How to: Choose Small Kitchen Appliances
A lot of small kitchen real estate is inhabited by low-tech but useful occupants. You know, like cans of tomatoes, jars of cumin, loads of clean dish towels, and frying pans. Then there are the obvious, and big, high-tech components: a fridge, an oven, a microwave. That doesn’t leave all that much counter and cabinet space (if any) for the small but imperative elements of electric equipment: the small appliances. But it’s enough for us to cover all the basics!
Here are the technical ingredients you’ll find in my kitchen, the workhorses that magic my pantry essentials into delicious, homemade food.
What appliances do you make room for in your crowded kitchen? What will you buy the minute you have extra space?
**The 8 Small Kitchen Appliances You Really Need**
1. Slow cooker. So useful to the cook of limited resources we spent a week worshipping it early this year. See, with a slow-cooker you can do a little prep in the morning and have dinner waiting for you when you get home, as if mom was still cooking for you!
2. Mini food processor. Here’s what to make in your Cuisinart mini prep: everything. It grinds nuts, blends pesto, shortcuts the whisking part of making a vinaigrette, churns butter, and instantaneously turns beans into dip. The mini prep (mine is yellow) is tiny. Yet it may be the best $40 you ever invest in your kitchen.
3. Electric tea kettle. Look, I’m impatient. While I’ve had to learn to let my onions caramelize slowly, waiting for coffee is not an option. My little Bodum electric kettle has a small counter footprint and it boils water fast–then turns off on its own. The drip coffee can be ready 5 minutes after I get out of bed.
4. Seltzer maker. The seltzer maker is a remarkable little gadget. My SodaStream runs on a rocket-like gas cartridge which pumps bubbles into my Brita-filtered. Owning a seltzer maker has led to creations like homemade ginger ale and reduced the number of plastic seltzer bottles I’ve had to buy. Because I really love seltzer.
5. Ice cream freezer. I have been known to whip up a batch of ice cream from scratch. It’s fun but hardly an everyday activity. I justify keeping an ice cream maker in the house because Alex needs his ice cream dairy-free, and it’s harder to find a pint of coconut- or rice-based ice cream than it is for me walk up the street to Ample Hills and buy a cup of fresh Peppermint Pattie. Enter my recipe for Coconut Caramel Dairy Free Ice Cream–made at home.
6. Good old-fashioned toaster (not a toaster oven!). Susannah over at Small Kitchen College said it best when she said, “Toast smells like mornings. Togetherness. A hearth-like warmth. It smells like home.” You might complain that a proper toaster, where the bread and bagels fit vertically into slots is just not as versatile as a toaster oven. But it makes a mean piece of toast, of a different class altogether than what the toaster oven yields. Make sure yours is wide enough to toast bagels.
7. Handheld mixer. One day, friends, I’ll own the most handsome, powerful, glistening stand mixer you’ve ever seen. For now, I use a totally adequate handheld mixer. It creams butter and sugar, it whips cream, and it turns egg whites into airy poufs. I have to hold it the whole time, and it does take a little longer to whip things up. But when I’m done baking, it gets disassembled and filed away in the kitchen drawer.
8. Immersion blender. The handheld blender stands in when the mini prep just can’t cut it. Its best quality is that it can handle any temperature and any environment. I blend whole tomatoes right in the 28-ounce can and turn steamed vegetables into soup while they’re still in the pot.
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