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What's Your Most Useful Gadget--under $10?

escondido123 Jan 6, 2011 09:22 AM

I used to work in a kitchen/cooking store and when anyone asked about garlic presses, I always showed them a Garlic Slicer/Shredder for about $8. It lets you slice garlic very thin for recipes like sauteed spinach and shreded garlic for dressings and sauces. And because it has a good size hopper, you can do 3 or 4 cloves at a time.

  1. Monica Jan 6, 2011 09:33 AM

    thong....though it may be slightly over $10.

    I also love 4 cup glass measuring cup. It's perfect size to do everything from making salad dressing to baking to measuring to melting chocolate...I especially like it when i make waffles and pancakes.

    1. m
      momnivore Jan 6, 2011 10:07 AM

      I love my apple corer. I always thought they were stupid but now that I have a 3 year old I use it almost daily for apples, pears, etc.

      1. t
        theamusedbouche Jan 6, 2011 10:07 AM

        It might be more like $13, but my micro-plane is invaluable. I use it all the time and there really isn't another gadget or method that gives the same results for zesting etc.

        8 Replies
        1. re: theamusedbouche
          escondido123 Jan 6, 2011 10:31 AM

          Found one online for $8....though shipping brought it to $15!

          1. re: theamusedbouche
            Monica Jan 7, 2011 05:13 AM

            Every time I use a micro plane grater, I end up grating my fingers instead. I must be doing something wrong. I am probably the only one who hates using micro plane grater. lol

            1. re: Monica
              Jay F Jan 7, 2011 07:22 AM

              Me, too. The popularity of the microplane eludes me. I have to hold it in such a tense position when I grate p-r, so I won't cut my knuckles, I use the thing as little as possible. I like how it grates p-r into such a fine, powdery substance, but it's just too much trouble. I've cut myself a number of times.

              1. re: Jay F
                chickenbruiser Jan 7, 2011 09:22 AM

                the microplane is essentially a wood rasp.... woodworking tool that that suddenly became hugely popular in the kitchen... first time I came across it was in a woodworking catalogue that suggested it was also good for zesting

                1. re: Jay F
                  chefathome Jan 7, 2011 09:35 AM

                  I have four microplanes but my favourite actually stands up itself and has a thingy to put the cheese or whatever inside (sort of like a mandoline has) so you don't grate something other than what you WANT to grate! http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_produ...

                  1. re: chefathome
                    Jay F Jan 7, 2011 11:47 AM

                    Oh, that looks nice, like something I'd get more use out of. Thanks.

              2. re: theamusedbouche
                clint1245 Jan 10, 2011 10:26 AM

                I was actually about to post definitely micro-plane I not only use it for zesting but if you want to make something with superfine garlic or garlic paste love using microplane.

                1. re: theamusedbouche
                  Cookworks Jan 10, 2011 12:59 PM

                  Microplane zesters are pretty wonderful, but try the Palm Zester by Chef'n! It's got a built in collector for the zest to fall into, and it works like a charm :)

                2. chefathome Jan 6, 2011 10:41 AM

                  My microplanes are all well over $10 but still couldn't do without them.

                  I love my citrus press and use it OFTEN.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chefathome
                    goodhealthgourmet Jan 6, 2011 11:08 AM

                    +1 on both counts. i *finally* just bought a lemon/citrus squeezer at Bed Bath & Beyond a few weeks ago, and i ca't believe i went all these years without one!

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                      chefathome Jan 6, 2011 11:15 AM

                      I know what you mean. I sort of thought it would be an unnecessary luxury but now I go wild with that thing! It works SO well.

                  2. Jay F Jan 6, 2011 10:49 AM

                    My tongs, which I bought at a hardware store 20 years ago for under $5. The catch that opens and closes them works with a flick of the wrist, as opposed other more expensive models that force me to use my other hand, which is almost always busy when I'm doing something that requires tongs.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Jay F
                      flourgirl Jan 6, 2011 12:56 PM

                      I have tongs like that I bought at a discount cookware outlet that was going out of business about 10 yrs ago for under $5. I love them, and when they went missing a couple of months ago I was REALLY bummed. (And I just knew that my husband forgot to bring them in when he was using them out by the grill, which he vigorously denied - until we finally found them weeks later under the deck, right by the grill....) Anyway, I thought they were gone forever so I went out and bought another pair, and yes, it's a two handed operation & they are super annoying. I can't tell you how happy I was when my old tongs turned up.

                      1. re: flourgirl
                        Jay F Jan 6, 2011 03:07 PM

                        I know. I've tried to find them any chance I get, so I can give them to friends. You'd think OXO would make one, but no. I've e-mailed them about it numerous times, but they have no interest.

                        1. re: flourgirl
                          escondido123 Jan 6, 2011 03:17 PM

                          I have the metal tongs that have no lock at all. We have half a dozen of them, including an extra long pair, in the ceramic container that holds all the wooden spoons and stirrers.

                      2. goodhealthgourmet Jan 6, 2011 11:11 AM

                        similar ongoing thread with some cool finds & tips:

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          cleopatra999 Jan 6, 2011 03:08 PM

                          My cherry pitter. flimsy little plastic thing that cost about 2$. Best money ever spent when you live in Cherry country. I have bags of frozen cherries and have made cakes and muffins.

                        2. iluvcookies Jan 6, 2011 05:36 PM

                          Aside from my waiter's corkscrew, I'd have to say my Chinese skimmer. I got it for about $5 in Chinatown a few years ago and now I use it for deep frying and to pull ravioli and lasagne noodles out of the pot. I think it's one of the nicest looking things I've bought for the kitchen in a while.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: iluvcookies
                            clint1245 Jan 10, 2011 10:28 AM

                            Real good tool also.

