Reader question… “I wonder if you would share your feelings about small appliances. Do you think they are extravagances or necessary and useful? And if you wouldn’t mind, what small appliances do you own or use on a regular basis?” –Nepa
I think it really depends on the small appliances and your own lifestyle. Some small appliances are probably extravagances if you’re not going to be using them very often… others are probably not necessary, but they definitely make certain jobs much easier. I have made a list of some of the small appliances that I have and use… and why. Perhaps that will help to answer your question.
Velvet foot mushrooms (Flammulina velutipes)
Small appliances I use all the time:
- Countertop oven… I’ve had a countertop oven for almost a year now, and I use it more than I use the regular oven. The countertop oven I have is not a toaster oven… it is a commercial countertop oven, and it is large… big enough to hold a twenty-pound turkey… and it has a convection feature which almost cuts baking time in half. Using this oven instead of the regular oven really saves electricity.
- Food processor… For years and years I didn’t have a food processor, and I had no idea what I was missing. Now I use the food processor all the time. I use it to mix pasta dough, I use it for cutting and slicing vegetables, I use it for grating, for mixing pie dough… and so much more. This is one small appliance I would replace IMMEDIATELY if something happened to the one I have now.
- Stand mixer… My stand mixer is OLD, as you can tell from its color… avocado green! The motor is starting to complain under stress, but it still works well, so I am reluctant to part with it just yet. This mixer has a juicer attachment, a meat grinder attachment, and a dough hook, plus a couple of other attachments for other purposes… and I never use any of them any more except for the mixer. I do a lot of baking, so I really do need a stand mixer. Eventually I will replace this one, but with a mixer without so many bells and whistles.
- Hand mixer… I use my hand mixer even more than the stand mixer. The one I have was very inexpensive. It isn’t very fancy but it works well for a lot of small mixing jobs.
- Blender… I use my blender every day for making smoothies, but not much else. For most other jobs that I could use the blender for, I find that I prefer the food processor.
- Electric skillet… I love using an electric skillet, especially for “one dish dinner” meals, and when I have a working electric skillet I use it almost every day. At the moment I am in between skillets… the latest one burned out recently and I have not replaced it. I find it is almost impossible to find an electric skillet that is not Teflon-coated, and with daily use the Teflon coatings, even on the more expensive models, last only a short time. I am not comfortable with Teflon anyway, so I look for a stainless steel skillet, and they are hard to find. The ones I have had in the past have had problems with the electrical parts within the skillet base burning out from continued use. If you know of a good stainless steel skillet brand that does not have this problem, I would really appreciate hearing about it. (Found one at Sears… thanks to Patti.)
- Bread machine… This one almost deserves a special category because when I have a bread machine I use it every day. I currently don’t have a bread machine. The metal blade on the last one I had broke in half just after the warranty ran out and we have not replaced it yet, although I do plan to. I mostly use a bread machine for making dough but not for baking bread. Right now I’m mixing the bread dough using the stand mixer and kneading by hand.
Small appliances I don’t have (or don’t use):
- Microwave oven… We do not have a microwave oven, and I have never had (or wanted) one because I am not comfortable with the concept.
- Electric can opener… I’m not exactly sure why, but I prefer the heavy duty manual type. The can opener we’re using now opens the can on the side instead of the top and breaks the seal instead of cutting the metal. I like that.
- Rice cooker… We had a rice cooker at one time and used it regularly for a while, but I found that I preferred to cook rice using a method I first saw on a televised cooking show… which is simply to cook the rice in a lot of boiling water the same way you would cook pasta. I think the rice comes out better this way than in a rice cooker.
- Electric knife… We had one of these for a while too, but almost never used it. The electric base is long gone, but I still have one long serrated blade, and it is the best knife I have ever used for slicing bread, even though it doesn’t have a handle.
- Toaster… We do have a toaster but it never gets used. For some reason when we make toast, we make it in the countertop oven.
- Automatic coffee maker… We don’t drink much coffee, so we don’t have a coffee maker. My husband drinks only one cup of coffee each day, and he actually prefers the taste of instant coffee! I drink even less coffee than that.
- Crock pot/slow cooker… I actually do have one of these, but I have never used it. I’m not sure why.
Small appliances I use infrequently:
- Popcorn popper… We have the hot air type that lets you pop corn without oil or butter. We don’t use it a lot, but it’s worth having because it makes a healthier snack.
- Ice cream machine… We only make ice cream for birthdays and special treats, but we really appreciate having the ice cream machine because it means we can make a soy-free ice cream. We make frozen yogurt more frequently.
- Waffle iron… I don’t make waffles very often either, but a waffle iron is nice to have. It has a plain side too, which is convenient for toasted sandwiches.
- Stick or immersion blender… I used to use the stick blender all the time for making mayonnaise, but then I tried making mayonnaise in the food processor and found it to be much easier and much faster. I haven’t used the stick blender for a long time.
So those are my favorites and some not-so-favorites. What small appliances would be on your list?