User Input

User Input: Culinary Gadgetry

Waffle Maker

We don’t talk about cooking anywhere near enough here on AtomicToasters, so let’s make up for that a little bit today. Let’s face it, the culinary arts are really a very geeky endeavour. Baking involves a lot of chemistry to get the mixtures just right. Cooking is more of an art form, but it’s an art form with machinery.

I personally love cooking, although I’m not going to say I’m particularly good at it. This may be due to the fact that I really dislike doing the day-to-day, quick, throw-something-together-for-food meals. I like doing the big meals, the production, the family gatherings. Mostly because this allows me to break out the gadgets.

I think, if I tried, I could very nearly cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner without touching the stove or oven. We’ve got slow-cookers, roasting pans, MixMasters, you name it. If there’s a gadget out there that helps prepare a food of some sort, we probably have it.

The greatest of all the kitchen gadgets, however, is our industrial-grade waffle-maker in the photo above. Yes, it seems like overkill, and if we hadn’t managed to get it for free with points, we probably wouldn’t own it at all, but now that we have it, we see its worth. We’ve used the little $20 waffle makers. This is completely different. This makes waffles that taste like MOAR. The waffles come out light, fluffy, perfect. If you’re as big a fan of breakfast as I am, that’s a wonderful thing.

What’s your favourite culinary gadget?

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62 comments to User Input: Culinary Gadgetry

  • Microplane. Turns regular garlic into crime-fighting Super Garlic

    <img src="http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/assets_c/2010/08/Microplane-thumb-520×390-18515.jpg"&gt;

    Warning: Very easy to eliminate a couple of finger tips without noticing.

  • Dean Bigglesworth

    I like cooking. Cooking involves dead animals, blood, noisy machines, extremely sharp knives, fire and smoke.

    I don't have that many gadgets, but my favourite is the large blender, or my MAC knife. After that is the Spongebob Squarepants sandwich grill.

  • Owing to limited kitchen space, we have a rule about kitchen gadgets – each must perform more than one essential function. The exceptions to that are the potato press (makes unparalleled mashes) and the rabbit-eared wine opener. In the case of the latter, it could be argued that opening white and red are entirely different functions.

    My favorite "gadget" though is a set of Lansky sharpening stones. There's no substitute for a well-honed blade.

  • pj134

    A KitchenAid stand mixer. I can win this argument by simply stating it has a PTO.

    <img src="http://blogs.mydevstaging.com/blogs/daily-dish/files/2011/11/white-Kitchen-Aid.jpg&quot; width="300/">

    • Have you ever used the PTO? I have not.

      • pj134

        Only for a lack of attachments or knowledge of where those attachments are in my house.

        I would use the hell out of a pasta maker, meat grinder and grain mill at the very least.

        • We want the sausage stuffer attachment so we can make my wife's grandma's delicious sausage.

          (Yes, everything about this statement is making me cringe and giggle.)

          • pj134

            I want to make some salami some day. Just kind of nervous about the whole dry curing process. Same with some prosciutto.

          • We have the sausage stuffer and meat grinder bits and use them frequently. Well worth it. Easy to use and clean, and what a hit at potluck parties when you bring your home made sausage!

            (When there's a sausage fest at my house, it's for real… sometimes we get two Kitchen-Aids going at once!)

        • jeepjeff

          My wife and I use the hell out of our pasta maker. It is awesome.

          EDIT: Since cast-iron pans aren't really gadgets, the pasta attachment set for the Kitchen Aid is my answer.

    • SSurfer321

      Long story but the Mrs. got a free Kitchenaid Mixer with the purchase of an anvil. It needs rebuilt but we haven't tried sourcing the parts yet.

    • johnnymac09

      We have the Cuisinart Stand Mixer, bought it because it has a more powerful motor than the KitchenAid. My Wife Loves it and uses it all the time.

      • pj134

        I think that is one of my few brand loyalties in life. The only KitchenAid mixer I've ever used has been in the family for at least 50 years without any real repairs that I'm aware of. Knowing they're still built in the same factory today, I have faith in them.

        • craigsu

          I bought my wife a KitchenAid Accolade 400 (as in watts) several years ago when the KA online store was having a model clearance sale for about half-price. She was totally surprised as she never thought we'd be able to afford it. It's a 5 qt and doesn't have the lift mechanism of the pro models but it does have the steel gears instead of nylon. She just mentioned the other day how nice it would be to have the grinder attachment.

