I have never met a gadget (meaning anything with at least one moving part) that I couldn’t break or at least think I’d done so. To make matters worse, my ability to misunderstand instructions on their use is legendary. The stories of my encounters with such inanimate objects would be funny if they weren’t true.
Actually, this is my son, Liam. Unfortunately, it appears that gadget frustration is a genetic trait that he has inherited from me. Photo by Oscar Rohena.
To give you a taste – when I was first learning to use a computer at work I thought I had broken it when the screen went black. All I had done was turn off the monitor, but I left my office convinced that I would have to pay thousands of dollars to replace the pc I had certainly destroyed. Imagine my surprise when I returned the next day and a fellow attorney turned the monitor on and smiled at me. The only good part of the experience was that my tech savvy savior was another woman. At some point I learned to accept this part of my personality.
So what does this have to do with cooking and kitchen gadgets? My uneasy relationship with gadgets has shaped how I work in the kitchen. If I can do the job with a simple gadget, I’m there. If the simple tool is also inexpensive, so much the better. I like to make my life easier, not more frustrating. So if a gadget helps, then I’m all for it. But if it seems as though the gadget will cause me pain or anxiety, then I won’t go near it.
Once I realize that I need a particular gadget, the issue becomes which type to buy. If you are reading this, then you have access to a computer and to the amazing world of on-line kitchenware stores. If you prefer to wander with your feet as well as your eyes, department and specialty stores have an unbelievable array of choices too.
When I buy, I like to understand potential features, shop price and make all sorts of comparisons. But in the end, I generally come back to the basics – do I need it, what features are essential, is it going to work well and is the price reasonable? I’m loyal, so if a gadget works for me and meets my needs, I’ll give it a place in my heart, as well as my kitchen.
My favorite kitchen gadgets are my scales.
My scales – ready for action.
I have two: one to weigh relatively small and light ingredients in ounces/grams
You wouldn’t believe how much chocolate this scale has weighed.
and the other for heavier and bulkier items that need to be weighed in pounds/kilos.
I have used this for apples, tomatoes, and lots of other ingredients.
(Many recipes, especially those created for cooks outside the US, use weight measures. Measurements by weight are more accurate, especially for baking.) I bought my kitchen scales years ago. I think the smaller one cost me about $5 and the larger one cost about $10-15.
If you shop for kitchen scales, you’ll find ones with all sorts of amazing features. Digital read-outs are common. But they require batteries and that means if you use the scale infrequently, you may find that it is out of “juice” just when you need it. And if you are anything like me, you never can find a spare battery even if you have one somewhere in the chaos of your stash of spare stuff. The more reasonably priced digital scales are in the $20-$50 range, multiples of what mine cost. My favorite multi-featured scale is the combination scale/iPod dock and speaker. Never mind the dubious idea of putting food and your iPod in such close proximity, why would you want your scale to be out (reminding you to weigh your food?) whenever you want to listen to music? It costs $100. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not the only scale at that price.
Many are quite nice looking, with aesthetics that would make me want to put them on display, not dirty them with food. But I just want to weigh my ingredients, put the scale away, and move onto the rest of the recipe.
My scales are plastic and they clean up nicely after the messiest jobs. They are designed to be stored compactly
They go out of sight – and out of mind – when I’m not using them.
and I haven’t broken them yet. Their prices were right, they are easy to read and measure as accurately as I require for home-cooking. They may not be fancy or feature-filled, but as kitchen gadgets they meet all of my requirements. I love my kitchen scales.
Need I say more?