Kitchen gadgeteering unearths fun finds

By: Susie Iventosch Special to Home & Garden
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It is always great fun to peruse your favorite kitchen shops for the latest in cooking gadgets. There are so many wonderful new innovations for doing this and that in the kitchen. In fact, in no time at all, you can rack up quite a bill! A few weeks ago, I was feeling the urge for just such a looky-loo, and discovered all sorts of interesting items — several of which I picked up for gifts. But, you know how that goes — one for my friend — and one for me! Soon I was celebrating my own birthday in addition to that of my two good friends — only my birthday was still months away. These little adventures produced some very interesting items, from a collapsible cutting board, to an “Herb-savor” and a pair of herb scissors. There’s even a serrated plastic lettuce knife that won’t turn your green leaves brown! Many of these items seemed to come in handy as I was preparing this week’s recipe for Napa Summer Slaw. Actually, I am not sure how I ever lived without the herb scissors —they are amazing. You can mince, slice or “chiffonade” (finely shred) to your heart’s content. They are the perfect implement for cutting up basil, cilantro, mint or parsley. My friend, Lynn MacDonald of Colfax, served this delightful salad to us a couple of summers ago. She discovered the recipe in the July 1984 issue of Sunset Magazine. I thought it was absolutely wonderful, but since the original calls for mayonnaise, which most in my family won’t touch, I have altered the dressing to avoid the dreaded condiment! The salad calls for many items you can pick up at your favorite produce department or at the Auburn Farmers’ Market, which is held every Saturday in Auburn. Kitchen Gadgets Chop2Pot ($15) This innovative cutting board by Joseph-Joseph comes in a rainbow of colors from hot pink and orange, to lime green, black, red, white and blue. It is designed to lay flat for cutting and then folds along polypropylene hinges to form a chute for sliding diced ingredients into pots, pans or bowls. It is dishwasher safe. The price is approximately $15 and it can be purchased through Amazon. com or at Sur La Table and other locations This is a very handy cutting board. Herb-savor ($29) What do you do with fresh herbs once you’ve used what the recipe calls for? If you’re like me, you either put them in a Ziploc in the refrigerator, or for things like parsley, basil, cilantro or mint, I usually fill a glass with water, plop in the unused part of the bunch, and decorate my windowsill. Still, this only lasts a short time before the leaves start turning moldy or mushy. Though I am still experimenting with the Herb-savor by Prepara, so far it has kept my bunch of cilantro looking as fresh as the day I bought it. My first attempt, with a beautiful bunch of basil, was a disaster. Failing to read the directions (who knew?), I did not pat my herbs dry before storing them. My basil went moldy immediately. The Herb-savor stores the herbs in a vertical position in a cabinet, and the stems dip into a water-filled well below. It only holds one bunch at a time due to limited space. For more information, see Cuisipro also makes an herb saver, which I have not tried, but is available through Target or The Onion Saver ($4.99-$5.99) So often a recipe calls for half of an onion. What do you do with the other half? I usually double up on the baggies and then hope it won’t smell up the refrigerator! The Onion Saver by Hutzler is a nifty little onion-shaped container, designed for storing cut onions. It comes in the red or the yellow onion color and it actually looks pretty much just like an onion! And, it works very well. This item may soon be stocked at Newcastle Produce and can also be found online at /hak7059.html or Plastic Serrated Lettuce Knife ($4.99-$11.97) This plastic knife by OXO Good Grips cuts through lettuce without leaving the tell-tale dark stains you see the next day from metal knives. I found one stain, but for the most part, it seemed to work as promised. It doesn’t have the sharpest edge, but it does work its way through a head of Romaine just fine. I like to use Romaine for chopped salads, but often chop more than I need, so it’s nice to be able to store it without having it turn brown. The knife is safe to use on non-stick pans and claims to cut well through cakes and brownies. I have not tried the brownies, but it works perfectly on cake! And, this is one knife you can toss into the dishwasher. Zyliss also makes a similar salad knife, which can be purchased at Newcastle Produce. These are also available online at Herb Scissors ($11-$14) This may be the best $11 I have ever spent. Made by RSVP International, these herb scissors take all of the work out of cutting up herbs, especially the leafy varieties like basil, mint, cilantro and parsley. Simply stack your herbs and snip away. The innovative blade design features a set of five sharp, three-inch stainless steel blades that, when closed together, allow you to cut, chop or mince herbs directly into a pan or over a plate for garnishing. These scissors create the perfect basil chiffonade, often called for in fresh summer salads. They also work well on chives, dill, fennel, sage or green onions. I have not tried them yet on the smaller-leaved herbs like tarragon, oregano, savory or marjoram, but the company indicates they do work well on these herbs, too. These can be purchased at Newcastle Produce. For more information about RSVP products, please visit: ---------- Auburn Farmers’ Market Old Town Courthouse Parking Lot Auburn-Folsom Rd at Lincoln Way Year round, 8 am – 12 noon Newcastle Produce 9230 Cypress St Newcastle, CA 95658-9380 (916) 663-2016