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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Gadgets, glorious gadgets--Kandy Shepherd



Anyone else share my addiction to kitchen gadgets? At this time of year, I find it hard to resist trawling the sales in search of some exciting new gizmo that I didn’t know I needed until I saw it marked down to “20% off the already reduced price”. Some people shop the sales for shoes, clothes and bed linen (okay, I do that too!) but each post-Christmas sale I promise myself just one new gadget.

This year, I am delighted with my brand new quiche pan—not only does it have a detachable bottom but that bottom is perforated with small holes for even heating and crispier pastry, (just like my pizza heating tray that was my three-years
-ago purchase). I’m pleased to tell you that the cheese and caramelized onion quiche I baked in my new pan for Christmas visitors turned out perfect with no soggy bottom.Other favorite gadgets include: an apple peeler/slicer/corer that really works but I have to admit is a tad time consuming; a salad dressing maker that I liked so much I bought two (it isn’t quite like the photo here but you can get the idea); an amazing French vegetable peeler; and a garlic crusher with outsize holes (bought on a long-ago trip to Paris, France). Favorite of all is a set of measuring cups I bought at Disneyland while at the Romance Writers of America national convention in Orlando last year. Why have the regular kind when you can have Mickey measures?

I use most of my gadgets (except for the avocado slicer.) But I have to confess to a shelf full of beautifully colored silicon bakeware that I am just too chicken to use in a hot oven even though I’ve been told over and over it is guaranteed not to melt…

Like me, the characters in my books are interested in cooking (Maddy in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD is a chef-turned-magazine food editor; Serena the heroine of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK is a hopeless cook who tries very hard). At the moment, I am writing a character I want to be a gadget collector like me, but she is a trained chef and keeps telling me to please just give her quality, perfectly sharpened knives. Sigh… guess the gadget-collecting-character might have to find a home in a different story…

Do you have any thoughts on kitchen gadgets—maybe on one you could not be without or one that’s a waste of kitchen space? Please leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of HOME IS WH
ERE THE BARK IS. Include your email address if you want to be in the draw.

http://www.kandyshepherd.com

52 comments:

Kristen My Bookish Fairy Tale said...

Oh this is so great! I do love Kitchen supplies lol. I can't really cook thats the hubbies job but I do love to bake hehe!!

kristen_babygurl@hotmail.com

Kristen H

Linda Henderson said...

I like kitchen gadgets too, I have to control my urges to buy ones that I really won't use. Probably the strangest one I have is a pair of toast tongs that you obviously use to take toast out of the toaster without burning yourself.

seriousreader at live dot com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Kristen, kitchen gadgets really have a toy-like quality don't they?
My hubby is a good cook too, but he can't, doesn't want to, won't bake. The baking is my department and I'm happy for it to stay that way!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Toast Tongs? Linda, that's a gadget I haven't as yet encountered. Sounds like a good idea though, must look out for them. Would have to remember to keep them by the toaster...

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Happy new year, Kandy!

Those Mickey measures are fabulous! I saw those apple peeling devices at Victoria's Basement (which is where we spent Boxing Day!) and I wondered what they were like to use. I'm saving up for a Le Creuset casserole dish and roasting dish.

Let me know how you go with the silicon bakeware. I'm afraid of melting those too!

Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, happy new year! I love your post although I have to say these days I do so little serious cooking, my idea of a cooking gadget is a teaspoon. My godfather used to be a cooking faddist and I remember him giving me beautiful things in Danish plastic, most of which ended up in pieces on tiled floors. Danish plastic doesn't bounce, sadly.

Joan Kilby said...

