Category Archives: cooking hardware

The machines and gadgets we use for cooking.

Artifact: The Joy of Cooking, 1964 edition

In the 50s and 60s, my grandfather worked for Bobbs-Merrill Publishing in Indianapolis, where he was editor of the United States Code, Annotated. (For you legal folks who are familiar with this title, he did it without computers. Oh. My. God.)

Grandpa brought a lot of books home from work that I assume he got for free because they were damaged or defective. We have a lot of Bobbs-Merrill books spread throughout my family that have the wrong cover, were printed upside down, or something. Bobbs-Merrill had some serious quality-control issues in their printing plant, apparently.

My copy of The Joy of Cooking is one of these defective books, stamped “corners bent.” It’s defective in a lot of other ways, too: there are recipes calling for cyclamate sweeteners and MSG, it advocates dangerous methods of home canning (botulism, anyone?), and is filled with plenty of tips on how to please your husband with food (no, that’s not what I meant…you guys sure have filthy minds).

This copy of The Joy of Cooking came to me from my mother when I graduated from college and moved into my first apartment. It predates saccharine, NutraSweet, non-gringo Mexican and Asian cuisines, and most obviously feminism.

“Millions of brides have been given JOY OF COOKING as a one-volume insurance against any and all kitchen crises.” Ugh.

The illustrations are little simple line drawings, so fortunately we’re spared those supersaturated-color recipe illustrations of yesteryear. (More pictures of food disasters here)

There’s a lot of good stuff in here too, however. For example, if you hunt or fish, this book contains everything you need to know about cleaning, dressing and preparing all sorts of wild game. This is good for me to know, because if my unemployment continues for much longer, I’ll be eating squirrels, pigeons and raccoons for dinner. (Of course in 1964, you’d be cooking whatever dead animals your husband brought home, right?)

I mostly use this book as a reference, to look up things like cooking times and temperatures for various foods. If you know little or nothing about cooking, you can find all the basic information you need here – the kind of information that never goes out of date.


Weird Gadget of the Week: Egg Tools

I don’t eat eggs much, but these little gadgets from MSC International of Montreal are too cute to pass up. The mini-whisk pictured above scrambles eggs much more efficiently and is easier to clean than my regular-sized whisk. See the entire product line here. Available locally at Cole Hardware and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Weird Gadget of the Week: Voodoo Doll Toothpick Holder

I spotted this item at Sur La Table over the weekend, but it’s not listed on their website. It’s made by Fred, available in black or white (one for the bride, one for the groom?) from many online retailers. Suggested retail is $9.

Welcome to My Kitchen

I’ve crewed on sailboats that have bigger kitchens than this, yet I still manage to cook here.

My old apartment had turquoise appliances (just like on “Ugly Betty”), so I started collecting turquoise kitchen goodies, both vintage and modern. I spotted a couple of items from my collection in the new Indiana Jones movie (set in 1957), in the scene where Indy hides in a refrigerator.

You’re seeing almost all of my counter space in the above photo. I use the stove top as a prep area too. There’s some vintage Pyrex on top of the microwave. The utensil crock is contemporary Fiestaware. The thing with the white wheels is Clocky. A turquoise teakettle is on my wishlist.

Since my kitchen is so small, I’ve tried to copy some things I’ve seen in sailboat kitchens and use the space as efficiently as possible. I installed a rack (from Ikea) above the stove, where pots, measuring cups and other items hang within easy reach. Magnetic spice jars (not pictured) stick to the side of the fridge, also within easy reach.

Most of the salt & pepper shaker collection shares the wall with a few other kitschy items. My favorites are the Jimmy Carter peanuts (center shelf on the left) and Mt. St. Helens (bottom shelf on the right). I think I have a turquoise version of every type of rotary phone ever used in the US (and I have many other rotary phones in other colors).

More turquoise stuff. Top: a vintage Popeil Dial-O-Matic slicer, vintage Pyrex oval casserole dishes, original Easy-Bake Oven, salt & pepper shakers (the round ones are Fiestaware). Middle: vintage General Electric mixer (thanks Martin), vintage Pyrex bowls, ceramic dish with lid marked “Miramar of Calif 644 ©1956,” pitcher of unknown origin (thanks Shawn). Bottom: contemporary colander, vintage plastic cups & saucers, vintage Pyrex casserole dish with carrier, vintage ice bucket, calendar plates for 1972.

I’ll be writing more about my turquoise kitchenware in future posts.

Weird Gadget of the Week: The Ex Knife Set

If this voodoo doll / knife block were shaped like a woman rather than a man, there would be a huge outcry and the product would get tons of free publicity. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Available for $69.95 plus shipping at (presumably crappy knives included).   I think I’ll pass.

Weird Gadget of the Week: Roasted Garlic Express

Does anyone really need a dedicated appliance for roasting garlic?  If I received one as a gift, I’d unload it just because I don’t have the space in my tiny kitchen.  I already have a garlic roaster: it’s called an OVEN and it came with the apartment.

You’d have be the owner of The Stinking Rose to justify owning one of these.  (I would much rather have a root canal without painkillers than dine at The Stinking Rose.)

$34.95 plus shipping at, but you might try looking at Goodwill first. (If you’re in San Francisco, the Bayview location has the best stuff!)

Finally, an OXO Product that Sucks

OXO garlic press

This garlic press, made by OXO, can squish garlic with the skin still on, and it has a removable press plate that makes it easy to clean.  Unfortunately, that little part is also easy to lose in the garbage disposal.

I have contacted OXO to see if I can get a replacement part, but since this item is not listed on their website, I have a feeling it’s been discontinued.  Without the press plate, this thing is useless.