Top 10 Useful Kitchen Appliances That My Foodie Friends Make Fun Of
Katharine Shilcutt's trashing of useless kitchen appliances really made me hot under the collar. I have all of those appliances -- except the electric cheese grater. And I intend to go buy an electric cheese grater this weekend.
Then I will invite Katharine over for spaghetti and make her grate the parmesan by hand until her knuckles bleed. "Oh, I forgot to tell you -- I have an electric cheese grater!" I will suddenly reveal in triumph as I hand her the Band-Aids.
Meanwhile, here is a list of treasured kitchen appliances that my foodie friends make fun of:
Ten years ago, I bought a bunch of old kitchen equipment when a friend cleaned out an elderly relative's storage unit. The price was cheap, but the deal was, I had to take everything. I had no idea what I was going to do with the old, white 18-quart turkey roaster oven. But it has since become a prized possession.
While researching my Tex-Mex Cookbook, I asked a lot of people down in the Valley how they cooked cow heads for barbacoa. One lady told me that when her family in Los Ebanos got together for a big pachanga, they wrapped heads in wet cloth, stuck them inside 10-gallon lard cans, buried them, built a fire on top and let the coals cook the heads all night.
"But when I am making just enough for my immediate family, I stick the cabeza in an 18-quart turkey roaster oven with some water," she told me. I started making barbacoa in my turkey roaster oven, and it came out wonderful. It's also a great way to steam a large batch of tamales, cook two whole chickens in a bath of Riesling or -- roast a turkey.
It's really just an extra oven. But the best thing about it -- if you live in Texas -- is that you can set it up outside in the summer to cook without heating up the house.
I got my Panasonic bread machine in the same storage unit clean-out deal. I thought I hated bread machines. Now I bake fresh bread in it nearly every day. As I learned from Beth Hensperger's Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook the utility of a bread machine isn't really in the baking, it's in the rising.
I could never get my dough to rise when I tried to bake bread until I got a bread machine. A bread machine is a rising oven that warms the ingredients before mixing, then keeps the dough at a perfect 100 degree temperature while the yeast does its thing. As Hensperger explains, you use any recipe you want and take the dough out to bake it if you don't like the goofy shape.
If you have kids who demand white sandwich bread, white bread from a bread machine is a great alternative to Wonder Bread.
I know, I know: "Why in the world do you need an electric appliance to boil water?" Especially when they make so many cute designer tea kettles that you can leave on your stove.
Ask anybody who drinks a lot of tea. They'll tell you that an electric tea kettle boils water so fast you barely have time to find the teapot. And if you walk away and forget you left it on, it turns itself off with an automatic switch.
This is a tea drinker's favorite appliance.
4. Electric Egg Cooker
An electric egg cooker make perfect three-minute soft-boiled eggs every time. You determine the cooking time by measuring the water you put in it. When it runs out of water, it shuts off. It comes with a measuring device that indicates the doneness of the egg rather than the cups or tablespoons.
While our kitchen was being redone, the electric tea kettle and electric egg cooker provided a hot breakfast every morning.