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!

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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!