On the other hand, the stainless steel "soap? is useless to me when I can just rub my hands on a spoon, the faucet, or something else stainless steel.

                  1. re: Pei

                    Yeah, I agree with you. I love my garlic press. My mom always used the press so, the tradition continues. Chopping doesn't bring out the juices like the press does. Pressed garlic is great in everything.

                    1. re: amoncada

                      I have two garlic presses and need them both. The press is perfect when you want garlic to melt into the dish - for me in salsa and guacamole especially. But chopping is much preferred for when I want the texture in braised dishes or crunchy hits of raw garlic, as in gremolata.

                      The plastic tube to roll garlic in to peel it is useless clutter to me.

                      1. re: amoncada

                        In that case, I just smear the garlic into a paste with whatever salt is called for in the recipe.

                      2. re: Pei

                        I gave up the garlic press for a microplane, which also works for nuts, cheese, and citrus zest. Since the press is a one-off -- doesn't multitask -- it was downsized.

                      3. re: rainey

                        I like the KitchenAid roller attachment--I make pasta from scratch once a week or so--and the standard dough hook attachment does a beautiful job of kneading; I turn it on the lowest speed, set my kitchen timer for 15 minutes, and go away. BUT the pasta cutters that come with the roller have never worked for me, because once I roll out the pasta to #4 or #5 (any thinner scares me) it passes through the cutters without getting cut. So I wind up cutting wide noodles by hand, unless I'm making a stuffed pasta or manicotti where I just cut the sheets into 6 x 6 inch squares.

                      4. This is actually an interesting question because I have a small kitchen and a ton of equipment but, thinking hard about what's useless, the truth is there's a lot I don't use often but am really glad to have when the time comes. For instance, I used to have 3 ice cream makers. I'm down to 2 but like them both for different applications.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rainey

                          I'm in the same boat - but am always happy I have my Chinois, or the right shaped baking pan or my spatzle maker when the craving hits.

                        2. My OXO madeline. I wanted one So badly. I hate it. Used it once, wasn't worth the bother, let alone it didn't come with instructions. I know plenty of people who swear by this one, but for me it's a loser. I own several of their other gadgets and find them exceptionally well designed, but this one is a stinker - for me anyway.

                          1. My slow cookers. I have two -- one that I bought and one that I received as a gift. Perhaps I haven't found the "right" recipes, but I haven't had any success with meals I've cooked in the crockpot.

                            1. I hear you on the electric knife sharpener. We bought one w/ a Williams-Sonoma gift certificate we received for our wedding, and I so regret wasting those dollars on that! It does seem to work ok, but we don't use it often enough for it to be worth it.

                              My Bron mandoline also takes up some prime kitchen real estate, but I've come to appreciate that contraption. I don't use it often, but when I do need it for a big Thanksgiving gratin or for perfectly slicing french fries, then I'm thankful that I have it.

                              I do try to use everything in my kitchen, but the useless clutter usually happens when I buy something in a set. Like 3 sizes of springform pans (when a 9" would suffice).

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                I have about 5 sizes of springform pan, and use them all.

                                1. re: souschef

                                  Me too and I cannot think right off hand how many, I'd have to go count, fluted removable bottomed tart pans in rounds, squares, rectangles, deep and shallow and in many sizes.

                                  1. re: souschef

                                    Yes. I have a variety of sizes too. I also like the ones with the convertible bottoms that create a flat springform or a tube pan.

                                    1. re: souschef

                                      I have a wide variety of pans as well. Besides the spring forms there's pans to make kransekage, another for the christmas log and the swiss rolls, square, with hole, without hole, patterned etc.
                                      It's funny to see that what some people view as clutter, others can't imagine living without.

                                  2. One of those pump action chopper thingies. The kind with the zigzag blade that is supposed do a good job of chopping herbs and nuts. It went to Good Will, give me a knife over that thing any day. Also I bought one of those multi-bladed rolling choppers. The locals around here call them noodle cutters and I am beginning to think that is a better task for it too.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Candy

                                      Yes! Don't tell my fiance (he gave it to me) but I hate that damn chopper!! Mostly, I think I hate cleaning it!

                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                        I threw mine out - completely useless.

                                    2. My fancy mandoline. I use a cheapy that works way better. Also.. I don't use the ice cream machine any longer...or the big daddy deep fat fryer...or the Foreman's Lean Mean Grilling Machine.

                                      I do use my electric knife sharpener. I use my crock pot lots in the "winter" months. Leave a pork butt in there all day (with a good rub on it) and some garlic and you have wonderful pulled pork sandwiches that night.

