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What are you sorry you were so slow to try?

I used to be the ultimate gadget freak -- if it did something special, I would buy it...til I realized my kitchen was overflowing with expensive unitaskers and I gleaned the vast majority of it (and haven't missed any of it, by the way. I shudder to think how much money went to the Goodwill in that box that day.)

Now I've swung the other way -- I cling firmly to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" -- and I tend to shun the newest, greatest tool because I don't want to spend money I could be spending on good traditional stuff, then throwing away the "new and improved".

My current love is silicon bakeware -- I was given a set of silicon muffin cups and hemmed and hawed until the kiddo needed cupcakes for school and I was out of papers.

Whoooaaaah. They rolled right out of the cases, no sticking, perfectly baked, and I tossed 'em in the top rack of the dishwasher. No scraping baked-on crud out of metal pans, no rusting, no weight, no hogging my cabinets (no clattering scaring the dog to his hidey place under the table)...and three dozen muffin cups stack the size of a Coke can in my cabinet and weigh next to nothing. I am in luv.

Needed a new loaf pan (the last one rusted through) -- same thing -- a loaf of banana bread just lifted right out of the new silicon pan -- the pan washed clean with no scrubbing, and weighs nothing (and I can jam it in a strange corner)

Anybody else have something they've been a real Luddite about, and now you're wondering why you waited so long?

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  1. My Japanese knives and deBuyer carbon fry pans.How I managed to survive this long without them is beyond me...
    + my microplane zester,Benriener mandoline and endgrain butcher block.

    72 Replies
    1. re: petek

      Hmm. I can see this is going to be a dangerous thread.

      1. re: sunshine842

        Too much brand name dropping?

        1. re: petek

          No...it gives me ideas. (and gives my husband nightmares)

          Kind of the "ooh, sparkly things" syndrome!

          1. re: sunshine842

            Surely you have enough room in your kitchen for just a few more "sparkly things" :D

        2. re: sunshine842

          No, that's solid advice! You will be so amazed how well that microplane zester works you will be doing way more with it then you thought as well as with the Benriener mandoline. Both are pretty inexpensive, work so well that you will find more previously useful items now relegated to the Goodwill box.

          1. re: Quine

            I find I don't use my microplane all that much, and I don't enjoy it when I do.

            1. re: sueatmo

              really? i have several, and rarely a day goes by that i don't use one. what don't you like about it?

              1. re: sueatmo

                Really? I really like my microplane. It seems to work much better than other grater I have used and it saves time. However, I didn't list it as one of my "tools which I sorry about using it late" because I don't use it often enough. In the big picture, it does not impact my life that much.

                1. re: sueatmo

                  The microplane is a big, fat disappointment. I don't mind using it now that I know I have to lean the end on my cutting board before grating with it. But that's something I could always do with my box grater. I thought I was just going to be able to hold it over something, a plate of pasta, for example, or a saucepan in which I'm making lemon curd, and grate. But it doesn't work that way.

                  Waste of $15 IMO.

                  1. re: Jay F

                    I thought I was just going to be able to hold it over something, a plate of pasta, for example, or a saucepan in which I'm making lemon curd, and grate. But it doesn't work that way.
                    it does for me...?

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Yeah ghg that's pretty much how I use mine as well. Wows great like that and don't have to pull out and clean a box grater to boot!

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Well, you're better at it than I am, I guess. I'm very happy for you.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          defensive much? i wasn't being snarky, i was questioning/wondering why it doesn't work for you. sorry if that got lost in translation.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            I'm sorry.

                            I thought I explained it. I am unable to use it unless I lean it on a cutting board. If I use it up in the air, I will likely cut my fingers on the teeth. It's happened twice at least.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              do you use a narrow microplane or one of the wider models? and when holding it over a pot or dish (instead of leaning it on the board) were you running the food across it, or were you holding the food still and drawing the microplane across the food? i'm just trying to figure out why it's giving you trouble, because i used to destroy my hands on a box grater, but the microplane never gives me a problem. maybe if we can troubleshoot, you'll like it better...

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                It's shaped like the one in the picture.

                                I drag the food across the microplane, IIRC.


                                FWIW, I have never cut my hands using a box grater.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                  I forgot the picture in my first response. Oops.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    ah, you use the wide on - i reserve that for really large items. my workhorse is the classic narrow rasp:

                                    i use it at least once or twice a day for grating ginger and citrus zest, and i've never cut myself on it. the grating surface is so narrow that there's far less risk of skin contact than with the wider model, and the handle is long & substantial to allow for good grip and leverage.

                                    anyway, i'm not trying to sell you on it - if you hate it, you hate it. i just always find it fascinating that people can have such disparate experiences with the same item...but that's one of the things that makes the world go 'round, right?

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Ok, I must know this: why are you grating fresh ginger and citrus zest on a daily basis?

                                      1. re: pothead

                                        Do you skin your ginger before you grate it?

                                        and ....
                                        do you wash the citrus (with what?) before you grate it?
                                        I can't seem to get the wax off to my satisfaction using vinegar (no soap!) or the non-chemical washes.

                                        1. re: pothead

                                          @pothead, i drink water with fresh ginger & lemon juice in it every morning (and sometimes evening), and i often use lemon zest in cooking & baking.

                                          @ Rella, yes i peel the ginger - it takes 2 seconds to scrape off the skin with a spoon...and i only buy organic or unwaxed lemons. i do wash them before zesting (or even juicing), but i don't have much of a problem with wax as the ones i buy rarely have it. if it looks suspect, i give it a good scrub with a vinegar solution and it does the trick for me.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Thanks for your reply.
                                            I've NEVER seen organic or unwaxed lemons. I'll try looking again when I get to Wegman's.

                                            Normally I buy a sack of lemons at Costco, wash as best I can; then squeeze most of the sack into juice and freeze as ice cubes.

