2 March, 2015
How to Ruin Kitchenware in Five Easy StepsComments : 2 Posted in : funny, humor, product, review, Uncategorized, Walmart on by : Jeanette Schramm
When it comes to kitchen appliances and utensils, there is usually the good product line and the affordable product line.
As much as I would love to have a kitchen stocked with Pampered Chef, Wolfgang Puck, and KitchenAid products, I am but a lowly college student who can barely afford groceries for the week and is already buried in student loans. Someday, though… Someday, I will own a KitchenAid standing mixer, and I will christen it with my tears of joy…
I mean, come on…
… They have a Boba Fett one.
Anyway, this is a post about products I can afford to own. I’ll rate some of my kitchenware, on a scale from 0-5 toques (chef’s hats). Unfortunately, the best I can do to make a toque with my keyboard (since I’m not going to sit here and make ascii art), is do this . One  will be one whole toque, while this [ will represent a half of a toque (or, in conventional rating systems, one star and half a star, repectively).
So, now that we have my convoluted rating system all squared away (ha), let’s start with something basic:
Spatulas. Every chef, at some point in their escapades, will use a spatula. Unless your hands are made of asbestos, of course. Since they probably aren’t, we’ll move on.
Unless you are grilling, you are going to want either a plastic or nylon spatula, rather than a metal one. A metal one is going to scratch your aluminum pans and absolutely defile your nonstick pans. Just don’t do it.
I have already been through two spatulas and should probably throw out my current one sometime very soon. You see, I bought an inexpensive nylon spatula from Walmart, and I used it to flip things. It now looks like this:
See those little bends at the top? That is melted spatula.
I have peeled most of it off, so it doesn’t end up in my food, but I’m sure I’ve eaten my fair share of nylon, between this spatula and the last ones.
The spatula is by Farberware, which is a relatively cheap brand. It’s a decent enough spatula, but if you intend to use it on high heat, don’t. It’s iffy at best above about medium-high.
My Rating:   
Next up, we have my Keurig!
This little guy was great during my first year of college. I kept it on top of my mini fridge and used it to heat up water for tea. Once I moved into my apartment, though, I started to long for a tea kettle, so I could heat more than one ounce of water at a time.
This machine is certainly reliable, and, seeing as I got it as a gift from a family friend, I have no complaints about the price. K-Cups are a huge burden to the environment, and, to be completely honest, the coffee that these things make has nothing on my French press.
Maybe I have been spoiled by my mother’s perfectly brewed coffee, but I just can’t enjoy Keurig coffee. I’ll probably be selling this appliance sometime in the near future.
My Rating:   [
I did eventually go out and buy a tea kettle. It is a purchase I will never regret.
My little red kettle is quite nice. It doesn’t have a brand name on it, but it was, like, $10. It’s quite the screamer, which can be a bit annoying, but I can hear it crying over my washing machine, in the other room, so that is a plus. It holds enough water to do just about anything I need, and I’ve only had one issue with it.
When I purchased this kettle, it did not come in a box. It came, like many things I own, from Walmart. About a week after purchasing it, I was pouring hot water into a bowl to melt some honey that had crystallized in the bottle, and an empty M&M wrapper fell out of the kettle. Needless to say, I was a bit nauseated. I had consumed countless cups of tea whose water had been boiled in a soggy-bag-filled kettle. Ew.
I can’t really take points away from the kettle for that, though. That one is on Walmart.
Again, you get what you pay for.
My Rating:     [
If you read Someone Needs to Redefine Microwave Safe, you know my beef with this beast. Granted, it was mostly the egg-maker’s fault, but I still have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this appliance.
I do have to give it credit, it makes a nice spice rack, in a pinch (ha).
Unlike the other items in this review, I didn’t choose this one; it came with the apartment. It isn’t stupidly small, though, and it is relatively quiet. It even has a light and a fan built in. Fancy.
It does its job well (sometimes too well) and it really isn’t as bad as I make it sound. On the other hand, it’s just a microwave. It’s only more impressive to me because I can fit so many spices on it. I just can’t use the cupboards behind them (not like I can reach them, anyway).
My Rating:    [
My little square skillet is one of my favorite pieces of cookware. It’s such a good little pan.
The brand is Calphalon. I bought it at — surprise! — Walmart. It was pretty inexpensive.