                                      I have tons of storage containers that I cannot find the lids for..but haven't thrown them out. Where do those darned lids go?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: melly

                                        <<I have tons of storage containers that I cannot find the lids for..but haven't thrown them out. Where do those darned lids go?>>

                                        Same place as paper clips and socks :-)

                                      2. The spaetzle maker (but I'll save it) and the popovers pan.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: vanillagrrl

                                          I used to have a spaetzle maker but I'll be damned if i know where it is. No matter. A potato ricer does the job as well. Mine has several interchangeable dies and the smallest also approximates a food mill.

                                        2. I had to look after seeing this post: a chinese "strainer" made of bamboo and wire, a collapsible steamer made to fit in pots of various sizes. I have one of those clay roasters but I like it and have used it for a variety of game birds (it's a smaller one), I associate it with luxe dinners.

                                          1. My Joyce Chen wok set was a wedding gift I didn't ask for. It's sitting unopened in my garage.

                                            Otherwise, everything I purchase is well-thought out before I buy. I hate having extra/unnecessary things/clutter.

                                            1. My kitchen, basement and overflow room are testament to my impulse buying when it comes to kitchen equipment. I have a Yunnan steamer - a clay pot with a funnel up the middle and a lid. You put it over a steaming pot and the liquid goes up the funnel, condenses on the lid and falls into the pot which has ingredients for a soup or stew. I used this contraption once.

                                              I have two, or perhaps three, fondue pots complete with their stands, forks etc. I think I used one of these once.

                                              I have a chinois strainer, never used. I have a complete set of slicing/cutting discs for my Cuisinart food processor. At most I've used one or two of the 12 or so. I've had this at least 20 years.

                                              Somewhere I have two tortilla presses, purchased in my early foodie phase. I was working my way through Diana Kennedy's book, painstakingly making obscure shapes out of masa harina when I had an epiphany. I don't even like to eat this stuff, why on earth am I making it? I got rid of the masa harina but held on to the tortilla presses. I made tortillas a few weeks ago, couldn't find either of the presses and used a rolling pin instead. It worked perfectly well.

                                              I think I currently have 2 candy thermometers, 2 instant reading thermometers, 2 probe thermometers, 3 oven thermometers and a meat thermometer. I guess I'm a bit obsessed by temperatures. I use one of the instant reading ones all the time, the others just take up drawer space. I'm lusting after a thermopen to complete the collection.

                                              I have 2 Bundt pans - I think I've used one of them once. I have a shortbread clay pan, one that makes a pretty impression on the shortbread, never been used. I have two square tart pans with removable bottoms, used once each. My DH gave me several silicon pans - a muffin pan, a loaf pan, two cake pans. I think I've used the loaf pan once, the cake pans once, decided I didn't like them.

                                              In a cupboard I have a huge collection of small useless stuff, from icing tips and icing sets (never used) to madeleine tins (used once), many cookie cutters (never used), a cookie roller - you press a design into the cookie with this (never used), candy papers (like miniature cupcake holders, for truffles, I think) (never used).

                                              This is what I recall off the top of my head. If I looked I'm afraid of what else there is.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: cheryl_h

                                                I love your post. I am also a thermometer freak, but you got me beat. I only have 6 plus one in the oven and one in the frig. If you are interested in a dozen loose-bottom tart pans, I'll trade you for your silicon bakeware. Or asparagus cooker, fish poacher, fish grill, ice cream molds, charlotte molds, old-fashioned electric ice cream maker, chemex coffee maker, wood salad bowls, copper/ceramic double boiler with too thin of a handle, 50 pairs of wooden chopsticks. And is does not include all the small applicances.

                                                1. re: PBSF

                                                  Oh, I forgot about the fridge/freezer thermometers (2 or 3?). Also the asparagus cooker and fish poacher, a cupboard full of wood salad bowls and heaps of chopsticks. And a set of chopstick rests (never used). I gave away my old ice cream maker but now have three (!) newer ice cream churns. It's a sickness.

                                                  Thanks for your offer of the loose-bottom pans, but I have too many of these too or I'd take you up on it. The silicon stuff doesn't conduct heat well so nothing browns evenly, and it's floppy so cakes don't hold their shape well. Ever tried to assemble a round layer cake out of two mismatched ovals?

                                                  DH has storage angst.

                                                  I wonder if there could be a Chowhound swap forum?

                                                  1. re: cheryl_h

                                                    You both make me feel much, much, much better about my clutter!! ;-) I need to have my fiance read this thread!! (I do have the asparagus cooker though!)

                                              2. B/C my husband lives/works in another city and I spend a lot of time cooking there we had to divide our stuff to outfit two fairly small kitchens. I've been amazed and a bit embarassed to find that I had two of more of most essentials and how well one can make do!