                                            1. re: Rella

                                              you've never seen organic lemons? really? if you have a Trader Joe's near you they sell one-pound bags of them...but you have to *inspect* each one in the bag to be sure none of them are moldy.

                                              1. re: Rella

                                                Wash the waxed ones with "almost' hot water, then dry. The wax comes off pretty easily.

                                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                I used ginger today for the first time today in maybe 20 years, and it smelled very strange...strong and perfumey. The astringency I remember was nowhere to be found. I bought it at Whole Foods, organic and what not. Is it just me, or has ginger changed over these two decades? It reminded me of this syrupy men's cologne I hate; it didn't seem like something I should eat. It actually tasted fine, though the amount the recipe called for was too much for me.

                                                I chopped it with my knife. I didn't think to grate it. I used to use the cuisinart, because I'd use a lot of it. along with garlic, usually, but I was cooking for a party of one today. Maybe it's something I could use my microplane for.

                                                This goddamned diabetes makes me sick. I'm having to eat all this protein I'd just as soon skip. I like pasta. I like cake. I like potatoes. I like ice cream. Not chicken. Not meat. I love fish, but people tell me I can't eat fish every day; plus it's expensive.

                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                  That totally blows Jay F!
                                                  I have to grate the ginger because it is a flavor profile that needs balance for me to enjoy it. I like it balanced with soy and mirin the best. I can take candied ginger better - plain (without the mirin) just chopped up- but not the root. I am not sure how much sugar is in candied ginger (maybe too much for you to try). I believe the alcohol in the mirin would cook off for you so as not to effect your blood sugar?

                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                    Thanks, Sed.

                                                    What is mirin, wine? (I try to use alcohol almost not at all.)

                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                      Yes, but it is (rice wine) for cooking. I like a few tablespoons in my Asian style sauces, the alcohol burns off but it mellows the flavor of strong soy sauce and ginger and provides a nice balance. It might not be good for you with blood sugar concerns. I also find that freezing the ginger before grating helps mellow it a bit.

                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                        ummm... i think Mirim is Vinegar, not Wine. Mildly seaoned japanese vinegar.

                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                          ummm... i think Mirim is Vinegar, not Wine. Mildly seaoned japanese vinegar.
                                                          nope. mirin is a type of rice wine that contains more sugar & less alcohol than sake.

                                                          the Japanese term for seasoned rice vinegar is awasezu.

                                                  2. re: Jay F

                                                    i'm sorry you're having such a hard time. adjusting to any dietary restriction is tough, particularly for adults since we really know what we like by now :)

                                                    ginger is pungent stuff, and usually one of those love-it-or-hate-it ingredients. the flavor and aroma will vary depending on variety, country of origin and age, and based on what you said about the aroma and flavor, my guess is that it was African ginger, and may have been sitting around for a while.

                                                    i highly recommend grating it with the microplane, which makes it easier to control the flavor. you can also squeeze the grated ginger in cheesecloth to extract the juice, or use a garlic press if you happen to have one.

                                                    or just buy ginger juice ;)

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      I do have a garlic press, but I'd really like to get as much use as possible out of the rasp, since it's a relatively recent purchase.

                                                      I've never disliked ginger. I can't even say that I've avoided it consciously since I stopped cooking for a living. It's just that I reverted to All About Italian as my default setting when I started cooking seriously at home again.

                                                      I used to use ginger in making chinese chicken salad, a Chinese noodle dish, and a peanut sauce IIRC, and I always thought it was one of the cleanest, freshest smells.
                                                      I'm definitely going to try it again. I made chicken tikka masala last night (don't know if I said that already) and I want to make it again and again until I get it right.

                                                      Thanks, GHG.

                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        It's possible you got hold of some galingale instead of ginger, it smells much more astringent, etc. Is it smaller than usual fresh ginger? More prominently-marked skin?

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          Galingale. I'll look for it. Thanks.

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              Also Galanga, I buy it in the Asian grocery store. It is quite different tasting than ginger. It is used a lot in Thai, Indonesian and Malaysian cooking. I use both ginger and galangal from time to time but not often enough to keep it fresh in the refrigerator. I keep them frozen and the microplane is the perfect tool for preparing both. Take it out of the freezer, grate of what I need and put it back in the freezer until next time.

                                                            2. re: Jay F

                                                              I misunderstood what you were saying, BT, that maybe I had bought the galingal instead of ginger. It was definitely smaller, but the skin looked like ginger. The produce person at WF pointed to it, and I didn't look beyond grabbing the first thing that looked like ginger. I will have to check next time.

                                                              I ate the leftover chicken tikka masala yesterday, and noticed another strong flavor and texture: crushed cardamom pods. I think I'd replace those with ground cardamom next time, or leave it out entirely. They are not fun to bite into--woody, stalky.

                                                              It's interesting making Indian food, but I'm not sure I'll ever fall in love with it. The aftersmell, i.e, what you smell when it's still in the pot before you clean up and put it away, kind of repels me. It smells more like perfume than food.

                                                              Today I'm just going to make a simple chili, by which I mean ground turkey instead of cut-up chunks of chuck, and canned kidney beans. I usually use ground ancho and aleppo chilis from Penzey's, but I bought a jar of chili powder at WF the other day, so I'm going to use that up first.

                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                I think I'd replace those with ground cardamom next time, or leave it out entirely. They are not fun to bite into--woody, stalky.
                                                                gotta *pulverize* them into powder - i use a small coffee grinder. i wouldn't substitute pre-ground cardamom as the aroma & flavor are different.

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  Oh, good. The recipe said "bruised," so I just smacked them with the side of my knife, like garlic. I have a coffee grinder I use for these things, too. Thanks, GHG.

                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                    ah, in that case my guess is that they were meant to be fished out after cooking once they had done their job of perfuming the dish. next time you can either do that, or buzz them in the grinder.

