Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Afternoon In Mom's Kitchen

I went to my mother today to ask her if I could keep my chopstick rests in a kitchen drawer. As the appropriate drawer was an organizational disaster, this simple request led to a bit of an organizing party, and a lesson in the great knowledge of fantastic inventions that is evidently required for modern cooking.

I couldn't believe the contraptions she had in there. I'll admit I don't exactly cook, but at least to my amateur eyes, the amount of gadgets seemed quite absurd, each one more specialized than the last. Egg separator I understand, and orange peeler, but pickle fork?

Here are some of the ones that I found noteworthy for various reasons. The picture is given, followed by an explanation, so if you don't scroll too quickly, you can try to guess what it is! Of course, if you cook often or enjoy kitchen widgets, you probably won't even have to guess.

1. Lemon zester

There are many ways to remove the zest from a lemon, but apparently not one is so great as the lemon zester. I didn't even know what zest was until today, or that it's edible. Apparently, it's the outer part of the skin, the colorful part, and is quite flavorful. Other citrus fruits have zest too. It makes foods zesty.

2. Jar opener

My mother claims this is the best invention ever. If you have a tight jar lid and don't have a man around the house, you stick the tip of this thing under the edge of a jar lid and squeeze the handles. Air gets let in and voila, the jar can be opened. WikiHow says you can do the same thing with a bottle opener or a teaspoon, but that's just not as cool, now, is it?

3. Onion holder

This is for holding an onion in place while you cut it, so you avoid slicing any fingers. I didn't bother to ask if it would be acceptable to use it for other vegetables as well, or if it was onion-specific.

4. Egg slicer

I used this all the time as a kid, when my mother would make hard boiled eggs. I would slice them, pop out the yolk from each slice, and eat just the white part, because I thought the yolks were disgusting. Nowadays, to avoid the yolk, I just eat them not sliced and carefully.

5. Fizz keeper

It has a chicken on the top, so I assumed it was somehow related to basting or something of that nature. I forgot that's just the Pampered Chef logo. It's actually meant to keep sodas from going flat, something about using pressure to keep the CO2 in the bottle, but as I read in a couple places today, this apparently doesn't work. Oh well.

6. Boil-over preventer

My initial thought, at first glance, was that a stray can lid had gotten stuck in the drawer. It actually keeps the water in pots from boiling over, somehow. According to the internet, sticking a wooden spoon across the top accomplishes this as well. Ahh, kitchen physics.

7. Pineapple core-er

My mother says this is also the best invention ever, but since she uses it less frequently than the jar opener, that one probably wins. Anyway, yes, it makes nice little pineapple circles for eating, without having to fight your way through the tough outside with a knife.

8. Fancy-cucumber slicer

This slices cucumbers in a fancy way. I have no idea why this is necessary and in fact the gadget that Mom has for straight slices is much cooler (and faster).

9. Egg puncher

This pokes a hole in an egg and is somehow related to soft-boiling them. The lock position is important so you do not stab yourself accidentally.

10. English muffin opener

An English muffin opener, I tell you. My goodness.

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