The Dumbest Thing in Your Kitchen

In Depth

A few weeks ago I was at my friend Julie’s house for dinner when we were attacking a cheese plate with these adorable tiny cheese knives. We were hungry and after a few minutes we abandoned the adorable tiny cheese knives because, due to their adorable tininess, they were useless unless you wanted to eat your cheese one molecule at a time.

“This reminds me of your dessert forks,” Julie said, hearkening back to a time we were over at my house and I proudly set out some tiny, antique silver dessert forks I had received as a wedding gift that, like the cheese knives, were lovely and dainty for ladies who lunch who have delicate appetites but impractical for anyone interested in seriously chowing down on the Pioneer Woman cake Julie made (“Holding this fork makes me feel like Shrek,” was Julie’s input.)

We started laughing about all the kitchen accoutrements that we own that seemed either super-classy, useful, or time-saving when we first acquired them that we just never use because they don’t fit into our lives at all. I have owned several items like these, such as the pasta measuring device that was impossible to use (plus I basically only make pasta by the box or half-box anyway), the herb chopper that left more herbs on the chopper than on the cutting board, the creme brûlée blowtorch I registered for as a wedding gift that is still in its 2008 packaging, and most recently, the set of small casserole dishes I bought when I was on an Ina Garten kick that had me convinced this was what I’d be doing with my time and life.

I asked some friends what lies in their kitchen graveyards of dreams, and this is what they had to say.


We have a collection of demitasse cups that I think are supposed to be used for espresso. We do not have an espresso maker. We do not drink espresso. One time I served my kids chocolate milk in them, and they pretended it was coffee. Because they also do not drink espresso.


The Le Creuset Set of Four Mini Cocottes With Cookbook (!)

As is the case with almost every pointless thing in our kitchen, these were on our registry and I have never, ever touched them. Petite but sturdy, understated but pricey enough to suggest that they were important, these little pots were a cute foursome of culinary promises and nesting dreams: I fantasized about cozy-but-sophisticated dinner parties during which I would serve our guests intricate mini-casseroles, or dainty appetizers with words like “en cocotte.” I flipped through the accompanying cookbook and earmarked pages, but I never got any further than that. Dinner parties are too much work and the pots, too twee.


Even though our kitchen was extremely short on storage space my mother gave me a “Presto Hot Dogger” for our first Christmas. The appliance was a plastic rectangular box with six probes along each of the long sides. You would skewer the ends of the hot dogs into the probes, close the lid and electrocute them for one minute at 120 volts. Since I already had a pot and no room for this superfluous item it went to the local thrift shop pretty quick. It’s probably a collector’s item now. [Editor’s note: It’s not.]


I refuse to let these go.

I’ve been married 11 years, moved once, and did a kitchen renovation. I’ve kept them every time. I SWEAR I do love soft-boiled eggs and I’ve used them twice since I got them. My childhood friend had the classic European stainless steel set of egg cups and the scissors, with tiny salt and pepper shakers and little spoons to eat your soft-boiled egg with. I remember sitting in her kitchen and her mom would make toast and soft-boiled eggs for us, and as an adolescent I really loved the ritual of it, and also thought they were delicious. My house was all about the egg fried in bacon grease, so this seemed so sophisticated. So when I was registering I imagined that we would have those same sophisticated Saturday mornings, and we would eat soft-boiled eggs with our French press coffee and read the paper together. Still waiting on that – we mostly do eggs fried in bacon grease.


I bought this totally ridiculous thing years ago: it is a round plate-sized slab of pink Himalayan salt on which you could heat and cook fish, or chill and serve cheese. I was tickled by the idea of it and we have never once used it. I should get rid of it.


I have a corn cobber, which in theory is supposed to daintily slice off corn kernels from the cob. It’s from Williams-Sonoma. It sux. I remember distinctly making a special trip to the store on 6th Avenue and buying one for my mother and sisters as well. When I walked out of the store I, of course, ran into this guy that I dated briefly who is a politically active socialist. He looked like he was having a seizure he rolled his eyes so hard.


I bought a ridiculously expensive wooden spoon from Herriott Grace. This thing is beautiful! Sometimes I pick it up and trace my fingers along its smooth wood. Other times I rub it against my cheek. Someday I will stir a pot of soup with it and it will be glorious! I am afraid to use it.

Claire Zulkey runs She lives in Chicago.

This post originally appeared on Republished with permission.

Top images via William Sonoma; inline images via Le Creuset, Abott, Salt Works and Heriott Grace

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