                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                            keep at it, Jay, you'll get the hang of the microplane...and Chicken Tikka Masala is certainly a delicious way to practice ;)

                                                        2. re: Jay F

                                                          Oh, I feel for you. I am pre diabetic, and I've given up potatoes, pasta and most bread. It is a pain. But if you continue you will get to where you don't desire carbs nearly as much as you did. I am with you on the protein, though. I don't like so much red meat.

                                                          If you can have dairy, you can get some protein there; if you can have beans (some diets allow) you can get some protein from there.

                                                          I am eating a lot more fish. But it is true they say you can get mercury poisoning from eating too much fish. But there is always American catfish or trout!

                                                          When you take a major thing out of your diet (carbs like potatoes and pasta) you have to add something to take its place. The conventional wisdom is to replace with vegetables, and while this sounds great, it isn't the same! But I've been seriously low carb since Feb '10, and I'm never going back. Never! I feel so much better than before.

                                                          I want to encourage you to keep eating healthy.

                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                            Thank you, Sue. I should print this out and stick it on my monitor.

                                                            It's very hard to adapt to eating lots of vegetables. I grew up in a typical 50s-60s home where every vegetable except tomatoes, basil, and corn, was frozen. Or, in the case of mashed potatoes, instant. I don't eat these things as an adult, except for frozen peas, which are excellent, but the veg I do like are high glycemic (carrots, potatoes, beets, corn).

                                                            I've discovered I like beans, and I cook them a lot--from scratch, not from cans. I'm doing this a day at a time.

                                                            I'm thinking I can make something Indian-esque in a manner similar to the way I make simple chili. Onion, garlic, ground turkey, spices (curry powder?), tomatoes. Are there any additions I'm not thinking of? What would be a good bean here?


                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                              Look for "keema" recipes - they often use ground lamb and a classic one features peas and mint, but I change up the meat and use chickpeas quite often. Or try this, it's not as heavily spiced as some recipes (my husband is not crazy about Indian food but loves this, you can make it with ground turkey):

                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                Thanks. I've printed that out and I'll take it shopping.

                                                                Speaking of chickpeas, I had the most wonderful soup today: A creamy blend of pesto and spinach with chunks of cod and chickpeas. Seriously excellent.

                                                              2. re: Jay F

                                                                I like lentils. There are several sorts. A very good Indian cook advised me to soak the lentils all day, and then cook. Most directions indicate that you can cook dried lentils directly from the package in 20 minutes. I never could get them done in that time. At any rate, I love lentils and spinach. That reminds me. I need to make that next week!

                                                                I don't eat more than 1/2 c of beans at once. Are you on a diabetic diet? I guess I am envious if you get to eat a bigger serving than 1/2 c.

                                                                I believe that the orange lentils are used in Indian cooking.

                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                  I'm not on a specific diet, at least not yet. I'm simply trying not to eat as much sugar and flour at this point.

                                                                  When I make beans and they're all or most of what I'm eating, no, I eat more than 1/2 c. More like a cup.

                                                                  What do you put in lentils to make them Indian?

                                                                  And Sue, I must tell you, I finally found flatware I like. It's called knifeforkspoon, from Alessi, and designed by Jasper Morrison.


                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                    I like the shape of the knife and I think the forks are attractive in the set you have chosen. I love my new stuff, and I hope you get as much enjoyment from your Jasper Morrison set.

                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                      I don't fix lentils Indian style. I received advice about cooking lentils from a co worker who is Indian American. I was thinking of different sorts of legumes. I've lost track--was it you who was asking about different beans?

                                                                      I could use another lentil recipe though.

                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                        I did mention them upthread, but I've settled on what I think is my favorite way to make them. I'm talking technique rather than flavor. I don't soak them overnight. I rinse them off, then put them in a pot with water, bring it to a boil, then let them soak for an hour. They cook up nicely in the oven or on top of the stove after I do that.

                                                                        I like your idea for lentils and spinach, though, and mean to try it soon.

                                                                2. re: sueatmo

                                                                  I admit to being ignorant on this subject...but does all fish have mercury in it?

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    You ask a good question. My understanding is that mercury is found in the ocean, and that certain fish have more mercury and should not be eaten more than once a week. I am thinking of albacore tuna here. I think the fish that have the most mercury are at the top of the food chain. If memory serves swordfish, shark, and some others should be eaten no more than once a week.

                                                                    I am sure someone else here will have more detailed and possibly more up to date information.

                                                      2. re: Jay F

                                                        Hi, Jay F:

                                                        I'm mostly with you on this one. I've had Microplanes for woodworking, cooking (and yes, even personal grooming) and I like them because of their extreme sharpness and close tolerances.

                                                        BUT, they dull pretty fast under heavy use (faster than an average-grade box grater) because the metal is thin, and as you point out, the ergonomics are not good.

                                                        If they were to come up with a modern, sharper (yet thick) version of the old straddle graters, I'd be happy.


                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                          I wonder if I've worn it out, K. I bought it in 2009 when I was on a lemon zest kick, and used it mostly for that. Plus parmigiano-reggiano. But if that's the case, that I've worn it out in under two years, I'm even more disappointed. I have a lemon zester and box grater that I probably bought in the '70s, and they both work fine.

                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                            Hi, Jay: They come razor sharp, but are thin. You hafta change your razor blades sometimes, right?

                                                            I think the same company puts the same rasps into a product called the "Ped Egg", essentially a callus shaver. A hard foot callus will dull one of those after just a few uses. Can't imagine they'd last forever if you're shaving hard parmesan, either.

                                                        2. re: Jay F

                                                          Why not try the microplane that stands up on its own? It's not a box grater but has a folding stand. I own several microplanes as well and definitely use them daily without problems. One of my favourite tools ever.

