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Gadgets enhance both cooking, eating
Around the table
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It’s hard to imagine what mealtime would be like without the invention of simple kitchen gadgets.
I suspect cooking utensils like the spatula, ladle and pasta fork are probably variations on basic eating utensils — the knife, spoon and fork. The knife probably was the first kitchen gadget. This handy tool for slicing and dicing barbecued porkosaurs eventually led to variations like the butter knife, serrated bread knife and all-important steak knife.
A knife though is not the tool you want for eating soup, which is why I figure the next eating utensil invented was the spoon. After that came the fork. I think it was Kentucky Fried Chicken that introduced a plastic spoon-fork combination tool — the spork. You can use a spork to spoon out your mashed taters and gravy or fork your green beans.
I used to ignore commercials, especially infomercials. It recently occurred to me, though, that far more thought is put into developing a commercial than most TV programming, which is mostly recycled sitcoms, boring melodramas or un-reality TV shows.
I don’t care what the Kardashians are doing; I’d rather watch Applebee’s new ad for two entrees and an appetizer for $20. That’s entertainment!
I rarely paid attention to the newest gadget Ron Popeil came up with until I realized some of his kitchen gadgets possibly inspired other kitchen gadgets. I heard about the Veg-O-Matic in the 1960s, long before I heard about blenders and food processors. When we got our first blender, I was elated because I could make a milkshake as good as ones I got at Hardee’s. Mama could finely chop her veggies so my sisters couldn’t pick out the onions and green peppers.
Folks who think the microwave was the kitchen invention of the 20th century don’t remember the impact of the toaster oven. It was a spin on the ages-old toaster. It really didn’t cook foods faster, but it required far less energy and didn’t make the kitchen a zillion degrees hotter on already hot summer days. And unlike the standard toaster, toaster ovens allowed me to butter my bread before it was toasted. I could make cinnamon toast without firing up the big oven.
Other than going for groceries and visits to Lowe’s and Bass Pro Shop, I avoid shopping. When my wife wants to go to the outlets or mall, I wait in my pickup and take a nap.
However, she doesn’t have to drag me to a particular outlet store in Darien. When I visit the Kitchen Connection, I almost never go home without at least one kitchen gadget.
I’ve gotten an ultra-sharp paring knife, a needle meat tenderizer, a marinade injector and other cool stuff. The best thing I ever got there, though, was a perforated metal plate with handles that allows me to cook fish and veggies on my grill. I no longer have to worry about good food dropping between the grates of the grill. All I have to do is lightly coat the plate with vegetable oil, and then place my seasoned fish or veggies on the plate, which sits on the hot grill. Asparagus and zucchini are especially good this way. Fish fillets don’t burn anymore. What I get is fish with a restaurant-quality, grilled flavor without the added calories from grease or breading.
I’d love to make my own kitchen gadget, one that would allow me to cut fresh corn off the cob without all the mess or back-breaking work required when doing it with a sharp knife. My device would be a razor-sharp, adjustable clamp connected to wooden handles. The adjustable clamp would fit over the top of the shucked, washed corn cob. By pressing down on the handles, the corn kernels could be clipped off into a large bowl.
Because corn cobs are wider at the bottom than the top, I’d have to adjust the clamp every inch or two, which might make my gadget as cumbersome as doing it the old way. Still, it might work better if I could make the clamp so that it stretches to the changing diameter of the corn cob.
Hmmmm. Maybe I should contact Ron Popeil.

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