I want one of those quiche pans! I love cooking and gadgets but most of them sit unused in the drawer. The one item I couldn't do without and use all the time is my granite mortar and pestle.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Vanessa, glad you like the Mickey measures--I like the so much I don't want to use them too much in case I ruin them! Author Cathleen Ross (my long-time shopping buddy) spotted them for me in the Disney store when we were all at Orlando for RWA.
The apple peeling device works really well. We have some wonderful old apple trees at the farm and if I can beat the birds and the bugs to the apples, the apple peeler comes in very handy for when I'm bottling apple sauce.
Good luck with saving for the Le Creuset--I'm ashamed to say I have the imitation from IKEA!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Anna, your teaspoon comment has made my day. LOL!
Danish plastic? I'm not familiar with that, though melamine comes to mind...
I do like the Danish Scanpan cookware, though. They make the best-ever roasting/baking pans. They're very expensive when not on sale, so am only gradually building my collection!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey, Joan, great to see you here.
A granite mortar and pestle is truly a thing of kitchen beauty! I have a small one and wouldn't be without it. I bought my daughter a much cheaper version when I kept finding my good one out in the feed shed where she was using it to grind supplements for her horse's feeds!
The quiche pan truly is a gem, I can highly recommend it.

Annie West said...

New Year, Kandy!

Isn't it wonderful to have exactly the right gadget for the job you need to do? I think my fave is probably my citrus zester. It's light and well made and perfect for making fine zest for cakes or Asian meals.

A friend and I swap kitchen gizmos each year in an attempt to find the weirdest one. This year my friend won. She sent me an egg timer. You put it on the saucepan with the egg and it sings when the egg's ready - different tunes for soft, medium and hard boiled!

Nas Dean said...

Hi Kandy,

Happy New year. My favourite kitchen helper is the kenwood chef mixer my husband gifted me with.

I use it daily to knead flour for roti(flat bread) we make for breakfast.

I absolutely cannot live without it!
nas_dean@ymail.com

Sharon Archer said...

Kandy, my hand's up on the kitchen gadgets - though I'm trying to be much, much more ruthless about this foible these days because travelling for 4 months on the back of a motorbike a couple of years ago made me realise how much stuff I can do without - and sadly that includes kitchen stuff!

BUT I did get a couple of excellent square Pyrex baking dishes in the post-Christmas sales this year, which I have to confess I'm very chuffed with!

And I have these gorgeous club-sandwich shape cutters that I'd bought years and years and years ago - and this year I discovered that I can use them as shape-cutters to make the cutest little shortbread biscuits!

(happy sigh) yep, definitely hands up for another kitchen gadget lover! LOL
:)
Sharon

susanwilson44 said...

I have serious envy of those Mickey measures. Gimme gimme gimme!
I have a red set of those silicone trays and have used them in the oven hundreds of times. They've never melted and I am the woman renowned for burning everything, so I think you're safe. Go and enjoy!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Annie--I love that you and your friend swap kitchen gizmos, what a truly fun idea!
My sister-in-law visited with us last year and was horrified at our primitive method of boiling eggs (ie, a saucepan of water and a guesstimate by the clock). She gifted us with must be a similar egg timer as the one your friend gave you. We are enchanted with it!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Nas, I had an ancient Kenwood Chef that I had for many years and I was most upset when its motor finally died a death. The dough hook attachment was so powerful...

I've never made roti though, and I love it. There's a marvelous restaurant near my "day job" that lures me in with for lunch with a delicious, light, almost flaky roti that is served with curry. I suspect yours is even better than that one!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Sharon--welcome fellow gadget lover.
Yes, I can imagine that not too many went with you on your epic motorbike trip!
I bet your club-shaped shortbreads looked (and tasted) amazing. I have a collection of cookie cutters I have collected on my travels but don't tend to use them much these days. Must make them earn their place in the kitchen drawer...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Susan, so glad you like the Mickey measures. I guard them zealously and don't even put them in the dishwasher for fear of ruining them.
Thank you for your reassurance re the silicone trays--I really have to get over my terror of them! I've decided to launch one with a packet cake mix rather than something I take for ever preparing just to be on the safe side...

PJ said...

Kandy, I love the sound of that quiche pan! I go way beyond being a kitchen gadget "collector", I'm afraid. I have just about every gadget known to man, I think. lol!
Well, except for the apple peeler. A friend has one and loves it but I find it easier and quicker to core and peel them with my Oxo ergonomic veggie peeler - probably my favorite gadget. Mine broke after about 10 years of use and I was absolutely desolate until I could get to the city to buy another.

