Monday, May 18, 2009

Kitchen Gadgets your kids will love!

Most kids love cooking gadgets, and the right kitchen tools can make cooking with kids more fun and much safer. Here are a few gadgets and gizmos that will have your kids begging to cook up a storm with you, along with some safety tips that keep the fun going.

Great Gadgets for Your Kitchen

Step stool. Waist-level is the best height for most cooking tasks. Bring your youngster up to the right height with a sturdy step stool. Choose a model that puts your child's belt buckle 30 to 36 inches above floor level, and look for one with a non-slip step and rubber floor pads.
Appropriate age range: 4-8, or up to about 54 inches tall.

Mini scoop. These pint-sized versions of ice cream scoops are perfect for making chocolate chip cookies and drop cookies. The bowl is about an inch across and holds two tablespoons. Kids just scoop the dough and, with one squeeze of the handle, deliver a little dollop that will bake up into a perfectly round treat.
Appropriate age range: 4 and up (with a little help from Mom or Dad for younger kids).

Nonskid mixing bowls. Many stores now sell bowls that refuse to scoot off the counter. The most common type has a large rubber bottom that extends a couple of inches up the side so even if the bowl tips it won't slip. Housewares company Stixx takes the concept up a notch with bowls that include a suction base to keep them firmly planted. Find them at larger kitchenware stores or at major online retailers like
Appropriate age range: 4 and up.

Shape shifters. Kids get a real kick out of food that takes on a fun shape. Cookie cutters are time-tested favorite that can also be used on sandwiches and firm vegetables (think mini-star carrot slices). For a 3-D look, look for cookie molds or stamps; most come with recipes and complete instructions. Other shapely favorites: character cake pans, castle or flower-shaped muffin pans, and plastic molds for making freezer pops.
Appropriate age range: 4 and up.

Apple peeler. Many kitchen gadgets aren't worth the space they take up. An exception is the traditional crank-operated apple peeler, especially if your kids like homemade apple sauce or pie. Just slip the apple onto the spindle, turn the crank, and watch the peel slip off like ribbon from a spool.
Appropriate age range: 6 and up.

Hand chopper. Kids under age 12 shouldn't be using sharp knives, but they can still chop foods for soups and toppings with this easy-to-use device, which looks like a hand bell. Pieces of firm food (carrots, celery, onion, nuts, and so on) are placed under the clear "bell" and the knob on top is repeatedly pushed down to lower the cutting blades. A few quick swats and the food is chopped; a few more swats and it's minced.
Appropriate age range: 8 and up

Bagel slicer. Mmmmm . . . warm toasted bagels topped with peanut butter and raisins! However, slicing the bagel with a regular kitchen knife sends thousands of bagel lovers to the emergency room each year. Enter the bagel slicer, which comes in two basic forms. For kids, avoid the bagel holders that require the use of a separate knife. Instead, look for the "guillotine-style" slicers with the cutting blade surrounded by a clear plastic guard.
Appropriate age range: 8 and up, with help from Mom.

Hand juicer. Even kids who turn their nose up at orange juice will line up to fresh-squeeze it themselves. Hand juicers include the basic reamers — where you press and turn the fruit over a ribbed bulb — and the more effective heavy-duty metal presses that apply lever power to the orange halves. Older kids can negotiate the first type, which should have a rubber ring on the bottom to prevent slipping. Even the youngest kids can work the lever of the press-type, provided a parent is on hand to keep fingers away from the business end of the press.
Appropriate age range: 4 and up (for presses); 6 and up (for reamers).

Blender. Though not exactly a gadget, a countertop power blender makes cooking with kids fun and safe. Most of us associate blenders with milk shakes and smoothies, but these versatile appliances can also be used to whip up pancake batter, soups, sauces, and dessert toppings. The youngest kids will enjoy pressing the buttons at Mom's direction. Older children, particularly those ready to follow simple recipes, can go from start to finish.
Appropriate age range: 4 and up.

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