Appliance cooking is simply the act of using an appliance to help make a meal. The first thought that comes to mind when thinking of kitchen appliances might be the big ones: ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators. But these are not the appliances I am referring to.
Nope, the ones I mean are the smaller ones. Their sole purpose is as timesavers in the kitchen, and they have been embraced by cooks. They are wonderful tools to have when you need them.
If you have read my page about cookbooks, you already know that I love cookbooks. Well, I also have a love affair with cooking appliances. For someone who can’t cook, you’d never know it the first time you glance at my kitchen! I guess you could say I’ve been ready to learn to cook for some time.
The appliances that I have, as of this writing, include the following (in no particular order):
I think the slow cooker is one of the greatest inventions for cooks. You would never dream of throwing ingredients together and leaving them to cook for hours on the stove while you are away from home, because you’d probably come home to find your house has burnt down. But you can safely do exactly that with a slow cooker.
The few times I have made dinner have mostly been done with a slow cooker. I actually have three different cookers.
One is a fancy digital cooker, that has a thermometer probe. With that I can stick the probe into a piece of meat and set it to automatically turn off once the desired temperature has been achieved.
Another is a bit less fancy, having just high/low and 4 hour/8 hour settings. This is my husband’s favorite slow cooker, since the crock has a divider. When he makes chili, he can make one side spicy for him, and the other side not spicy for the rest of us.
Then I have two very small and basic cookers. These just have high/low settings. I use these to cook vegetable sides. They are the perfect size for this. I think I got these on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) for $2 each about seven years ago. A great purchase!
We have the kind of waffle maker you often see at hotels, the kind where you lift lid, pour in the batter, close the lid, then flip the entire unit upside down. Boy, do we love it! It gets used frequently.
Our favorite type of waffles are when I mix pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices into the mix, or add blueberries or chocolate chips. I make great waffles (and pancakes, for that matter). To me, waffles and pancakes are baking, not cooking, which may explain why I’m so good at them. I am a great baker.
About seven years ago I won the fantasy football league I was in with my husband (which really made him mad, because I could care less about football, while he is a die-hard fanatic). I won several hundred dollars, so I took my winnings and invested in a top of the line rice cooker. My rice cooker is awesome!
It can cook pretty much any kind of rice. I can add the rice and water hours ahead of time, then program it to be done at a specific time. It makes perfect rice every time.
As much as I love my rice cooker, I haven’t used it lately. I think it is time to bring it out and use it again.
ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER
I’ve gone through several pressure cookers, and they have all worked great. None of my previous pressure cookers were electric, but they scared me, so I simply didn’t use them much. I finally bought an electric pressure cooker, and I use it more often (though still not as often as I should).
One of the things I prefer about my electric pressure cooker is that it automatically starts counting down the cooking time once the internal pressure has built up to where it needs to be. I had to guess about this on my previous units. And it automatically stops cooking based on the settings I use. Super simple!
Please know that today’s non-electric pressure cookers are safe when used as instructed. I don’t want anyone coming away from this thinking that I am saying otherwise. I just prefer the electric ones because it offers me peace of mind, and it is easier to use.
Our blender is used almost daily, and sometimes more than once a day. I use it to make breakfast smoothies for my husband before he goes to work, or to make smoothies for myself after I’ve worked out. It’s an easy way to create a healthy breakfast.
I am sure there are plenty of other uses for a blender. One of my cookbooks is based on appliance cooking. Perhaps I will come across some recipes that use a blender in the food preparation process.
Ah, the bread maker. Although there were probably some women who truly enjoyed the hours it took to knead and make bread, I can’t imagine that most of them did. The bread maker is one of the truly liberating appliances that has been invented.
I’ve made many loaves of bread with my bread maker, and most have turned out great (the ones that haven’t have been the result of expired yeast). I can’t imagine making bread without my trusty bread maker.
Sure, you can cook eggs without a gadget that does it for you. I’ve done it myself. But, to be honest, the best hard boiled eggs I’ve EVER made have been prepared with my electric egg cooker.
Just so you know how major this is for me, I went on a crusade to make the best possible hard boiled eggs. I have tons of cookbooks, and I tried every recipe I could find that explained how to make eggs. None of the recipes I tried came out very well. Yes, it could have been user error on my part. But, the only consistently perfect hard boiled eggs come from my cooker. I won’t make eggs without it.
Okay, this is one appliance that I almost never use. That’s probably because I almost never cook. I think the only reason I bought this is because I thought my kitchen wouldn’t be complete without it. Sadly, it mostly takes up space in my kitchen cupboard.
I will not be surprised if I start to use it more frequently once I start cooking on a regular basis. Only time will tell.
My husband and I enjoy juicing, and our juicer gets a regular workout.
This is one of the appliances that has earned a permanent place on our counter top, since it is easier to leave it where it is, instead of putting it away each day.
We have our own process of juicing, which I will probably explain in detail at some point. This isn’t cooking, but it is a great way for us to get our vegetables in (especially since I hate eating most vegetables but love to drink them).
About 10 years ago my in-laws gave me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas. I’ve never used my hand-held mixer since.
This thing is heavy and bulky, but it is soooo worth the effort of taking it out of the cupboard. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it can mix while I step away and do something else.
The engine is extremely powerful. It can handle the stiffest of doughs, something my hand-held mixer could never do. As a baker, I couldn’t imagine not having my KitchenAid stand-alone mixer.
My mother-in-law recently asked me why we have a toaster oven instead of a simple toaster. Her question took me aback, since I’ve always had a toaster oven, even in my childhood. To me, a kitchen should have one of these.
We use our toaster oven to toast bread, to cook bagels with cheese, to reheat pizza, to cook various frozen foods, and more. Toaster ovens are incredibly versatile, and can cook food a bit quicker than an oven, because they warm up faster.
A word of advice, though. Do not cook things in silicone containers. I made that mistake once by cooking meatloaf in a silicone pan. Bad idea! It was sitting so close to the coils that it burned the bottom and ruined it. However, glass and metal containers cook great in toaster ovens.
About a year ago I bought a yogurt maker, since my family loves yogurt. I bought it because I wanted control over what went into our yogurt. It is surprisingly easy to make yogurt with a yogurt maker. It is a long process, but well worth the time it takes.
As you can see, I have a ton of appliances. There are several smaller ones that I didn’t even mention. As I said above, you’d think I’m an amazing cook based on the amount of cooking tools I have. But, I’m proof that having appliances does not make a great cook. However, as I go forward in my quest to become a cook, I am sure that appliance cooking will help me achieve my goal.