The good people at CSN Stores have made me a deal. They’ve offered to send me an $80 gift certificate to use in any of their stores as long as I review whatever it is I purchase. Clearly, I am not going to turn away this opportunity. So now I’m faced with a daunting task: what do I use my gift certificate on? Turns out there are like 200 specialized CSN stores; so my options are quite varied. Ultimately though, I’ve narrowed it down to a few contenders, all from the kitchen genre.

See my options after the jump.


Jaccard Safe Hands Mandolin in ABS – 200421

Want: I don’t have a mandolin, and I’m pretty bad at julienning vegetables. Occasionally I’ll use my food processor to slice veggies thin, but it never seems to be thin enough (and forget about the slicer side of my box grater). On the downside, I fear I might chop off my fingers. Plus, I can probably get a cheaper one.
Need: I would like a mandolin to round out my kitchen tools, but I wouldn’t say that I need to julienne or thinly slice that often. Might not be the highest priority (although, it would be nice to have).
Price: $39.95
Specs here


Emerilware Cast Iron 20″ Reversible Grill / Griddle

Want: I kind of really want this. It’s two pans for the price of one, and while the griddle is something I can take or leave, the grill pan is certainly something that intrigues me.
Need: I do have a BBQ on my roof and a Foreman Grill knockoff in my kitchen, but the former requires me going to my roof and the latter doesn’t get hot enough (and it’s small). I would say that I certainly need this and would use it.
Specs here


Black & Decker CitrusMate Plus

Want: Yes, yes, and yes. I’m sick of using my little reamer to juice umpteen lemons and limes for margaritas and other tasty beverages that my friends and I whip up. Plus, even for non cocktails, the tricky business of squeezing lemon juice into a dish without getting the seeds involved drives me nuts. Yes, I have a strainer, but it’s a pain.
Need: Note the above. Of all the items on this list, this is closest to a sure thing.
Price: $19.95
Specs here


Progressive International Silicone Baking Mat

Want: This item would be nice, but I don’t often find myself wishing I had one in the kitchen.
Need: Again, not a huge need for this, but I’ve been told these mats are great to have; so it feels like a wise decision.
Price: $9.00
Specs here


Farberware Nonstick Carbon Steel 12 Cup Muffin Pan

Want: I want this quite a bit. Wonderful B-Side Blog reader SpecialK actually gave me a lovely 6-cup muffin tin two years ago, which I have put to great use; however, for larger batches, I may need to supplement that muffin tin with this item so I can avoid having to repeat the baking process over and over again.
Need: Like I said, I already have a muffin tin; so I don’t need this purchase as much as the others. Then again, I am contributing to the Eat My Blog bake sale in two weeks, and I’ll need a larger muffin tin for what I’m making. Oh, the dilemma…
Price: $9.95
Specs here


Paderno World Cuisine Composite Skimmer

Want: I certainly want other things more, but this might round out the gift certificate should I have a balance left over.
Need: I don’t have a huge need for this, but then again, I really hate skimming with spoons. I feel like I take too much broth.
Price: $6.29
Specs here


Calphalon Nylon Potato Masher

Want: I actually want one of these quite a bit. Sometimes it can be a pain in the ass to drag out the ol’ food mill just to mash some potatoes.
Need: Then again, I do have a food mill. And forks. And other kitchen tools that can be used instead. But then again, a potato masher seems like a pretty basic kitchen staple. I feel like I should have one.
Price: $8.99
Specs here

So that is the list. I’m leaning towards a combo of grill/griddle pan, juicer, and silicone mat, but I’m open to other suggestions. And again, all will be reviewed on this blog.

39 replies on “CONSUMERISM OVERLOAD: What Should I Get?”

  1. With the prospect of some summer barbecue action, my vote is for the reversible grill/griddle. But then again, I’m a sucker for cast-iron cookware. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Mandolin all the way. I mean, having that on the counter is just a convo starter. And it makes you look like an elite amateur chef.

  3. I had to chime in – your cooking posts are hilarious and my second favorite part of your blog (first being Big Brother anything, of course).

    Mandolin, mandolin, mandolin! -Because you will love it and never ever buy it yourself otherwise. Besides, thinly sliced veggies always get rave reviews and smartly raised eyebrows.

    With the leftover you can also get the juicer AND the muffin tin. Farberware muffin tins rock my world.

  4. the griddle is super helpful and a juicer would be good too. i’ve never used a silicone baking mat, so i wouldn’t get that.

  5. whichever one of those you could use to make some more chocolate tarts gets my vote.
    but the mandolin has tragic humor written all over it.


  6. If I were you, I’d go with the juicer (It looks super slick!), and the Reversible Grill / Griddle (I have this- well not this one, but another one like it)- I fricking love it!

  7. I vote grill, juicer and skimmer. Although I have that muffin tin and I LOVE it !!

  8. Seriously consider the stovetop grill. I have one and use it all the time. It’s great for grilled chicken.

  9. Don’t get the silicon mat unless it is a true Silpat from France. The knockoff ones suck and once they get dirty never clean up quite the same again. Also the skimmer doesn’t look to me like it will work that well.

    I’d rank them 1) mandolin 2) juicer 3) muffin tin. If you want something smaller than a food mill to make awesome mashed potatoes, look at a food ricer.

    I don’t like grill pans/griddles because they have always discolored my stove top and there is no replacing a true grill. If you want to make a steak inside just use a cast iron pan. If fat isn’t going to touch fire a pan is just as good as something with ridges..

    1. You have a point about the grill, Pete. They do get hot for long periods and cause discoloration on some cook tops….such as B’s white porcelain.

