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The Kitchen Cabinet

Great Little Friends for the Cook

May 28, 1987|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

The name of the game is little. We're being plagued by tiny ovens, microwaves, irons, food processors, coffee makers. You name it, the compact counterpart is there. This mini category just seems to be getting bigger and bigger. Another small thing from the class of big and bulky has just arrived on the West Coast.

Let's welcome Little Pal.

It may have missed its cue for Memorial Day, the onset of the barbecue and picnic season, but this charming, bright red-orange barbecue grill will be at your service for Fourth of July, Labor Day and many more picnics or camping trips to come. Or anytime, of course, in your backyard or patio.

A favored picnic-mate in the Southwestern states since it was introduced a few years ago, Little Pal is made in America. "It's totally handmade and we've been very proud of it," said its inventor Don McNeil (McNeil Enterprises Inc., Alvarado, Tex.), who also invented products like the hand-held calculator and the vibrating pillow. "Your Little Pal can be passed on from generation to generation . . . we hand-craft it in strong solid steel," McNeil said.

Available completely assembled, this 16-pound portable grill comes close to fitting into the bold, Art Deco mode. The hood is rounded and hinged for easy opening and locking; there's a small chimney stack in the back and a swinging long handle for carrying. Little Pal's legs are sturdy and well-balanced; they don't fold up like other portable grills but instead, they're welded onto the body so the unit doesn't tip over.

"You'll be surprised that it uses fewer charcoal briquettes than any other grill," said McNeil, who likes to cook quail and pheasant in it. The barbecue only requires about 12 to 16 briquettes to cook for 2 1/2 hours at about 350 degrees or at medium heat. We found that this compact grill also cooks faster. When the hood is closed, a turbo effect is created so that heat is well circulated and flavors stay in.

Little Pal is designed for charcoal cooking ($39) or for use with propane ($79 or less), which comes complete with lava rock. The throw-away propane bottle (14.1-ounce), which usually lasts about four hours, fits securely in a bracket on the legs under the grill.

Exit Little Pal, meet Li'l Drip.

Wear-Ever Proctor-Silex calls its product the world's first all-in-one drip coffee maker. It is self-contained--the carafe is built in and nobody has to worry about handling or replacing a glass pot. Proctor-Silex's Li'l Drip contains everything in its compact form: water reservoir, heating unit, carafe and filter basket.

Since I dislike figuring out lengthy instructions, preparing the pot for an initial cup of coffee seemed complicated at the first quick glance through the book of directions. But it turned out to be easy. You'll find it similar to any other automatic drip coffee maker. What's unique is that you don't have to remove the filter and grounds before pouring out the coffee. The filter basket is designed with an extended lip to prevent the grounds from spilling out during the pouring.

Hot Coffee for 45 Minutes

The manufacturer's main emphasis is that Li'l Drip makes extra hot coffee and keeps it hot for 45 minutes, unplugged, wherever it's taken. It's particularly ideal this summer for people who want to dine outdoors and have coffee in their patio. How does the coffee maker retain heat? Proctor-Silex developed a thermal action design featuring a double wall construction. Also, the water reservoir acts as an insulator for the carafe since it actually surrounds it.

Li'l Drip ($57.95) comes in white with a black phenolic base, stands 10 inches high and the width measures 8 1/2 inches from spout to handle. A safety power light indicates that it is plugged in.

Little Pal portable barbecue grill is available at Hartman Catalogue showrooms and through its mail-order department; selected Bullock's stores by mid-June; Sackett and Peters (Whittier), and Camping World (Anaheim).

Li'l Drip is available at selected May Co. and Broadway stores.

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