Kitchen gadget essentials: When a knife won't cut it

Bean slicers, avocado scoops, twirling spaghetti forks, apple corers, teabag squeezers, butter curlers, rice cookers and musical pizza wheels... sheesh - even Narnia kitchen cupboards would not tempt me to buy any of these contraptions.

They don't solve problems, they just raise questions like: what was Jamie Oliver thinking with the "Flavour Shaker"? Why was the egg separator invented when the two shell halves do the job and they come free with the egg? And who the hell made the humble garlic the food most in need of gadgetry? Why do we fill our drawers with garlic crushers (use the side of the knife), graters (chop finely with a knife), slicers (knife), shredders (knife), peelers (knife, knife, KNIFE damn you!) and why do you have to then store the bulbs in a special "garlic keeper"?

I opt for a more hands on approach to cooking and I think a set of the best knives you can afford and a knife sharpener should eliminate the need for 98% of these landfill loving gizmos.

However there are a few things I would be lost without. Now, it is debatable whether these are gadgets or tools but they are as close as I get...

Number one for versatility and usefulness is the mini chopper. Utterly essential in my (cook) book. This little puppy blitzes everything in its path - chopping nuts for cakes, making an onion and herb mix fine enough for fish cakes and meatballs, smoothing home-made hummus and producing bag loads of quality bread crumbs. It rocks.

Second on the list would be the stick blender. Soups in seconds and fulfills my criteria for any item in my kitchen - easy to wash up.

Making pasta would be very tedious without my pasta machine. I did scrimp on the make of my one and regret it and wish I had gone for the Imperia range. My ravioli trays were difficult to master but after a few trials and tantrums I found that a heavy (real heavy) dusting with flour in the tray before each batch ensured they didn't stick. That then left me with the ability to knock out a whole heap of perfect little ravioli for a dinner party that would have taken hours to do by hand. Now that is a good gadget.

Read reviews, buy smart and you can't go far wrong.

But we all have skeletons in our kitchen cupboards. My dirty gadget confession would have to be an olive spoon. Essentially a spoon with a hole in the bottom and a hook on the side to hang it on the jar. I know.