Kitchen gadgets: treasures in them thar drawers
I sometimes joke that I was born in the wrong century, and then four words spring to mind: dental care and indoor plumbing. Nope, I’m very happy in the twenty-first century as long as I can benefit from modern medicine and hot showers, while still enjoying the best of vintage culinary tools, namely the kitchen gadgets of a bygone era. Of course, when it comes to farm tools, I draw the line, and am quite satisfied with all things powered and designed for ease-of-use (broadfork included).
American ingenuity certainly found a perfect design studio in the kitchen. When it came to the tools of the kitchen trade, form followed function, and beautifully, I might add. Who knew cooking a waffle or blending pastry dough could be performance art.
So let me share with you some great kitchen gadgets, favorites of mine and vintage all. As much fun to look at as to use, and I do use them regularly.
Griswold Rotating Waffle Iron
My friend Jacquie gave me this weighty cast iron treasure, my holy grail of kitchen gadgets. The Griswold American No. 8 waffle iron fits over the stovetop burner, reaches heat, and sizzles a satisfying song when the batter floods the griddle base. The design-genius is found in the ball and socket joinery. When the waffle needs to be turned, you simply lift and pivot the closed waffle round to brown the other side of the waffle. As if this gift wasn’t special enough, the 1908 waffle iron has the inimitable patina of a well-loved tool from the kitchen of Jacquie’s mother who lived on the Yakama Reservation in Washington state.
Turn-Key Nut Chopper
There are nut choppers, and then, there are nut choppers. This little gem on the left elevates the task with its nifty glass storage jar and it nut-chopper topper of tenacious tines. Simply turn the jar over a salad or a sundae and twist the turn-key to release a hailstorm of chopped nuts. I’ve managed to secure three: one for salted Virginia peanuts, one for walnuts; and one for Georgia pecans.
Tin Flour Shaker
It’s no secret I like to make and bake pies, so I beamed when I stumbled across this handsome tinman at our island thrift shop. To use, just remove the dome top sporting holes in the shape of a star, and fill the handled cylinder with flour about halfway up. Return the lid and turn over and shake lightly for a dusting of flour on any surface your heart desires.
This red-handled, wired wizard blends pie dough perfectly. The heavy-gauge wires flex and cut through cold lard, butter and shortening with ease. New pastry blenders are fine, but the old ones have cool wooden handles and a springiness not found in most modern pastry cutters.
Rapid Kitchen Utensils: Great Graters
Hashbrowns are as rare as grits around these parts so I’ve taken to making my own pan-fried potatoes a couple times a week. (And for the record, diners of America, home fries are not hashbrowns.) My quintet of “Rapid Kitchen Utensils” old graters are my go-to shredders of choice. Because the ends sport quarter-circle curves, the grater catches the edge to secure hand grating over bowls and frying pans.
I have more kitchen gadgets to share in forthcoming posts, but for now these should keep you busy in thrift shops and at yard sales. Happy Looking and Cooking!