My kitchen is pretty simple. Good, sharp knives. A heavy-duty stand mixer and food processor. Spatulas that can handle heat and a substantial dough. Really good scissors for boning a chicken or cutting a pizza.
What I don’t have is a lot of cute gadgets, or tools that only serve one purpose. No separate slicers for bananas, avocados, mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, strawberries and lemons (they all seen to be shaped like the food they’re intended to slice, or else they have a name that a four-year-old would think is funny). Nothing with little wheels that rolls like a toy car and chops herbs. Nothing that makes faces on food or that turns food into clever shapes. No plastic burger shapers or burger stuffers. Nothing that most clean hands can’t do, like separate egg yolks and egg whites. Nothing that turns hot dogs into animals or people shapes that you can dress up or decorate, or that turns completely different foods into hot dog shapes.
I do understand that there is a place for some gadgets – when a cook really needs to make a task easier and/or safer (to relieve arthritis pain, to help with a task that is difficult, or to allow children to help with some tasks rather than using a sharp knife), or if you just really like serving hot dogs that have arms and legs and a smiley-face. I have a julienne vegetable peeler, and a tool that makes removing corn kernels quicker, so I’m not completely against gadgets.
But then I bought a Pampered Chef Scoop Loop. Yeah, maybe it’s a silly name (or maybe it’s a clever name). And I thought, it’s probably going to be a silly tool, too. I was wrong! This gadget is going into my drawer with my microplane grater, nut-milk bag and strong kitchen twine (in other words, the good stuff). It stays.
It’s advertised as being a flexible oblong tool with serrated ends that allows the user to quickly scoop seeds out of cucumbers and squashes and tomatoes. It also says that it creates an easy granita (A granita is a shallow layer of fruit juice or other liquid, frozen until not quite rock-solid, and then scraped with a fork or spoon into a bowl; it’s a refreshing treat that can be made from pure fruit juice (or almost any other liquid such as coffee or tea, or the hundreds of creative ideas for granitas online). It’s a great substitute for a calorie-loaded ice cream, very refreshing and extremely easy to make. But scraping it out of the pan with a fork is messy and time-consuming and pretty much discourages me from making a granita. Attacking a rimmed sheet pan filled with frozen juice with just a small fork seems doomed from the start, and the frozen bits of juice kind of fly everywhere.)
So I tried the Scoop Loop. First, I ran the serrated smaller end of the Loop around the top of a whole tomato, and then sunk the loop into the tomato. Within seconds, I had a completely hollowed-out, neatly-seeded tomato, ready for stuffing or chopping. Then I tried it on a cucumber. Again, the result was a completely seeded cucumber, with only the seeds removed, leaving the rest of the cucumber intact. Then I poured a pure fruit juice with no added sugar or ingredients into a very shallow dish and froze it until it was fairly solid. I used the thicker end of the Loop and within seconds, a granita appeared, with no ice bits splashed all over, and with very little effort.
This is one gadget that is worth having. (And no, I don’t sell Pampered Chef or have any connection with the company other than being the occasional customer. I just really like this Scoop Loop.)
Here are two photos, of the Scoop Loop removing cucumber seeds, and of the finished granita (this one was made with 100% pure organic tart cherry juice and nothing else).