Five Essential Small Appliances Everyone Should Have In Their Kitchen
Kitchen gadgets are everywhere - even on television! If you happen to stay up late at night, you can see ads for Ninjas and Veg-O-Matics, Turbo Dehydrators and convection ovens. They all tell us that we NEED to have these things because they'll make our lives so much easier!
What they don't tell you is that these things cost about five times what they're actually worth and they'll probably break eleven minutes after the warranty is up.
With our busy lives these days, not to mention the lack of counter and storage space that some of us have in our homes, the small appliances we choose to buy and use in our kitchens cause some people a lot of anxiety. After all, if everyone in our neighborhood has that $1000 kitchen stand mixer (in lime green, no less) and we don't, we're not as good as they are, right?
Though society (and late night television) might tell you what you should buy to make your kitchen complete, I contend that there are really only five small appliances (not including your stove/oven, microwave and fridge) that you really need.
5. The Good Old Hand Mixer
Your mom might have had one of these, but many folks don't even consider them anymore. With those gorgeous stand mixers that cost more than your first born available, why would you want a plain old hand mixer?
Well, because they do a whole lot more than they used to. And, unless you're aspiring to be a gourmet chef, make your own bread or regularly bake cakes that can feed three dozen people, you really don't need that fancy contraption that is hard to find a home for when you're not using it.
A hand mixer can make whipped potatoes, fluff up egg whites for meringue and whip up your cake batter in no time. They're small, hand-held and efficient and they use less energy than their fancy counterparts.
When buying one of these, you don't need the two-hundred dollar top of the line number, but I wouldn't advise going too cheap. I burned out the motor of a ten dollar Dollar General number trying to make meringue for key lime pie, once.
That wasn't a lot of fun.
4. Crock Pot/Slow Cooker Madness
If you find yourself buying takeout more than twice a week because you're just too busy to cook, then you need to get yourself a crock pot.
For a long time, it seemed as if nobody used these things. Either we just didn't buy them or we kept them in the kitchen cabinet gathering dust.
Fortunately, there are about a million and one ways in which we can use these things now. There are even recipes for crock pot cake!
There are also a lot of people who are totally into bagging up their ingredients for their favorite crock pot meals and putting them in the freezer. Just before they go to work, they'll take out one of the meals, dump the contents into their crock pot, set the timer and go on about their day.
When they get home... voila! Instant tasty! Or, rather, eight hour tasty, but you get the picture.
I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have a pot roast and potatoes than a double greasy fat burger from a fast food joint.
3. Toaster/Toaster Oven - Who Doesn't Love Toast?
I once had roommates who could never find their toaster. How does that happen? All I wanted was some toast with my grits and eggs and had to fire up the oven to get what I wanted.
That's just bad juju.
Don't let this happen to you!
A toaster is a must for, well, everyone. Unless you like using up natural gas just to get two perfectly crispy slices of bread. The good thing about today's toasters is that they're versatile - they have multiple slots now and some of them are even made a little wider to accommodate bagels. Mine even has a special setting for Pop Tarts. Score!
A toaster oven is a whole different animal that works on the same principle. They're usually not much larger than a small microwave and people use them for all sorts of things. Personally, I like to make grilled cheese sandwiches in them when I'm too lazy to stand in front of the stove.
Not sure which one you should get?
There are new toaster/toaster oven hybrids available with slots on top for making toast and a teeny little oven that you can use to warm up your coffee cake.
2. Who Needs a Blender? YOU DO!
Top five reasons why you need a blender:
Did I mention milkshakes?
Seriously, though, blenders are pretty handy things to have. One of my favorite uses for them is my world famous in three cities cheddar broccoli soup. Yes, it has to be blended, otherwise the consistency is just... wrong.
These little gadgets are also great for making healthy smoothies, pulverizing vegetables or fruits for recipes and even chopping up ice for those fruity adult beverages that your kids are always wanting a taste of.
They're also fairly small in size so they store pretty easily and they're economical - you can find a great brand name blender for less than thirty bucks.
1. Not Really An Appliance, But EGG TIMER, Y'all!
Virtually everything we have is programmable anymore. I read somewhere that they even have special toilets in Japan that you can tell what you want them to do.
What could you possibly want a toilet to do??
Anyway, in this day and age, we're always busy. If you're the kind of person who puts a pot of noodles on the stove to boil then returns to the Jerry Springer Show, that phone call with your *gulp* mother in law or if you're busy making googly eyes at the cable guy, then you need an egg timer.
These things, sometimes called kitchen timers or referred to by the even catchier moniker "timers," come in all shapes and sizes. You can get them that count down just a few minutes to an hour or longer. There are even, yes, programmable kitchen timers. You can set one to yell "HEY, STUPID, QUIT LOOKING AT THE CABLE GUY'S BUTT AND GET YOUR NOODLES BEFORE THEY TURN TO MUSH."
Because, you know, noodles are meant to be al dente.