Sunday, May 2, 2021

Around The Kitchen Table: Splurging on Kitchen Gadgets + #Giveaway

MIA P. MANANSALA: My kitchen is ridiculously cluttered--I currently have my Ninja blender, toaster, Foreman Grill, KitchenAid mixer, air fryer, Instant Pot (which replaced my rice cooker), and microwave all battling it out for counter space. And no, I can't put them away because they're either so bulky or I use them so frequently, it'd be inconvenient for me to stick them in a cupboard. Despite the lack of space, I've been dropping major hints to my husband about the wonders of ice cream makers and bread machines. I've even joked that I'd finally be ready for a wedding reception (we got married in a courthouse) just so I can add all the wonderful kitchen gadgets I want to my registry. What are your must-have kitchen gadgets? Are there any you want, but haven't taken the plunge yet? (eyeing everything Le Creuset...)

MADDIE: Gadget-wise, my countertop has a cobalt blue Kitchen Aid mixer, a small Cuisinart coffee maker and bean grinder, and a toaster oven. The large and small food processors are on a handy pull-out shelf in a lower cabinet, as is the blender - except I never use the blender. I don't have any other free-standing electrical kitchen gadgets (I think ... well, except for the dehydrator, but that lives in the basement until I want to dry an excess of tomatoes). I love my manual rotary grater as well as a microplane grater. The mandoline slicer sits abandoned somewhere. 

My stainless steel compost pot next to the sink is a highly valued thing, but it's not a gadget. I do have a complete collection of cobalt blue Le Creuset (sorry, Mia!) cookware that I got for a hundred dollars (new) about thirty years ago. Did you know they have a lifetime replacement guarantee, which you can cash in even without a receipt? The Dutch oven is one of my most-used pots and I've replaced it several times. I recently refused my sourdough-baking son's offer to get me a kitchen scale (most of the good recipes are in grams). I really don't need one more single-purpose kitchen item. 


LESLIE BUDEWITZ: So what's a gadget and what's a tool? I am absolutely helpless before a kitchen shop display of spatulas. They're all different---center handles, side handles, slightly curved, spoonlike, round on one side and straight on the other for getting both the peanut butter in the bottom of the jar and the delicious goo stuck beneath the neck. Short, long. These days, I favor silicon---easy to use, easy to wash, and great colors! But when we cleaned out my mother's kitchen, I had to bring home the short metal spatula with the offset wooden handle---it's perfect for cutting bar cookies, like these Butter Pecan Blondies, then slipping it into the pan and popping out the bars. 

My little town boasts a fabulous kitchen shop---I borrowed it and christened it Kitchenalia in my Food Lovers' Village mysteries---and because we have no bookstore, it's been the perfect place to sell signed copies of my books. I'm sure that's where I found these beauties, along with Mr. Right's beloved Roundy, perfect for home-made egg sandwiches. In fact, I'm heading in this afternoon to restock their supply. Wonder what I'll come home with?     


VICKI DELANY Beyond the shadow of a doubt, my favourite kitchen gadget is my Kitchenaid Mixer. My daughters gave it to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  I regularly make cookies on Zoom with my 2 1/2 year old grandson and he loves the "big mixer". I gave him a toy baking set, complete with mixer, for Christmas and he 'bakes' along with me. Such a wonderful way to keep in touch with those far away. 

Here's a picture of my hardworking mixer making the Coconut Lime Cake I posted recently. 

I'm also very fond of my slow cooker, as anyone who reads my recipes knows. The slow cooker, to my mind, is perfect for someone cooking for one as I can make a giant batch and put it in the freezer in individual containers. 


MAYA CORRIGAN: The most prominent gadgets in my kitchen make it easier for me, not to cook, but to drink. 

The electric kettle boils water 3 times faster than my stove so my tea is ready sooner. The Ember mug keeps the tea at the temperature I specify without cooling down no matter how long it takes me to finish the cup. The mug doesn't need to sit on the base except when the battery inside it needs to be recharged. I can carry the mug of tea around with me and drink it anywhere inside or outside the house. The Sodastream uses a small CO2 cartridge to turn tap water into bubbly water. Rather than cart home plastic bottles of flavored soda water or soft drinks as I used to do, I mix fruit juice with homemade soda water. The last gadget  uncorks wine bottles with the press of a button. 