                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                            chef, given my lack of love for the microplane I have, I am extremely reticent about spending one more cent on any further explorations of the product. Especially if the blades wear out after two years of not a whole lot of use.

                                                          2. re: Jay F

                                                            As someone who has a long standing enmity with elf-eating cheese planes, I quite literally feel your pain about rasps (what I called Microplanes before they went and got trademarky) as well, Jay F. I was given one by my MIL and dutifully tried to use it. Lotsa extra protein in whatever I tried to plane, because even after I figured out you have to wedge it up against something it would still slide because the clear plastic around the edges was slippery. Then one day that very same plastic broke, right in half. YOUCH. Goodbye Microplane and good riddance.

                                                            Or so I thought. My SO knew it had died and went and got me a replacement. But this one was made by Cuisipro and was trademarked under Accutech, not Microplane. Whole different ballgame: curved shape, longer, more pronounced rasps, no plastic around the edges, and (most importantly for me) a soft rubber bumper on an "extension" at the end to rest against the cutting board or plate that DOESN'T SLIP. Whole new ballgame. Can't imagine zesting citrus or grating parmesan at the table without it. I can even do the air grate that you dreamed of if I pay attention :-). And it hasn't gotten less sharp at all that I can tell, even after a lot of use.

                                                            Just my experience but it might be worth looking at a different design of the more basic version, if you like the idea of the simple rasp.

                                                            1. re: grayelf

                                                              Hmmm...Cuisipro/Accutech...Which of these is do you have, elf?


                                                          3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            Yeah same here! I find them ultra easy to use as does my 78 Year old Mom, who is really happy to give up lemon zesting on a box grater for her baking.

                                                            So, just wish to help. Mom has two shoulder replacements and a pretty extensive broken wrist reconstruction.

                                                            1. re: Quine

                                                              And I am sorta recalling that micro planes made it big time as a cross over from a surgical bone rasp?

                                                              I don't care, it works great from how we use it.

                                                              1. re: Quine

                                                                Woodworking tool originally.
                                                                I like the fine thin one for citrus zest (use it upside down like a violin bow on the fruit) but don't like it or the coarser one for Parmesan because of the fineness of the gratings produced.

                                                              2. re: Quine

                                                                Hi, Quine:

                                                                At 53, I squat 425 for triples and deadlift 675 on a bad day. I and others just don't find the ergonomics of narrow, handled rasps to be very good, that's all.

                                                                But I've never tried (and wasn't even aware of) the folding-stand version of microplanes. I'll check them out.


                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                  Hi thanks!
                                                                  I am 58,
                                                                  I have a fused spine at L4-L5 from a car accident in the last decade.
                                                                  I used to marathon. I started to study Aikido a year after. Let me tell you standing backward rolls were a leap of faith! As a woman. "squat 425 for triples and deadlift 675 on a bad days" sounds like well, glad you have an interest,
                                                                  Sorry you have big hands. I am sorry I have small hands; often when I buy knives, of kitchen or tactical sorts. When I study with a Bowie knife expert, I have a few skill issues. But when I show that expert that same skill move with say my fondest Kitchen knife, well, gee willies ! They step back a bit!

                                                                  An artist never blames the tools

                                                                  1. re: Quine

                                                                    Hi, Quine:

                                                                    I was merely responding to your insinuation that your septugenanian mom was stronger than our buddy Jay F, or that strength had anything to do with handling a microplane.


                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                      Went in big for overkill and extreme subtleness then, huh?

                                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                                        Hi, Quine:

                                                                        No, underaim and subtlety aren't my things. But then didn't train specifically for the microplane.


                                                2. Hi, sunshine842:

                                                  My epiphany was good copper cookware. And a China cap. And a Buffalo iron.


                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                    What is this Buffalo iron you speak of??

                                                      1. re: olympia

                                                        A china cap or chinoise is a cone shaped strainer,with a fine mesh others not.

                                                        1. re: petek

                                                          For anyone who's curious - I'm pretty sure that most people (chefs, anyway) distinguish between a china cap and a chinoise - a chinoise being finer and usually made out of mesh while a china cap's strainer is often a thin sheet of metal with many holes cut in it. A chinoise is also typically more expensive.

                                                          This wiki article has pics.

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                            You are correct sir! I've used a fine chinoise made of metal as well,much sturdier.

                                                      2. re: petek

                                                        Hi, petek:

                                                        Was ist das Buffalo iron? It is an iron that you heat on the stove and plunge into a pot of water to instantly restore the boil, for purposes of blanching vegetables or boiling pasta. It makes a qualitative difference in, e.g., green beans--they come out crisper and greener the faster the boil is restored.

                                                        It is called that reportedly because Julia Child saw her first such *plongeur* in use by a chef on a train, and the chef's name was Buffalo. I believe Julia's iron is in the Smithsonian. There is an episode of "Julia & Jacques" in which she uses it.

                                                        They basically look like an old-fashioned soldering iron, except the head is much larger and made of iron or steel. Good luck finding one. I had mine made for $15.


                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                          Ahh very cool. I tried to Google it ,but all I got was" where to buy steel near Buffalo N.Y"
                                                          Thanks kaleokahu!

                                                          1. re: petek

                                                            Hi, petek:

                                                            You're welcome.

                                                            A photo of Julia's can be seen here: http://www.sundancechannel.com/sunfil...


                                                      3. re: kaleokahu

                                                        Why were sorry to be so slow to try the copper cookware? $$$ doesn't count :)

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          Hi, C oliver:

                                                          Why sorry? Because I misspent several decades believing: (a) enameled cast iron was good cookware; and (b) copper was mostly for fuddyduddy interior design.

                                                          Had I actually *used* the copper, the thousands I misspent on Le Creuset could have been better put toward something better. When utility and control are taken into account, even the best vintage copperware is less $$$ than mediocre clad or the LC/Staub cabal.


