I review gadgets for a living, and every other month, I have to slap my own hand to keep myself from buying the latest toy I’ve tested and loved. I already have a lot of guilt about owning too many things: One side of my family hoards; the other vehemently condemns the evils of excessive consumption. And then there’s the environmental impact of continually buying new things instead of using what you have, or reusing or repairing or recycling goods. I also firmly believe that you don’t need lots of stuff to cook well; great meals can come from the humblest of pots and be made using the most rudimentary tools.
Yet somehow I still have lots of stuff anyway. I’m trying to appreciate the things I have and not buy anything new unless it’s essential. As both a reviewer and a home cook, I care about finding products that are built to last, so with a little luck, it’ll be a long time before I’ll need to replace anything I have. That said, there are a bunch of products I have in my kitchen that I sometimes wish would break or stop working so that I could buy better versions of them, guilt-free. Or, you know, that someone might get me as a gift. Here are five of those items.
Wusthof Cheese Plane
Look, you don’t need a cheese plane. You can cut cheese just fine with a knife. I own a knife. I have respectable knife skills. And I even own a cheese plane (a lower-ranked product scored in an Equipment Giveaway last year). But this cheese plane is so nice. It does such a beautiful job of shaving off thin ribbons of hard cheeses, allowing you to better appreciate their textures and aromas. It would not be the worst thing if it showed up on your doorstep tomorrow morning.
Dash Go Dual Citrus Juicer
Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice is the tonic that keeps me alive during the dead of winter. It tastes like hope. I own a manual citrus press, so I can’t justify buying an electric juicer, but I wish I had one: it is very tedious to cut the grapefruit into pieces small enough to fit in the press, and then squeeze each one until I have enough juice to improve my outlook on life. If you like juice or lemonade as much as I do, get a juicer so you can keep that medicine drip going every day.
Microplane Home Series Fine Grater
My rasp-style grater works as advertised, but it bores trenches in large chunks of cheese and is a pain to clean. I’ve had it for six years and it shows no sign of dulling. As soon as it does, though, I’m getting a plank-style fine grater: you get the same ultra-sharp teeth as with our favorite rasp grater, but arranged in a much larger plane, allowing you to shred cheese and ginger much more quickly and efficiently, and proving easier to clean to boot.
The Frywall looks ridiculous; I’ve been able to resist buying one in large part because I don’t think I could ever bring myself to put this culinary cone of shame on any of my beloved skillets. That said, it works. It contains spatters very well, and it’s fantastic for corralling large volumes of Swiss chard or collards when you need to cook them down. Unless one miraculously shows up for my birthday, I will continue to suck it up, adding greens to the pan in grudging handfuls and scrubbing down every surface within spattering distance after I brown chicken or sear steaks.
Simplehuman Tension Arm Paper Towel Holder
Nobody needs a paper towel holder. You can totally rip a paper towel off the roll without a gadget that helps you do so. But this thing does make it easier. It holds the roll tightly, so it doesn’t unspool unexpectedly; you can even rip the towel off one-handed. Buy this one or go without; I bought a fridge-mounted version and wish I hadn’t, as it took some MacGyvering to get it to work without unrolling dozens of sheets at a time.
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