Recently, I have been feeling overwhelmed by clutter. A slight jealously possibly due to the fact that my parents are moving and going through all their belongings. With a few extra minutes on hand, I set about cleaning out my pantry or, I should clarify, pantries.

Contrary to what one might believe, my pantries actually consist more of pots, pans, platters, waffle makers, muffin tins and the like, versus foodstuffs. My style of cooking is spontaneous, hence I have very little in the way of food in my pantry.

As I was organizing and cleaning out my pantry shelves, I came across a brand new, unopened, spiralizer that was given to me two years ago. I giggled to myself as I pulled it off the shelf, still unopened in its original packaging. I am not a kitchen gadget person. I am stubbornly skeptical of any new kitchen devices and never concede that I may need it. Proudly stating, "We didn't have that when I was growing up ... "

However, fittingly, I have received many culinary gifts and gadgets over the years, that sadly I have intentionally ignored. Too much of anything overwhelms me. Especially, if it the gadget has removable components that need to be carefully handled, washed and stored.

Garlic peelers, lettuce knives, rubber poaching cups, a flour mill and the like hang out in my kitchen drawers and fill my shelves until they ultimately get pushed to the back, out of sight out of mind. Eventually, these gadgets resurface, we meet once again face to face, and not surprisingly I part with them unused. Or they end up in a yard sale and when someone shows interest in them I wonder, regrettably, what I may be missing. I cannot help it. I try to maintain simplicity in the kitchen.

That being said, two years ago, for Christmas my loving husband gave me the vegetable spiralizer in question. If you are not familiar with a spiralizer, I am sure you can imagine what it is or what it does. It spiralizes whatever you put in it, most efficiently long cylinder shaped vegetables. So, do you or I need one of these? Probably not. However, if a spiralizer can change your opinion of a vegetable, maybe so. I think of who may want one of these silly gadgets, being careful to remind myself it was in fact my hubby who gave it to me. I don't want to get caught re-gifting. Then it dawns on me. Why not try it? Let's see what all the hype is about. Bring on the veggie noodles. Let's see if I can pull one over on the kids.

A screaming skeptic I am, but I am also always open to experimenting. I quickly read through the spiralizer directions. Rather simple, yet possibly a red flag I tell myself. I go about setting it up on the counter. It doesn't look too intimating other than the sharp interchangeable blades. I search the refrigerator for a suitable vegetable to subject to the spiralizer. I find three medium zucchinis. (Ironic, as a child I would have loved to subject them to such torture.) I trim the ends off of the zucchinis, tossing the butts in the chicken bowl, and set about spiralizing.

Suddenly, I am thrown back to 1980, in to our playroom in the basement warming up Play-Doh for the Fuzzy Pumper Barber Beauty Shop crazy hair growing set. My mind flashes back to the excitement of the play dough squeezing through the round holey headed characters' body, slowing magic hair appearing. Voila! I have curly crazy looking zucchini noodles!

Feeling silly, I can't help but share my success with the family. The kids are less than enthused as zucchini is, well, zucchini. Hubby is impressed, but annoyed that it only took two years for me to open the spiralizer box.

Undefeated, I grab my favorite high-sided sauté pan, olive oil, butter, salt, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. I place the pan on a burner turning the heat to medium-high. I heat just enough of the oil-butter combo to coat the bottom of the pan. Once it's hot and bubbly I add in the red pepper flakes. I swirl the oily liquid around with the pepper for about 30 minutes to infuse the oil with a little heat. I add the ringlet zucchini noodles with youthful excitement tossing and cooking. A little caramelization around the edges and about eight minutes later, I slide the softened noodles onto a serving platter and feel giddy.

Unable to pull one over on the kids, my husband and I dive in, forks in hand, and set about eating the entire plate of savory veggie noodles, relishing each buttery bite. Visually appealing, fun to eat and tasty ... why did I wait so long to open that silly spiralizer?

Suzanne Hanzl is a personal chef, culinary instructor and owner of Tourné Cooking School, Email her at

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