                            1. re: clint1245
                              flourgirl Jan 10, 2011 12:37 PM

                              I love those too. I somehow ended up with two of them in different sizes & I use them a lot.

                          2. John E. Jan 6, 2011 06:28 PM

                            Silicone spatula. I use it for sautes, sauces, stews, soups, it gets used almost everyday. Actually, we have several.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: John E.
                              Monica Jan 7, 2011 05:14 AM

                              I love silicone spatula too..i have 3 in different sizes and I wish I had more!

                              1. re: John E.
                                chefathome Jan 7, 2011 09:36 AM

                                Me, too. I won several in a cooking contest (well under $10 for me!!) - enough for a lifetime supply. They work wonderfully.

                                1. re: John E.
                                  iluvcookies Jan 7, 2011 05:39 PM

                                  +1 for the silicone spatula. How did I forget that?

                                2. LaPomme Jan 6, 2011 06:45 PM

                                  A $5.99 oven thermometer. I had no idea my oven was running 50 degrees hot. No wonder all of my baked goods came out with burnt edges!

                                  1. b
                                    brooklynkoshereater Jan 6, 2011 06:46 PM

                                    my immersion blender

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: brooklynkoshereater
                                      escondido123 Jan 6, 2011 07:28 PM

                                      You bought an immersion blender for under $10.....Where?

                                      1. re: escondido123
                                        John E. Jan 7, 2011 07:58 AM

                                        I have a Braun we got used at Goodwill for $4. We mostly just use it to purée soups and a few other things. It works well enough for us.

                                        1. re: John E.
                                          escondido123 Jan 7, 2011 09:14 AM

                                          I love 2nd hand stores for gadgets I want to try out but don't want to pay full price. Then if it turns out not to be something I use I don't feel guilty donating it from whence it came.

                                    2. Veggo Jan 6, 2011 06:50 PM

                                      My Black and Decker Handy Little Chopper - a mini food processor I'm wearing out and couldn't live without. $9.88 at Walmart several years ago, still going strong.

                                      1. d
                                        DavidT Jan 7, 2011 05:21 AM

                                        The Kuhn-Rikon paring knives, with the colored plastic handles & sheaths, sell for right around $10. They are very sharp and very good. The plastic sheath is very handy if you ever have occasion to transport the knife from one place to another.


                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: DavidT
                                          flourgirl Jan 7, 2011 05:28 AM

                                          I LOVE those - I found mine at Marshall's for $5. They also make a serrated knife and a mini cleaver in the same series, which I also found at Marshall's. Gotta love Marshall's.

                                          1. re: flourgirl
                                            Monica Jan 7, 2011 06:39 AM

                                            I LOVE Marshall's. I go nuts in that store though I almost always end up buying stuff I really don't need. Last week, I bought a copper wine bucket made by Mauviel for $100....originally $225. I couldn't believe it.

                                            1. re: Monica
                                              flourgirl Jan 7, 2011 07:23 AM

                                              LOL. I know all too well how easily that can happen.

                                              But I've been living near a Marshall's, Home Goods and a couple of T.J. Maxx's for a long time now so I've developed some defenses over the years. I often cruise through, but there are tons of times now when I leave with nothing. I've also reached the point, finally, where, after many years of collecting, adding to and upgrading my kitchen equipment, I'm now mostly very satisfied with what I have and no longer have many holes in my arsenal. There's also the space issue. I've just about maxed on that, and that's AFTER a huge clutter clearing garage sale last year.

                                              I have to say that over all, I've been very happy with just about everything I've purchased at those stores, and use almost all of my stuff fairly regularly. And I still get a rush when I see something cool I picked up at Marshall's selling in a catalog etc. for tons more money than I paid.

                                              And once in a while, I even have eerie experiences there. I recently became interested in jam/preserve making and was wishing I had one of the wide sloping pans made for this purpose with the measurements marked on the insides of the pot. Hadn't really started looking seriously, figured I could make do with what I had, when lo and behold, I'm wondering through Marshall's, and there it is, sitting innocently on a shelf in a box, a Maslin pan for $25! It's not copper, but it's a nice heavy pot and I'm sure it will do fine for my purposes. They only had the one, I've NEVER seen one before or since in any of local stores and it felt like it was just sitting there waiting for me to come along. :)

                                              That's an awesome deal on the wine bucket! It's great to find a luxury item at such a reduced price.

                                          2. re: DavidT
                                            clint1245 Jan 10, 2011 10:31 AM

                                            A good marshalls find that haven't seen anywhere else is a sword shaped strainer with a bottom lip and handle which allows you to strain liquid out of pots while keeping in food pretty easily.

                                          3. e
                                            escondido123 Jan 7, 2011 04:20 PM

                                            I forgot to mention my other favorite--a bacon press. At first I just used it for bacon. Then it became the press for making crunchy grilled cheese sandwiches. Then I found it it makes chicken breasts brown better. And last, but the best, it helps caramelize onions and/or mushrooms much better because first it steams them and then it browns them. Really a multi-tasker!

                                            1. d
                                              Dave5440 Jan 7, 2011 05:25 PM

                                              My egg timer, 4.99 at Bed Bath&Beyond, but it's shaped like an egg and it goes in the pot with the eggs and it changes colour as the eggs cook all I have to do is look at it and the black shade around the outside moves deeper as they cook.
                                              Link to it

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