Good small appliances can help you save time and energy as you create your culinary masterpieces (or just throw dinner together at the last minute). So read on for the appliances that I couldn't live without.
1. A Rice Cooker
many of my recipes, this one will come as no surprise to you. Many years ago, when I first started cooking, I didn't use a rice cooker to make rice. I probably had a lot more time on my hands. These days, anything that saves time and takes some of the guesswork out of cooking is welcome in my kitchen.
I just got a new rice cooker that has a steaming function, but what is more exciting: it has a delay function. That means I could put rice and water into it in the morning, set the delay timer, and have rice all cooked and ready at night. I haven't tried this function yet--I'm still stuck in the mindset of my old rice cooker, which was a bit more simple. Either way, rice cookers are nice to have. The trick is to learn how much water you need to get perfect rice, and whether it's brown rice or white rice makes a big difference. In my experience, 1 cup of white rice needs 1.25 cups of water, while 1 cup of brown rice needs 2.25 cups of water. You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker. I use the same ratio as with brown rice.
I wouldn't buy a rice cooker that doubles as a slow cooker. My philosophy is, the more functions one appliance has, the more problems will come with it. I even hesitated to get my current rice cooker because of the steaming function for that reason, but almost all rice cookers have the steaming function now, it seems. So no rice cooker/slow cookers. Which brings me to my next appliance:
2. A Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are a working parent's best friend. You add the ingredients for dinner to it in the morning, set the timer, and voila, when you get home, a warm meal awaits. They can cook a tough, cheap piece of meat to mouth-watering tenderness. Plus, the recipes for slow cookers are usually very straight-forward (there are exceptions to every rule, of course), so if you're not very confident in the kitchen, slow-cooker recipes are a great place to start learning to cook. There are thousands of excellent slow cooker recipes out there, but let me recommend Alton Brown's Tapioca Pudding. If, like me, you love rich desserts that aren't too sweet, you'll love this one.
3. A Food Processor
|Photo by *clairity*|
A food processor is not the same thing as a blender. In fact, I have no use for a standing blender. Instead, when I need to blend something like a soup to a smooth consistency, I use:
4. A Hand Blender
|Photo by gothick_matt|
Another handheld device I need for many, many recipes is:
5. A Sturdy Hand Mixer
|Photo by Terwilliger911|
Try my recipe for soft chocolate chip cookies here--and use a hand mixer for the cookie dough!
6. A Waffle Maker
|Photo by Kanko*|
All this yummy cooking leads to the last and possibly most important appliance of them all:
7. A Countertop Dishwasher
|Photo by UggBoy♥UggGirl|
Do you live in a rental without a dishwasher? Sick of washing dishes by hand? Amen, my friend. That was the story of my life for longer than I care to consider. I hate doing dishes. HATE. IT. So when someone suggested I get a portable dishwasher one day, I said, "They make PORTABLE ONES???" Yes, they do. When we realized we were going to have a baby, the need for a dishwasher became all the more pertinent. So I looked into it, and low and behold, for less than $250 I could buy a counter top dishwasher. Worth. Every. Penny. I would spend $250 a year if it meant never having to hand wash silverware again.