The Ultimate Gadget Zone – Kitchen Appliances.
I live to eat. My preference is that what I eat is well cooked, tasty and beautifully prepared. And, since most of the time I cook for myself, it has to be easy to make and easy to clean up afterwards. While I am not a gadget freak, I love the way that a gadget can turn the mundane into fun, take away the arm-ache and make something routine into kitchen theatre. There are loads of small appliances for the kitchen so how do you pick the right collection for your own home.
Gadgets are not just for busy mums. Those of us who work full time but have no kids, who want to eat REAL food that we’ve cooked ourselves and make the most of our kitchen still need our gadgets! We may not need to make baby food, fish fingers or beans on toast for five but we do still need the right kitchen appliances to make our lives easy. By the way, that’s about 40% of the UK adult population…so there are quite a lot of us!
I remember leaving school and setting up (temporary) home for the first time in a rented flat share with my boyfriend the summer before I went to university. We had no central heating, no washing machine, no food processor and no vacuum cleaner. But, actually none of that would have been any use anyway because we had no electricity or gas either – it was his flat and he never quite got round to organising getting basic utilities connected! As a result I used to swim daily at the local pools and shower before and after…and we cooked on a camping stove, with two large thermos flasks to act as slow cookers. I don’t think we ever did much cleaning though and in retrospect I am surprised that we didn’t end up with food poisoning because we had no fridge. I used to keep things ‘chilled’ by using an upturned large earthenware flowerpot in a washing up bowl of water and placing butter and milk inside! I went on to college after that summer and positively wallowed in the luxury of a proper cooker, a shared fridge and an on campus launderette!
Perhaps we are all a little spoilt now and the idea of living without central heating, gas or electricity is beyond belief for most of us. We are completely dependent on appliances to make our lives easier. I recently learnt how to make mayonnaise with my stick blender. It’s a great trick and I’ve ended up slightly addicted to making mayo that way. Yesterday I was lucky enough to enjoy a cookery class with Nathan Outlaw who insisted we mixed our mayo using a hand whisk! Well, the end result was just as good as the stick-blender mayo I’ve been making but a lot more work…and I did end up wondering why.
But, I also live in London…and I don’t have a huge farm-house kitchen. So, every gadget has to earn its place or be doomed to gather dust in the attic.
Here are my personal top 3 – and why I love them.
- My stick blender. It makes mayo, soup, hummus and dips. Mine has a neat attachment that allows me to grind spices and make breadcrumbs. With a following wind it will even mince up meat and grate cheese. It’s probably the most used gadget in my kitchen
- My electric kettle. Well, obvious really but, maybe something you just forget about until it breaks. I’ve tried saving workspace and using a hob top kettle, but it just doesn’t have the same level of convenience. When I wake up in the morning I want to walk downstairs, put the kettle on and then, go back to sleep while it boils – not while it boils dry!
- A steam mop. OK…an unlikely contender. But I have a largish flat, two fluffy cats and a lot of tiled or wooden floors. The steam mop doesn’t just clean, it also picks up all the cat hairs around the place. And it does so just using water And, even though I live the life of a singleton, I end up feeling house proud for a few hours!
Now, there are plenty of other gadgets that I could add in to make a list of 5 or 10. How about the electric whisk. Ok, it’s not a food processor or a full blown electric mixer. But, for most of what I do in the kitchen, in conjunction with the stick blender, it’s enough. I can make a cake, meringues or even macarons. Or how about a toaster. Preferable one that will toast muffins and crumpets in winter so that I don’t need to move all the things I’ve stored in the grill area of my cooker! Or even an electric pepper mill. Mine has white peppercorns in it, because when I am cooking I’d rather use white peppercorns to avoid those little black flies-feet that otherwise get scattered across my food photography! The hand grinder still has normal black peppercorns in it…and gets put on the dining room table for dinner. The electric one lets me season my food with one hand and stir with the other – the perfect gadget for a single person.
I know I love the theatre of cooking. I know I rely on tried and tested gadgets to help me produce the perfect meal. And, I’d love to test and try some more and see if I can replace my current top three with something fabulous and Heath Robinson like:) I’m rather taken by the toaster/egg poacher combination that has just been put on the market…except that I really don’t like eggs, so it wouldn’t be much use for me!
Do leave me a comment and let me know what your perfect kitchen gadget is.