A kitchen gadget (or small appliance) popular in the 1970s is on the cover of my third Five-Ingredient Mystery, Final Fondue, a book in today's giveaway. When that book came out, I was a guest on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen and shared a recipe for chocolate fondue. Fondue pots were all the rage in the 1970s. The recipe I shared doesn't require a fondue pot, thanks to another device that was once an expensive gadget and is now a reasonably-priced item in nearly every kitchen--a microwave. Some gadgets are tied to food fads like fondue, while others turn into necessities.  


LESLIE KARST: Like Maya, my favorite kitchen gadgets tend toward the beverage department: a Soda Stream for fizz, a citrus juicer to handle all the fruit from our orange and grapefruit trees, and a juicer for veggies such as cucumbers and beets (all terrific when it comes time for cocktail hour!). 

I also boast a coffee grinder and coffee machine, for morning time. Oh, and a blender--good for both mornings and cocktail hour! (Do you sense a theme here?) 


TINA KASHIAN: My favorite kitchen gadget is my Cuisinart food processor. I regularly use it to make my favorite Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Hummus is a favorite in my house, and I use my food processor to make it weekly. I shared my hummus recipe in the past. I also use it to chop onions and parsley which are ingredients in many of my dishes. I recall when the bowl of the food processor cracked, and I couldn’t use it without getting a replacement part. I ended up ordering the part online, and I anxiously awaited the delivery each day! 


MARY JANE MAFFINI  I love this topic and getting a peek into my friend's kitchens! Thanks, Mia. Kitchen gadgets fall into three categories for me: the ones I can’t live without, the ones I regret buying, and the ones I’m currently coveting.

Leading the 'can’t live without' pack is my twenty-one year old KitchenAid stand mixer, known as The Hulk. I bought an extra bowl and an extra beater, so I didn’t have to stop mixing and wash things in two bowl recipes. The Hulk stays on the counter because it weighs a ton and I don’t want it to be the last thing I ever lift. I use my Kitchen Aid food processor nearly every day and often its much smaller cousin. The pasta maker is in the heavy category. It gets hauled to make my mother-in-law's recipe for ravioli every Christmas.

There are actually two of them and the teams keeps them both going to make enough for the extended family, a job we've taken over from the Italian ladies who no longer are able to manage this massive effort.  In that spirit and because there are recipes from the fictional Signora Panetone from the Book Collector mysteries, (written as Victoria Abbott) I'll be offering a copy of The Christie Curse. 

Next and at the opposite end of the scale: the microplane (mine was from Lee Valley about ten years ago), lemon squeezer and, silicone tongs. 

 My husband is head over heels about our hand blender. 

We’re on our third and it gets a workout nearly every day, whipping cauliflower or pureeing soup.

Then there’s the stuff I regret: the InstaPot that has a huge footprint and is hardly ever used and the bread-maker that no longer fits our low-carb current lifestyle, but will hide out in a top cupboard in case that changes.

I am currently day-dreaming about an air-fryer. However, it also has a big ‘footprint’ so I have to be sure. I am looking forward to the posts from my MLK pals and comments from our readers to see if the air fryer gets a thumbs up or … All advice gratefully received!

CLEO COYLE: Mia, your topic of a dream splurge device made me laugh because just last week, I sent my sister an email to entertain her with this Make Your Own Chocolate Machine that’s going on the market. (See the product video below.) I can imagine this being a great toy and the aroma of chocolate making the entire house smell like Willie Wonka dropped by for an extended stay.


Of course, the price is crazy-high for this CocoTerra machine, at least for us non-billionaires. I laughed at the email the company sent me with their fabulous discount of $799 (right). It retails at over $1,000.00. Given that Marc and I currently need a new oven and (maybe) a new fridge, I’d say this device will have to wait its turn. Unless of course JK calls us to ghostwrite that next Harry Potter installment (hey, it could happen :)) ~ Cleo 


To be entered in this week's drawing,
leave a comment (with your email address) 
to join our discussion:

Splurging on Kitchen Gadgets:
What are your must-have kitchen gadgets?
Are there any you want, but
haven't taken the plunge yet? 

Comments Open through
Wednesday, May 5.

>  ARSENIC AND ADOBO by Mia P. Manansala

>  NO GRATER CRIME by Maddie Day
(Advanced Reading Copy)

>  HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE by Tina Kashian

> FINAL FONDUE by Maya Corrigan

>  THE CHRISTIE CURSE by Victoria Abbott

Comments Open through
Wednesday, May 5




  1. I love my mini whisk. I really want a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.