The one kitchen gadget I couldn’t live without…

I like gizmos.  Gizmos and gadgets to be more specific.  I’m not sure what the difference is between the two but I’m sure there must be a difference and it’s probably an important one.  But I do know that I love them both.

Before I get to the one “gadget” that I am absolutely smitten with, I need to offer some context. As your read the following take a moment to consider – what is the one item that you have in your kitchen that many would think is a simple gadget that you simply couldn’t live without.

We also have less than 4 feet of workable counter space and very limited storage in our kitchen.  We have a single drawer which stores a mess of these things – enough space to hide anything that you are precisely looking for while not allowing you room to expand by a single other item.  It’s a bit like pandora’s box – once you open it you may never be able to close it.

Alas, all is not loss – we, indeed, have more room to store things.  An old flour container (which, despite being pretty, never actually contained flour) efficiently robs us of a remaining square foot of counter space to store every long tool we can jam in it.  We store two types of tools in this space:

  • spoons and other long-handled instruments of precision cooking that we use once a day or more.
  • spoons and other long-handled instruments of precision cooking that we use once a decade or less.

Life is, after all, about balance.

All cheekiness aside, there are many things I love about our kitchen.  There’s a massive exposed brick wall, open concept which means our kitchen is also our living room, main room and living space.  Preserving space is thin but it’s never lonely.  It’s great to host a party in and our dog loves to run around.  I’m just trying to illustrate that there is not a lot of room to waste and we have to be selective on what tools we add to our lives.  There are many things I want to add long-term – for now I collect a lot of patience and selectively add (and subtract) items to our arsenal of cooking tools.

We have purged many items over the years.  I can think of a few:

  • many broken/ inferior meat thermometers
  • spoons and spatulas – especially broken ones.  I’m not sure how one breaks a spoon although I seem to (there was the unfortunate incident of dropping one in a running food processor of course)
  • a juicer
  • bowls
  • bad glasses replaced by worse glasses (they broke frequently) replaced by no glasses
  • a tortilla press.  I didn’t use it once in 3 years and I often wish I had it – though I likely wouldn’t use it.
  • cookie cutters (note to self: I haven’t made cookies in 20 years, probably don’t need any for a while)
  • many different versions of measuring cups, spoons and other such devices.

Most of all I got rid of things that we were given or added to the kitchen that we never used and I simply don’t remember.

All of this got me thinking: If there was one inanimate object in my kitchen that I had a little bit of a man-crush on, what would it be?  When it comes to gadgets, I’ve loved and lost – certainly this experience must help me discover some sort of passion for some remaining item in our kitchen arsenal.

The process of elimination took nanoseconds.  I am simply in love with my microplane.

The one kitchen gadget I couldnt live without... January

It is deceptively easy to clean, super affordable and something I use almost every day.  I find myself consistently surprised at its many uses:

  • Cheese.  It is the King, Queen, Prince, Princess and Emperor of grating cheese.  Super fine shreds which melt softly as they are eaten and add massive flavor to every bite of a salad, dressing or more.
  • Grating spices.  Frozen ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and even garlic in a pinch.
  • Bread crumbs – grating stale frozen bread
  • Zesting.  Way faster than a speeding train – or even a zester.  The pieces are not as long as a hand zester (which we also have) but it makes amazingly fast work of citrus as we learned with more than 40 lemons and limes last weekend.

It’s like my BFF in the kitchen – always there when no other tool is while not burdening me with the guilt of not calling for days on end.  I find myself surprised on how often I use it (almost daily) and can’t imagine life without it.

Any other guilty pleasures out there?


  1. I think the difference between a gizmo and a gadget (and I’m making this up right now, but I actually kind of believe it) is that a gizmo has no moving parts and a gadget does. So, with no authority vested in me, I hereby declare your microplane a gizmo. I treasure our sharp knives, a gift from a friend. Never had sharp knives before, and man, they’re great. I also love old, beat up wooden spoons. New wooden spoons give me the chills to hold. Strange, but true.

  2. kiwiswiss says:

    I love our pasta maker. Almost passionately. Fresh, home made pasta with a sauce made from things from the garden and glasshouse is incredible.
    It is an Imperia, and we did a lot of research before we bought it. We can make noodles, lasagne sheets, and gnocchi.
    It is delightfully simple and quick to use, half an hour from mixing the ingredients to having pasta ready to cook.
    The only other gadget I really desire is an old hand cranked mincer (again). I understand the lack of space in the kitchen! We have a little more, but not a lot. Fortunately it is all very usable and well thought out as we designed the house ourselves, with the kitchen as the centrepiece.

  3. Ms. Shorty says:

    You can spend all day long looking on the internet for the latest and greatest jar opener. You can spend a little or you can spend the equivalent of a great dinner out on a jar opener but for me the one that I use is the best gadget or gizmo in my house and it cost me next to nothing.

    I find it almost impossible to open up jars and have spent countless frustrating hours banging the side of the lid with a knife, running hot water on the lid etc. I have arthritis in my hands and none of those methods worked well for me.

    What does work is my beloved $1 old fashioned bottle opener. I just hook the flat end onto the lid of any size jar and “pop” the lid….it literally makes a popping sound as it releases. Easy, simple, cheap, quick and takes barely any storage space at all.

    Here is my beloved gadget that I cannot possibly live without!!!!

  4. I’m with you – the microplane is tops in my kitchen :)

  5. I second the old wooden spoons comment! Also (although not a tool as such) vintage kitchenware such as pyrex bowls and casseroles. Yes, storage space can be an issue :P

  6. Hubby's Sous Chef says:

    One of my favourite gizmos (using the differentiation provided by NiftyButton) is something called a Spirtle. Not because it is used everyday, but probably because of its Scottish origins and uniqueness. It’s like a wooden spoon, but without the spoon part. Kinda like a stick with a thicker, rounded bottom. It’s great for stirring oatmeal or other heavier ingredients that you need to get the lumps out of. Ahead of the spirtle, is my garlic press. That is a must have!


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