Hello, Dear Readers:

If you’ve been wondering, well, yes, I have been sick. Sick enough to fall asleep through a class Thursday. GRRRR. . .thank heavens for recordings. It’s cold, but beautiful outside, and I’m sick. I’ve got fever, a bronchial infection, an EAR infection, and prescriptions. First time I’ve taken a pharmaceutical drug in nearly 3 years.

I am coughing like a smoker. I have never smoked.

I slept a quite a bit yesterday and decided to do a little sewing last night. Made a potholder that, well, wasn’t exactly to spec. It’s because I’ve taken to making my own bias tape, and when I make it, I like it a lot wider than the book says to make it. but that’s just me. What’s wrong with double wide bias tape? Used up a little bit more fabric and gave me an idea of what it will look like if I ever make one or two for a gift. Trust me when I tell you NOBODY has one exactly like mine.

I like it that way.

It started Wednesday with a wicked sore throat that made it hard to eat, drink or breathe much, and then I got tired. Got lost trying to go somewhere, and when I got home, I knew I was infected. I started using Peaceful Mountain Throat Rescue on Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon I woke up from one of my naps to have no more sore throat. (It’s also available from in a two-pack.) A medicine cabinet essential.

But while the sore throat is gone, thank heavens, now I just have the standard cold symptoms–sneezing, stuffy nose, and going through a LOT Of tissue. I also have pain when I cough, that being the bronchial infection (which moved into my ears–first time that’s ever happened.) My hands are seriously dried out from washing them so much. Don’t forget the headache from all that sneezing and blowing, and now my hearing is affected–feels like my ears need to pop, but can’t, because of the ear infection. Plus there’s the the general fatigue that comes along with it (your adrenals take a hit when something like this happens.) Turns out that SIX women I know who are all connected to me on Facebook are also ill. Therefore, we conclude that Facebook is spreading the germs.

Don’t get too close.

So while I was watching TV and stitching up my new potholder, I saw an advert for a newly invented kitchen gadget that helps you make “perfect” pies. No kidding. the most bizarre thing ever, called the EZ Pocket. I kid you not. You lay the dough out, fill the pockets with the filling you want, put the top crust on, use the little rotary thingy to slice the pie crust according to the grid, bake it off, and you have “perfect” little pies in perfect little shaped portions. You can even make six different fillings at once (long as you can tell the difference later for the fussy child who *only* wants cherry.)

I give the inventor credit for making something new, of course, but. . .WHAT? Of course, if you watch the infomercial, you’ll see a woman botching and bungling a pie crust so bad it would make Martha Stewart sick. Pie crust ain’t that hard if it’s made correctly!! With a food processor, you can’t mess it up. Watch a YouTube Video on how to do piecrust. But with the EZ Pocket, you use STORE BOUGHT PIE CRUSTS. Ugh. What a way to make healthy food for your family. And you can bet anyone who does that thinks it’s perfectly healthy.

It’s not. Yuck.

If EZ Pockets is just your thing, great–but please, learn to make your OWN pie crusts. Read the myriad ingredients in pre-made pie crusts and you’ll see what I mean. Do it in the food processor–it couldn’t be simpler. I started doing that with the Barefoot Contessa books. You can find Ina’s Perfect Pie Crust here; quick and easy, and will work with these silly looking contraptions.

You can find all manner of cooking inventions on As Seen On TV’s website. (Ronco Veg-A-Matic, anyone? Yes, they still make those.)  If you’re a foodie, be careful, and hang onto your Visa Card!

Well, anyway. . .it got me thinking about other kitchen gadgets. While I try not to do this, I do have a number of kitchen gadgets, bought over the years, likely on sale. Some have been better successes than others.

While I haven’t tried this one, I almost did. The Xpress Redi Set Go just looked like a great thing for a single woman to have. When I saw it, I had a boyfriend, and thought it would be great for cooking for just us when he came over, or even at his house. It came with recipes and instructions, and if you watched the long infomercial, it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I was ready to go get me one. . . .then I got on and discovered via the comments that it wasn’t as fabulous as all that.

