Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances

Kitchen appliances are funny things.  For many of us, we have the same ones that our parents had when we were kids.  For me, it was my Kitchenaid that I saved up for when I was 20 because I couldn't imagine making cookies without it.  I was living on next to nothing, but the kitchenaid was worth saving for!  We also add a few along the way, like our grain mill and coffee grinder.  Sometimes the appliances we get end up on our counters and sometimes they end up in the garage.  I remember one gal who had a quesadilla maker and I always wondered where she found room to store it.  She probably wondered the same thing about my rice cooker!

On my counters are quite a lot of appliances, considering the small space we have.  Our Bunn coffee maker (which I love!) sits on one small section, a large knife block on another section and in the largest section is a round container with utensils, my Vitamix, the grain mill, and the coffee grinder.  Our miniature microwave is on a kitchen cart around the corner from the coffee maker.  The 2 slice toaster is in the cupboard, but it comes out easily enough as does my rice cooker.  Our kitchenaid mixer sits on our kitchen island.  I used to have 2 crockpots, one large and one small.  The small one's knob got broken by my youngest son over a year ago, so I finally got rid of it a month ago and am now down to just the large one.  My zojirushi bread machine actually sits on a shelf on my book shelf in the space between the living room and dining room.  I suppose that sounds like a lot of appliances, but I use them all! 

I have tried to simplify over the years.  My vitamix replaced my food processor and my blender.  I also thought about getting a grind and brew, but if one part of it breaks, the whole machine is done for.  Our coffee maker died two years ago, but our grinder has been going strong for four or five years now.  Kitchenaids aren't really made to handle wheat dough, so I can't get around having a bread machine either.  No simplifying  possible there.

I bought two gadgets in the spring that I really thought I wanted and sadly, I've used one of them once and the other not at all.  I am so surprised by this, so I wanted to share about them.  They are a deep fryer and a Cuisinart ice cream machine.

The deep fryer has not been used.  At all.  What happened was that this summer I learned how to be a better fry cook with my cast iron pan with deep sides.  It's less to store and less to clean.  The other day we pulled the fryer out with the intention of using for the first time when we realized that deep fryers are really made for refrying precooked items!  If you use raw potatoes for french fries you have to double fry them for quite along and it is not a simple process, either.  It involves soaking the potatoes in water for a time, frying them, letting them sit for a period of time, and then frying them again.  Wow!  But, frozen french fries are only fried for a few minutes and then will be done.  The realization of this was quite discouraging to me.  I had purchased it with the intention of being healthier by choosing to fry foods at home when the craving hits instead of eating them out.  I will still do that, but likely in my cast iron pan.  So, if you're local to me (you know who you are) and would like a new deep fryer, please just let me know.  It's truly brand new and has never been used.

The second appliance I still have hope for.  It's the Cuisinart ice cream maker.  I made it once and the kids loved it, but I have to have the right ingredients on hand and be able to get everything out.  The cylinder also has to have been frozen, which means a lot of space in my freezer is needed.  For a few months, it just felt like one more thing.  As much as I love to cook, by the end of the day, I'm whooped!  I don't want to do any more cooking and that's the time that would be most appropriate for making ice cream during the summer.  I do still have hope that maybe next summer will get into a routine and start making it regularly, but we'll see.

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