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Advice & More December 2015

Rainbow Kitchen

Gifts, Gadgets and Good Stuff for Your Kitchen

By Allison St. Claire

But even if you’re able bodied and nimble fingered, I’ve recently found three reasonably priced, easy to use and really helpful for however much time you spend in your kitchen.

For Thanksgiving recently, I not only expressed my love and gratitude for the people in my life, but actually dipped my toe into being thankful for many things that make my daily living chores bearable, if not a whole lot more pleasant. And since this column is centered on what we do in kitchens, here’s my most recent list of some of the small stuff that works for me in that important area.

First, I love to cook. But second, third and fourth – I hate slimy sponges, I curse and whine that so many things in cans and jars come with flip tops or tight lids I can’t open, and I can’t stand the crumbs and peelings and general debris that accumulates on the kitchen floor.

I’m a polio survivor, am losing a lot of muscle strength and fine control, and live in a wheelchair. I’m starting to drop a lot of things, especially peelings and drips and crumbs. The list is endless – if I’m holding it or trying to pick it up or peel or chop it, pretty soon I won’t be, or at least only part of it. The floor starts to look like the bottom of a trash can, and stuff crunching under the wheels as I roll around is disgusting and unsightly. Between arthritis and muscle weakness, even trying to pop the top on a can of tuna or soup or pet food is daunting if not impossible to accomplish without the aid of an electric can opener – or a claw hammer, whichever is closer.

And do any of us need an excuse to recoil at the look and feel of a slimy kitchen sponge?

But even if you’re able bodied and nimble fingered, I’ve recently found three reasonably priced, easy to use and really helpful tools for however much time you spend in your kitchen. No matter your age, if you want to find a useful gift for a senior or a treat for yourself, don’t let the marketing message “perfect for a senior” turn you off.

Almost 40 years ago I visited one of the first older adult communities as a reporter. I was stunned at how many simple, commonsense features that were touted as specifically for seniors – like door levers rather than knobs, rounded corners on kitchen cabinets or other things you might bump into while walking past, or waist-level electrical wall plugs – – have become commonplace today. As any real estate agent or architect will assure you, senior-friendly designs only add to a home’s value because everyone appreciates them. So much so, I notice they’ve started calling it “universal design.” I consider the following useful as well as universal design.

Back to the kitchen. Despite the over-the-top name (pun intended), the Extreme Magic Opener, makes for easy opening of flip top cans and twist tops on bottles. I especially appreciate its utility in opening pop top cans; I was getting really tired of trying to devise Rube Goldberg devices to get to the contents.

Roughly the size of a small wrench, this multi-purpose opener features multiple gear-like “grabbers” on the underside designed for different types and sizes of bottles and cans. It fits in a drawer or magnetically attaches to the refrigerator or stove.

For all the debris that makes it to the floor, a little vacuum with an extraordinarily big name is a godsend. The Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra Stick Vacuum is lightweight and easily maneuverable. Best of all no cord to tangle your feet in or have to run over if you’re chairbound, or don’t have any spare or easily accessible (read: not hidden by furniture) electrical outlets. It also has a crevice tool and dusting brush and a self-cleaning brush roller that brings particular joy to those of us with shedding animal companions.

Not to put you off your feed, but here are some interesting and unappetizing statistics: Bacteria on a sponge doubles every 20 minutes; a dish sponge is the #1 cross-contaminator of food-borne illnesses in the kitchen; and a typical dish sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. There are lots of scrubbers available but I like this one. Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubbers are a patented cleaning product that is uniquely designed to resist more than 99% of odor-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew and are BPA free. Made in the USA, these soft silicone dish scrubbers replace sponges and other kitchen rags with its new technology that promotes antimicrobial odor protection – and it even smells like peaches.


Allison St. Claire loves to dream about, study, grow, play with, prepare and ultimately enjoy eating great food.

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