Saved from a bad buy. This time.

Another time I bought the infamous Eggstractor. If you’re not familiar with this one, it came out at the apex of the low-carb thing in about 2003 or 2004. It’s a little thing to help you peel large quantities of hard-boiled eggs. There’s a trick to hard-boiled eggs, but never mind. I thought this would be a great thing to have, but. . .well, it didn’t work out too well. You have to smash the top real hard, and between me and the man of the house, it didn’t really do the job well. I returned it about a week later.

When I told my brother about this, he was curious. Then I sent him the link, where the infomercial was running. He couldn’t stop laughing and never lets me forget The Eggstractor. To this day. Out of the blue, he asks about The Eggstractor.

I have seen those little Eggies, where you crack the eggs into a plastic boiler, then remove them when done. I have not bought those. On the other hand, maybe it would be a good idea. . .I think there’s another version that makes them square, but I won’t swear to it.

Now, some friends of mine have the Nu Wave Induction Oven, and have used it, but I don’t know that they are completely thrilled with it. I recently saw the Nu Wave Induction Cooktop, and of course it looks like the best new thing, but. . .I’ll wait a while on this one, too. Turns out induction cooktops have been around for some time. Makes me wish I’d bought one by now; I just don’t need all those extra pans.

When I got married (in 1996, the last time) one of the things I put on my registry was the Braun Open Master. So cool, so contemporary, and safely opens cans. My grandmother bought it for me, and I loved it. I still have it and use it, but at some point, cans were re-designed, so it only works on about 50% of the cans now. Braun, of course, doesn’t make them anymore, but it was a great product.

Another favorite is the Braun Multi Mix. Braun doesn’t make these anymore, either, but I still have mine. Actually, I have more than one, sort of. I have, unfortunately, used the heck out of mine, and have replaced it, so I have a second set of accessories. Okay, actually, I’m on my third (and obviously last) one. Hope I can buy a suitable replacement one day, or I’m just going to be buying multiple items. The mixers work great, but do one thing wrong and it doesn’t work right anymore.

I really USE my gadgets.

The former husband believed himself to be of a certain sophistication, and insisted we have an espresso/cappuccino machine. Well, I don’t have the husband anymore, but I still have one; it’s about ten years old. Once in a while, I actually use it. See, I don’t keep cow’s milk around, I have almond milk. I don’t know if it will froth, so I don’t use it very often.

Many years ago, I was also given a black KitchenAid stand mixer, just like the ones you see on The Food Network. It was secondhand, but works perfectly, so who cares?  I was saving up to buy the copper model, but this one is just perfect.

I have two food processors–one from Wal-Mart, bought when the one I had prior gave out the day before Thanksgiving, and a smaller one that came with the Cuisinart Deluxe Duet blender, bought with a coupon at Bed, Bath and Beyond. The one I bought in like 1991 or so finally croaked.

The Toaster Oven. Now, I always thought this was a bit more than I needed, then someone gave me one and I was hooked. I took to roasting chicken leg quarters in mine, and it didn’t heat up the kitchen. YES! I’m on my third; this one came with a convection setting, so I use that occasionally too. I can bake all manner of stuff, cook dinner in it in the middle of summer and it’s great. If you have the room, get one. I have the Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven, again, bought with a coupon at BBB a few years ago. I didn’t want the convection part, but that’s the one they had when I went to buy it. If you have the room, I can highly recommend having one around. This one has an even-heat sensor, a timer, and lots of bells & whistles. You may want one not quite as pricey, but if you like to cook, it’s certainly worth having to bake/cook/roast smaller items, especially in the summer.

I really love ice cream, and although I don’t get to use it regularly, I do have this wonderful Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I had a couple of gift cards a couple of years ago from Macy’s and decided to splurge on this baby. The old one I had used ice and salt and all that; this just has a bowl you stick in the freezer. And since I have a small freezer, well, you see why I don’t get around to using it as much as I’d like. However, I’ve also made gelatos and fruit sorbets with it, adding Somersweet instead of sugar. Cuisinart also has a more expensive model that has it’s own self-contained compressor so you don’t have to freeze the bowl, you just plug it in. Well, they don’t sell those at Macy’s, or maybe they didn’t when I went to buy mine. Next one I get will be that one, you just plug it into the wall and go for it.