                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                            Thanks, Kaleo. I only have two pieces of enameled CI, one a Staub pot that I bought and another a HUGE LC that a friend passed on to me. No desire for anymore. It works fine for certain things definitely but when I read CHs wanting to buy LC-equivalents for their entire cookware, I just don't get it.

                                                      4. Can't say I've been too crazy about cookware and gadgets for long but boy am I now! So, can't say I've really held out on too much - oops! But, I have to say that I'm really enjoying my pressure cooker. It's great to have brown rice, risotto or tender chicken breasts in 15 minutes. Another gadget I love is my penguin - it's nice to have sparkling water all the time.

                                                        Just to be even handed, I'll add that I'm not too fond of the keurig we received as a gift. It's definitely something I'd not spend the money on and might even think about selling.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: olympia

                                                          Glad to hear about the Keurig. I've never gotten the love for them. Seems to me to be an awfully expensive way to have coffee. Anything that requires constant replenishing of only the manufacturers refills is just too much for my taste.

                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                            Just want to add that I've got a blank that I can use with my own coffee but I still don't love the results.

                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                              I like it for the convenience of a quick cup, but our standard pot makes way better coffee.

                                                          2. My Black & Decker juicer. I grabbed one off Ebay for about 12 bucks a few years ago and it is a dream. I make a lot of salsa's and it juices limes just great.

                                                            1. An immersion blender. Couldn't see the point of buying one when I already had a blender and a hand mixer. But I got one as a gift, and it really is convenient.

                                                              Ramekins. I'm not a great baker, so I thought they would just sit there sullenly on my shelves, mocking me. But I've found all sorts of uses for them, and it turns out that souffles aren't nearly as difficult as they're made out to be.

                                                              After trying all sorts of sharpening contraptions, when I finally started using whetstones (years ago now), I was sorry I hadn't just done that first.

                                                              Same can be said for the first time I bought a decent knife (a forschner, even longer ago) and again the first time I got a Japanese knife (a Global) and again the first time I got a really nice Japanese knife (a Hiromoto).

                                                              After going through way too many cheap digital instant read thermometers, I caved and finally bought a thermapen. Now I wish I had just shelled out for one in the first place.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                I resisted an immersion blender for a long time thinking I would never use it....boy was I wrong!

                                                                1. re: jzerocsk

                                                                  My mom asked to borrow mine a few weeks ago after telling me how silly I was to have bought one. She went out and bought one right after borrowing mine!

                                                              2. In my case, the two most impactful things are my first carbon steel wok and waterstone. The stir fry from a carbon steel wok is leap and bounce better than that from a nonstick wok. My first carbon steel wok also opened my eyes to cast iron cookware and other carbon steel cookware. My first waterstone introduced me to knife sharpening which further introduce me to knife skill, knives geometry and all sort of things about knives.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  Hi Chem.. I'm curious what type of wok you purchased. Any particular brand or style? Thanks

                                                                  1. re: Ross101

                                                                    Just a regular carbon steel wok. I purchase mine from the WokShop.


                                                                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    Thanks to a CH comment I've been using my large CI skillet instead of my wok. Prefer it.

                                                                  3. A good Quality ice cream maker. All I need is real cream, sugar and whatever flavors I want. amazing ice cram in under an hour, better than any on the market and waaaaaay cheaper than those "real cream " brands

                                                                    1. - a good Japanese knife (specifically a Shun Santoku)
                                                                      - citrus squeezer
                                                                      - electric kettle

                                                                      1. I have a number of gadgets that I've had for many years thatI don't feel that I could live without, as well as a large number in various closets and storage that will go in the next garage sale. But I did wait years to break down and recently buy a cast iron skillet. I love it, and picked up a small, shallow oval cast iron pan today at Goodwill for $2.99.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: tracylee

                                                                          Cast iron is great, isn't it? I picked up a cast iron pan a few years ago and it promptly rusted due to my lack of knowledge about it. Then it lived in the cupboard for a few years. I finally gave it a try again and I must say that I really enjoy using it. I now have two cast iron pans and one carbon steel and I really love them all. There's a learning curve though!

                                                                          1. re: olympia

                                                                            Yes! I finally convinced my boyfriend of it's worth with a skillet cornbread of it's use, but he won't touch it himself because of the difference in maintenance between it and his non-stick. At least I finally convinced him to stop stacking the two types of pan on the back burner to keep them out of the way.

                                                                            And he finally sees the light on the KA stand mixer. He'd never had anything like it, but likes to make cookies, cakes, pies etc. and now wouldn't be without it. Since I can't eat sweets, I help out, 'cause I love the cooking and assembly part of it. Oh, and he loves the Microplane zester for nutmeg over his ice cream!

                                                                          2. re: tracylee

                                                                            I'll put cast iron on my list. I bought my first cast iron a few months ago, a Lodge 10" and 12" and they are now my most used pans. Really glad to have bought two high quality knives, never thought it would make such a difference. Also love my portable induction cooktop.

                                                                          3. My good cookware. Overnight, I was able to sear! deglaze a pan for sauce! Changed my cooking forever.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                              What does "good cookware" mean please?

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                The stuff that replaced my cheap, peeling non-stick pans.

                                                                            2. Vitamix

                                                                              I'd been eyeing it for years and years and once I finally bought one I wish I'd bought it sooner.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: rasputina

                                                                                We've had our Vitamix now for 15 years. When we bought it, I'm glad I was able to think ahead to buy a container solely for dry products. Vitamixers may come with the two containers now, I don't know. But, the container for the dry grinding has been wonderful for seeds and grains.

                                                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                                                  heh :) i stood in front of the display at BB&B for a good 10 minutes last week, just staring at the display. i've been dying for one for years, but haven't pulled the trigger.

