As a fledgling cook, I definitely worship at the Altar of Brown: Alton Brown. One of my favorite Brown psalms is that you should 86 anything from your kitchen that only has one use. He doesn’t mean items like knives, that can only chop, he means things like a Strawberry Huller, that ONLY hull strawberries. There are so many gadgets out there for convenience that just end up being expensive clutter. After working at a home electronics store, I have witnessed with my own eyes as the heathen non believers have shelled out money for these items. Here are the worst ones.
This is potentially the most controversial one on the list, so I figured I’d list it right up front and get everyone all good and pissed off. Many people swear by bread makers. These people are the worst. Basic bread is approximately three ingredients. If you can’t figure out how to put flour, water and instant yeast in a bowl, you shouldn’t even really be in the kitchen. Plus, bread maker bread often tastes like oasis foam. As far as I can see, bread makers are for people who want to give the illusion of being able to bake*. You can make beautiful sourdough bread easily in your regular old oven with a cast iron pot. Instead of spending 80 bucks on a bread maker, spend 20 on any of Peter Reinhart’s books and you’ll be much, much happier.
*Side note: Kendra did bring up a good point that bread makers ARE a huge time saver, whereas many of these items really don’t save you much time at all. So I will give that kudos to breadmakers: they ARE fast, and the bread is better than buying wonder bread. And mixing and matching ingredients can be fun.But if you’re short on cash, and space, in your tiny apartment kitchen, and you buy a bread maker, you’re a damn fool.
Any “Slicer” That Can Only Be Used for One Food
How fucking lazy are you? You seriously can’t use a knife? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you liked having no room left in your kitchen drawers and having to make deals with God every time you try to open or close one, because you have plastic handles and metal springs sticking up every which way to block the sliding mechanism. Yes, having slices that are uniform in thickness is better for cooking and baking, but how much are you cooking or baking with slices of bananas or strawberries? You’re probably throwing these in a fruit salad or lunch box snack. Just use a knife you waste of space.
I love cupcakes as much as the next gal, but if you are shelling out money for a cupcake maker, you have some serious, serious mental problems. It saves no time, no mess, and instead of soaking a cupcake pan in the sink for 20 minutes after baking, you have to gingerly and carefully clean an electronic device. The only conceivable excuse for this purchase would be if you actually don’t own an oven. And then, I think you really need to re-examine if your priorities. Should you be figuring out how to make cupcakes or instead finding a way to be a little less homeless? It just seems like utter nonsense to me. I’m not even sure what the point of this is actually supposed to be, since unlike even the breadmaker which saves tons of time and effort, you still have to fall all of the same friggin steps as you would when you put them in the oven. The sole purpose this is sold is because cupcakes are so god damn trendy right now (and don’t even get me started on that).
A Yoplait costs like 60 cents at the grocery store. It’s honestly most likely not going to save you like, any money to make your own yogurt in a yogurt maker, especially because you have to buy certain size jars and little packets of mix. I understand the desire to make things from scratch that you probably shouldn’t be bothered to try making, believe me (true story: I am looking into how to make my own tofu), but guess what? You know what you really need to make yogurt? A bowl, a spoonful of existing yogurt, some milk, and a slightly warm oven. That’s it. Seriously. Google it. It’s like, science or something. If you are curious enough in the kitchen (and I commend you if you are!) to want to make your own yogurt, you really shouldn’t be lazy or foolish enough to buy a yogurt maker.
If you are at a point where you even desire homemade whipped cream, I think it’s safe to assume that you bake on the regular enough to own a fucking electric hand mixer. They cost the same amount and you can use the hand mixer for many other delight full things like mixing cake batter, or cookie dough. It takes about four minutes of whipping to whip cream with a hand mixer. You can even do it with a regular whisk if you’re really hard core and you have the forearm strength of a Swedish shot put. If anyone came up to me and said, “Check out my new whip cream whipper!” I’d roll up a news paper and smack them on the nose.
