Kitchen gadgets, appliances and accessories are often welcomed as Christmas gifts, appreciated not only by the home cooks but by the entire family. Here are some new ideas to brighten up this holiday season:
A takeoff from the flash or clear plastic bags, the eye-catching flash apron from Two's Company Inc. is designed for the holiday and other occasions. Made of clear vinyl, this see-through apron is not only a conversation piece but protects as well as displays the host's party outfit. Trimmed with red binders around the edges, the Merry Christmas flash apron has a green tree in the center with blinking red lights. The bartender can surprise guests with the black-trimmed Cheers flash apron featuring a martini glass encased with water, red stirrer and fake ice cube and olive. The third new apron is the Chinese Take-Out with noodles, chopsticks and Chinese characters in red.
Early next year, these seven themes will be added to the flash apron line, some with flashing lights: happy birthday, the American flag, love theme with a flower, pot of lobster, special celebration, Easter bunny and egg and catch (trout) of the day.
Delight Ice Cream Lovers
Oster's new Quick-Freeze ice cream maker will delight homemade ice cream lovers. The company first came up with a unit that can be used with its Kitchen Center product. Recently introduced is the free-standing unit, which closely resembles the popular Waring ice-cream machine that has been around for several years.
Oster's version will make ice cream, sherbet, frozen custard and yogurt in about 18 to 25 minutes (Waring's processes up to 50 minutes, ices and sorbets in 12 to 20 minutes. Like the Waring unit, Oster's ice cream maker only requires ordinary table salt and refrigerator ice cubes. It also will produce creamy soft-serve ice cream that will harden when the mixture is allowed to sit in the freezer for several hours. Another convenient Oster feature is the centerfeed opening that can be used for adding nuts or chocolate pieces toward the end of the processing.
Those who don't care for the drier and softer popcorn derived from the hot-air poppers will appreciate receiving the Perfect Popper from R.S.V.P. International for its crisp, fluffy effects. An old-fashioned looking stove-top popper, the 4-quart aluminum pot with a wooden handle has a crank-driven stir-paddle to keep the kernels moving for even heating. It comes in a pretty blue gift box with white bow including an instruction booklet with recipes for oil-free popcorn, caramel popcorn and other flavored popcorn.
Zester and Melon Baller
Little cutting, paring and decorating tools from Damco, a cutlery company that carries one of the most complete assortment of black-handled tools, make wonderful stocking stuffers for the home chef. Dishwasher proof, these sturdy tools consist of higher grade stainless-steel blades and polypropylene black handles similar to the ones used in more expensive tools.
Some popular favorites that are indispensable to some cooks are the zester and melon baller. To accompany the tools, you might consider giving a new book (144 pages) called "Kitchen Tools--Cooking With a Twist and a Flair" by Patricia Gentry. A gourmet cooking instructor at Santa Monica College and UCLA Extension, Gentry catalogues more than 100 kitchen tools such as scoopers, scrapers, spreaders, strippers and other gadgets, and offers recipes that implement some of the tools. She also provides alternate uses for some specialized devices. For instance, a strawberry huller can also be used like tweezers to remove fish bones while a tea ball infuses spices and herbs into stocks as well as brewing tea. The book contains more than 50 technique illustrations including some garnishing tips.
The flash aprons have a suggested retail price from $12 to $21 and are available at Bullock's and May Co.
Oster's Quick-Freeze ice cream maker has a suggested retail price starting at $49.99 for the free-standing unit and is available at Robinsons and Hinshaw's; the Kitchen Center attachment costs $24.99 and is available at J.C. Penney.
The Perfect Popper from R.S.V.P. International has a suggested retail price of $17.95 and is available at Buffums, Cookin' Stuff and Walbert's.
Kitchen Tools (the Schribner Book Cos . : $8.95) by Patricia Gentry and Damco's kitchen tools ($3 to $7) are available at the Perfect Pan, Cookin' Stuff and Walbert's.