    2. I agree with SlipperyPete, get the mandolin. Once you have one you will use it all the time. I always hated making veggie platters and a mandolin makes that task much easier. Plus it’s just more fun to eat veggies cut in uniform shapes!

      Unless you are going to make gallons of juice, I find one of those simple “press-type” of gadgets works great for juicing lemons and limes for cocktails (mojitos anyone?) or baking projects (just made lemon bars-yum!).

      Don’t bother with the potato smasher. I always rice my potatoes. They are fluffier and lump free that way. Of course since you have a food mill, you might not want to bother.

      He’s right about those silicon mats too. They get a slimey feel to them and never seem quite clean.

      I vote mandolin and muffin tin.

  10. Drop the silicone mat, who wants something they need to wash when they can use disposable baking paper… I’d buy the mandolin, juicer, potato masher and muffin tray.

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  12. I don’t like making decisions for other people. I do know I’m looking forward to the blog whenever you DO make your decision though! And I’m mildly annoyed that I didn’t get a care package from Jaded with those lemon bars because I’m addicted to them. Thankfully we have a bakery/sandwich shop near us that makes them so I don’t have to. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. JUICER!
    You’ll never realize how wonderful those blood oranges are until you can juice a bunch of them on this and drink a glassfull of it alone.
    Blood orange juice became my chocolat substitute and I started buying them when in season here in CA. You have a 3-4 month period of time.
    The reason I tried them?
    I had a juicer and I love Dexter. I figured what’s good for my favorite serial killer must be good enough for moi.

  14. I can’t belive that YOU of all people don’t have a potato masher B! I have my gramma’s (which I have never used b/c I always make instanst mashed potatoesb/c I’m lazy).

    My vote is for the juicer and mandolin.

  15. Definitely the mandolin! Please don’t seek out a cheaper one because with mandolins, I think you really get what you pay for. I got one on sale at Sur la Table for $20, which I thought was a super great deal – until I tried to use it. It was so flimsy and the blade was ridiculously dull. It was useless. What a waste of money, seriously. I vote for the nice mandolin, the grill pan and the juicer. I know that getting all of those will put you way over your budget, but really, you know you want all of them and you know you’re going to get them all eventually, so why not get them now?

    1. Dammit. An ice cream maker might have to go on the list. Want: Greatly. Need: Not at all. But on the plus side, it could make for some great adventures in domesticity.

  16. I LOVE my mandoline! Had a cheapie $10 one that I got that worked really well for a long time, but finally sagged out. Then got an expensive one for Christmas (doesn’t work all THAT much better than the cheapie, but it was free to me!). I don’t use it that often, but when I want to slice really really thin (a la potato gratins), it’s unbeatable! Love it!!

    I want to love my cast iron reversible griddle/grill. The grill part is a beyotch to clean, though. Could be user error, I’ll admit, but stuff gets stuck in those crevices. Nice to make pancakes on the griddle side, though.

    Be careful with the masher. I had one that looks like the one you showed. It was useless. The stem part was too wobbly, so when I tried to mash potatoes that weren’t completely mush, it would bend. Got a stainless one that works much better.

  17. I’d go with the mandolin and the juicer. I don’t think that the plastic potato masher is going to do a good job. You need a metal one or use a ricer.

    The grill seems great, but not if it’s going to discolor your stove top.

  18. Mandolin all the way.
    I’ve always used a potato masher, so I’m really curious to what a ricer is that everyone is commenting on. Anyone?????

    1. Thank Rob/BW that I’m not the only one who was curious about the ricer. Waiting for the response!

  19. I didn’t know what a potato ricer was, either. Here’s what i found:

    Am I the only person who uses a hand mixer to mash my potatoes? That’s the way to go. SO easy.

    And I agree with anyone who says nothing compares to grilling on an actual grill. I don’t cook hamburgers/chicken/steak unless it’s outdoors because I think it tastes weird. But, I also have the luxury of a grill right out my back door. AND I’m always jealous of my mom’s plug in grill/griddle.

    Bottom line: My vote is to buy several things and somehow incorporate all of them into one dish. Hilarity will ensue. Or whatever it is you say.

    Good luck choosing! I can’t wait to see the post.

  20. I like lumpy mashed potatoes–I want to taste potatoes when I eat mashed potatoes, not feel like I’m eating baby food. I like the skins too because that is probably the healthier part of the potato.

    And I’m surprised that tishamay didn’t know what a ricer was because the link said that it was a key implement to making gnocchi, an italian staple. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. OMBW, I love gnocchi, but I’m too horrible in the kitchen to make it. Same with risotto. I could eat this stuff every day.

  21. We got a mandolin and the grill/griddle thingy for our wedding and they have both proved extremely useful. I would also recommend a hand blender — one of those motor-boat looking things that Emeril always used to pull out. I use that thing for everything and it is much easier than getting a big blender or mixer out and dirty.

  22. Okay, I think I know what I’m going to get. I’d like to mention that ice cream maker and bread maker are also in contention. Both are certainly not necessary, but…. they’d be fun to have.

  23. I have both a bread maker and ice cream maker. Used them a lot when I first got them. The “new” wears off quickly. Still use the bread maker now and then but the ice cream maker is gathering dust.

  24. Breadmaker you will use once or until you realize that they’ve got better bread at the local bakery or Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s/Henry’s.
    So, what did you decide?
    So declasse to tell us you’ve made a decision and then leave us guessing!

  25. I have officially made my purchase. Y’all will have to wait with bated breath…

  26. i call juicer.

    mom visited in florida few months back and bought a good juicer with a big bag of FL oranges… whoooa baby that was some good orange juice. you think you died and went to heaven.

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