Great Kitchen Gadgets for Summer 2013

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While it can be said that most kitchen gadgets are useless, I’m nevertheless intrigued by the never-ending stream of shiny, colorful, clever culinary mousetraps these “gadgety” folks create to separate me from my hard-earned bucks.

And sometimes, I must admit, they actually succeed.

And I think gadgets have two seasons. The summer grilling/barbecue/picnic kind of outdoorsy season, and of course, the winter holiday season.

We’re especially vulnerable to gadgets during the holiday season. It’s not so much that we need them for ourselves. Rather it’s because we desperately hope that someone else can’t live without them. Or at least that’s what we’re hoping as they unwrap their “treasure.”

The summer season is a harder sell for the gadgeteers. It’s then that they have to convince us that WE really need one. (Unless re-gifting is your thing. Then you can just take a flyer.)

So, I headed off to Sur La Table to see just what this summer’s gadget geeks were buying to make this season’s culinary adventures more efficient, more perfect, more fun.

Here’s what I found.

When you think of summer, you think HOT but at the same time cold–as in cold beverages, cold salads and cold treats.

Tovolo® has you covered with the cold beverages and treats category. They’ve created a WAY-cool assortment of silicone ice cube trays for every imaginable shape of ice cube you can think of, including the brand’s ULTRA-slow-melting Sphere Ice Molds, which cool your drinks without watering them down. (Okay, I have to admit, I own a couple of these, and they actually work great.) Tovolo® also has a set of six silicone “Bug Pop” molds. If your kids would love to lick a bug, this is the ticket. A company called ZOKU® also has some fascinating “pop” molds in various shapes, including a “Quick Pop” maker that you put in the freezer and then later pour in your favorite “pop” mixture. It then only takes 7 to 9 minutes, and “voila,” you have frozen, ready-to-eat treats!

Grilling is another target-rich environment for gadgeteers, and I found within Sur Le Tables’ brand of grilling utensils an extra-wide grill spatula that looks perfect for turning over those large slabs of ribs or any other large grilling items.

Ever skewer meats, shrimp, or other items on a single rod skewer and have your food spinning around like a kid on a “tilt-a-whirl” as you try and turn it over to cook it on the other side? If so, Fusionbrands® Grill Comb is your new friend. The comb’s multiple tines on one side hold your food securely in place, so you won’t “flip out” when you flip your food.

And speaking of grilling, Sur La Tables’ Pizza Stone tiles are great for use in your covered grill or in the oven, if you prefer. Keep in mind that outdoor grilled pizzas are IN this year.

Back in the kitchen, I found a few other interesting (if not outright must) gadgets.

I will admit that the first is barely a gadget, but OXO Steel™ Corn Holders are probably THE best corn holders going. The tines are long and sharp, and the handles are “beefy” and non-slip. (That comes in handy when you have “butter fingers.”

On the hot side of things, LÉKUÉ® has silicone everything, and the brand offers a fabulous selection of steamers for your microwave. You HAVE to check them out. Just open the floppy sides, put in a few tablespoons of water and the item you want to steam, close the flaps and zap! Easy peasy!

If you’ve never bought a salad spinner because you don’t have the storage space, Progressive® (no, not the insurance company) has a very nice, COLLAPSIBLE Salad Spinner with your name on it. It works great and takes up not much more space in your cupboard than a small stack of plates.

Ready for a drink?

While (again) not your classic gadget, I very much like Sur La Table’s “Outdoor Wine Glasses.” They look like glass, they have rather slender stems (which you don’t often find in plastic) and they’re BIG. (This saves your breath from running back and forth to the cooler and gives the wine room to breath too.)

For the “Tea Totalers,” Sur La Table also has a nice selection of Sun Tea jugs and dispensers. I especially like the large mason-like jar from which you can hang a small chalkboard sign. Nice.

Lastly, if all of these choices have you ready for a “shot,” you might want one more thing. Of course! A set of four Hand-Carved Himalayan Salt Tequila Shot Glasses may be JUST what you need. They also are purportedly great for Gazpacho shots.

There you have it! From the grill to the kitchen to the bar, this year’s summer gadget season has something for everyone, in every color and every style.

Enjoy the toys!