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Thursday, September 9

Appliances, Gadgets, and Whatnots...Oh My!!

I was standing in my kitchen last night, looking at all the appliances I have acquired over the years, and a thought occured to me...I have no counter space left!!  It's not that I don't use what I have, because I do.  Regularly.  It's just that, when you have limited space, you have to a wee bit more selective over what you own than I have been, apparently.

I have a can opener, food processor, mixer, coffee pot, vacumn sealer, blender, and convection oven...ALL on the countertop.  That's not all the small appliances I have, though...I still haven't mentioned the sandwich maker, the electric skillet, or the veggie steamer, which are stored underneath.  That's ALOT of appliances for your typical kitchen.  So, which are the ones you can't live without?  Well, today, let's talk about that!! 

Obviously, the can opener is a given.  Yes, your average person can use a manual one, but for those of us with limitations, electric is a lifesaver!!  I keep a manual one (actually, I think I have 3...haha) in case of power outages, but our electric opener is by far one of the most often used appliances, and isn't going anywhere.  Also, our coffee pot...with 3 people in the house who drink coffee, that will never be taken forgranted!!

Next, we have the food processor.  Believe it or not, I actually own 2 of those, as well.  My first is a little 2 cup marvel...easy to whip out and use to chop up stuff fast.  But, not long after I got that one, I realized that it's rather limiting on what it will hold.  Add to that the fact that I'd started getting ideas about canning and preserving, and you end up at my next one...a full sized, 2 quart capacity machine that chops, blends, slices, dices, and just generally can annihilate any food you put into it.  And I've used it...reasonably often.  At least, I think so - hubby would probably disagree as to whether I've gotten my money's worth from it, but he won't say anything, because he enjoys the end results!!

Then there's the mixer.  Ahhhh...the mixer.  I have one of those little hand-held jobbies, and use it for sauces, mashing's wonderful!!  BUT...and this is a big BUT...I had ALWAYS dreamed of having one of those stand mixers you see all the big chef's use.  Wanna make bread?  Cake?  Whip it right on out!!  So, to make a long story short, after several years of whimpering and whining at my hubby, I GOT my stand mixer!!  It even has the place to put attachments on it, so it can be expanded.  Yes, I've used it...turning out breads, cakes, and other concoctions.  Worth every penny, in my book.

I could continue here, but the point is...I have them ALL.  And I do use them...truly, I do.  But, when you have limited space to STORE these things, what becomes the most important of them?  Which ones are the best to have on hand?  The can opener and coffee pot are NEVER leaving.  I'll say that upfront, and won't apologize for it!  But, the rest...

For the average kitchen, I would have to say that not everything I have is essential (boy, is my hubby gonna have fun with THAT one later).  Most people could, and probably do, get by with much less.  However...and I have to say it that way (sorry hubby)...HOWEVER, here is a list of what I wouldn't trade for anything...

My mixer.  Kitchenaid would be so proud to hear that, I imagine!!  That stand mixer has made my life SO much better!!  Yes, it's an investment...thier stand mixers START at $200 (and mine was not the base model), but what you get out of it, not just in durability but also in versatility, pays for itself.  It's large enough to do what I want, solid enough to stand up to tough jobs, and fairly easy to clean afterwards.  Does every cook need one?  No, I wouldn't say that...but for those who truly want to shine in a kitchen, a Kitchenaid stand mixer is the holy grail of appliances.

Moving on, let's talk about my vacumn sealer.  I've not had mine very long (about 5 months), but it's already paid for itself several times in the foods that HAVEN'T been ruined by freezer burn.  I buy bulk...meats, veggies, fruits...and that little machine has been a lifesaver, let me tell you.  It takes a wee bit of getting used to, but once you have the hang of it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.  For my facebook friends, I mentioned the meat order I picked up last month...$179 worth.  Once packaged, that meat will last our family for well over 2 months, easy...and we won't lose anything due to bad packaging.  Yes...worth EVERY cent of the $69 we put into it (so far, but I'll need new bags soon)!!

My little convection/rotiserrie oven comes next.  It gets used about 3 times a week, making it one of the best investments I've ever made.  It doesn't heat the house like the big oven does, and it's perfect for smaller meals.  Cost?  $45 at Walmart!!  Oh, and a little will give me an extra place for cooking during Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter big oven only holds so much, and I cook enough on those days to feed a small country.

My veggie steamer and sandwich makers?  Nah, those I could have done without.  I actually can't even remember when the last time I used them was...which means they will probably be history at our next garage sale.  They weren't too expensive, but clearly, they WERE a waste of money.  I can get the same results on the stovetop.  I suppose I could use the stovetop for frying chicken, too...which means my electric skillet isn't really a necessity, either. But, I bought that back when I didn't have a full size stove to cook on, and it's become a trusted friend, so it can stay.  Not really needed, but it can stay.

Basically, that leaves the food processors.  I'm not even sure where my little one is anymore.  Ever since I got the bigger one, the little one has been laying somewhere in the kitchen storeroom, forlornly waiting to be remembered.  My mistake was not thinking in terms of volume when I got the first one.  For a cook who doesn't make alot, it works great.  But, I'll stick with my bigger one.  Another investment (typically, they start at the $40 range for the cheaper brands), it's big, bulky...and I love it.  I probably don't use it nearly enough to warrant having it, but when I have used it, it's been great.  Crushing strawberries for jam...chopping tomatoes, onions, and peppers for salsa...making pesto for pasta...yeah, it's great.  Of course, I'm only doing those things when I'm canning and preserving, and that's the problem.  It's a seasonal appliance...not something that typically would be used everyday.  So, do you need one?  Only you can answer that question.

I will be using some of these for future recipes that I post on here.  Ultimately, though...the choices are yours.  Everyone has differing needs in what helps them in a kitchen, and your's HAVE to be tailored to you.  These are just the things that I have found make my life a little easier...and a whole lot tastier.  ENJOY!!!

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