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Shake out those unpopped kernels

If we spend one-third of our lives in the bedroom, just how much time do we spend in the kitchen? As evidenced by the constant flow of new time-saving products, probably less than ever before.

Over the years, the microwave oven has cooked its way into our impatient lifestyles. But if there is one usage that this appliance has become synonymous with, it is the quick, easy preparation of popcorn.

So, now that there is a gadget that prepares popcorn, how about one that helps us eat it?

It's called the Great Shakes Popcorn Bowl and is probably one of the most ingenious devices I have ever seen.

This plastic bowl features a grating that is elevated about 1 inch from the bottom. To use, just pour a bag of freshly popped popcorn into the bowl and shake for a few seconds.

This action causes the unpopped kernels to fall to the bottom through the grating and be separated from the popcorn. This way, you won't inadvertently chomp on a kernel and destroy your dental work. In fact, probably the only ones who won't like this product are dentists.

The Great Shakes Popcorn Bowl is available at major department, cooking and gourmet stores and sells for $7.

Another biting problem can occur when eating fresh cherries. You have to eat each cherry carefully to avoid biting down on a pit. There is a solution, though: the Cherry Stoner.

This plastic device attaches to a counter top and has a reservoir that holds about 30 cherries and dispenses them one at a time to a pitting area.

To use, you just press its spring-loaded plunger. This action presses a steel rod through the cherry, dropping the pit into a holding area and allowing the pitted cherry to roll into a serving bowl. After each plunge, another cherry automatically rolls into the pitting area, awaiting the press of the plunger.

Ideal for those who like to bake fresh cherry pies, the Cherry Stoner sells for $20. For more information, call Back to Basics at (800) 688-1989.

When it comes to buying bananas, most of us look for ones without bruises. But how do we keep them bruise-free after we get them home? With the Banana Hang-ups.

This device rests on a counter top and features a hook which grabs a bunch of bananas by the stem and keeps them from bruising on the counter. It is also ideal for allowing green bananas to ripen.

The Banana Hang-ups sells for $15. For more information, call Promises Kept at (800) 888-3545, item No. 3600.

Those who enjoy cooking with garlic know that it is not those recipes that call for a clove or two that are the problem. It's when multiple cloves are required that the preparation becomes tedious.

Because most garlic presses are designed for only one or two cloves, it can be time-consuming to press a larger quantity. But that's where Chef'n's Garlic Machine comes to the rescue.

This unit allows for not just one or two but up to one dozen cloves of peeled garlic to be inserted into its cylinder. It features a twist handle that is attached to a pressing plate.

Each twist of the handle causes the plate to press onto the enclosed garlic _ meaning you can press all the cloves in just a matter of seconds.

Chef'n's Garlic Machine sells for $10. For more information, call (800) 426-7101.

Washing your hands before cooking has never been easier. That is, if you own Hygeia's Automatic Soap Dispenser.

This unit attaches to a wall and plugs in for power. It has a reservoir that holds up to 4 ounces of liquid soap.

It features an infrared sensor that knows when your hand is below the unit and automatically dispenses a dollop of liquid soap directly into your hand.

The Automatic Soap Dispenser sells for $60. For more information, call 1-800-966-5367.

Have a question? Write to the Gadget Guru c/o the Times, 95 White Bridge Road, Suite 503, Nashville, TN 37205. The FAX number is (615) 356-9596.

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