Cool tools and things that miss the mark

While browsing a popular retailer’s website, I note an astonishing array of cool yet practical, cute, and “I’m not sure” assortment of kitchen gadgets and small appliances.

In the cool category, I’d put the following:

Cool Tool #1:

This is a cheese grater with a convenient storage box for your grated cheese.  Less mess however with a retail price of $159.99 (CAD) it is a bit high-end.

Cool Tool #2:

This stylish looking coffee carafe is made of heavy-grade aluminum to help coffee stay warm for hours and is available in 1, 3, and 6 cup sizes.  It’s stylish-looking, but the downside might be, as with all coffee carafes, that the longer the coffee stays in the carafe, the more metallic it might taste.  The 3 cup size, pictured above, retails for $89.99.  Again, it’s up there and I wonder why “good taste” has to be expensive.  This carafe however is a bargain compared to the tea kettle I saw advertised on the same retailer’s website for $315.00 (?????)

Cool Tool #3:

This is a stainless steel coffee plunger, similar to the Bodum glass coffee plunger, however the stainless steel model appears to have the advantage over the Bodum glass one as the stainless steel will help with keeping the coffee warm, something the glass one was not-so-great at, prompting crafters to sew their own Bodum cozy/cover type things, or those who weren’t so crafty to wrap tea towels around the base of the thing to keep it warm.  Downside:  as with the coffee carafe, the possibility of metallic-tasting coffee.

Cool Tool #4:

Okay these are just “fun” – lotion dispensers in the shape of a coffee maker, juicer or toaster,  for a person with a “kitchy” kitchen, this would be a perfect addition!

Cool Tool #5:

All in one coffee maker and bean grinder.  Practical, functional, stylish-looking, less mess and space on the counter, what’s not to like?  If my current coffee maker and (separate) bean grinder ever give up the ghost, I’ll be buying one of these.

Now, in the “I’m not sure” category, the following, with suggestions for low-cost alternatives, particularly if you already own the suggested alternative:

Snow Cone Maker.  Retails for $30.00. Low-cost alternative:  A blender and some ice, sugar and food coloring should do the trick.

Hot Chocolate maker.  Retails for $40.00.  Low cost alternative(s):  A pot on the stove with some milk, cocoa and sugar does the same thing.  Or combine a single serving of hot chocolate in a glass in the microwave. To get your milk to “froth” [one of the features of this Hot Chocolate Maker], use an old-fashioned whisk.

The “Rocket Grill”.  Retails for $124.94, plus you need to buy replacement parchment pouches separately  ($20 for a package of 36) but it does come with 48 of those parchment pouches.  Food is inserted in the pouches then inserted toaster-like into this grill.  The parchment pouches help grease drain away into the reservoir.  Apparently this grill “fully cooks most fresh foods in 3-8 minutes and most frozen foods in 8-12 minutes” [hence the name “Rocket” I suppose]. This may have some merit and appeal for time-stressed moms on the “front-end” [making of the food] but I wonder about the ‘back-end’ – specifically how easy the thing is to clean (greasy reservoir, ewwww) and also, if the item is discontinued, will you still be able to buy the replacement pouches?

There’s many more items in this such as a pizza oven (Low cost alternative: regular oven or, if you don’t want to heat up your kitchen, BBQ it!) and something called a Rotary Snack Oven that broils and browns (again, low-cost alternative: a regular oven or a toaster oven – which also has multiple uses – will do the same thing).

This was called the “I’m Not Sure” category as in – I’m not sure why we need all these things cluttering up our counters, our cupboards and emptying our wallets.

I’m drawn to kitchen gadgets and small appliances myself and of course I own a few.  Most I use regularly but I haven’t used at least one of them in probably a year (my juicer, which seemed like a good idea at the time) so I am hardly a paragon of virtue when it comes to kitchen “stuff.”

However, a friend of ours, whom I’ll call Gadget Guy, who is a rather sensible fellow and likes his blended drinks, is considering buying one of these, so what do I know?  It’s called the Margarator and retails for $139.99.

P.S. “Gadget Guy” decided not to purchase this – he told me ” On first glance, it looked like I was going shopping. Then I read the fine print — my current blender has a motor nearly three times stronger… It’s a toy — it would never last… I like the idea though — there’s got to be a better one out there with the same design…”