Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh My Gosh, There's A Market For These! Chef's Choice International's Cordless Electric Kettle Works!

The Good: Boils water fast, Easy to clean, Pot is virtually indestructible, Safe
The Bad: Utterly unnecessary, Expensive!
The Basics: One of those products that is pretty great when one suddenly finds they need one, the Chef's Choice Electric Kettle is safe and convenient for boiling water.

I've been drinking a lot lately. It is winter and find myself drinking a ridiculous amount of hot drinks. As I eagerly await a replacement coffee pot for my Hamilton Beach coffee maker (reviewed here!), I have been drinking a lot more tea. A LOT more tea. For those who read my many reviews, this might not come as much of a surprise; after all, I make a yearly trip to Celestial Seasonings to stock up on teas and I've been reviewing my way through their stock at a pretty impressive pace.

However, I've recently moved. All that recent "economic downturn" stuff you hear about, well, that resulted in me losing my house. But actually, it's okay (on the good days) because now that I'm not desperately working week to week to try to make payments on a house that is far too large for me alone anyway, I can focus on writing and reviewing and things I actually care about instead of money. This has manifested in me taking over the upstairs of my mother's house where I paint, write and read/watch movies/listen to music throughout the days and deep into the nights. And I drink. However, living with another person means making some adaptations. We can't do things the way we are used to all of the time and we are forced to compromise. In this case, it means not using the stove to boil water (seriously, don't ask me why, it's the law of the weird land I find myself in).

Unwilling to microwave tea (very bad for the tea leaves!) and not eager to make more dishes (I already miss having a dishwasher!) by boiling vast amounts of water in the microwave in one vessel and pouring it into my steeping pot, I suddenly found myself in the unenviable position of having to buy an electric kettle. I write "unenviable" because I have spent the past few years mocking this product. It is redundant, uses electricity (albeit less than a microwave), and has always seemed pointless to me. After all, who needs an electric pot that plugs in and boils water?!

Well, now I know: people who live with bat-shit crazy housemates! In all seriousness, the first time I encountered an electric kettle it made little sense to me that the people who owned it would have one until it came time to make dinner and tea at the same time. Their stove only has two burners (the other half of the stovetop is some sort of strange grill/griddle thing I swear I have never seen them use) and while they were cooking, they used the electric kettle on a nearby counter, it suddenly didn't seem entirely worthless to me. Moreover, I can see how those who are trapped in some strange, corporate jungle surrounded by caffeine-addicted coffee drinkers might like one of these to boil clean water to be the rogue caffeine-addicted tea drinker. Or mix it up with boiling water for a cup of soup or hot cocoa. Take that Corporate America Coffee-only Stereotype!

Living in the middle of nowhere as I do, my choices for an Electric Kettle when I went out to the store (couldn't do without tea AND coffee!) were: the Chef's Choice International Cordless Electric Kettle and . . . going without. So, I sucked up the hefty $49.99 + tax price tag from Bed, Bath & Beyond and brought home this thing I was begrudging the need to buy anyway (there's a stove right there!).

And frankly, this might be one of the best kitchen gadget tools I have bought since I finally found my ultimate coffee grinder. Eventually, there will be a fight between my mother and I and I'll be able to make tea upstairs because with the Chef's Choice Cordless Electric Kettle, there is simply no reason why I couldn't.

Let's start with the basics. The Cordless Electric Kettle from Chef's Choice is a two-piece electric gizmo that makes the user feel like they either must be a complete idiot who needs a separate tool to boil water or a hermit who never wants to leave their room/cubicle. I'm opting for the latter, myself. The Cordless Electric Kettle is comprised of a black plastic base and the actual kettle.

The base is a simple seven and a half inch in diameter plastic disc with a cord that plugs into a three-prong wall socket. The cord is only three feet long, but for those who do not need a cord that has to stretch even that far, below the disc are tabs that allow the user to wind the cord up and contain it under the unit. This is handy and there are no issues (I've had) with keeping the base level after winding the cord under it. There are soft-rubber feet on the underside which both protect finer surfaces from any sort of scratching from the plastic bass. Moreover, the rubber feet provide friction so the unit is remarkably stable and does not move from any flat surface I've set it upon. Considering the whole point of this gadget is to boil water, this is probably a great idea and I have found that it works quite well.

Atop the disc is a knob that comes from a slightly raised, contoured inner disc. This is where the kettle itself attaches to the base. The base simply plugs into the wall and sits where one leaves it.

The actual electric kettle portion is a nine-inch tall stainless steel pot that is accented with dull black plastic for the handle and flip top. The kettle sets on the base and when together, they are very stable and hard to tip over. The kettle has a 1.7 Liter capacity (in practical terms, this is two full steeping pots worth of tea!) and that takes approximately five minutes to come to a very full boil.

Operating this is so simple it almost defies explanation: fill with water, place the kettle on the base (assuming it's plugged in), depress the "on" button on the back of the kettle (it lights up orange when active) and wait. How will you know your water is boiled and ready? The unit turns itself off when it is done. Can you burn your house/office down with it? Nope; it shuts off.

And then all you need to do is pour your boiling water out and that's . . . well, as easy as pouring water. Refilling the unit is a snap because of the spring-loaded top which opens by pressing a button on the handle. Moreover, the button is positioned in such a way that makes accidentally opening the top and spilling boiling water on oneself virtually impossible.

Yes, it's idiot-proof water boiling and while some of us might have cynically suggested in the past that only an idiot would need this product, it is ridiculously helpful in situations where one needs boiled water but does not have access to a stove. Or just hates interacting with their coworkers. Or housemates. Or the mole people, for that matter.

Cleanup is also incredibly easy. First, I recommend only using filtered water in the unit. This forever eliminates the need to clean inside because nothing ever builds up inside. The stylish stainless steel outside easily is cleaned with a cloth, though if you're just boiling water in it, I can't imagine what you'd get on the outside that it would need cleaning. Don't let children with jam-covered hands touch it and it might never need to be cleaned inside or out!

As for the base, a damp cloth cleans that up (unplug it first).

This is one of those devices that does exactly what it promises and I have to say, I like that it is made of metal. Having broken far too many coffee pots, having a metal kettle both boils the water fast and assures me that I won't have to shell out for another one of these . . . hopefully ever. The kettle gets hot, but so does anything one boils water in so, the rules of common sense do apply.

For those who might need to boil water outside a kitchen stove, this is pretty much the best device to do it with; I just wish the initial and operating costs were a little less expensive.

For other fun kitchen gadgets reviewed by me, please check out my takes on the:
Frigidaire FDB750RC Stainless Steel Dishwasher
Cuisinart ICE-20/ICE-21 Ice Cream Maker
Hamilton Beach 727 Milkshake mixer


For other kitchen appliances, please visit my index page!

© 2008, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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