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February 5, 2009 at 11:45 AM

Useless utensils: One cook’s trash is another’s treasure

Look up “utensil” in the dictionary, and you’ll find a definition like this one: “An instrument, an implement, or a container used domestically, especially in a kitchen.” Look up “useless utensil” and here’s what you should find, says me:

That’s an avocado slicer — something I always thought would be useless, but didn’t know for sure until I tried it — which I did last night. My scooper/slicer is a legacy-utensil that formerly belonged to my dad, Mr. Gadget. Knowing that my darling “wicked stepmother” wasn’t likely to be making guacamole after dad died, I absconded with it (he cooked: her idea of “cooking” is unwrapping a box of Godiva chocolates).

You may feel differently about your avocado slicer than I feel about my dad’s. I found many reasons not to like it: the “sliced” avocado didn’t come off easily; the fine-tines are hard to clean; and the gadget takes up too much room in my overburdened utensil-drawer. Besides: What’s wrong with the old-fashioned way of slicing half an avocado (with a knife)? Or making guacamole by scooping out the flesh with a spoon and mashing it with an everyday utensil (say, a fork)? I use the fork-and-knife method, because I prefer my guac finely chopped rather than smooshed — a process that takes all of a minute to complete:

So, along with umpteen other useless utensils I’ve collected over the years, I’m donating my dad’s avocado scoop (and the plastic bagel-slicer he bought us years ago) to my kid’s Fifth Grade Garage Sale, and consider it a gift from “Zayda” to further his grandson’s education. And now, for the shameless-plug alert:

That sale — whose proceeds will go to subsidize the fifth grade’s Outdoor Education-camp foray this spring — will be held Saturday, February 7, in the gymnasium at Westgate Elementary School in Edmonds. Hours are 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. and two bucks buys “pre-sale” admission beginning at 8 a.m. At which point one eagle-eyed early-bird might purchase an avocado scoop and a bagel-slicer: cheap!

Now tell me: if you were going through your kitchen in search of useless utensils, what would you come up with? P.S. I’m sending out extra-love in advance for your digital photos. Send them via email (nleson@seattletimes.com) for possible publication in a subsequent blog-post.

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