My favorite kitchen appliance is, of course, my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer...but that's a whole other form of addiction. My niece got married last month and moved from Florida to Japan. Her Kitchen-Aid stand mixer went with her as an additional piece of luggage. Clearly, she trained at her aunt's knee. *g*

CC Coburn said...

Nooooo! Stupid me, I just commented wishing you a Happy New Year, Kandy and telling you about my cookbook collection (2-300 of 'em) and how I rarely cook anything from them, just buy them 'cos they're so purty. I was with you when you bought those Mickey measures and got some for my daughter, now I'm kicking myself I didn't get any for me. Not that I'd use them!
Only 179 sleeps till we see each other again!
CCx

petite said...

I think that your collection is practical and lovely. When I browse through a shop with so many colorful and useful items it is difficult to make a selection of one that would be necessary. I did receive the apple slicer and corer from my husband one year as a brithday gift and use it well. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I indulge myself each year with something new. I bought a tomato slicer which is a bright red and does reflect the appearance perfectly. Bright, colorful and helpful too. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

CC Coburn said...

(hoping I don't mess this up again and lose this post!)
Hey, not fair talking about a caramelized onion quiche recipe without including it!
Hubby has just christened his Mickey tea infuser I bought him in Orlando last year. Said it worked a treat!
Salivatingly yours,
CCx

Jason said...

I find a lot of good gadgets on sale at Marshalls
But, I recently found a kitchen laptop stand on Amazon that protects my laptop from food splatter. It's been fun using the laptop in the kitchen!

Estella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Estella said...

I am not a gadget person. the cleverest thing I have is a potato peeler that I don't use. I prefer a paring knife.

kissinoak at frontier dot com

ev said...

I love the gadgets too. My fave this year is the new gravy separator that I bought. http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=16317918

I was actually able to make gravy all by myself this year, and it was damn good.

I love the silicon stuff, esp in our RV. Saves on room and works great in the oven. I even have cooking utensils that work great too. It stands up to a lot of heat. My 'Ove Glove is another one.

Must have that quiche pan tho. Where did you find it?

ev said...

@sharon- please be careful with the new pyrex. It's now made in China and they have had problems with it breaking easily. If you can find some of the old stuff at a garage sale or second hand store, grab it.

Same goes for the original Syracuse China. If anyone sees it, grab it. Now that the company has been sold to a co. in china the old stuff is becoming a collector's item.

Leni said...

I used to have so much fun testing out new gadgets. Then it finally dawned on me that I would stop using them after a month or so. Now I only buy what I really need. A microplane grater is the gadget that I've been hooked on for some time.

lenikaye@yahoo.com

Pat Cochran said...

Had to laugh, Kandy! I have some
bright red silicone baking pans in the back of my pantry because I,
too, am afraid to use them. If I
ever put them in my oven I just
they will dissolve into bright red
puddles! LOL!

Pat Cochran

SiNn said...

I lovee ethe juicer andblender i have i love maken smoothies and of course the nonstick baking and frying pans and anything new that i havent tried im a new gadget freak really


mortalsinn@yahoo.com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi PJ--Happy New Year. I have an Oxo veggie peeler too. They're great aren't they? I've learned with veggie peelers to buy two if I really like them--too often they've disappeared and, like you, I've been left bereft!
I love the story of your niece with her Kitchen Aid. Not only a practical connection to home but an emotional one too...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi CC, great to see you here. I'm a cookbook collector too but I am really trying to restrain myself from buying any more. They say, though, that if you use just one recipe from the book you've gotten your money's worth!

I remember only too well you, me and Cathleen shopping our little hearts out buying gadgets at the Disney store in Orlando at the RWA conference. I'm glad your daughter liked her Mickey measures. My daughter likes mine too but I've told her "paws off".

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

desere_steenberg said...

Hi Kandy

Great post. The thing in the kitchen that takes up a lot of space but is indeed really very useful has to be our mini oven, you pop all the food in there (they can be stacked in layers) then set the temp and the timer and voila ! Nothing can burn to a crisp because there it includes a exact guide for how long what goes in and it keeps it warm once done so you can do other things while cooking,and after wards drop some water into it and hit the rinse button and it cleans itself totally brilliant !

All the best
Desere
desere_steenberg@yahoo.com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey CC, just saw your next comment.

