OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set

The sheer number of OXO products available and the variety of price points they are built to makes it inevitable that some of them will be duds. Indeed, over time it has become clear that the presence of the brand on an item does not necessarily guarantee good design or build quality. That said, I have found their Good Grips steel measuring cups to be a great success in both regards. After more than a year of daily use, I still can’t think of anything that would improve them.

Like most sets, a ring is included to keep them together when nested. Traditionally, the ring is troublesome because removing a cup also requires the removal of cups that come before it. This problem has been solved by opening the handles’ holes on one side, allowing you to pull a cup off of the ring via the opening and then simply clip it back in place. Additionally, the rubber on the handle is set back a good bit from the cup, allowing for easy leveling with a knife.

The build quality is excellent. The cup and handle are fashioned from a single piece of surprisingly thick steel, eliminating the weakness of a weld point. Each cup’s measurement value is permanently inlaid into the rubber handle, such that no amount of scrubbing will take it off.

A similar plastic set is also produced under the Good Grips moniker. It features the same open-holed handles and inlaid measurement values and is slightly cheaper than the steel set, but it takes up more room by including unnecessary ⅔ and ¾ cups.

Regardless of whether you opt for steel or plastic, these cups will probably be the last set you ever buy.

-- Cody Raspen  

Oxo Good Grips Measuring Cup Set, Stainless Steel, 4-Pc
$20

Available from Amazon



Areaware Bottle Opener

This bottle opener takes a relatively mundane task and turns it into a pleasurable aesthetic experience. The beauty of this opener is in its design simplicity. It is made of a piece of wood, a bent nail and two magnets. That’s it. The leverage from the nail opens beer bottles easily, one magnet catches the bottle cap and the other magnet makes it easy to mount on a fridge or other metal surface.

I have owned one for over a year and it is always my go-to bottle opener above any of my skeleton key style bottle openers. The handle is comfortable and, while the magnetic cap catching capability might seem superfluous at first, I am always grateful for it once I’m a few bottles into the evening. The mounting magnet keeps the handle open from the perspective of the plane of the surface to which it is mounted making it easy to grab in a time of need.

I was originally gifted this tool and have gifted it myself on several occasions. All recipients have reported back with delight at this opener’s simple beauty and practical usefulness.

Of course, there are much less costly alternatives (including your teeth, the edge of a hard surface or the lighter trick) to opening bottles and the size of the handle does not make this tool something you want to carry around in your pocket all of the time, but that isn’t it’s point. This opener combines a sophisticated design sensibility with functional effectiveness that elevates the status of an every day utility to a cool tool.

-- Eoin Russell  

Areaware Bottle Opener in Walnut
$14

Available from Amazon



Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

It is amazing how different the same tea tastes when you have the ability to consistently experiment with the brewing temperature and steeping time. Different teas require different brewing temps and steeping times to bring out the best flavor. I like green tea. The Breville allows you to set the temperature by degrees and the steeping time. Do you like strong tea? Set it to steep longer. Once you set it, it is all automatic. No more waiting for your tea to cool from boiling to drink it. Would like another cup of tea? The Breville will keep the tea at your set temp for 60 minutes.

Yes, this appliance is expensive. However, after using it nearly each day since November 2010, it is totally worth the money, and remains one of my favorite purchases and is very reliable. I’ve had zero problems with it. Breville makes great appliances, and they are very well made, with excellent customer support.

-- Kevin Lindsay  

Breville One-Touch Tea Maker
$250

Available from Amazon



Work Sharp WSKTS Knife and Tool Sharpener

Any chef will tell you, a sharp knife is the most important tool in the kitchen. I have tried many different types of sharpening methods, from stones to steels, electric to manual. Stones are hard to use because you need to maintain a very consistent angle while using it, and other gimmicky sharpening tools are just not good enough to give you a good edge. And very, very few can sharpen a serrated blade. I won’t lie — I can’t use a manual sharpening stone to save my life.

My dad got me the Work Sharp WSKTS Knife and Tool Sharpener and I swear I’ve never seen its equal. It is approximately the size of an electric drill and uses sanding belts of three different grits: 80 for repairing blades, 220 for sharpening, and 6000 for putting on that smooth polish. The sanding belts are very easy to change and last long enough for you to sharpening everything in the house, from your scissors and kitchen knives to axe and lawnmower blades. The head of the tool swivels so you can use it free-hand to sharpen very large items, like shovels.

One of the best features is the guards that attach to the tool that keep the sharpening angle perfectly consistent. The first guard offers a 50° angle for large hunting and butchery knives, and a 40° angle for thinner knives. The second guard allows you to sharpen serrated blades and heavier outdoor blades.

Best of all, this sharpening system only costs around $70 and packs of 6 replacement belts cost around $9. They also offer packs of 2 diamond belts for around $26 for sharpening those pesky ceramic blades.

-- Joel Roush  

Work Sharp WSKTS Knife and Tool Sharpener
$69

Available from Amazon



Nuance Wine Finer

This is my girlfriend’s cool tool — not sure how long she’s had it but I’ve been using hers for a couple months. It’s a multipurpose wine tool. It fits snugly down inside the neck of a wine bottle (never had it pop out), allowing you to pour without drips. At the same time, it’s aerating and filtering the wine. It also comes with a stopper for when you’re finished pouring.

We did a taste test with friends at Thanksgiving. Uncorked a bottle of red, poured a glass, then put the wine finer in and poured a glass. The difference in taste was amazing. I’m sure there are people out there who have the patience and forethought to uncork and decant their reds ahead of time, but I’m not one of them.