What that phrase should mean is a pot full of water, or a frying pan. Tragically, what it actually means is a huge dome shaped electrical device that you rest some eggs in, and it cooks them for you. Seriously. I’m not sure who looked at the kitchen supply market and though, “I see a need, so I will fill it!” I eat eggs almost every day for breakfast. I really don’t want to have to haul out a specific machine, plug it in, heat it up, and go through an involved cleaning process, especially before I’ve had my coffee.
Don’t get me wrong, if I could buy Lee Pace at William’s Sonoma I would be lining up to sell my remaining Ova to afford it. Sadly, this is not what they’re charging about two hundred bucks for. Much like the cupcake maker, this is a very pricey, very cumbersome device that takes up precious room in your cabinet. It has four little cups in it for making adorable teensy pies. Believe you me, I am a sucker for anything mini. Or adorable. Or made by Breville. But this is…ugh. How often do you honestly have a craving for tiny pies!? At least eggs are something people often eat almost daily. If you were packing away mini pies on the daily you would…be fat. Period. And, if you were good enough at making pies that you could successfully make them every day, you should be man enough to just make the teeny ones in a cupcke tin. You can also buy mini cake pans. That are small, and cheap. And probably dishwasher safe AND NOT TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.
Blenders Marketed as Alcoholic Drink Makers
Again, I want to be clear that it’s not the end product I have a problem with. Pina Coladas are some of the tastiest things ever. However, I really don’t think even the most boozy of folks need a two hundred dollar monstrosity (note: the one in the picture is 500 bucks) of a blender that looks about as tacky as a chipped plastic Santa on your neighbor’s lawn that’s still out in February. A regular blender would really do just fine, I promise. I have used one of these blenders before, and they are kind of fun. They do shave the ice in a very efficient way, but there’s really no way I would ever justify even just the space it takes up. This thing is about two feet high and has about 8 million removable parts. What owning this item really says about you: “I don’t need a real blender because I drink all my meals.”
Electric Salt and Pepper Mills
“Don’t you just hate when you can’t summon the energy to grind black pepper after a long day’s work?” Said no one ever. I think this might win as most useless out of all of these, even though it is not the most expensive, or the most cumbersome. It wins because … is anyone looking at their meals saying, “You know, this could really use some ground black pepper…but that grinder is just so hard to use!” No. So how can you justify shelling out forty dollars on it? ….It’s rechargeable?
Let’s get something straight here: fresh, homemade pasta is incomparable. On lasagne, for ravioli, you really can’t go wrong. However, this beauty costs over 500 dollars. Do you know how many ingredients pasta is? Two. Flour, and eggs. The only cool thing about this is that it can make ziti, where rolling zitis by hand would probably make you want to kill yourself. The thing is, unlike lasagne or ravioli, any dish that features ziti really doesn’t showcase the quality of the pasta you use. When you think Baked Mac and Cheese, are you thinking about the Mac, or are you thinking about the cheese? I rest my case.
I saved this one for last because I feel like the salad spinner is like, the original useless kitchen supply. I’m not really basing this on any knowledge of kitchen utensil history, except that salad spinners to me SCREAM cheesy 70s wedding gift.
You cant use a tongs to mix your salad? Seriously? You have to buy a device to use centripetal force to move your damn vegetables around? Now, readers, tell me honestly. Have you ever either as a dinner guest, or had a dinner guest who, complained about your salad portion not having the perfect ratio of tomatoes to onions to lettuce? I mean come on people, barely anyone cares enough about salad to actually eat it, and those who do only pick out the shit they like anyway. Unless all of your dinner guests are obsessive compulsive who will lose their shit if their salad components are not perfectly and completely 100% coated with dressing, you can probably just “jeuje” it around and call it a day. Apparently, according to my dear friend Jesse, salad spinners are actually used to spin the excess moisture off of salad ingredients. Embarrassed though I was to be corrected, I think this actually makes it even better! getting rid of minuscule water droplets is even more useless than mixing. I have never once sent back a salad, or refused to eat one, because it was too moist. If you need your salad to be that perfectly dry…well, I actually wouldn’t even know how to react to that.
In conclusion: Don’t invite me over for dinner because I will probably just scowl at all the stuff in your kitchen and make everyone super uncomfortable.