For the best ice cream recipes, I highly recommend Bruce Weinstein’s Ultimate Ice Cream Book. Canteloupe sorbet? Yes, it’s fabulous, and it’s nothing like store bought.

A few years ago I was asked to make an apple dessert for a party. Well, I had to peel a lot of apples for it. I mentioned it to a gent I worked with, and he offered to loan me his apple peeler/corer. He went on vacation for two weeks, and um, I broke it. I didn’t know how to contact him, so I went online and bought an identical item. THEN, seeing as they were not expensive I bought one for myself! I’ve used it once or twice since then, but haven’t done a lot of baking lately.

Then there’s the grill thing. That same brother bought it for me, a knockoff of the George Foreman Grill, and while I’ve used it a few times, it’s very hard to clean. So it collects dust. Likely to go out one day. . .

For Thanksgiving, and other rare occasions that I think about it, I have one of those big turkey roasters. Really, it’s great for roasting two chickens at once, and this one has take-out dishes for things like stuffing and veggies that you can leave in and keep warm. I keep it around. . . .

When I got married in 1981 (the first time), someone gave us a waffle iron/griddle that was just wonderful, similar to this model (but not so god-awful expensive.) I don’t know what happened to it, but in a divorce, I think you can figure it out. . .I used to have another one, but when I quit doing grains, I gave it away. Then I got ahold of the second Babycakes book, and suddenly I needed a waffle iron! (The gluten-free waffles in this book are fantastic, and real maple extract for the syrup is worth hunting down.) I now have a $10 waffle item from HEB. What I’d like to eventually get is Cuisinart’s Griddler, even though the waffle plates are sold separately. Admittedly, it will be quite some time before I get mine, even if I go to BBB with a coupon.

Several years ago I re-discovered the French Press coffee pot. I was at work one evening when one of the ISS people put some hot water in it. I used to know someone who used it, but that was a long time ago. Had no idea what I was missing., and now I own five. I got a small one and put decaf Eight O’Clock Coffee in it, and was amazed at how great it tasted. No more Mr. Coffee for me–and, it’s ecologically friendly, since the filters are metal. The one I use most regularly is this 4-cup French Press from Bodum, so I keep a spare glass around since I’ve had one break. I also have the 3-cup Chambord that stayed at my desk so I could have decaf in a non-decaf office, a 3-cup Brazil model for travel, an 8-cup Bodum Shin Bistro (for when I used to have a boyfriend to make coffee for) and this 8-cup model from Cost Plus World Market that I left at his house for the weekends I was there. (He brought it back but kept my coffee cup. No great loss.) I made cozies for both 8-cup pots to keep the coffee warm, as well as the 4-cup pot. Maybe I should sell one or two of them soon.

Now, many kitchens have a teapot on top the stove, and admittedly, I had one too–but then you had to turn on the STOVE to heat it up. This baby from Hamilton Beach solves that problem, and boils water faster than Superman can by looking at it. Boils and then cuts off, and cuts off if you pick it up off the heating element. Clean it once or twice a week by filling it halfway with water, halfway with plain white vinegar, boil, and let it sit for an hour or more to clean. Rinse it real good, and you’re ready to go. I love this kettle.

One more gadget–my electric indoor grill. Also a wedding present in 1996, it’s ceramic base tends to crack, and you can’t adjust the temp, but it works great for grilling. There is a heating element in it that’s similar to one on the stove, but bigger. And you just clean it and put it away. I have it on my big shelf. . .and when I think about it, I dust it off and use it. But I forget about it most days.

I love my kitchen stuff. In a small condo. Nevermind the books.

Well, that’s it for tonight. I’ve got to concentrate on healing and getting rid of whatever bug I managed to pick up this week. I’ll be missing a religious activity tomorrow, because I just don’t want to make babies, children and elderly Japanese ladies sick. Hopefully I’ll be writing another post soon.

Happy cooking!

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