                                                But there is still usless clutter:
                                                Bread Maker
                                                Specialty-shaped cake pans from W-S (that snowflake pan seemed essential at the time!)
                                                Oxo rolling herb chopper
                                                Too many mixing bowls and cutting boards (when I always reach for the same ones)
                                                Cookbooks I never use that I should just give away
                                                Coffee makers
                                                Dozens of cookie cutters

                                                Reading your replies made me glad I haven't acted on some of my gadgetry wishes - namely madeleine pans, a mandoline, a tortilla press and an electric knife sharpener!!! Funny too, is that when I was recently at a Goodwill I saw more than a half dozen each of crockpots, bread and pasta-making machines. That's were my electric pasta maker went!

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: maviris

                                                  Oh I basically collect cookie cutters ;).

                                                  1. re: PicklingJessica

                                                    I guess I collect them too (LOL)... with the best intentions of making them for every holiday.
                                                    But it actually happens about once per year!

                                                    1. re: maviris

                                                      I collect them too, and for a while people were giving me lots of them, but I'm proud to say that I've been making good use of them lately!

                                                2. My quesadilla maker. Bought it with my ex and it sits in the dark bowels of a hard to get to corner kitchen cabinet. I refuse to take that thing out.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: davinagr

                                                    Quesadilla maker? You mean a frying pan? I will never understand some of the stuff that people buy. Start watching Alton Brown and you never again will get suckered into something useless like this. Who even eats quesadillas anyway, Napoleon Dynamite?

                                                    That being said my blender gets almost no use. Since the Cuisnart can do all it does and more.

                                                  2. I spotted my fish griller hanging from the ceiling of the pantry after I read this post. I really thought I'd use it, but it remains pristine. I think it's sort of a hanging sculpture at this point and a reminder that just because I think I'll use it, that doesn't mean I really will.

                                                    1. The corn zipper. It seemed like a good idea, but a knife is *so* much easier.

                                                      1. Gosh, kitchen clutter!

                                                        I recently moved to Dublin from England and I had to leave a lot of my "stuff" behind and set up a new kitchen. Having only a small cooking/living space I have had to be mean about what I buy.

                                                        Not having a gazzillion odds and ends there isn't a lot that I desperatly wish that I hadn't forked out for.

                                                        One of those things is the blasted Jack La Laine Juicer. Just what WAS I thiking!!! Yes I do know better. It takes up about the same space as a large spaniel and takes even more looking after if you actually want it to juice.

                                                        The other is a very cool looking set of smll hand tools. A can opener, a vegetable peeler and a gerlic press. All three have been retired to that big, deep, round place in the kitchen.

                                                        Interestingly enough, everything that I think of as clutter in my kitchen, is stuff that doesn't work properly.

                                                        HMMMMM

                                                        1. Every electric grilling thing I have bought has been a disappointment other than my Farberware rotisserie grill. The George Forman grill is currently on my list to go to the yard sale pile; the others are long gone. They just don't get hot enough, and I like using the charcoal grill better.

                                                          Other than that, I think long and hard about buying anything new; my rule is that I have to get rid of something when I buy something new. Right now I have put away several pans I don't use very often, to see if I can live without them.

                                                          1. The spätzle maker--the gadget that rests on the rim of the pot of boiling water while you slide the square box-like thingy back and forth across the holes. I never succeeded in making spätzle with this but I certainly made a mess on the stove.

                                                            1. An avocado slicer that was given to me. It's useless as it presumes that all avos are the same size! Unless I'm not using it properly?

                                                              1. One of those lettuce spin-driers. It never worked and took up so much space!

                                                                TT

                                                                1. I have a tabletop grill, an insanely baroque object that I spotted at the Rose Bowl flea market on a trip to Pasadena about fifteen years ago, and negotiated down to $15, then had to have the in-laws UPS it to Nashville. Now we live in Pasadena, and I still have it. Never used it. But at least it's still weird.

                                                                  We also have an electric raclette maker that my wife's brother and his wife gave us for Christmas. Don't know what to do with that, either. Maybe I should put it out in the garage alongside the tabletop grill and see if they'll breed.

                                                                  1. Get rid of it if you're not using it. I love taking a box of stuff that's useless to me to Goodwill - let it do some good and turn in to a "treasure" for someone else.

                                                                    I had been eyeing a Santoku knife set at Costco recently. I hadn't bit on it yet and the other day I went in and they handed me a coupon book at the door with a $10 off for the set. I got it home and instead of delicate knives appropriate for vegetables they were clumsy, heavy machete substitutes. I took them back and got a refund! I find that I'm appreciating my good chefs knives now for their versatility and quality.

                                                                    1. I once had a huge clutter problem which I solved like this: I took -everything- and
                                                                      put it in several boxes and then put the boxes in a closet on the other side of the
                                                                      house. Then I cooked for a year and every time I needed something I got it out of
                                                                      the box, used it, washed it, and put it away back in the kitchen. I made a lot of
                                                                      trips to the boxes the first week and fewer and fewer as time went on. At the end
                                                                      of the year, what was left in the boxes (a ton of provably useless stuff) went away.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                        That is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!! I need to do that in several areas of my house! (Though that would cut down on where I could keep the boxes, LOL!)