                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                    I am so fascinated by this appliance. But I return to reality when I notice how big and tall it is. It would take up counter space I can't spare.

                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                      yeah, every time i think i can justify the price tag, the footprint stops me from going for it...particularly since i already caved earlier this year and sprang for the Breville Smart Oven - that thing's not exactly small either! but i don't regret the purchase one bit, it's a great appliance.

                                                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                      go to the vitamix website and buy the refurbished unit for a lot less. They even can do a 3 payment plan...that's what I did a year ago after my $150 cuisinart went poof(rarely used for 3 years, then when i got into smoothies it couldn't handle it, talk about a shocker) and do not regret it one iota.

                                                                                  2. Good pans. I have a Staub chicken pot and LOVE it. I long for more, but haven't gotten any more yet. I never really knew about caramelized anything before this pan. I plan on replacing all of my cookware except a non-stick omelette pan with Staub. Amazing stuff.

                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                      I have a lovely Staub pot but wouldn't consider replacing everything with Staub. Caramelizing, IMO, is more technique than equipment.

                                                                                      1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                        do yourself a favor and get a SS lined copper saute before you decide to do all cast iron. I love cast iron, but they are a niche cookware

                                                                                        1. re: BedazzledLV

                                                                                          I love cast iron, but they are a niche cookware
                                                                                          how so? i'll bet cast iron is far more common than copper cookware in the average home kitchen. i don't know that i'd want *all* cast iron, but i wouldn't call it any more of a "niche" product than non-stick, copper, SS or ceramic...they all have their place/use.

                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                            Exactly- I have LC (both dutch ovens and skillets), copper with SS interior...AND cast iron (old and new).
                                                                                            I consider each of them a specialty tool....each cook chooses their weapons! :)

                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                              I'm betting that for BedazzledV "niche cookware" = "specialty tool."

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                Thanks Oliver. Yes I meant it's a specialty tool. I love cast iron, but for a complete replacement of cookware, SS cooking surface is really needed. For the price I prefer an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, frying skillet/corn bread seasoned raw cast iron, but everything else I use is SS cooking surface because it's so versitile. Especially for braising and carmelizing. Maybe it's just me, but impossible stains in my enamel cast iron Dutch oven. I prefer to bake my lasagna in Pyrex or corningware just the way my grandma does(maybe just nostalgia factor), but for daily use from eggs, fish, steaks, chicken I NEED a sauté with a lid and perfect even heating on my gas stove(especially if it's oven safe, then it's dream time.
                                                                                                But back to the issue, you can't cook acidic things in cast iron without getting a funny taste IMHO. So no tomato, lemon, wine.... This is the reason I call cast iron a niche cookware since it has it's own place in cooking but cannot be the only type of cookware you own.

                                                                                      2. Two things for me:

                                                                                        Stand mixer (KitchenAid)
                                                                                        A good knife (Global)
                                                                                        Don't know why I waited so long to get them...

                                                                                        1. Lock & Lock containers.
                                                                                          I hate to think how much money I wasted buying other food storage containers which didn't last more then a couple of years.

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: snax

                                                                                            Oh my gosh! Love Lock and Lock containers too!

                                                                                            1. re: bg031

                                                                                              Who retails the ceramic containers? They look like what i need! I see the plastic ones at the grocery, but I want to invest in some non-plastic since i wanna have many goes through the microwave out of them LOL.

                                                                                                1. re: snax

                                                                                                  In addition to QVC, you can go directly to the Lock N Lock website - a much better value, plus they have great sales. For example, the QVC set listed above is included in this package which includes 4 more containers, plus lids for a few dollars more http://www.locknlockplace.com/servlet... . Shipping is slightly less and free with orders over $50.

                                                                                                  Two weeks ago, I stocked up on BOROSILCATE glass http://www.locknlockplace.com/servlet... at 50% off and in addition, there was a separate but concurrent promotion that had 33% off all other items.

                                                                                                  The website is a little bare due to the recent sale. It seems they run big promotions like this about every 6 weeks or so.

                                                                                                  The company is Korean, so if you run into wonky wording, I assume they haven't gotten the translation down pat or have yet to hire a domestic based marketing rep. Domestically, the company has a facility in Dallas.

                                                                                                  1. re: Molly James

                                                                                                    It says on the site that the ceramic containers are NOT air and water tight. Good to know that, they would be perfect for taking lunch to work but maybe hold off taking the pumpkin soup.

                                                                                                    I've got my eye on the BOROSILCATE glass containers too, which ARE air and water tight. I'm happy to store most left overs in plastic containers, but for curries I rather use glass to stop smells and stains from lingering. Also these would be my choice of containers for taking lunch to work to warm in an oven or microwave. I much rather use glass or ceramic in a microwave.

                                                                                          2. I thought of another one - a gravy seperator. Last week I messed around forever trying to skim fat from a huge chuck roast. I bought a gravy seperator on Friday and gazed in awe at it last night when making gravy.

                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                              I've had a fat separator for years and rarely, rarely use it. I put the liquid in the fridge overnight and lift it off the next morning. I found the separator to be subpar.

                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                I make stock and braised meats a lot. I use the fat separator regularly when I want to eat what I am cooking today. The refrigerator works great if you start the day before. I rarely think that far ahead.

                                                                                                1. re: InspectorJon

                                                                                                  I've found a zipping bag filled with ice and put into the liquid more effective.

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    I am not sure how a plastic bag with ice could be more effective. The fat separator I use removes 99% of any floating fat in the liquid. Maybe you find the ice in a bag easier. To each his own as they say. I am not looking to convert anyone here. I use the one in the link below and find it quite useful. It does not work so well on small quantities of liquid but is great for soups, stocks, stews and braises. Put the liquid through a strainer, pour the good stuff back in the pan and the fat that is left goes in another container to be disposed of. I have to admit that I have used the chicken fat to make roux for gumbo before.


