Fun gadgets for foodies

Find the right tool for the job -- or a quirky gift -- with these fun kitchen gadgets.

Who says you can’t have a little fun in the kitchen? There will always be a place for sturdy, practical tools but sometimes a little innovation and whimsy make it more pleasant to get the job done.

Here are some fun tools and gadgets to take the chore out of cooking:

Fred Table Saw ($5.00 USD, Amazon.com). Did you know that cutting lettuce with a metal blade can make the edges go brown? This plastic knife with serrated teeth solves the problem — plus it’s shaped like a saw from your tool belt. Forget delicate cake servers: try cutting into a birthday cake with a saw instead.

Munchstache cookie cutters ($9.95 USD, Amazon.ca). Cookie cutters come in all kinds of girlie shapes like flowers and hearts, but these cutters will appeal to everyone in the crowd. The cutters come in five moustache shapes including “The Bristle Brush”, “The Baron” and “The Walrus”. Flip the cutters over to “stamp” your goodies with texture. They’re ideal for any kind of shaped cookie, especially chocolate.

Another way to get a laugh is the Bite Marks Cookie Cutter set ($15.50 USD, Amazon.ca) which looks like your gingerbread men are missing a limb or a head. Or, try baking Ninjabread men for your holiday party.

Bug Ice Pop Molds ($12.99 USD, ThinkGeek.com) Popsicles are a summer staple, but cheaper and healthier to make at home. The caterpillar, ladybug and beetle shapes are as fun for adults as the youngsters, and are made of BPA-free plastic. The molds come with snug lids and snap into a base — all the easier to fit in your freezer. The handles have a drip guard that catches the liquid to avoid messes and sticky hands.

If you can’t find these particular molds, there are many fun shapes appearing on store shelves, including rocket ships and ice cream cones.

Garlic Zoom ($14.99 USD, ThinkGeek.com). Remember how much fun toy cars were? You could drive them over just about everything. Here’s a good reason to buy some new wheels: it will spare your hands the finicky and stinky work of mincing garlic. Simply pop two peeled cloves into the Garlic Zoom and drive it back and forth. (Feel free to add a “vroom, vroom” for good measure.) Afterwards, remove the blade and it’s off to the car wash — err… dishwasher.

Scizza Pizza Cutter ($17.99 USD, ThinkGeek.com). Is the pizza a wheel more nuisance than help? These specially-designed scissors cut all the way through and won’t crush or scatter toppings — plus they have an ergonomic grip. The lower blade comes equipped a think nylon spatula that easily slips under foods to protect the pan. You can also use it to cut dough or easily cut food into small pieces for the kids or grandkids too.

Norpro Grip-Ez Melon Cutter ($19.98, Amazon.ca). If you find apple corers to be a handy tool — and you eat lots of melon — this upsized tool can lend a hand. With a diameter of 20 cm, the stainless steel blades are evenly spaced for perfect melon slices. Non-slip handles make the tool easy to grip, but you’ll also want to stabilize the melon to ensure safe cutting.

1-Touch Power Peeler ($19.99, Canadian Tire). Peeling fruits and vegetables can be a tricky job if you have mobility issues in your hands. The blades on this peeler gently vibrate for a smoother, easier peeling motion. The kit comes with two blades — one for regular peeling of fruits and veggies, and a second that zests citrus peels or juliennes. Though battery powered, the peeler is splash proof — making it easy to rinse under running water.

Grilled Pizza Cones ($24.99 USD, Amazon.com). Just in case you’re bored of slices or pockets, pizza is now taking its shape from ice cream cones. The kit comes with a dough cutter, crimping tool and two-non-stick cone molds to get you started.  First you bake the dough until it’s lightly browned, then you set it in its special stand and fill with your favourite toppings. A few more minutes in the oven and you’re ready to enjoy pizza in a whole new way. (Watch the product demo.)

Incred-a-brew Direct Immersion Coffee Maker ($24.99 USD, ThinkGeek.com). All you want is a freshly brewed individual cup of coffee… without buying an expensive system and refills. With this handy device, you simple add your favourite coffee grounds to the brewing chamber — shaped like a plastic cup with a lid — add hot water and let it brew 3-5 minutes according to your preference. When it’s ready, simply set is on top your favourite mug to trip the release mechanism. The reusable strainer collects those coffee grounds as the liquid dispenses into your cup.

If you’re a tea drinker instead, try the IngenuiTEA Teapot ($18.99 USD, also from ThinkGeek.com). Rather than cramp your loose leaf tea into an infuser, this personal sized tea pot gives it room to steep.

Cut and Collect cutting board. ($25 USD, UncommonGoods.com). The problem: you run out of room on the cutting board when chopping fresh vegetables. The solution: a cutting board with a building in “drawer” underneath that catches all those chopped tidbits or the peels that pile up as you prep. The drawer snaps in place when not in use for easier storage.

Freezer Mates® Fresh & Pure Ice Trays ($36 per set of two, Tupperware.ca). True, they are pricier than your average ice cube tray, but a lot less hassle. Those bright purple lids snap into place, creating a waterproof seal that makes them easy to fill with a flip lid on the top (and no spills!) Another bonus: the lid helps keep those cubes fresh in the freezer with no more absorbed odours, debris or disappearing ice in your frost-free freezer. They aren’t just for ice — they make handy storage for soup broth, leftover wine and preserved herbs.

PowerPot ($149 or $249, PowerPot.com). Charge your electronic gadgets while you cook dinner! The PowerPot turns the heat from cooking (thermoelectric power) into enough electricity to recharge or run small gadgets like a cell phone or tablet. The pot comes with built-in USB port and three feet of heat resistant wire. The smaller pot serves as a 5 watt generator while the larger one offers double the power.

While it may seem frivolous for the home kitchen, the device can be handy for camping or emergencies. It’s also being used as away to generate electricity in developing countries.  (You can make a donation through the company’s website and the pots are distributed through local organizations.)

Some of these items may not be the most practical of choices, but they’re sure to make the job a little more enjoyable — or bring a smile to someone’s face as a gift.

Note: Prices and links are current at time of publishing but are subject to change.

Photo Fred Table Saw ©Amazon.com

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