What had started as a simple, straight forward vision quickly snowballed into a Swiss army kitchen tool monstrosity. What other things do you do to vegetables to prepare them for cooking? Well, you have to peel several of them, for starters! How do I incorporate a vegetable peeler into my tool as well? How do I IMPROVE on the vegetable peeler so that I can create a better tool than what already exists? Before I knew it, I was trying to solve problems I had never intended to solve in the first place.
Since the kale stemmer had pliable arms, I thought I could apply that notion to the super-veggie sculptor, or whatever I was creating at this point. I could use tongs, but instead of grippers at the end, that’s where the peelers would go so you could peel TWO sides of the vegetable at once! Never mind how you would hold whatever root you were mutilating, I just doubled productivity!
I could add the stem slicers to the ends of the peeler arms and viola! You have a veritable Trogdor of a kitchen contraption. (Thanks MetaStackExchange for the original graphic, and Strongbad, of course…)
This was clearly getting out of hand. After turning the whole thing over in my head for another week or so, I had come to the conclusion that I had invented the biggest pile of crap ever. Maybe I was right the first time around, and have it only do one thing, and one thing well. I went back to the hard plastic model I liked best and thought about how to add working blades to it so I could test how it worked in the real world.
I got as far as hot glueing razor blades to the model when my roomie Brandon asked if I knew about the finger method of stemming kale. I suppressed a juvenile giggle and professed I did not. He grabbed a piece of kale, made a little noose around the bottom of the stem with his index finger and thumb and pulled the leaf with the other hand through the noose. In an instant, curly leaves were all over the counter and he held a bare stem. I stared at it, heartbroken.
How did I miss this? I would later try this technique with different types of greens and–with the exception of collard greens–it worked for the most part. It wasn’t perfect, but about 80% of the time it got the job done.
Had my whole idea of the kale stemmer been a product of overthink? Do I really need to invent a tool that my hands are able to carry out somewhat sufficiently on their own? This new revelation had really impacted me. I had started preparing my greens using this technique each morning. Maybe I didn’t have anything worth making in the first place.
Then again, we do live in a consumerist society! I decided that maybe my idea was not good enough to waste anymore of my own time or energy on, but maybe it’s worth wasting other people’s! Besides, my tool would be 100% effective for ALL leafy greens!
That’s why I’ve launched a Quirky campaign! In the off-chance they do not approve my campaign, maybe I’ll tinker around with it some more and put it up on Shapeways and see how well it does there. I’ve even got a great name: the Stem-sational!
With your help, I can make this idea a reality with minimal effort! You are required to sign up for Quirky because social media, but it is free. Now go get voting! I’ll let you know where we land next week!
[Author’s note: since the voting period is only open for about two weeks, it’s safe to say that the above link is now completely useless. I debated edited the post to be in past tense, but ultimately decided to leave in it’s original form with this addendum.]