  • OA5599

    I'd say the bread machine. We are talking about gadgets here after all, and how many other kitchen gadgets have the word "machine" in the name? Just saying it gets your tech juices flowing.

    Also, you get to program it. There are all sorts of settings so your jelly recipe doesn't result in pizza dough, and vice versa. You can also set it to do all the work while you sleep, as any loyal robot would do for you.

    And it appeals to ALL your senses, not just two or three. You see the industrial design that caused you to select this model from its competition at the kitchen store. You lift the lid until a tactile click holds it in place while you fill the machine with ingredients, then gently release the lid and touch the buttons in the required sequence to start the process. You hear the machine's "mmmMMMMMWAAAaaa…mmmMMMMMWAAAaaa…mmmMMMMMWAAAaaa…mmmMMMMMWAAAaaa" at random intervals as the machine decides the time is right to knead the dough. And of course, who can forget the smell of fresh bread as it bakes, and then keeps you tantalized until the precious cargo has cooled enough to taste.

    It is also user friendly. Do you have a degree from one of the most prestigious culinary institutes in the world? You probably have a bread machine in your kitchen. Are you challenged when making anything more complicated than Spaghetti-O's? You can handle making delicious bread, too.

    • Ours always leaves a big hole in the loaf where the paddle gets baked into it. We usually transfer the dough to a regular bread pan. On the plus side, it's fun to serve poached eggs in the hole in the bread.

    • Devin

      In pure bachelor fashion, I am lacking in kitchen gadgets, so my breadmaker also gets used for making delicious cookies via the dough settings.

  • $kaycog

    I have a kitchen because it came with the house. My favorite tool in it is a wine bottle foil cutter.

    <img src="http://www.truefabrications.com/images/products/large/2325.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

  • chrystlubitshi

    I'm with PJ134, I LOVE my KA stand-mixer. Since that has been mentioned, I'm going to go with the good ol' "boat motor" (stick or immersion blender)

    i've got me one of these: http://www.cuisinart.com/products/hand_blenders/c

    although, mine also came with a whisk attachment….

    love that little thing to the point that I find new things to make, just to use it.

  • SSurfer321

    Bought this for the Mrs. and we both love it. Filet a chicken breast in one simple pass.
    <img src="http://www.jlhufford.com/images/shun-premier-santoku-7.jpg"&gt;
    Of course we barely had it a week before we were rushing her to the ER due to a slip with the knife. So now our favorite gadget is a cut-resistant glove.
    <img src="https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSySfCI0tMrwAI12vjxggcOA74fvrZAjHCqxmhyXTwwBfcI-ed6"&gt;

    • Felis_Concolor

      One day I will consider myself deserving of a small set of Shun knives, but for now I content myself with the shiny, happy colors of their budget Kai cutlery line. Cheap enough I don't feel guilty when I treat them savagely, but they can still take a decent edge. I do feel some shame at using a motorized set of grinding stones to sharpen and polish them.

      • SSurfer321

        I only bought the one. We'd need a 2nd mortgage to buy the entire set! Although now she tells me she'd love the matching paring knife; which being less than half the size you would assume half the cost. But you'd be wrong. It's 2/3 the cost :-(

  • Next to fire, this is the greatest kitchen gadget…ever.

    <img src="http://mccaulous.com/sc_images/products/1182_large_image.jpg"&gt;

    We got one for our wedding. We use it multiple times a week. Dump the beans for your favorite brew in the top, pour in the right amount of water, hit the button and — voila! — a freshly brewed pot of coffee! When you kitchen is small, having a separate grinder and coffee pot is not an option. Plus, you don't want to use the same grinder for coffee and oregano. Unless you like the oregano flavor in your coffee.

  • Felis_Concolor

    For kitchen gadgets, it would be my Braun electric kettle, as I power that thing up every morning and sometimes in the afternoon as well. Over a decade of yeoman service and the heating element is still as shiny as the day I purchased it; I love my municipal water supply. I am very angry with Braun now as they no longer offer that model in the US, and their handle's ergonomics are the best I've ever experienced. Yes, a part which isn't related to heating the water can be the most important bit of a good electric kettle.

