These new products provide innovative thoughts for food. Items have been tested by the author.
-- Judi Dash
Play with your food
Eating ice cream is a ball. Now so is making it. The Camper's Dream Ice Cream Ball is a low-tech but highly entertaining ice cream maker that gives a new -- and fun -- meaning to manual labor. Here's the scoop: The 8-inch-diameter transparent hard plastic ball has screw-on plastic lids at each end. Unscrew one end and fill the metal cylinder with a pint of cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar. Screw on the lid. Unscrew the other end and fill the space surrounding the cylinder with as much ice as possible, then add 8 tablespoons of rock salt. Screw on the lid. Then roll, shake, or even pass around the ball for about 20 minutes and -- voila! -- a pint of vanilla ice cream. Also available in a quart model (dubbed Mega); it requires more of everything and 30 minutes or more of rolling.
\o7Camper's Dream Ice Cream Ball (item 709077) is $29.95; Mega Ice Cream Maker (item 743166), $39, from REI; (800) 426-4840, www.rei.com.
Cooler than coolers
Those big plastic coolers hold a lot but are bulky to store. The soft-sided collapsible models don't provide support for heavy items. The Gourmet Tote provides the best of both worlds and, as a bonus, accommodates hot and cold items at the same time, separated by a removable divider shelf. The tote is made of PVC board covered in leather-like vinyl with silver Mylar-laminated thermal insulation and folds flat for storage. It assembles by folding up the sides and connecting them via embedded snaps and Velcro strips.
\o7 Gourmet Tote is $85 in family size; $75.99, personal size; (941) 907-3003, www.gourmettote.com.
Coleman's Collapsible Basket is about the size of a supermarket hand basket but folds flat, making it a great item to keep in the car for picnics, camping trips or for stable storage anytime. The basket, made of canvas with a lightweight aluminum frame and double folding handles, is formed by two metal inner stabilizers that, when pushed out from the center, keep the sides taut. The basket provides handy storage for children's toys too.
\o7 Coleman Collapsible Basket (816-405T) is $14.99; (800) 835-3278, www.coleman.com.
The W.A.G. bag is for the dog that has everything -- and needs it with him when he travels. The 17-by-13-by-10-inch zippered ballistic nylon bag has a reinforced wide-mouth opening for easy access to bowls, food, toys and other gear. A panel on the side of the bag unzips to reveal a bottom compartment containing a removable 4-liter Mylar water bladder with a built-in rubber spigot for quick dispensing. Seven internal and external pockets and pouches keep Fido's gear wellorganized.
\o7W.A.G. Bag is $59.95 from RuffWear; (888) 783-3932, www.ruffwear.com.
Travelon, makers of myriad travel aids and accessories, has addressed that urgent question: How do I carry my wine bottles? The Wine Carrier has four bottle-size pouches made of neoprene, with a central carry handle. The lightweight neoprene -- the same material used for wetsuits -- keeps the bottles cushioned and somewhat insulated. When empty, it folds flat for packing. This wine carrier would be useful during a winery tour. Available in red or black and makes a nice gift, especially filled with wine.
\o7 Four-bottle Travelon Wine Carrier is $17.99 from EBags; (800) 820-6126, www.ebags.com.
Gear & Gadgets runs monthly.\o7