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Everyday Cheapskate: Unitaskers That Are Worth It

Mary Hunt on

I've recently added two new gadgets to my kitchen that famed television chef Alton Brown would not be happy about if he knew. He'd call them "unitaskers," single-use kitchen gadgets; objects whose only real purpose is to create clutter.

I'd argue that while his theory that every tool in the kitchen should be able to perform multiple tasks is certainly ideal, there are exceptions. Then I'd demonstrate my new gadgets for him and let him know that I truly wonder how I ever got along without them.

THE THAW CLAW. We've all been there: You forget to take the chicken, roast or burgers out of the freezer in the morning to give them enough time to thaw in the refrigerator in time for dinner. Now you're left scrambling. Do you try to thaw that chuck roast in the microwave? Search for something else altogether? Or just give up and go out -- again!

My handy Thaw Claw (www.everydaycheapskate.com/thawclaw) has given me another option: Thaw it super quick. The best way to defrost your meat safely and quickly is by submerging it in a sink full of cool water. The only problem? Those packages from the grocery store tend to float. For the thawing process to work really fast, your package of fish, chicken or ground beef needs to be completely submerged.

The Thaw Claw suspends the frozen item in the cool water so it neither sits on the bottom of the sink nor floats to the top. It has a suction cup that easily attaches to the bottom of the sink. Fill the sink with cold water, stick the item to be thawed under the claw and BAM! Fish and seafood defrost in 15 minutes, while chicken pieces and packages of beef take about 25 minutes. I defrosted a large 3.5-pound chuck roast that was frozen solid in just one hour. Amazing! It costs about $13.

THE FRYWALL. I recently got a message from EC reader Naomi. She wrote: "I have ordered Home Chef (www.everydaycheapskate.com/homechef) several times now, and love it, but find that it requires a good deal of sauteing, stir-frying vegetables, browning meats, and cooking down spinach and Swiss chard, all of which produces lots of splatter all over my stove. I got the 10-inch green Frywall. I love this thing!"

Naomi got my attention, since my husband and I are huge Home Chef fans, too, and enjoy those meals a couple of times a week. Yes, there's lots of sauteing, stir-frying and browning meat at fairly high temperatures. My stove gets seriously splattered and messed up.

I've tried wire mesh splatter guards, but they only work until I have to lift the guard to add something to the skillet. And I find that even with the screen design, the thing holds the heat and moisture inside, so things don't really saute properly. One evening not so long ago, I actually set a dish towel on fire when I laid it too close to the flame in an effort to prevent all that splatter from getting on my freshly cleaned stovetop.

Naomi's message piqued my interest. I ordered a Frywall (www.everydaycheapskate.com/frywall) for myself so I could check it out. Wow. The Frywall completely blocks fine oil but lets steam escape freely. That means burgers sear perfectly, sauces reduce quickly and condensation splatter is eliminated. And the best part: My stovetop stays clean.

Last weekend, I made spaghetti meat sauce. Normally I keep a lid on the pot to prevent the sauce from popping and splattering all over the place. Thanks to Frywall, I could let it simmer uncovered without any mess at all, and boy did that make me happy.

Frywall is made of BPA-free FDA-compliant silicone that can withstand sustained temperatures of up to 450 degrees F. It's dishwasher safe, easy to clean and so easy to roll up into its cup-sized sleeve for storage. I keep it handy right with my pots and pans.

Thanks, Naomi. I love this thing, too! It costs about $22.

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Mary invites questions, comments and tips at mary@everydaycheapskate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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