Tess on the Town: Kitchen gadgets

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The commercials are hard to ignore.

A recent conversation of mine rolled around to really stupid kitchen gadgets.

Seriously, who needs Eggies? Have you ever spent all day peeling eggs, as the commercial posits? Eggs already come in a perfect little container but they want to sell you a junkie plastic version because a shell isn’t good enough?

Later, our talk shifted to good gizmos, kitchen utensils people actually like and swear are the greatest thing since the toaster.

Here are the opinions of some regular people who spend more than a little time dabbling in the kitchen. Theses gadgets mostly cost less than $30.

■ Potato ricer: This term is misleading. It’s really a hand-held, manual potato smasher. The ricer looks like a giant garlic press. Put half a boiled potato, skin on, in the device and squeeze to get perfect smashed potatoes with just the right amount of lumps. A sieve traps the potato skin. It works so quickly that you’re finished before the potatoes lose their heat.

■ Cast iron Lodge Logic Dutch oven: You’ll find yourself ignoring all your other pots and pans if you own this pre-seasoned, versatile, sturdy workhorse. It is a clean, even heating vessel that can be used on the stove, grill or even campfire.

■ A good kitchen knife: Without spending an arm and a leg, Forschner is probably your best bet.

■ Zojirushi rice cooker: If your rice can be a little iffy (I blame the altitude), a good rice cooker can be a lifesaver. A friend, who swears by Zojirushi, got hers as a hand-me-down from her parents when they upgraded.

■ Mandoline: Williams-Sonoma sells one with color-coded blades for slicing, dicing, juliennes and crinkle-cuts.

■ French Chef Omelette Pan: Designed and developed at the request of Julia Childs, the professional quality pan cost less than $30.

■ Braun coffee grinder: This multi-purpose simple unit also can be used to grind fresh spices.

■ Kuhn Rikon garlic press: Serious chefs will scoff at using a garlic press, but this little baby is pretty nifty. No need to peel your ginger or garlic, just put it in the stainless steel press and bingo.

■ Slow cooker with locking lid: Most everybody who schleps around the kitchen has used a slow cooker at one time or another. I don’t know what rock I’ve been under, but I just saw one with a secured lid. This simple advance allows you to bring your creation to work or church or a party without spilling the contents on the floorboard of your car.

■ Non-stick mat: The silicone surface is perfect for rolling any kind of dough and you won’t end up with flour on the counter, on the floor and in your nose.

■ Magic Bullet: My younger, healthier coworker loves this device for making quick fruit smoothies.

■ Silver serving spoons: Not a gadget, per se, but I love my spoons. Check a few antique shops and you’re bound to find a bin of mismatched silver pieces that were part of a long-ago set. They’re large, incredibly sturdy, elegant and you can pick them up for a couple of dollars apiece.

I was going to run down a list of the worst kitchen gadgets, but I’m running out of room.

QVC and late-night TV infomercial junkies know you shouldn’t drink and dial, lest you end up with something you’ll regret.

My own mother, and I’m not suggesting she drank anything other than sweet tea, loved ordering TV gizmos. After she passed away, we found 17 bamboo steamers in her “gift” stash.

I still have mine.

QUOTE: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” ­— President Harry S. Truman

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