milk-frotherI’ll admit it, I’ve had a long love affair with kitchen gadgets. Let me set eyes on an infomercial for the latest “must have” gadget, and, well, I must have it! Fortunately, procrastination, laziness, and my bank account have stopped me from calling in and buying the gadgets I see on TV. But let a friend mention a spectacular gadget to me, or have a chef on a TV food show demonstrate something new, and I hit the stores looking for it.

Many of these wonder gadgets have been tossed out over the years, for not being quite as wondrous as hoped. But right now, I’m still feeling the love for two inexpensive gadgets (under $10). One is at least eight years old, and the other is just a month old.

The older gadget is my microplane zester/grater. After watching about the millionth TV chef add lemon, orange, or lime zest to a recipe for a “burst” of flavor, I finally decided I needed this gadget. I probably used it twice to add actual zest to a recipe, and then gave up on that notion. But along the way, I discovered that I could make better use of the microplane zester  to grate  garlic (much easier than the stupid garlic press I bought) and Parmesan cheese.

My new, favorite kitchen gadget, is a tiny, battery-operated milk frother I picked up a few weeks ago for less than $2. I purchased mine at Cost Plus, after hearing a friend rave about hers (purchased at Ikea), but I’m certain they’re available all over. I’ve been making a lot of hot chocolate, Earl Grey lattes, and warm milk with sugar free syrup this winter, but while tasty, they never quite equaled the stuff I’d buy in a local coffee shop. When my friend told me how much better her hot chocolate was since she’d purchased the frother, I decided to take the plunge.

She was right! I still make all of my hot drinks with 1% or skim milk, but with a few seconds of frothing, the beverage tastes much thicker and creamier. My little frother is really cheaply made, and I’m not sure how long it will last. So this weekend, I’m either going to pick up a few more cheap ones, or invest in a slightly more expensive frother (but no $100 frothers for me).

Do you have any favorite, inexpensive kitchen gadgets you can’t live without? How do you use them? And do you have any kitchen gadgets that you thought would be fantastic, but instead, are relegated to a back cupboard?