I love that this thing fits down inside the neck of the bottle and then acts as a stopper – not some separate aerating device that you have to go get each time you want to pour a glass. And since it’s acting as the stopper, you don’t have to deal with cleaning it until you’re finished with the bottle.

-- Mary Lindsey  

Nuance Wine Finer with Flat Top
$21

Available from Amazon



Digital Day Counter

I bought two of these Digital Day Counters a few years ago. But I really did not start to use them till I began making water and milk kefirs.

Now I just stick one of these suction-cupped timers on a jar of fermenting kefir, and it lets me know how many days it has been fermenting.

Most timers are set up for seconds, minutes, and hours. These tiny timers count up to 99 days. They are water resistant, and yes they work in the refrigerator.
Cool.

-- KentKB  

DaysAgo Digital Day Counter
$14/2-pack

Available from Amazon



Quirky Verseur 4-in1 Wine Opener

In theory, corkscrews are great tools. In practice, however, they’re often either challenging to use, over-engineered, or prohibitively expensive.

But as I opened a bottle of wine on New Year’s Eve, I realized that the Quirky Verseur is by far the easiest, fastest corkscrew I’ve ever used.

Simply slide the flared plastic tube of this odd-looking device over the top of the wine bottle, squeeze gently to hold it in place, insert the corkscrew until the tip pierces the cork, and and start turning clockwise. The cork comes out with hardly any effort. No pulling, no prying, nothing but a clean, extracted cork 100% of the time.

But it’s not just one tool — it’s four tools rolled into one. In addition to being a great corkscrew, there’s a recessed foil cutter in the handle to help you swiftly get to the cork (it takes a few times to get the hang of using this), a pouring spout for drip-less wine delivery, and a minimalist bottle stopper to keep the wine you don’t drink fresh. Everything fits together in one piece for easy storing. It’s a wine-opening multi-tool.

Quirky Verseur 4-in1 Wine Opener
$17

Available from Amazon



Boska Holland Toastabags

I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a good kitchen novelty, and it was certainly that affliction that initially drew me to the Boska Holland Toastabags, but it turns out they’re both practical and really useful too.

These “toasting bags” are synthetic envelopes that create a near-perfect grilled cheese sandwich using just your regular toaster. You can even add little a ham, or perhaps use a pita with some veggies instead. I was skeptical of these claims, as found on the product’s packaging, but they’re true.

You simply assemble your sandwich as usual, but sans butter, then slip it into a Toastabag. Insert the whole shebang in your toaster and drop the lever. After one medium-darkness cycle, your sandwich will be hot and the bread toasted — complete with little grill marks.

The secret is the envelopes, of course, which are made from some sort of conductive material that amplifies the heat from the toaster’s elements. (Apparently woven fiberglass coasted in PTFE, AKA Teflon.)

The bags work best with a wide-slot toaster, and slim bread, but I’ve managed to stuff even thicker slices in the bag with just a little effort. Be sure to monitor the “grilling” process, at least at first, as it happens a lot faster than you’ll expect. The bag is hot when it emerges; probably too hot for some children.

The manufacturer claims that the bags are free of any mess, and they certainly don’t muck up your toaster, but they do such a good job of melting the cheese that some will ooze out inside. No problem, just let the bag cool and turn it inside-out to clean the non-stick surface.

The video at the product’s website presents a fair and honest depiction of both the process and results. You get a pack of 3 or more bags in a set, each of which are reusable. I have yet to wear out my first one; they are said to be good for at least 50 cycles.

-- Gordon Meyer  

Boska Holland Toastabags, Set of 3
$9

Available from Amazon



Cuissential SlickFroth

I often mix stuff into my coffee: cream, coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides, taurine, even some resistant starches like inulin as part of my low carb life. Previoius to getting the slickfroth, I had to choose between a small hand blender or a spoon. I did not expect much (you know, a battery powered small toy) but I have found that this device works much better than I expected as a mini-handblender for liquids and powders. While it will not chop up the contents of thick smoothies, it will mix liquids together or powders into liquids very well. It offers a very useful tool in-between a hand blender (over-kill for many situations) and just mixing with a spoon (often not adequate).

-- Dale Simpson  

Kuissential SlickFroth 2.0
$18

Available from Amazon



Floppy Tube Garlic Peeler

When you are pulling together a meal, anything you can do to minimize prep time up front — or more importantly, along the way — helps make things run more smoothly and cleanly. I love garlic and often increase (or double) suggested amounts in recipes for the dishes I like to make. I don’t mind peeling garlic per se, but it can get tedious and slow especially when a recipe asks for a lot. Considering how sticky it makes your hands as well, doing this mid-cook can be a real time suck and throw off one’s rhythm.

This amazingly simple tool makes a huge difference. You can peel multiple cloves of garlic in just a couple seconds with no mess whatsover. Whether you are prepping for a recipe or realize you need more garlic once you are already going, this can save a great deal of time and energy. You just pop 2-5 cloves into the tube, roll it with the palm of your hand, turn the tube on it’s side and voila – the peeled cloves just fall out. At this point its just a quick mince, press or slice and you move on.

On top of the usage benefits, cleaning and storage are also exceedingly convenient. Just giving it a quick rinse under the tap releases the accumulated skins inside the tube and is a sufficient clean most of the time. After several uses — or each usage if you are germaphobic — you may give it a thorough wash as it is dishwasher safe.

-- Ali Kafshi  

Floppy tube garlic peeler
$7

Available from Amazon