The first day of spring is still more than a month away, but I've already begun cleaning out some of the disappointing gadgets cluttering up the kitchen cabinets. Of the three new "As Seen on TV" kitchen helpers acquired only since Christmas, I will keep but one -- the "Handy Caddy Sliding Appliance Caddy." The other two, Eggies: Hard Boiled Eggs without the Shell and Stir Crazy: Automatic Hands Free Sauce Stirrer, have already been placed in a box labeled "for donation." Some drug stores and discount places, like Dollar General, devote entire sections of shelf space to "As Seen on TV" products. Eggies can be found alongside Genie Bras, Handy Caddies next to Snuggie Fleece Blankets. There's also the internet and the official site for "As Seen on TV" items, at www.asseenontvofficialsite.com, to explore. Many items are accompanied by videos, some so entertaining -- you'll be laughing out loud. The one for Handy Caddy (www.mrmrshandycaddy.com), starring Mr. and Mrs. Handy Caddy, is like that. I enjoyed the couple and for once, what they were pitching. So, I love my Handy Caddy, but the rest, not so much. Here's why:
Handy Caddy: Sliding Kitchen Appliance Caddy
I've got a working kitchen, so just about everything I use is out on the countertops -- including heavy appliances like food processors, blenders, mixers, even my bread machine. They are tucked under the cabinets and have to be hauled out whenever I want to use them. The appliance I hated pulling out the most was my food processor, because it's heavy (over 15 pounds) and cumbersome. Also, food processors are not really meant to be dragged around. They come with rubber "feet," which are designed to keep them in place. The processor fits perfectly on top of the Handy Caddy's gliding tray and allows me to easily slide the machine out from under the cabinets and into my work space. As long as your appliance has a footprint of no more than 8.5 x 11 inches, you'll be in business. If you are considering purchasing the Handy Caddy on line, shop around. Amazon.com (www.amazon.com) is selling them for $6.59, and the As Seen on TV website is currently offering them at $9.99 (for two caddies). Read the fine print, though, there's shipping and handling involved and often, if there's a two-for-one offer, you'll be asked to pay another fee for the second "free" item.
Stir Crazy: Automatic Hand Free Sauce Stirrer
Stir Crazy made me crazy. It just didn't work. And, I should have known better, because experience tells me that appliances that rely on batteries for power, just don't have the oomph or muscle to make them dependable. The "stirrers" are the silicone feet that belong to the three legs attached to the stand that holds the housing for four AA batteries. The housing for the batteries is also where the "on" and "off" switch resides, which must be depressed to work. The idea is place the stirrer into your pot with whatever you wish stirred, like custards, sauces, soups, etc., turn in on and then let the stirrer take over.
Well, that's not exactly how it functioned for me. First, I noticed my custard was not really being stirred. The liquid quivered some, but that was it. So, I figured I needed to change speed (the gadget has three settings). When I depressed the on and off switch, which also controls the speeds (did I mention that?), the housing unit fell off its stand and into the custard. OK, start over. Give this baby another chance. The higher speed did improve things a bit, and I did witness Stir Crazy's making a few jumping circles around the pan, but after several rotations, it looked like the batteries were giving out. (Maybe they got wet when they fell into the custard?) In frustration, I removed the gizmo and got out my whisk. Joyfully, the custard, less delicate than first thought, survived.
If you're looking for a gentle back massager, you might enjoy Stir Crazy. Curious about on-line reviews of this product? They averaged just 1.5, out of a possible rating of 5. What a surprise.
Eggies: Hard Boiled Eggs without the Shell
Eggies does everything it claimed to do, and I really wanted to like it, but didn't. Essentially, here's how they work. You crack your egg and let it drop into a plastic mold that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or oil (you cannot skip this step, or your eggs will not come out of the mold), twist the cover on and boil them in water like you would normally do for making hard boiled eggs. After about 15 minutes, the large eggs I was boiling were done. So far so good. After allowing the molds to cool a bit, I removed the eggs. They did pop right out, but the outsides of the eggs looked kind of bumpy. (The Eggies website explains that I might have overgreased the insides of the mold. I thought I was gentle. I thought I wiped out the excess. My bad, I guess.) Bumps aside, I was still relatively happy. No shells to clean up and a square bottom to make slicing easier is going to be kind of nice. Now, on to the taste test. The only word that come to mind is "rubbery." I know you can't taste "rubbery," but, I'm sorry -- that's how they tasted. (I wondered if they'd bounce if put to the test.) To be blunt, the Eggies appeared freakish -- especially the ones made from the egg substitute.
Oh, I almost forgot. The molds can leak if you're not extra careful about how you fill and tighten them. On top of that, they are none too easy to clean, even if they can be placed in the top rack of your dishwasher. (Remember, the premise behind Eggies is to save you work.) If an egg with the texture of rubber outweighs your disdain for peeling eggshells, you can pick up Eggies for about $10. I've seen them drugstores all over the place, so check those before paying fees for shipping. If the store doesn't have an "As Seen on TV" section, check the toy aisle. Eggies could possibly be stocked next to the bouncing balls. If you've had enough and want to give making hard boiled eggs the old fashioned way another go, here's a good way to do it.
The Old Fashioned Way: How to hard boil and peel an egg
* Place eggs in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer.
* Add water to cover eggs by at least 1 inch.
* Bring eggs to boil, then simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and crack the wide end of the shell.
* Immediately quick-chill eggs by submerging into a large bowl of ice water.
* To peel, crack each egg on a hard surface. Beginning at wide end, peel eggs under running cold water.