Ingenious new kitchen gadgets make life easier

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The 2007 International Home & Housewares Show kicks off in Chicago today, so we take this opportunity to review some of the new, recent and favorite kitchen products that stand out.

Flat-out easy

Flat Fold Colander
Click photo for larger image.

The buzz in kitchen gadgets these days is collapsibility: collapsible storage containers. Collapsible colanders. But while the former is a godsend, the collapsible silicone colanders are not always that practical. If you don't have them positioned just right across a large pot or sink, they can spill all the contents where you don't want it to go.

The Flat Fold Colander solves that problem. It's much more sturdy and folds up a different way -- flat, to slide against the wall of your cabinet. With a larger capacity than other collapsibles, it also has a built-in pour spout. It's available at housewares stores, big box discount stores and drugstores, or online at ($14.99).

Fits like a Glove

If you're all thumbs when it comes to using knives, you might be interested in the new Cut Resistant Glove, to be unveiled this week at the international home show by Microplane.

It's made from a specially engineered fiber to provide an extra layer of protection and safety for professional and home cooks. One size fits all, and you can wear it on either hand. It's also machine-washable. It will be available this summer at national retailers ($24.95).

Countertop gardening

AeroGrow AeroGarden
Click photo for larger image.

Wouldn't it be nifty to grow a little organic herb and vegetable garden right on your kitchen counter? The AeroGrow AeroGarden, below, uses NASA-tested aeroponic technology to do just that. It grows plants in water -- no soil or natural light needed. Just plug it in, fill with water and drop in the seeds.

You can grow cherry tomatoes, chili peppers and gourmet herbs, strawberries, flowers, etc. There's a guaranteed harvest in 28 days.

The Post-Gazette's gardening writer Doug Oster calls it a "great little find" and says it's actually a cheap way to get into aeroponic gardening. Perhaps cheaper than larger systems.

It's available at, Sur La Table or Frontgate. (Garden costs $149.95, plus $19.99 for each seed kit and replacement bulb packages.)

Party popper

For big parties, a bag of microwave popcorn doesn't go very far. Cuisinart a little more than a year ago rolled out the PartyPop Popcorn Maker, which pops up to 10 cups of popcorn in 5 minutes. It pops right into a clear plastic lid that doubles as a bowl. And you choose the flavor of oil you want to use.

In the March issue of Real Simple magazine, one of the editors named this popcorn maker the one kitchen item she couldn't live without.

Available at kitchen and housewares stores ($49.95).

Spoon with an edge

Who thought anyone could improve upon the spoon?

Over in Berks County, Jonathan Simons has been making what he calls the Lazy Spoon, wooden spoons with a notch in them so they can rest on the side of a pot so sauce doesn't drip all over the stove. (They're a fave of Rachael Ray.)

He's been handcrafting cherry wood utensils for more than 30 years. The Lazy Spoons range in price from $24 to $42, depending upon size and design. You can order them at

Spin'nStor salad bag

I never was a fan of those pre-washed salad packages because the greens never seemed crisp and I questioned how efficiently the salad had been washed. Call me lazy, but chopping, slicing and washing salad greens sometimes discouraged me from making a salad. That's why a new product, Spin'nStor Reusable Salad Spinning Bag, got my attention -- I thought I would give it a whirl.

Simply wash the greens, place the greens in the Spin'nStor bag, hold the top closed and use your hand to spin it in the air in a circular motion. The water collects in a reservoir at the bottom of the bag.

You can have a little fun with this. I recently hosted a dinner party and each of my guests took a turn with the Spin'nStor bag. Be warned: steer clear of the spinner and keep the spinner away from lights and chandeliers.

The Spin'nStor sells for $3.99 for a package of four at Sur La Table, SouthSide Works, 412-431-4675 or $11.75 for 12 bags online at or by calling: 1-800-449-3030.

-- Arlene Burnett

Fresh soymilk

If you're looking for another way to get soy milk, try making it yourself. The Soyabella Soymilk Maker features a stainless steel carafe with program settings to control temperature and grinding of soybeans. By adding soybeans and water, it takes 15 minutes to make fresh soymilk. It's available from Tribest, a company in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. $139. or 1-888-254-7336.

A cut above

Also to be on display in Chicago will be the Chef'sChoice Professional Sharpening Station. It offers three stages to professionally sharpen, steel or strop all brands and types of knives: straight-edge or serrated, kitchen, Asian style, sports and pocket knives.

Cooks Illustrated magazine, home to America's Test Kitchen, gave this Rolls-Royce of sharpeners a top rating. Built-in precision angle guides eliminate all the guesswork. For the professional or home cook, it comes with three-year, limited warranty ($149).

Virginia Linn can be reached at or 412-263-1662.


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