We all have things in our lives that we do a lit­tle, well, half-baked. We are an inge­nu­itive species, so when things don’t work for us we either cre­ate some­thing that does or mod­ify what already exists. And from that spirit, we also find new uses for old or bro­ken things.

I have pur­chased a lot of kitchen gad­getry. It’s kind of sick when I think about it, so I won’t. But of all of my chopper/slicer/dicer/flipper/stirrer toys, I have one thing that stands above them all.


The Chef Helper is a lit­tle kitchen gad­get I bought at the dol­lar store prob­a­bly a year into our mar­riage. I remem­ber where I got it at (Crys­tal, MN) and I don’t even know what I was doing there, but for some rea­son I was com­pelled to buy this. It has metal wires like a whisk, but opens up like a pair of tongs.


Now here is where the sad inge­nu­ity from ear­lier in the post comes in. It’s bro­ken. It’s been bro­ken for much longer than it ever wasn’t. And before it was bro­ken, I hardly ever used it. Then the spring came loose, some lit­tle plas­tic piece busted off and it was left like this:


And since it’s been bro­ken I use it con­stantly! I just grab one half and whisk away. I love how it func­tions like a whisk, but because of it being flat there is more con­trol and I can use it to scrape the sides of the bowl, like I would with a spat­ula. I have looked at many stores to find some­thing a lit­tle less, er, pathetic look­ing, but noth­ing that I’ve found mea­sures up to my two $.50 whisk things. I love ‘em.

Do you have any­thing of this low a cal­iber in your kitchen that you just can’t replace? Any odd, inge­nu­itive kitchen break­throughs or uses for other ran­dom kitchen toys? I have a sil­i­cone trivet that I never use as a trivet, but I do use it open jars with. I’ve also made waf­fles in the que­sadilla maker that we have no use for (quaf­fadil­las!)… you never know until you try!

Tagged with:

9 Responses to kitchen confessions

  1. Courtney says:

    Hahaha–I LOVE dol­lar stores! They are great for cheap kitchen stuff. I actu­ally have one of those whisks/flipper thin­gies that I NEVER use. I got it for free, I think, along with some­thing else. Now I will have to dig it out and see if I can put it to good use after your trib­ute to it!

    I love my tongs–cheap-o plas­tic ones, prob­a­bly from the dol­lar store too, come to think of it–for every­thing. I use them for just about everything…to toss sal­ads, to lift things out of hot water, to get things out of pans, to toss pasta, to scratch my back…oh, wait… :-)
    I also love my hot pot–I have had it since under­grad, and it boils water for tea or rehy­drat­ing tvp/sundried tomatoes/dried mushrooms/etc. SO quickly. My friends used to actu­ally boil pasta right IN the hot pot in col­lege, which totally pissed me off (I once made tea for my 7 am class and got a mac­a­roni noo­dle in my travel mug, which I didn’t dis­cover til I was IN class and drink­ing my tea. Nice.). But for about $8, it has cer­tainly lasted me for­ever and been put to good use!


  2. jessy says:

    that is just too awe­some, Kris! i don’t like how my big wisks makes such a mess (and how i have to tilt the pan or pot to get stuff from the sides inco­po­rated into the mix) — that’s gotta be nice hav­ing more con­trol with those guys. yay! some­thing kinda low cal­iber that we’ve got is a can opener, but it’s the tiny stripped down ones that the mil­i­tary issues. my dad found one for me at a gun show (he’s so ran­dom!) and i love it the absolute most! it’s no big­ger than half of my thumb and i love how sim­ple it is to use. i used to have some issues (user errors) with big­ger can open­ers — the hand held ones — and the elec­tric ones, too. with this lit­tle mil­i­tary one i can open cans easy peasy!

  3. a-k says:

    My hand­i­est (pun intended, you’ll see) cheap kitchen gad­get I actu­ally got for free… Flimsy free mouse pads with adver­tise­ments on them were all the rage when I was in col­lege, and since I have no com­puter mouse (nor would I want to use it for one if I did), I use it as a jar opener! It really helps when you get those jars where a lit­tle bit of fric­tion is required. My room­mates and I did this in our first apart­ment and the adver­tise­ment on the mouse pad from a women’s health clinic so we always referred to the “jar opener” as “the mam­mo­gram.” Good times.

  4. downthepalate says:

    Ha, I also have a sil­i­cone trivet which I have only used as a jar opener. Actu­ally, I “inher­ited” it from my last room­mate, and he had to point out to me while we were liv­ing together that it was not intended for use as a jar opener. But it’s so per­fect for that!

    Also, I’m one of those peo­ple who cleans out con­tain­ers with lids and reuses them con­stantly, so my fridge is full of things which are not what they appear to be, like an old cream cheese con­tainer full of home­made BBQ sauce. My friends have learned to ask before open­ing anything.

  5. Christine says:

    I had a cheap, plas­tic pump­kin carv­ing kit that included a lit­tle, plas­tic, rake/shovel shaped tool for scoop­ing out the pump­kin seeds and I used it to scoop seeds and squash slime out of all win­ter squashes until it broke :-(

  6. april says:

    I also have one of those whisk things, and mine is bro­ken as well (although not as severely as yours. the latch that holds it closed is bro­ken). I use mine for every­thing! Works great for flip­ping all sorts of grilled sand­wiches with­out hav­ing the insides fall out! The kitchen tool that I absolutely can­not live with­out though is a grape­fruit spoon! I rarely use it for grape­fruit and instead employ it when­ever I need to remove seeds, stems or pulp from fruits and veg­eta­bles. My other favorite gad­get is the apple slicer/corer combo. Aside from it’s orig­i­nal pur­pose, mine also gets used to cut onion wedges!