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Pesky pickle? Cagey caper? I have a gadget for that | WHIDBEY RECIPES

“Gadget: A small specialized mechanical device, a contrivance.

“Gadgeteer: A person who designs, builds or delights in the use of gadgets.

“Gadgetry: Gadgets collectively.”

According to my American Heritage Dictionary, I am guilty of being a gadgeteer (the using part, not the designing/building part) with a great many gadgets that comprise my total kitchen gadgetry.

And yes, virtually all of my gadgetry has to do with kitchen work and/or cooking.

Over years of being a gadgeteer, I doubt there is any kitchen gadget I haven’t tried; many I still currently own, but many have also been tossed after a brief period of trial and terror. No, that’s not a misprint.

There was, for example, the Incredible Vomiting Ravioli Maker that went out, violently, through the front door and into the yard, where it lay during the ensuing hours it took me to clean up the blobs of gluey goop spewed over floor and countertops. In my memory banks, that ravioli maker is just about on par with the Terrorist Tater Twister machine given to me by my son, who knew of my love for curly fries. I never had the heart to tell him what I did with that cursed device.

During a recent discussion with friends about wedding and shower gifts, I was asked if I have a favorite kitchen gadget, one I can’t get along without, which triggered this recollection of gadgets I’ve loved, and hated.

The answer was quick and easy: “Yes, I do have one I love, use often, and wouldn’t like to be without. It’s my Salad Shooter.”

I got blank looks, except for one lady who said she vaguely remembered when those were popular. I’ve had mine (three of them) for more than 25 years, now that I think about it, so I suppose many younger gadgeteers out there have no idea how useful, handy, versatile and easy to have around a Salad Shooter is.

It’s a given, of course, that a food processor, blender, stand mixer, hand mixer, assorted baking utensils, and such things as sharp knives, graters and peelers, would be among the kitchen gadget essentials, but I don’t really consider them “gadgets” because they are necessities.

But my pickle pluckers truly fit the definition of gadget, and I’d be lost without them. Yes, they’re meant to reach into the pickle jar and pluck out a pickle; I also use mine to clean hair out of bathroom sinks, reach into small crevices to pull out the nut/bolt/screw/earring back/whatever that rolled into the wrong place, get martini olives/onions out of those ridiculously skinny tall bottles, pull capers out of their briny bath, and probably a dozen other odd jobs

I can’t now recall.

Also among my favored “mechanical devices” is a mini electric food chopper, a more successful gift from my son more than two decades ago and whichI use probably two to three times a week. It makes short, easy work of chopping garlic, an onion or shallot, a bundle of fresh herbs, or whipping up a small aioli or vinaigrette, among other uses. I could go on about other gadgets in my collection, but we don’t have space enough for that. I would, however, love to hear what’s in your kitchen. If you have a favorite gadget you couldn’t get along without, please feel free to e-mail me at falwalcal@msn.com and tell me about it. What’s that? You don’t e-mail? OK, call me; 579-2215.

After all, there might be a gadget out there I don’t yet have.

RECIPES

Until I acquired my apple peeler/corer/slicer, I often passed up making apple desserts because of the time it would take to prepare the apples. My great apple gadget ended that reluctance, and now that it’s apple season, I’m looking forward to apple treats.

BAKED COCONUT CARAMEL APPLES

2 T. chopped pecans

4 coconut macaroons (the soft type), broken into small pieces

2 large Golden Delicious apples (or Romas, but you need apples that won’t turn to mush when cooked), peeled, cored and cut into

6 wedges.

1 egg, lightly beaten

1½ cup caramel-flavored topping (my favorite is

Mrs. Richardson’s)

3 T. apple cider

1 T. bourbon

¾ cup vanilla frozen yogurt (low-fat or not), or vanilla ice cream, or your preference to topping

Fresh mint, for garnish (optional)

Place pecans and macaroon pieces into food processor (here’s where my mini-chopper would be used) and process about 10 seconds or until finely chopped. Dip apple wedges into egg then dredge in the macaroon mixture. Place apples on a baking sheet (spray with cooking spray first) and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 35 min. or until browned and tender.

Combine the caramel topping, cider and bourbon in a small bowl; whisk well to combine. Spoon 2 T. of the sauce onto each of

6 plates or into 6 shallow dessert bowls and top with

2 apple wedges and 2 T. of the yogurt or ice cream. Garnish with mint, if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Nothing could be more sweetly comforting on a chilly fall evening than apples in a bread pudding.

APPLE CINNAMON RAISIN BREAD PUDDING

6 cups cubed cinnamon-raisin bread (about 8 slices)

2 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples

4 eggs

¾ cup sugar

¼ t. salt

3 cups milk

1 t. vanilla

For streusel topping: ¾ cup flour

½ cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 t. cinnamon

¼ cup melted butter

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