Five kitchen items I regret purchasing

Note: I’m having impressive technical difficulties resulting, I believe, from a power outage on Monday. Namely, I cannot get at my photographs. Computers. So delightful. So frustrating! Anyway, I will edit this post to include photos when I can get at them. And next week I’ll share the story of what it’s like to cook by kerosene lantern when you have company over. ETA: Photos added 12 Sept 2012.

This was a delightfully hard list to pull together, actually. Not because I haven’t purchased a variety of kitchen tools I later wished I hadn’t, but because it seems I’ve been pretty aggressive about purging them from my home. In a small home, this is a vital thing, and I didn’t expect to be as good at it as it seems I have been. Hooray!

So, without further ado, let me share with you the five things I had in my kitchen that I regret buying. In no particular order. I’m not including purchasing links. What would be the point?

h2. Mandoline

Oh, how I wanted this. I still kind of do. I have owned it since I lived in the D.C. area and I have never once used it. Not a single time. Why? Partially because it turns out I rarely need things cut like waffles. Or super evenly. Or crazy thin. Partially because I’m a little terrified of it’s reputed sharpness. Partially because the guard looks ridiculous, and all my potatoes are always so small I can’t imagine I’ll actually get much cut if I tried…

All in all, not the most useful purchase. So why do I still own it? Because I like the idea of it. Because it’s stuffed in one of the farthest back cabinets and I miss it in my purging. Because someday I really will make my own potato chips. Because there’s got to be a safe way to use it that doesn’t involve the hand guard that came with it. Or something.

h2. Used “Tupperware”

Ok. This is about a specific batch of plastic tubs I purchased from a woman via Craigslist. I’m not actually uniformly against
the purchasing of used tupperware, but this stuff was particularly bad, and I was so desperate for more containers in my kitchen (we were very low) that I did not look too closely at them. Maybe of them have cracked lids that aren’t obvious unless you try to close them, or leaks that aren’t obvious until you put something in them. They’re oddball sizes, which I thought would be good, but hasn’t been great. And many of them smell of the very strong spices that she had stored in them. Some, the lids are a total struggle to get on.

So, why do I still have them? Because I still haven’t replaced them1. Over time, I want to replace them with Pyrex or Snapware Glass containers. I have gotten rid of the worst of them, and replace them slowly, but even when I get new containers in, I often want to keep the old ones.

Containers like this may be the single most “hoarded” thing in my life.

h2. Perfect Cube Silicone Ice Cube Trays

Bill actually suggested these, but I was all over them when he did. Oh, MAN. Seems like such a great idea. Absolutely perfectly cubed ice cubes. Attractive, (theoretically) melt slower in your drink and easy to pop out of the tray. What could go wrong?

Everything. First, it’s just not obvious how much you should fill them to get perfect cubes. Nor did the simple wrappers that came with them have any directions on them. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a perfect cube out of them, try as I might. Second, they bulge. That’s another way that you don’t get a cube out of them. Overfill, and not only do you have a top bulge, if you’ve underfilled the next cube over, you’ll get a side bulge. Third, they’re actually surprisingly difficult to get out if you haven’t filled them just right. If they’re nearly perfect cubes, you can kind of push up on the bottom and pop out a cube. If not, they bulge and kind of stick.

So, why do I still have them? Because I have surprising numbers of liquids I need to freeze in very small quantities. And, like the mandoline, I still like the theory. I’ve actually put them into the “donate” bag more than once, then always fished them out at the last minute. Then not used them. Until the other day, actually, when I needed to freeze a bottle of beer in small amounts. I haven’t yet tried to get the beer out. I’ll report back.

h2. Individual brownie pans

I don’t actually know what these were originally called. I’m pretty sure Calphalon made them. I bought them because I took one look at them and said, “ALL THE BROWNIES! ALL OF THEM! THEY COULD ALL BE EDGE PIECES WITH GOOEY CENTERS TOO!!!!” Then, like a crazy lady (because it was very late at night, in a Kohl’s in New Mexico, and I lived in Chicago at the time), I snatched these up. And Bill laughed at my mutterings about brownie edges.

I finally got to actually use them in Chicago. I burned the hell out of my brownies. And, though I thought the packaging (which I’d had to leave behind to fit them in my suitcases) had said these were non-stick and needed absolutely no greasing, my brownies stuck like mad. I didn’t have brownies. I had brownie crumbs. If I’d been wanting to go into the frozen yogurt business that seems to be so popular these days, I could have had the most high end toppings ever. Cake crumbs! Brownie crumbs! Some other crumbs! CRUMBS!

So, why do I still have them? Did you read the above? ALL THE BROWNIES! ALL OF THEM! THEY COULD ALL BE EDGE PIECES WITH GOOEY CENTERS TOO!!!!”

It’s either that or I’m just lazy and they don’t take up much room and so I haven’t noticed them in my variety of purges.

h2. Silicone loaf pans

One of my favorite things in the world to make is quick breads. They’re tasty, simple, fast and portable. The only thing I don’t like about quick breads is that my skills at removing them from loaf pans is not great. I often break the loaves as they come out (or did when I bought these things). I get crumbs. I get super sticking. So, I bought these things because they are so flexible, and I figured it’d be easier to get my bread out.

No. It’s actually harder. The bread sticks more to these things than to normal loaf pans. No amount of greasing is sufficient. They, like the ice cube trays, bulge. The bread takes on weird shapes. They are occasionally difficult to wrestle into the oven, as batter likes to rooooooooll around in there and pretend it’s the zucchini bread batter ocean, complete with tsunami waves. That sucks. Then, because it’s bulgy, I find the loaves don’t always cook evenly. Finally, for some reason these things have gotten tacky and sticky. They cannot be cleaned to my satisfaction. I hate them. Of all the things on this list, these two loaf pans are the most hated things.

So, why do I still have them? I basically don’t. The last time I went to make zucchini bread, I saw them and grabbed them and put them in the donate bag. Then I fished them out and got them a lot less sticky with rubbing alcohol and put them back. Then I realized I didn’t have five total things for this post, and pulled them out of the bag long enough to photograph. Now they are waiting to be donated to a thrift store where a baking college student who has a rapport with silicone can pick them up cheap.

I hate them so much. The pans, not the college student.

fn1. Though, seriously? Writing this out made me realize just how much I hate these tupperwares. So I went out and bought a few more glass containers, these ones from Anchor Hocking. We’ll see how we like these ones. We were surprised to see that they are mostly made in the U.S. The glass bottoms are made in the U.S. and the lids are either made in the U.S. or China, they say.