It works well for pancakes. That’s really all I use it for. When I eventually make hot sauce chicken strips, I’ll use it for that, too. For now, it’s a pancake pan.
For the most part, this pan is perfect: it heats well and evenly, in spite of it being a square pan on a round burner, and it is a manageable size — small enough that I can leave it on a back burner when not in use and it doesn’t get in the way.
It has two major drawbacks, though. For one, it is too small for making any reasonable number of pancakes at one time (I’m used to my mom’s giant skillet). I can barely fit three on there and still have room to flip them. For the longest time, I only put one pancake on the griddle at a time and cooked it perfectly in the center of the pan. Then I got impatient.
The other drawback is the handle. See how it transitions from black and silver (metal surrounded by rubber) to silver (metal) to pan? That silver forked part? Yeah. I burn my hand on that.
Every. Freaking. Time.
Either the person who designed this pan never took a class on thermodynamics or they just had a twisted sense of humor, because every time I wash the pan, I go to grab farther up the handle, for better leverage. That’s when I burn my fingers. That design flaw costs this little pan lots of points in my book.
My Rating:   
My first frying pan. :3
This is the pan that melted my spatula. And filled my apartment with smoke. And which I use to cook most of the things that I make on the stove. And which I finally learned how to use properly not too long ago.
It’s your basic aluminum frying pan. I have a saucepan of similar diameter and of the same brand (?), WMF. Both are aluminum.
Aluminum pans are pretty nice. They heat evenly, they are inexpensive, and they really don’t care what you use on them or cook in them. Their biggest downfall is that stuff sticks to them if you don’t lubricate the surface with butter or oil. Butter is my favorite coating. It adds a bit of flavor and it doesn’t smoke if it gets too hot, which oil will do.
The main downfall of aluminum cookware, other than the tendency for food to stick to the pan’s surface, is how easily it stains (this goes more for the pot than for the pan). Cooking risotto or some pastas in aluminum cookware can leave little pasta-shaped discolorations on your pan. It doesn’t affect anything, it just looks weird. Cooking something acidic, like pasta sauce, clears it up (and makes the pan all shiny!).
All-in-all, there really isn’t anything wrong with or bad about this pan. It just needs a coating of some sort before you put something in it.
My Rating:     [
Now, for my other frying pan!
This is my nonstick skillet.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.
The brand is T-Fal, and it’s one of the more expensive pieces of kitchen equipment that I own. I don’t remember where I bought it, but there’s a good chance it started with Wal and ended with Mart.
This skillet is really quite nice. I use it when I am cooking meat and I don’t want to add any flavor to it from pan-greasers. I used this pan when I made tacos and nachos. It’s handy. It is also the largest frying pan I own, with a 24″ diameter (approximately; I’m sitting at my desk writing and don’t feel like getting up to measure it because my legs hurt from running up and down stairs for the past few days).
What makes this pan even better is that it has a little handle opposite the main handle, so you don’t have to lift weights just to make dinner! The designers of this pan were much more thoughtful than the designers of my other nonstick pan.
Finally, the brand name T-Fal makes me think that the CEOs of this company are Vulcans, and that’s pretty cool. Also, on the topic of Vulcans, I would like to take a moment of silence in the middle of this review to remember Leonard Nimoy, who passed away on Friday, February 27th.
I’m not quite sure how to transition out of this, so I’m just going to move on to the rating and collect the pieces of my broken heart.
My Rating:     
We need a pick-me-up after the last part, so here is a totally irrelevant little video to cheer you up. Okay, it’s mostly to cheer me up, but I’m sharing it with you in case you’re as much of a Trekkie as I am.
Back with me? Feeling better? Let’s keep going.
(I was going to post the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, but I figured that was a little too long and it might just make me more sad. Feel free to look it up, though. It’s Leonard Nimoy singing about the bravest little Hobbit of them all.)
Since I don’t know how to poach eggs like a real person and don’t feel like wasting the eggs trying to figure out how, I bought a better, more microwave safe egg poacher.
This one is much better than the last one I had. It doesn’t even make a mess! I use it a lot.
I bought this little wonder at Walmart, along with my soul, and I use it to make breakfast and quick egg salad. If you poach the eggs for about 50 seconds (at least in my microwave) and then let them sit for 30 more seconds, they end up hard boiled (or one of them does and the other one is still a little soft boiled).
You can make breakfast sandwiches with these, too, since they are already rounded.