                                                                                                      1. re: InspectorJon

                                                                                                        I used to just let it sit overnight, then skim but I don't anymore either. It is sooo much nicer to just deal with it right then and clean up.

                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                          I use a fat separator. I find it a good tool for making broths. Sometimes I let the fat rise on a cooked broth though. I think pulling the congealed fat off refrigerated broth is the best way to defat it. Also, I read many years ago in an old cookbook, that the congealed fat protects the liquid beneath it until you are ready to use it. (It doesn't protect it forever, obviously.)

                                                                                                        2. re: InspectorJon

                                                                                                          When you say, "pour the good stuff back in the pan ..."

                                                                                                          I have one similar with the longer spout, but using it during the same hour for gravy never seems to separate the fat from the liquid adequately - or should I say -- to my satisfaction. I've written it off as my not totally understanding as to how to get the fat and liquid separated when they have separated in the container. The liquid just doesn't seem to pour off adequately.

                                                                                                          So, what seems a good thing, to me, I am dissatisfied with this.

                                                                                                        3. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          I used to have a gravy separator. Too much screwing around.
                                                                                                          Same for the fat mop--- worked a treat at sopping the fat off the top of things, but a complete bitch to clean -- even the dishwasher wouldn't get all the crud out of the fibers.
                                                                                                          Tried the white paper towel routine...moderately successful, but still a p.i.t.a.

                                                                                                          Now I just use a big-ass spoon and skim off the excess.

                                                                                                  2. I don't know if this qualifies as cookware but, I've found that the Reynold's 'Slow Cooker' bags are an outstanding adjunct to the kitchen. They're fantastic!

                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                      Why don't you explain how you use these bags? I'd like to know more.

                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                        I am surprised this needs explanation! These are bags, quite like roasting bags, but ones that you use to lone your crock pot /slow cooker with. No mess. Instant clean.

                                                                                                        No brainer.

                                                                                                        1. re: Quine

                                                                                                          I'd never heard of these but, honestly, my slow cooker insert is extremely easy to clean. I just put hot, soapy water in, soak for just a few and it wipes clean.

                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                            I have the all one unit kind, bought it at a thrift store, them bags saves major hassle and juggling with dishwashing!

                                                                                                            1. re: Quine

                                                                                                              That occurred to me after I posted. In your case, I'd definitely use those bags. Dang, I just saw an obviously returned slow cooker at Costco the other day for only $10. I'd have bought it for you had I but known :)

                                                                                                                1. re: Quine

                                                                                                                  I have a removable insert in mine, too, but even when I had a one-piece unit, I started the cleaning process by emptying out the food and replacing it with hot soapy water. The residual heat in the cooker helps hot-soak all the crud and crust off.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                    Mine has a removable insert, too. I clean as you do; however, mine is black and the stick-ums on it are not always visible until after it is dried - ugh! Wish I had a different color insert.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                      I run wet fingers around the inside of the crock -- you'll feel anything that's stuck to it, even if you can't see it.

                                                                                                      2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                        Do you mean their roasting bags? Because i don't like to roast without one LOL.

                                                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                          I LOVE those things. Cleaning that thing out was always a pain even with the removable liner. There was always so much junk, with these you just lift out and half the time put the pot away. Sometimes there is a little leakage of some liquid but not like stuck on crap.

                                                                                                        2. Stainless steel cookware. Long time nonstick user but I have changed the error of my ways.

                                                                                                          1. My rice cooker. My husband told his mother I wanted a rice cooker (though I never wanted one!) and she bought me a 10 cup Zojirushi Fuzzy Logic rice cooker. It sat in the box in the corner of my apartment kitchen for literally 2 years. Then we moved to a house and all of a sudden I got the urge to try it. I was in love! I always made terrible rice, either burning or undercooking, and my rice cooker makes perfect rice every time.

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: valerie

                                                                                                              Rice cooker. YES! My Chow-friend, Alan Barnes, talked ME into one. He felt his rice was mostly subpar and I certainly did. I bought a $15 one at WalMart and it's been great. Not only for its reproducibility but also the fact that it leaves a burner free. Honestly, I wish I'd bought at least a nonstick one. Bought our daughter one recently. Also works as a slow cooker (don't know the dynamics of that).

                                                                                                              1. re: valerie

                                                                                                                For regular rice making, there is nothing like a good rice cooker. As a teen, my one house chore was cooking the family dinner. I had very little experience in the kitchen, usually doing roasted chickens(roasting bags are a life saver),shake n bake pork chops roasts in a slow cooker(a tool that i don't use anymore). Growing up in south asia, rice...especially jasmine or basmathi rice with a meal are considered mandatory, the rice cooker was my #1 culinary tool. I could even make the rice taste exactly how we used to have it when cooked in the stove by adding a tbs or butter in the mix.
                                                                                                                Now that I'm married, and am trying to curb my addiction to rice I do not own a rice cooker... but I now know how to make it without a rice cooker for the special craving days. My biggest help is an old 2.5 qt pyrex corningware vision pot. Being that its clear, you can tell if its browning without stiring the rice(which ruins the fluffiness).

                                                                                                                1. re: BedazzledLV

                                                                                                                  Why try to curb a so called "rice addiction"? Majorly confused.

                                                                                                              2. A large Silpat. Thought it was a silly purchase at first, but now dearly love how quickly foods release, and no need to grease pans.

                                                                                                                1. I'll second whoever said Thermapen & add my little salter electronic scale.

                                                                                                                  1. It took me a long time to get an electric kettle, which I now find indispensable. (Big tea drinker.) Then, after having a Capresso kettle for 2 or 3 years, I broke it.

                                                                                                                    After that, I was slow to try a less-expensive Chinese kettle (from Chinatown, not marketed to Westerners). But I noticed they were common in some tea parlors. So I got a nice, all-metal Boni kettle, not as fancy as a Breville or something, but heats water just as well...and the long graceful spout is favored by tea folk for its accurate pour. As a bonus, it cost me less than $30.

