When almost 2,000 exhibitors and 20,000-plus buyers showed up at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago recently, they found the usual celeb-approved items from Emeril Lagasse and Gordon Ramsay to Mario Batali and Guy Fieri. Cupcake-mania produced mountains of decorating gizmos, and downsized appliances (a 1 1/2-quart Procter Silex slow cooker small enough to fit on an apartment counter, for example) helped make room in gadget-stuffed kitchens for an array of graters and mandolines designed to help cooks retain their fingertips.
And the “eco” filling the vast show? That would be the sound of exhibitors going “green” with everything from biodegradable food storage containers to reusable water and coffee containers, BPA-free, of course.
Here are five interesting items, many in stores now (or will be in a few months) or available online.
• Good buzz: Cuisinart’s Rechargeable Salt and Pepper Mills ($70) do everything but cut your food! You can adjust the grind (fine to coarse) and LED lights spotlight the food so you don’t oversalt — not that you would. At cuisinart.com
• Fresh idea: Hate it when those fresh herbs go bad before you can use them? The clear plastic Compact Herb Keeper from Cuisipro ($17) suspends the stems just above water to keep them fresh. The unit, a smaller version of the original Herb Keeper, is designed to fit in the refrigerator door. At cuisiprousa.com
• Shake it: Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker ($30) is the Brit chef’s answer to a mortar and pestle. Put herbs, spices, nuts or garlic, for example, in the shaker, add its ceramic ball, then shake. Shake some more. Work your triceps. Crushes spices, bruises herbs, makes rubs, pesto and salad dressings. In several colors. At target.com, amazon.com
• Hot stuff: Stop burning your fingertips jamming metal-pronged corn holders into piping-hot corn. Instead, try Outset Inc.’s corn holders with plastic soft-grip handles ($10 for eight). Inserted into ears of corn before cooking, they’re touchable when removed from hot water. Not for use on the grill. Boilable; also microwave and dishwasher safe. At amazon.com.