The caramelized onion tart recipe comes courtesy of my "day job" as editor of a supermarket food magazine. I was on the shoot the day the food team shot it and thought it was yummy.

As luck would have it, they have the recipe on the supermarket website. Here it is (I added a little more thyme when I made it):

http://recipes.coles.com.au/recipes/276/caramelised-onion-cheddar-tart/

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey petite, I'm so glad you like your apple slicer and corer, too. I think it is one of those clever gadgets that really does save you some time if you have a lot of apples to prepare.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hey, traveler, another gadget soul-mate! Your tomato slicer sounds fabulous as a ripe tomato can be a tricky thing to cut. Sounds like my kind of kitchen essential!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Jason, a kitchen laptop stand sounds like an amazing idea--I must investigate.
I often look up recipes online--and have a collection of my own on file too--but am wary of having an expensive laptop in the kitchen when I actually cook them. I have often printed out the recipe and taken that into the kitchen with me. A stand would save that hassle...
Thanks for sharing!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Estella, a good paring knife must be right up there with the number one kitchen essentials!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Ev-first up, let me say I love your blog! Looks like we are not only fellow gadget collectors but also animal nuts...

I also love that gravy separator. I've got one but it is not as sophisticated as yours and I feel that squeezy handle would really work well. Must get one!

The quiche tin. I live in Australia and got mine just 10 days or so ago at David Jones, a Macy's like department store. I went on line to see if I could find one similar, to find it wasn't so easy. This one is like mine but it is on a European site:

http://www.debuyer.com/product.php?id=332&cat=41&lang=ENG

This one is similar but more a pie tin than a quiche tin but it would work well, I think:

http://www.pietartpans.com/chicago-metallic-commercial-perforated-pie-pans-set-2

Do hope you can find one as it really works well.

Funny thing, quiche, it seems like an old-fashioned type of thing but every time I make one for guests there is not a crumb left!

Thanks for the thumbs up on the silicon ware--I am going to christen mine this weekend...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Leni, I had to smile at your post as it rings so true. I really think twice now before I buy something new!

However I looked up Microplane grater and think it has to go on my "must have" list. The ones I have look cumbersome by comparison... Thanks for the recommendation!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Pat, after some of the comments here today, let's pledge to put our unused baking pans to the test!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi SiNn, yes the lure of the new is very tempting isn't it?

I think the joy of some of these gadgets is that they often don't cost too much, are hence a guilt-free treat, and can end up being useful and time-saving! Not to mention helping to make treats to bring pleasure to others... (Well, that's my justification and I'm sticking to it!)

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi desere, your mini oven sounds totally amazing--especially with that cleaning function! I WANT ONE!

Kandy Shepherd said...

I am SO enjoying everyone's comments and your stories sent me into a frenzy of looking up gadgets online.
I found something totally new to me--a banana guard.

http://www.bananaguard.com/

I have to have one...

Cathleen Ross said...

I adore going to Kandy's and learning more about kitchen gadgets. I don't much myself unless I'm moving into a new home and then I go on a spending spree until my husband gets hysterical. Recently Kandy found a bargain mix master. I didn't have one. It has a German motor and sounds like a car. It's fab though. Bargain 40 dollars. I love it.
Cathleen Ross

Kandy Shepherd said...

Ahem, Cathleen, I think it was only $30 and it certainly works well--though on mine the speed control can be problematic!

desere_steenberg said...

You must go and get one they really are amazing they are called the FlavaWave Oven!

All the best
Desere

pageturner said...

DO try the silicon bakeware - it really doesn't melt and it needs almost no washing up!
pageturner345 at gmail.com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thanks desere--I just looked it up and it seems amazing!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thanks pageturner, I know it's irrational as I realize I use other silicon implements without a problem. It's just the fear of baking with them! But thanks to the feedback I've had here, I'm going to bake a cake in my lovely blue silicon pan this weekend!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thank you so much everyone for your wonderful comments, I've so enjoyed reading them!

The winner of the copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is Linda Henderson. LInda, please send me your snail mail address so I can get the book off to you.

kandy@kandyshepherd.com