Cooking with Shirley Home Page
Appliances for the Kitchen
you have been to a kitchen store or the kitchen department of your favorite
department store, you will find dozens of small appliances you might think you
can't live without. I fell for the ads
and bought many of them. NOT
NECESSARY. There are a few essential
things you need and you should buy the really good ones. Better to spend you money on a few good items
rather than buying lots of things you may never use. Here are the things I have, use and either
like or find not exciting. I expect most kitchens already have the usual
refrigerator, stove or range-top and oven and microwave. I consider a freezer and a dishwasher
essential too along with a second prep sink.
- Stand Mixer. I bought the middle of the
line Kitchen Aid, but if you are a really heavy-duty cook or have a large
family, buy the larger one. Also, get a
second mixing bowl. You won't regret
it. I also bought the meat grinding
attachment. You can also get the
attachment that lets you make your own sausage links.
- Food Processor. I have the middle of the line,
but the reason I did was that my first processor was a gift from my son and I
had purchased several of the slicing and grating attachments to go with it. I like the high end processor, but my attachments
which aren't cheap, won't work on that model. I do just fine and made the first processor last for 19 years. It still works, but I wanted a larger bowl so
I purchased a new one. I have several
disks for alternate grating and slicing along with one that makes matchstick
pieces and regular French fry cuts. This
appliance I use almost on a daily basis. Don't pay extra to buy sliced or grated cheese. Buy in bulk and slice part and grate part and
store in plastic bags. When I make my
scalloped potatoes, I chop onion, grate cheese and slice potatoes. It cuts the prep time by two thirds. Make cole slaw in a fraction of the
time. I have a "drop dead
delicious" recipe for stuffed mushrooms. You absolutely must have a food processor for this one. I made 300 for a party once and had to use a
blender. Let me tell you, a blender is
ok if you want to mix exotic drinks, but not essential for cooking. I also have a tiny Kitchen Aid food processor
that is perfect for doing small amounts of chopping like garlic, herbs, spices,
ginger or just small amounts of onion, peppers or cucumbers.
- Food Saver. If you buy nothing else, this
is essential to every household. This
little appliance uses freezer-safe rolls of plastic bags which you cut into the
appropriate size for the item being bagged, sucks out all the air and seals the
bag. You then label it and freeze,
refrigerate or store the contents for later use. Air is what causes food to go bad so without
it, food will last longer. Cheese is
good for months. Protect against freezer
burn and ice crystals in frozen food. Keep coffee and coffee beans fresh longer in the freezer. Bags are reusable. We have the one that holds the roll of paper
and cuts the bags and I love it. I pull
out the roll, slide the cutting bar across, push instant seal and I have a bag
ready to use. I fill with the food item
and place the edge back in the Food Saver and press on the lid. It pulls out the air and seals the bag with
no further effort from me.
- Electric Knife Sharpener. I bought
the Galloping Gourmet's brand, but there are many out there that are good. Buy a good one and make sure the clerk at the
store can tell you which ones are best or go to one of the shopping channels
and watch them demo their products. A
dull knife is a dangerous knife. While
shopping, make sure you purchase really good knives. Do get a good variety (see my page on cutlery).
- Electric Coffee Pot. Mine is one with the thermos
instead of a regular pot. This way the
coffee stays fresh and hot for several house and doesn’t get that scorched
taste. It has a timer, but I never use the timer because by morning the water
is stale and so is the coffee. I would
only use a drip coffee pot and it should be cleaned periodically with vinegar
and rinsed 3 times. Do not put the pot
or the grounds basket in the dishwasher as it will taint the taste of the
coffee. I use a Britta filtered water
pitcher which I keep refrigerated. Cold
water works best. Add a pinch of salt and
cinnamon to the grounds. Buy whole beans
and grind your own for the very best coffee. If you like espressos and cappuccinos and all those exotic coffees, you
will have to shop around. Keep in mind
these exotic coffee machines take time to clean up. If you are a tea drinker instead, there are
some wonderful electric tea pots and tea is so good for you.
- Electric Coffee Grinder. I bought a
DeLonghi grinder and like it because it has several dial up choices for grind
size. It also holds a lot more and
stores a few days worth of whole beans. What a difference freshly ground beans make. However, I recently found a Kitchen Aid
grinder that I can use for both whole spices and or coffee as it has a
container that is dish-washer safe so you aren’t mingling coffee with spices
- Nesco Roaster Oven. This is essential if you only
have one oven. I would start with the 18
quart size since it is usually during a large holiday dinner that you need the
extra oven. I took it with me when we
went camping in our motor home and prepared a turkey outside for Christmas
while we were spending the holiday in the sunny south. A cookbook comes with it and it really does a
fabulous job of preparing food. These
ovens also come in a 4, 6 and 12 quart size and probably other sizes too. I have a small 4 quart size for cooking for two or taking hot dishes to another location like a pot
luck or to keep food hot on a buffet table. This is also something that comes in handy when you decide to remodel
your kitchen and you don't have a stove to use.
