Kitchen Equipment Essentials, Part 3 (Small Appliances)
In my quest to help people put together a kitchen filled with everything they’ll need to whip up delicious homemade meals, I’m here today to talk about appliances. But not big ones like stoves or refrigerators (you guys are on your own there, I’m not a Sears salesperson). I’m talking about small appliances. The helpful ones that either take up valuable counter space or are tucked away for occasional (but-I’m-so-glad-I-have-this) use.
Now, I have limited kitchen storage space, so if something isn’t getting used at least month a month or so, it’s probably in the bag for my next Goodwill drop-off. While I do have a few things I could certainly get by without, I DON’T have space for something like this:
Yes, that’s a breakfast-sandwich-all-in-one maker. Seems a bit ridiculous, no? Here’s the small appliances that I actually use you and love:
Electric Griddle – Look at that, all of the elements for a breakfast sandwich on a griddle. But this appliance is a total multi-tasker – it’s great for way more than fake McMuffins. I use it to griddlepolenta cakes and sweet potato cakes. You can toast crostini on it, and of course it’s good forpancakes. My husband and I joke that this $20 griddle changed our lives, but in a way, it kind of did. Before griddle: we’d toast the English muffins (one at a time) in the toaster, do the sausage in one nonstick pan, and the eggs, in batches, in our second nonstick pan. If we wanted hash browns? Well, we were out of nonstick pans, so good luck. After griddle: put it ALL on the griddle. Relax. Drink coffee. Speaking of coffee…
Grind & Brew Coffee Maker – I use my french press when I’m just brewing a cup for myself. But when Jeff and I are both home on weekends, or we have overnight guests, we obviously need a bigger pot o’ coffee option. We received this coffee maker as a wedding gift five years ago, and it’s still going strong. You dump fresh coffee beans in the top (it’s an airtight reservoir to keep extra beans fresh), pour some water in, and let it do it’s magic. Based on how many cups you need (2 – 12 cups), it drops the appropriate amount of beans into the grinder, grinds them up, and brews your coffee. Oh, and it keeps it hot for two hours. Perfect for lazy weekend mornings catching up on bad TV.
Toaster – If you haven’t already figured it out, we love breakfast! While the griddle works well for toasting English muffins when you’re already making the rest of your breakfast items, sometimes you only want an Everything English Muffin, ya know? Actually, I would guess that 99.5% of all items toasted in this toaster have been English muffins. So you could consider this a one-hit-wonder. A very necessary one-hit-wonder. OK, enough breakfast…
Food Processor – This is one of those things that I only use about once a month, but when I use it, I’m REALLY glad I have it. It’s great for making homemade pie crust, pesto, blended sauces and marinades, curry pastes and salad dressings. But one of the best things about it is the shredding blade attachment that came with it. Need to shred a bunch of cabbage for coleslaw,potatoes for potato cakes, or a ton of cheese for mac and cheese for a crowd? Leave the box shredder in the cupboard – this shredding attachment will buzz it into perfect shreds in a matter of seconds. It’s like magic.
It’s not magic Michael, it’s an illusion. #arresteddevelopment.
Stand Mixer – Oh, how I love my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer. I don’t ever take her for granted, because I didn’t have one for a looooonnnnggg time. I foolishly did not register for one when I got married, and I held out for a long time because it’s such a big chunk of change for one appliance. After making 3 flavors of nearly 100 cupcakes for a party with a hand mixer, I decided the time had come. I used my hoarded Wiliams-Sonoma gift cards, a sale promo code, and a professional chefs/culinary student discount that W-S offers, and she was mine. My pretty, pretty cobalt blue princess. I love her and wipe her with a soft rag to keep her meticulously clean at all times. And I audibly thank her for making my life easier after she helps me with a big batch of thick cookie dough.
Blender – I’m showing you a picture of a crappy $20 blender but linking to a top-of-the-line Vitamix. Why? It’s a current blender / dream blender scenario. My current blender came about because I heard on the news years ago that Linens ‘n Things was going out of business, but realized I had a gift card. I rushed to the (mostly picked over) store and panicked and grabbed a blender since I didn’t own one. It’s….OK. It will sort of blend things that are already soft. It’s called “The Crushmaster,” but does it truly crush things? Ummm….no. And now it’s starting to leak a black fluid out of the mechanical gears. Probably not so good. So I’m currently asking for Williams-Sonoma gift cards for each birthday and Christmas in hopes that I’ll have enough for a Vitamix one day.
Slow Cooker – Can a slow cooker be considered an impulse buy? If so, this was. I was at Williams-Sonoma buying Christmas gifts for family. I realized that all appliances were 40% off that day for those with the Wiliams-Sonoma for Professional Chefs discount. 40%, people! This slow cooker was coming to the register with me. I will admit that I don’t use it as much as I’d like to. It IS nice to have in the winter, especially when you want to hit the gym after work, and when you get home you are starving. Oh yeah, dinner is served. NOW. Next winter, maybe I’ll have a weekly slow cooker blog recipe or something to inspire myself to use it more often.
If you liked this post, you may want to check out the first 2 installments of the “kitchen equipment essentials” series: Part 1 (large things) and Part 2 (small things).