The main feature that differentiates this product from the last one I owned is the fact that it has a latch to hold it shut. It’s a pretty great little microwave doohickey.
My Rating:    
One of the first things I bought when I moved in to my apartment was a set of mixing bowls with lids. They are one of the best purchases I have ever made.
I don’t remember where I bought these, and I don’t know the brand, but we can assume the answers are Walmart and Made in China.
I use the yellow and pink bowls most often for general baking needs. The purple bowl is a good size for making tuna salad or egg salad for sandwiches, and the green or blue bowl is a perfect for holding large quantities of stuff, like chips, candy, or popcorn. The little orange bowl is perfect for whisking a couple of eggs or holding separated whites/yolks.
The other great thing about these bowls is that, like just about everything else I buy at Walmart, it probably cost me around or less than $10.
The bowls are made of a durable plastic, with a rubber grip ring on the bottom so the bowl doesn’t run away from you while you’re stirring stuff with one hand. The only downside to them is that they are not microwave safe. Which is sad. They are dishwasher safe, however, and you can put hot liquid in them. Well, I make Jell-o in them and I haven’t gotten sick, so I presume that means it’s safe.
My Rating:     [
I don’t own one of these anymore, but I used to.
I used to have a red one, Cuisinart brand. It cost me $10, and I bought it at… Target?
It’s a hand blender, otherwise known as a “vzzht-vzzht,” because that’s the noise it makes and my mom and I aren’t always very creative when naming things.
My mom swears by these things.
I swear at them.
Initially, this puppy was great. It made smoothies and worked like a charm. A few months down the line, it started having trouble. It started smelling funny when I used it. Then it started leaving huge chunks of stuff unblended. Then it started stalling. Then the motor gave out.
I ended up throwing it away after it failed to make me a kale smoothie. It made contact with the leaves and promptly gave up. That was the end of that, except I still have the cup (which I have never used).
Something I did learn from having this hand blender is that homemade whipped cream is really easy to make. It was definitely good for that. Also, pro-tip: when making smoothies with frozen fruit, thaw the fruit in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It isn’t long enough to warm it but it is long enough to a) not kill the motor of whatever you’re using to make the smoothie, and b) thaw the juices in the fruit so your smoothie is actually pourable (and drinkable, rather than spoonable).
I may end up getting another one of these someday, if I find I make a lot of whipped things. It also made applesauce much easier to finish (smooth out remaining chunks) and I imagine it would be just as helpful with mashed potatoes, though I personally prefer those a bit on the lumpy side.
My Rating:  
The Big Brother to my stupid little hand mixer: the blender.
This is undoubtedly the nicest small appliance I own. My mom bought it for me, from Bed Bath & Beyond. It is also Cuisinart, but it is *expensive* Cuisinart, which makes it better. I also know to thaw fruit, so I don’t kill the motor. Heh.
Since I make smoothies more than any other blended anything, this works well for me! It’s also really nice to be able to throw stuff into the pitcher, put the lid on, turn it on, and walk away to go prep something else.
The other great thing about this blender is that the business end of it completely disassembles for easy cleaning. Additionally, it lifts away from the bottom, not twists, but the glass twists off from the base (for cleaning disassembly). What’s so great about that is that it takes more than one full twist, so if you do a stupid and try to twist it off from the base, you won’t end up with smoothie all over your floor (and feet and everything within a one meter radius of you).
My Rating:     
My final review is for something that really isn’t an appliance. In fact, it really isn’t legally mine. It’s also kind of elusive and doesn’t like having its picture taken. The brand is One of a Kind.
It’s the boyfriend.
Not all significant others can cook, be it very well or at all. Mine? He tries. He does a pretty good job, too, usually. For all the crap I give him, he’s really improved leaps and bounds since we first put him in front of a stove and told him to do the cooking thing.
What makes this something really cool is that it learns as you go. He’s a great sous chef and I think everyone should have one of those (a sous chef, not the boyfriend).
He needs a little more training, but I have a feeling that you might be seeing a post, to college guys, from a college guy, sometime in the near future, definitely once it’s warm enough out to grill. I hear he’s good at that.
My Rating: Priceless
So there you have it! Let me know what you think. Hopefully, I can do more product reviews in the future. Ones that are less… Walmart-y. At least you know it’s affordable stuff!
None of these reviews were sponsored by any of the brands here (or not here, for that matter). Nobody likes me that much… Yet.