No matter how many gadgets or tools we have in our kitchen, there are always more – so many more that if we added them all to our kitchens, we’d have to rent space to actually do a little cooking.

Still, every year a handful of new items pop up that beg to be tried. Some, like the tool that scrambles the egg inside the shell, or the pot-watcher that creates a whoosh over the top of your pan to keep it from boiling over, seem downright silly.

Others are perfectly ingenious inventions that are so useful, and often simple, that they are destined to become kitchen favorites says Pam Abrams, author of “Gadgetology,” ($14.95, Harvard Common Press) a colorful book aimed at luring kids into the kitchen with gadgets.

“A great gadget is something that solves a problem,” she says. “I think of my silicone egg poacher cups. They’re so smart. You spray them with oil, put your egg in it and float it in boiling water. You get a perfectly poached egg every time. That’s a great gadget.”

The real glory of gadgets, Abrams says, is that they allow people to reinvent their kitchens for very little money.

“The introduction of new materials has revived gadgetry. Like silicone. It’s pretty and fun and durable. They’re using it make better pastry brushes and whisks that don’t scratch.”

Here are details on a few gadgets, both new and old, that caught our attention.

• Onion goggles: If onions make you prone to waterworks, you might want to grab a pair of these onion goggles. You’ll look silly, but the goggles seal your eyes from all onion fumes, guaranteeing a tear-free experience, no matter how strong your onions are. The goggles, made by RSVP, are about $19 and can be found at gadget stores everywhere, or online at www.KingArthurFlour.com.

• Silicone oven liner shields: The shield lays neatly in the bottom of your oven, ready to collect splatters, spills and crumbs. When it’s dirty, pull it out and give it a quick rinse – nothing sticks to silicone. The mats can be cut to fit toaster ovens and microwaves. The shields are $20-$25 and can be found at www.chefsresource.com; or www.KingArthurFlour.com, or at Sur La Table stores.

• Chocolate thermometer: This Taylor Connoisseur Chocolate Spatula Thermometer is literally a rubbery spatula with a thermometer embedded in the middle. The thermometer reads temperatures from 70 to 150 only, which means it’s very easy to get your chocolate to exactly the correct melting or holding temperature. The only trick to this gadget is to avoid shocking the glass tip as it will break if it’s abused. The thermometer is available at most gadget stores and at www.KingArthurFlour.com. It costs $20.

• Silicone potholders and mitts: Kuhn Rikon’s mitts and holders one-up the all-silicone glove, which can be slippery and difficult to use when moving hot pans in the oven. You can’t reach into a boiling pot of water with them, but the silicone surface adds extra protection against heat, allowing you to move multiple pans without burning your hands. They’re also perfect for moving that oven rack that always seems to be in the wrong place. The gloves come in black and lime green. They’re available at some kitchen stores for $10. A pair of standard silicone gloves run $19.95 at Sur La Table.

• Silicone brush baster: It really is time to toss that old baster with the rubber bulb in favor of one of the new generation basters that feature silicone – which is heat-resistant to 600 degrees. Among the best of the new basters is this short one with a large, ½-cup capacity bulb that can be set upright on the counter. The bulb comes with a brush attached, which means you can guide your basting liquid to go exactly where you want it. The baster is perfect for using with barbecue sauce. It’s available in kitchen stores everywhere for about $11.

• Zilotex dish towel: Washing wine glasses and other fine crystal in soapy water and rinsing with super-hot water helps reduce those water spots, but when you want a flawless finish in a hurry, you need a lint-free, antibacterial towel that absorbs moisture instantly. They aren’t the prettiest towels you’ve ever seen, but they work like a dream. The towels cost $12 to $17, depending on size and can be found online at www.bridgekitchenware.com.

• Alligator onion chopper and garlic chopper: If you know of someone who likes to cook but lacks knife skills, these two tools could change their life. To chop onions or garlic, just open the contraption and put the food in. Slam it shut and the deed is done. The choppers can be found at most kitchen stores, and at Sur La Table for $30 for the onion chopper; $20 for the garlic chopper.

• Freshness detector: The SensorfreshQ freshness detector measures the freshness of meat and poultry. This handheld, battery operated tool measures the bacteriological activity. A green light tells you the food is safe to eat. The detector is $90 at Sur La Table.

• Petite masher: When the amount is way too small for a regular sized masher to do the job, reach for the petite masher, a wood-handled masher that’s perfect for mashing one potato or a few cloves of roasted garlic. The masher is also great for beans, berries, apples and mixing dough. The masher is $20 and is available online at www.SurLaTable.com.


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