- Electric Meat Slicer. This you
will bless forever. Talk about saving
money on meat and making sandwiches easier. This is definitely the answer. Slice bulk cheese, bologna, salami and other deli sandwich meats. They are cheaper when purchased in bulk. I also use mine to slice cooked ham, pork,
beef or turkey for sandwiches, French dip, etc.
- Electric Toaster Oven. Mine is the
large Cuisinart and it is more than a toaster. Many think that the 4-slice
toaster is the ultimate, but it is so restricting. A toaster oven may only do two slices of
bread at a time, but you can get four bagel or English muffin halves in at one
time. But besides making toast, you can
broil meat, melt cheese on an omelet, heat a leftover, bake a potato, etc. It comes with a bake, broil or toast
function. The large one will do a
casserole on the holidays. Talk about multi uses.
- Electric Immersion Blender/Chopper. This
is a newer item, but I find it more useful than a regular blender. It also takes up less room. I use it to purée cream soups and sauces
almost exclusively. However, it can be
used to mix drinks, chop meat and vegetables and spices.
- Electric Pasta Maker. You have never
tasted chicken noodle soup like that made with homemade noodles. This isn’t an essential item, but it sure is
nice. It is quick and easy and you have a choice of many dies for a variety of
shapes. Clean up is fairly easy. Pasta can be frozen and is still better than
the dried purchased stuff. Make 8 or 9
different types and try making it with semolina flour and regular flour
together. Make it with or without eggs
or with only half eggs and half water. The hand cranked ones work nicely after
making your dough in your mixer.
- Bread Making Machine. Again, this
is not essential, but oh so nice. They
come with timers so you can go out after setting it up and it will come on at
the specified time, mix, knead, rise and bake a loaf of bread. There are hundreds of varieties and you can
also just make just the dough (such as pizza dough) for pizza, bread loaves,
rolls, cinnamon swirls, etc., and bake it in your own form. It would be a good idea to buy a good Electric
Bread cookbook rather than spending the big bucks on the boxed mixes since they
don't save that much time and are pretty expensive, based on the simple
ingredients they contain.
- Electric Cordless Kettle. I didn't
get excited over this item until I spent some time in
Singapore in an
apartment. This is an essential item
over there and in many countries. It
only takes a couple of minutes to boil a quart or quart and a half of water for
tea, instant coffee, starting pasta or rice to hurry it along. The cordless aspect is great because you can
walk across the kitchen with the pot. I
have actually stopped using the Instant Hot Water Faucet on my sink for
anything but a quick cup of coffee or cocoa because you only get a small
amount. We brought our kettle home and
had our electrician install a couple of 220 outlets to accommodate the
appliances we purchased over there. When
he did this he installed outlets with only one plug-in, but which had a switch
like a light switch toggle to actually turn off the power to the outlet. We also had those installed on our regular
110 outlets for safety purposes because we had one appliance turn itself on one
time all by itself. I feel safer when I
leave the house and all the appliances like the coffee pot, toaster, iron and
cordless kettle are all rendered inactive.
- Rotisserie and Barbecue. You’ve seen it on infomercials. Let me tell you it is everything it is touted
to be. Everything is so juice and
good. The times that are suggested are
pretty much always right on. We use it
all the time. Get the large one if you
plan to do turkeys or large cuts of meat or if you entertain a lot. It is a healthy way to prepare food and can
be used indoors in cold or rainy weather.
- Electric Grill/Sandwich Maker. This is another item that has double uses. It makes wonderful grilled sandwiches –
several at a time or grill meat, bacon, seafood and poultry. Again a nice, healthy way to prepare food and
can be used indoors. They come in a size
for a single person or all the way to HUGE.
- Electric Waffle Maker. Not
essential, but again nice. They come
with square, deep-dish Belgian or thinner round classic waffles. Make hearts and other fancy shapes with some
- Electric Ice Cream Maker. Not
essential, but again, sure is nice. The
ice cream is soooo good and you can make just about any flavor you want along
with low fat.
- Electric Rice Cooker. This is
nice if you have a large family and/or use a lot of rice. I find that I can use a regular pan and make
just the small amount we need.
- Electric Skillet. I still have mine and only use
it occasionally, but I guess I refuse to give it up because I really like it
for certain things. Not essential, but
nice to have.Now
if you have unlimited space and really get off on having a gadget for every
use, listed below are some other small electrical appliances I've purchased
over the years. I found that I never
used them much and eventually sold them at a garage sale.
- Electric Egg Cooker - I do better in a pan
- Electric Griddle - A griddle on two stove burners is just as easy and much easier to
- Electric Juicer - Unless you are a health nut, lots of waste and no fiber.
- Electric Knife – Nice to have on holidays or when entertaining.
- Snow Cone Maker – Nice if you have kids.
- Fondue Pot - Too much fat and only two at a time can use it or the oil gets cold.
- Deep Fat Fryer - I still have mine and occasionally use it as we are trying to lose
weight. Get the kind that has the heat
element right in the oil so the oil stays hotter.
know they have a lot of other things out there, but
look at what you have already, think about how often you would use it. Think of
whether or not you could do the same thing on the stove or in the microwave and
consider how much valuable space you might be using to store it.
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