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: comestible

                                                                                                                        Same with me. I've had tea kettles by the score (so it seems) and couldn't find a good one. I finally sunk some money into one and use it many, many times a day. It came with a 3-year warranty; I've had it 6 years now.

                                                                                                                        Name Cordless Automatic Electric Kettle
                                                                                                                        Model # KUA-17
                                                                                                                        UPC 0-86279-10743-5
                                                                                                                        SRP $105.00
                                                                                                                        You can buy it cheaper.

                                                                                                                      2. First, a pressure cooker. Mom always had one (and still uses the one she got as a wedding gift over 55 years ago). My Fagor U Cook 7-Piece Set is fantastic.

                                                                                                                        My other one is juicer steamer.
                                                                                                                        I cant believe how much easier it is to extract the juice from berries and grapes. It sure beats the old jelly bag!

                                                                                                                        1. A gas grill. Egads, I was a stubborn purist about the charcoal Weber for years and then we inherited a gas grill, aged and nothing fancy, from an elderly relative's garage. Wow, lifestyle enhancer. Not because the food tastes any better than on the Weber but because the gas grill is so dang easy to use on a weeknight, in the snow, etc. I grilled a dozen chicken thighs the other night for dinner and weeknight salad ingredients.

                                                                                                                          I'm also in love with the steel grill pan I bought to grill veggies.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                            I so agree! My first gas grill was under $100 and I used it for years. When I upgraded to a bigger one, I put the first one out by the road with a sign that said "Free. Like me, it's old but it still works just fine." It was gone in a flash.

                                                                                                                          2. Electric kettle. I splurged for the Breville/Gastroback with variable temperature settings which perhaps contributes to my gratification.

                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: pericolosa

                                                                                                                              How so, pericolosa? This isn't snarking -- it's an honest question...what do you use the different temperature settings for? (when I use my kettle, I want boiling water, and mine shuts off when the water boils. Done.)

                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                I've never had a variable temperature setting kettle, but since I use my electric (Cusinart) kettle constantly, I can't help but notice that on some tea packages, they give a temperature that the tea should be brewed. I suppose it would enhance the flavor, but usually I just want that cuppa NOW and not fiddle with it.

                                                                                                                                Not so with the espresso though.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                  when I was traveling to England regularly, I was taught to wait until the kettle shut off at the boiling point, then to count slowly to ten before pouring, as this *supposedly* brings the water down to the optimal brewing temperature for tea. (never checked it with a thermometer, just did as the Romans were doing.)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    If you are brewing green tea, you should pull the water off the fire just prior to boiling. Black tea is brewed with boiled water. I did not know about waiting to pour it though. Good tip.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                      Agree. The idea is that the greener the tea, the cooler the temperature for brewing.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                        There are those who, when brewing green tea, go ahead and let the water come to a boil, then pour off the water into an empty cup or two, each of which lowers the temperature, before pouring onto the leaves. Different ways to get to the same place. A Japanese friend favors this method for sencha.

                                                                                                                                        What I do is bring my water to a boil, then pour off into a pyrex cup, insert a thermometer, and wait till it reaches my desired temp. It's nice to experiment with different temperatures for greens; sometimes just 10 degrees F can bring out different nuances or even transform the flavor.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: comestible

                                                                                                                                          Boiled water tends to have a "flat" taste. I don't know what that's about, chemically, but I expect that would produce a difference when comparing tea made with water cooled down from the boil and water that never reached the boil. Haven't taste-tested this myself.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                    Yes, tea should be brewed at different temps and coffee should be typically brewed lower than boiling - or so I'm told.

                                                                                                                                    I also use lower than boiling temps when making instant oatmeal etc in containers that might suffer from thermal shock, then put in microwave to finish.

                                                                                                                                    As I've posted elsewhere, I honestly didn't understand the value of an electric kettle when one has a perfectly fine stove and pot, but came to appreciate the kettle upon first use, and it's now used more often than probably any other countertop appliance. The variable temp makes it especially efficient and versatile.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    As others have already elaborated, different temperatures for different applications.

                                                                                                                                  4. re: pericolosa

                                                                                                                                    I am looking at

                                                                                                                                    and it shows a Breville and a Gastroback, two different kettles.
                                                                                                                                    Does yours have any plastic inside or out?

                                                                                                                                    I see they can be really expensive.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                      The model I have looks similar to the Gastroback in the link, but not exactly. I've seen the model I have, which is the 2000W 42429 “Design Kettle Advanced Pro” with 5 temperature pre-sets at Williams-Sonoma sold under the Breville label. It does have a small amount of plastic (which may be Nalgene?? polycarbonate) so you can see the water at the sides and through the lid.

                                                                                                                                      I found mine at www.culinaris.eu. These are pricey, but I was able to not pay VAT due to having a extra-EU billing address which helped cinch my decision to pay extra for the convenience of the pre-sets. Tho' I do drink plenty of non-black tea, bringing water simply to a boil was all I aimed for until recently, when I decided to become more discriminating with coffee.

                                                                                                                                      One of the other factors in my decision was that I didn't have a functional stovetop kettle for my induction cooktop, so I was going to need to acquire _something_. (No good-sized saucepans with a spout, either.) And I seem to have read somewhere that using these kettles is even more energy efficient than induction... I'm thinking the induction and this kettle will pay for themselves in terms of energy cost savings within a year or so.

                                                                                                                                  5. there are 2 things: A salt cellar and an olive oil container/drizzler thing. I do love my micro grater for ginger root and nutmeg too. Instead of a kettle we had a hot water dispenser installed on our sink, dispenses instant hot water 190 degrees. When the first one died we bought a replacement right away.