                                                                        1. re: Covert Ops

                                                                          Heck, I'd have to live in the closet and put the boxes in the house (-8

                                                                      2. I think about buying one of those Farberware rotisseries every time I see one at a yard sale, which is often. We had one when I was growing up and I have fond memories of the best teriyaki chicken (soaked ahead of time in soy, honey, garlic, and ginger and roasted on the rotisserie grill, with the kitchen windows open to carry the smoke out toward the end of the cooking time).

                                                                        1. One word: mandolin

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: gourmandadventurer

                                                                            I find my mandoline useful when making scallopped potatoes - fast, uniform slices.

                                                                          2. I have a V-slicer that just sits in the cabinet. I might use that once a year. Then there's the apple corer/slicer thing, which is fun for a while, but really it's easier to do it myself. The potato ricer was given away, as was a set of pasta dishes I bought at some Crate & Barrel sale. People keep giving me dishes, though--not sure what's up with that (I do appreciate the thought, don't get me wrong, but I have a lot of dishes now, lol). I have tons of baking dishes and pans--several Bundt pans in different patterns and sizes, ditto for springform pans and layer cake-type pans. But I use all of those, so they're not clutter to me. Mostly my blender just sits there, and I've been debating getting rid of it. I received a smoothie maker a couple of years ago, but I knew I'd never use it, so I exchanged it right off. My kitchen is small, esp. considering the amount of cooking I do, so I try to be careful when buying new things for it. Mostly there just isn't the space for things that might be used once a year.

                                                                            1. 23 years ago my mom gave me a 6 tier set of graduated size bundt like metal pans which are sexagonal (6 sided).

                                                                              I never unpacked them and have no idea what you do with them. I believe she called it a gorenflot...Swedish or something?

                                                                              Have you been wanting one of these your whole life? If so we should talk :) I really really need to get rid of it as I have moved the box at least 15 times during that time! Do I win? ;)

                                                                              1. I have a small kitchen, and at 28, am finally at the point where I don't have to "make do" and I actually have the basic tools I need, but I'm at the point of overflow and have to watch what I buy.

                                                                                I have found that *most* cooking, no matter how complex, can be done to great success with the most basic of tools. Appliances that do things I could do without having to store a big, bulky item seem utterly pointless, so I really don't buy much of anything that only does one thing- almost everything I have must multitask. I would say that my most useful tools are my Santuko knife and my Le Creuset 5.5 quart dutch oven.

                                                                                I did have a waffle iron that was taking up valuable space that I recently got rid of, though. It made soggy waffles!

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: silverlakelisa

                                                                                  Just curious why you love the Le Creuset dutch oven so much. What do you make in it? I'm definitely looking for things for my kitchen that can multitask.

                                                                                  1. re: omotosando

                                                                                    I have the 7 1/4 qt LC, and I've used it for all sorts of things. Tonight I made beef stew, but I've also made big batches of applesauce, chicken soup with homemade noodles, and roast chicken. I've only had mine for a little while, though, so I'm sure I'll have more to add. :) The heavy lid means that you get a nice, tight seal when it's on fully--the apples took no time at all to get soft, and the enamel helps it to clean up easily.

                                                                                    1. re: omotosando

                                                                                      i couldn't live without the le creuset dutch oven. i'm a big braiser and it is a good shape for fitting a lot of meat at once. last night i braised duck legs for a ragu. recently i braised lamb shanks, chicken, a pork loin (in milk -- must try this).

                                                                                      1. re: omotosando

                                                                                        I also use mind for deep frying. Its a large one (8-9qt?) and retains heat very well to help keep the oil at a consistent temerature. Also use for braising, big batches of pasta sauce, chili, etc. It keeps food warm for hours after you pull it from the oven.

                                                                                    2. I got one of those stackable steamer contraptions, thinking I was gonna start steaming lots of things. Didn't happen. The metal strainer over a pot of boiling water is way easier for me. Though I did just buy one of those bamboo steamer baskets. That should provide more room than the strainer.

                                                                                      E-bay is a great solution to this problem. But as someone else mentioned, maybe we should have a board where people can exchange items they don't want. Doesn't have to involve money, does it? Maybe someone would trade me a good potato ricer for my steamer!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Kagey

                                                                                        Yeah, I know about those stackable steamer contraptions. I have a pricey, three level, stainless steel steamer pot that probably hasn't been used in 5 years. It's a huge space hog -- too huge to leave sitting on a burner because it crowds the range, and very bulky to store. I'm thinking of dumping it at my local thrift store. More useless clutter from Williams-Sonoma.

                                                                                      2. I wish you would all gather at someone's house and have a yard sale! I'd bring some money!