Having the Times of Their Lives

Times Staff Writer

Everything is becoming high-tech nowadays. Even kitchen timers. One of the simplest gadgets in the world--that is, they used to be--these timing mechanisms are a boon to busy cooks who don't have time to watch a pot boil, and they offer an easy solution to forgetting the time and burning that precious souffle or cake.

Although most kitchens with ovens have built-in timers in the units, it's nice to have a portable one handy for other purposes. Here are some of the newer timers in the market--the simple ones with knobs that turn clockwise are still around, with a few little features added:

--From West Bend, the Electronic Triple Timer can time three activities at the same time, from 10 hours down to one second. Battery-operated (it uses two AA batteries), the 3-inch square cream-colored timer with red push buttons has three channels to clock three separate chores. For instance, one can set it to take the cheesecake out of the oven, to time a phone call and to turn off the sprinklers. The time is announced in each channel with a distinct electronic tone, and an arrow will indicate which channel is alarming.

Easy to read, the digital display flashes time in hours, minutes and seconds. The Triple Timer is the newest in West Bend's line of microcomputer controlled timers . . . a great help for timing those different chores all in one, so long as you can remember what each channel is for.

--Another all-purpose electronic timer comes from Krups in Germany. The sleek pocket-size Timetronic is flat and rectangular in shape, conveniently provided with a hook at one side and a magnet at the back. Cream-colored as a whole, it has green dot-like press buttons and a small digital display that shows readouts in minutes (up to 99 minutes) and seconds.

The forward and reverse press-button switches are used for adjusting time, a light touch for slowly moving it back or forward and a hard pressure for fast running. When time is up, this little Krups timer beeps eight times. The unit may be operated with one round cell battery and has a one-year guarantee for condition and performance.

Can Be Mounted On the Wall

--Also from Germany is the Two-Hour Kienzle Timer, exclusively made for Williams-Sonoma. Measuring about 3 7/8-inch square, the timer can be wall-mounted. It carries the traditional look with bold black numerals and comes in white face with bright blue knob and base. Like all timers of this type, the knob is wound around the full circle, then set to the required time period by turning it backward.

--Getting away from the traditional look, the beige-colored egg-shape timer has enjoyed popular appeal. Made by Italora SpA-Milano in Italy, the 60-minute timer operates with an easy twist of the pointed top half to the time required. The bell is short but distinct and loud enough to be heard. Although it appears light and flimsy, the "egg" is really quite sturdy, and sits firmly on its base.

--Another portable manual timer is the Bell Timer from Japan. The round-shaped device that times up to 60 minutes has a magnet in the back for attaching to metal surfaces and a cord for hanging around your neck when you want to take it with you while doing other chores.

The West Bend Electronic Triple Timer (suggested retail: $35), and the Two-Hour Kienzle Timer ($18) are both available at Williams-Sonoma stores or from their mail order department: P.O. Box 7456, San Francisco 94120-7456; phone orders: (415) 652-9007.

Krups Timetronic ($24) and the Bell Timer ($12) are available at Cook's Corner chain of stores. The egg-shaped timer is also available at Cook's Corner and at Robinson's ($12.99).

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