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Essential kitchen gadgets

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Tools for fun and productivity

I'm a serious gadget lover. Letting me into kitchen stores -- even the Internet variety -- is a dangerous thing. There are so many fun tools and gadgets out there! Things I didn't know I needed! Okay, maybe I still don't need them, but the occasional bit of gadget acquisition is good for this cook's soul.

In the last few months, I've come across some really fun kitchen gadgets and tools -- some truly helpful, some, pure whimsy. Not only am I perking up my cooking routine, I'm filling out gift lists for the holidays already. I hope you will find something here you like!

Neoprene Oven Mitts

When those neoprene water and wine bottle cooler/carriers came out a few years ago, I thought they were ingenious. We have a couple of holders that we use for summer beach picnics, and they are very effective at keeping the cool in. It makes sense then that they can keep the hot out. When I saw some Renzo neoprene oven mitts at a local shop a couple weeks ago, I was thrilled! Of course! A perfect application! I have gone through so many fabric oven mitts over the years, invariably scorching them a bit, then watching as the insulation eventually starts coming through, and so on. No more! It's neoprene for me from now on!

Neoprene Oven Mitts

Colorful Silicone spatulas

I use rubber and silicone spatulas as much as I use anything in the kitchen. There's always something that needs to be scraped down. I discovered the colorful, whimsically shaped Flora spatulas last summer on vacation, and I admit it: I bought them because they look cool -- like leaves! But I continually use them because they are actually really good. The point helps get bits out of the edges of pots and such.

Colorful Silicone spatulas

Legos for grown-up geeks

Lego bricks have long occupied my children's playtime, just as they occupied my husband's when he was a child. The people at Lego have realized that grown-up Lego geeks might want some toys of their own (in addition to the classic bricks, that is). A few years ago, they started with Lego ice cube trays, then a silicone cake pan, corkscrew and bottle opener set... Now there are mini figure cookie cutters, ice pop molds and a rolling cookie cutter to make Lego cookies. Awesome. Bonus: You can get a set of four Lego kitchen storage containers to keep your Lego cookies fresh.

Legos For grown-up geeks

Slider Mini-Burger Tools

Small appetizer-sized burgers are fun and delicious. Now you can make evenly sized sliders at home on the grill with Sur La Table's Deluxe Slider Set. Press three sliders at a time, then pop nine at a time into the grill basket for even cooking. To keep the small burgers from getting lost in big buns, use the cutter to cut store-bought buns to the right size.

Slider Mini-Burger Tools

Magnetic Spice Racks

All those little jars of spices in the cabinet can be so annoying. A spice drawer isn't much better. But how do you keep herbs and spices handy without the drawer, the cabinet or the counter? The wall, that's how. Magnetic spice racks are the way to go! Keep the herbs and spices you use most at arm's reach to avoid having to rummage through a drawer or cabinet! When you look for a magnetic spice rack, avoid those with bottles sporting clear container tops; light can reduce the lifespan of some herbs and spices. Opt to label bottles instead. You can even make magnetic spice racks yourself with a few simple tools, if so inclined.

Magnetic Spice Racks

Topsy-turvy cake Pans

I'm a fan of creative cake decorating -- and I've been known to make some fairly elaborate cakes in my day. I've long enjoyed looking at what people do with topsy-turvy cakes (you know, those precariously balanced multi-layer cakes with nowhere-near-level tops). They can be achieved with lots of alteration to ordinary layers of cake, but why go through all that trouble when you can now get a Topsy Turvy Cake Pan Set? Admittedly, topsy-turvy cake pans are not cheap, but I'm set to make a two of the crazy cakes for my daughter's next birthday. Refresh my fondant making skills, get out the icing bags... oh, yeah.

Topsy-turvy cake Pans

More must-have kitchen gadgets

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