    For stuff on the stove my favorite tool is the pressure cooker; I love breaking down postwar prejudice against that particular appliance by preparing the 1 hour pot roast for the unbelievers, or the 10 minute mashed potatoes. Oh yeah, if you are cleaning out the attic and find your parents' or grandparents' old pressure cooker, the best thing you can do with it is fill it with dirt and use it as a flower planter, then go out and buy a new unit with all the modern safety features and a pressure bonded and laminated cooking base. Fagor if you're cheap, Kuhn Rikon or Fissler if you've got money to burn as they all work equally well but some are more brilliantly polished than others.

    For toasting and tabletop oven duties, my Panasonic FlashXpress halogen + quartz IR toaster oven is a dearly beloved piece of kit; most would mistake its light weight construction as making it a lightweight in the kitchen, but the multiple heating elements are powerful yet precise, and its light but effective construction means it can be quickly relocated as conditions warrant. It had been out of production for the better part of a decade, but has recently returned; get yours now while it's still hard to get!

    And my Panasonic microwave, while still no replacement for a proper gas stove, can still handle the "just get it hot" chores with aplomb. When I went shopping for my first one in the late 90s, the only experience I had with them came from my father's purchase of an Amana in the early 70s and a later Hitachi model in the 80s, so I had no idea if I could purchase anything good with the $200 I had budgeted for the purchase. Upon arrival at the local appliance superstore, I realized that all the important patents had run out as the most expensive of the tabletop models just touched that $200 limit, so I said "screw it; I'll buy the big one" and have been pleased with it ever since. The fuzzy logic cooking controls have been perfected for the past 15 years, so picking up a modern microwave means with proper care and cleaning, it will likely be the last one you ever purchase.

    Oh yeah, for those who like to cook rice, you only need to remember 1 word: Zojirushi. I've been using their products for 20 years now and all my friends love it when a new and improved model type is introduced, as that's the only way I can justify buying another one and I quickly donate the old and inferior model to someone else. All of my prior models are serving in other friends' kitchens, with my 1st one now entering its 3rd decade of service.

  • johnnymac09

    I like my Coleman Propane Deep Fryer because there is nothing more satisfying then making fresh cut fries to go with your burger when you are camping, and it works equally as good at home, just don't use it inside.

  • The Professor

    I like peppermills

    <img src="
    http://i1144.photobucket.com/albums/o491/dmilligan666/Woodworking/_D7K0178crop.jpg&quot; width="500" border="2" style="border:2px solid black;" alt=" " />

      • Deartháir

        See the comments in yesterday's User Input. ;)

      • The Professor

        Yep, those were 2012 Xmas presents. I didn't make enough though so I'm working on another batch.
        Getting a little tired of making peppermills….

        • We all get tired of the daily grind. Variety is the spice of life.

        • Vairship

          Surely coffee grinders/coffee makers are next? Our grinder/maker is slowly dying (it's the exact one shown in Engineerd's picture above) and a nice industrial/steam punk/wood version would be beautiful…

          • The Professor

            Hmmm, I've been sitting here thinking about it, and I don't think so. Oh, I could do it, take one of those coffee makers apart and remount them in a fancy box and everything, but who on earth (or rather, around here) would pay me for it? The amount of design and engineering work would be daunting for an old hack like me, and then the actual construction would take months before I got it work properly. And then there's materials – you just can't go down to Lowes and buy all of the cool, funky looking frippery to decorate an enclosure in proper steampunk fashion. Lots of scrounging around and hunting for pieces, and god knows how much that would end up costing and how much time it would take?
            It's a fun mental exercise though, thinking about the different ways you could do it. It'd be cool to have a little boiler heat up while the coffee is brewing and emit steam through leaky gauges and fittings, and maybe whistle when the coffee was done.

    • Does Peugeot sell the guts to put your turned wood on? I got a Peugeot peppermill a couple of years ago and there is no comparison to any other model functionality wise.

  • craigsu

    I'm really partial to my Breville Tea Maker, especially since it cost $250. Watching that basket move up and down is mesmerizing.
    http://www.brevilleusa.com/beverages/kettles-tea-

  • CaptianNemo2001

    Cuisinart® Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor
    <img src="http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/assets/product_images/230/86279102560.jpg&quot; width="600">
    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?sku=1

    My mom has one thats from 20 years ago and it still works. I am lazy and use it for everything.

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