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Love Hate Appliance Relationships

October 18th, 2013 at 09:22 am

Remember when all the rage was a wok? I got one those many years ago because I thought it was a standard kitchen tool. NOT! It's mildly useful, but thankfully fits in the back of the pots and pans cabinet.

Smart happy (frugal) homes have mostly clear kitchen counters. You know the rule: keep it simple. One good set of knives is incredibly more useful and versatile than any chopping/slicing gadget. Or: don't clutter up your life with, and sink money into, things that become dinosaurs.

Easier said than done. It's hard to resist little electric 'helpers', right? In the early days of homeownership, and early days of marriage (with little kids) I made conscious effort NOT to buy most appliances. Some of the things I passed on or that have passed through my home?

Passed On: food processors. Ugh, too many little parts, not at all practical anyway. Never went there.

Passed Through: electric knife. Way back then, a grandma gave me an electric knife, but we only used it once a year and my husband laughed at how ridiculous such a item was (he preferred a basic DO IT YOURSELF knife).

Passed Through: Yogurt maker. Instead of buying all those little $$ containers, I went the homemade route for awhile with one of those little incubator things. The catch? Buying 'yogurt starter' or at least some yogurt from a serious health food store with live culture. Folks, there weren't those kind of health food stores 20 years ago closer than 200 miles apart. Saving starter for the next batch (like sourdough) wasn't always successful and you'd have to buy some more again.

As the family grew, so did the appliance count. Hmph!

Not Active: ice cream maker. That stuff is a staple in my husbands life (not mine!). And you know how good (and simple and sort of less expensive) homemade ice cream is compared to store bought. A few years ago I got him an ice cream maker to encourage going the pure route. It was second hand from Craigs List, an electric wood tub one. He was happy, the kids were happy, but it makes SO MUCH we don't use it often. (It's in the garage).

Not Active: bread machine. Ohhhh, this one I was dedicated to for 5+ years. I was kind of mad when a good loaf of bread (not white bread) went way over $1 a loaf. So I made bread often and wore out my first machine in a couple years. We used it weekly to make pizza dough (with our 'Pampered Chef' pizza stones, of course!!) Anyway, we finally seem to have tired of this phase and the bread machine is not being used much this past year (it is in the pantry).

Do you suppose this is why counters are getting bigger in kitchens? My counters are small, 4 separate small areas of white tile. Thereupon lay the following...

Still Out after all these years: Toaster Oven. So this is a workhorse. Used often for little meals (to bake chix nuggets, taquitos, cheese toast, etc.). The issue? It wears out too fast and needs replacing! Is there a better quality, not necessarily bigger toaster oven out there that will last more than 5 years. Anyone?

Still Out after all these years: Toaster. This little classic will never get stuck in the cabinet. We have a great little one that wasn't more than $20 and it's going strong.

Still Out after all these years: Blender. We don't do cocktails, we do smoothies. With protein powder. Excellent nutrition. And hummus. And occasionally cream soup. An oldie Oster.

Out new this year: Large slow cooker. It bumped the bread machine away. For soups, stews, beans. And lasagna! Since I work a longer day, am giving it a priority place out on the counter this year.

Heaven help me I am considering buying another appliance as a gift to my husband this year!!

To get or not to get: Dehydrator. Better to prepare our backyard produce? We have been canning applesauce and tomato sauce, dry herbs in the oven, and pickle peppers. Maybe we should make our own dried fruits?

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Let me leave with a geek joke I saw on FB:

A physicist, a mathematician and an engineer were each asked to establish the volume of a red rubber ball.

The physicist immersed the ball in a beaker full of water and measured the volume of the displaced fluid. The mathematician measured the diameter and calculated a triple integral. The engineer looked it up in his Red Rubber Ball Volume Table.

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And lastly a peek at some new jewelry I have been making...

Silver and Blue Lapis Necklace



A classic color combination, and a contrast in shapes and lines. Gentle curves meet stone angles on a modern yet feminine necklace design. Lapis is a semi-precious stone, I obtained a supply at wholesale prices and pass the savings on to you. See it all here Silver Wireweave Lapis Necklace. Comments and questions below welcome.

Red Crystal Briolette Hoop Earrings



Small details make all the difference in a pair of pure copper wire weave earrings. These are intended as part of a set with a fantastic matching necklace but can be purchased separately.

See details here for Earrings

See details here for Matching Necklace

Thank you and comments welcome below.

15 Responses to “Love Hate Appliance Relationships”

  1. MonkeyMama Says:

    Ooooh - I love the jewelry!

    I wonder if you have looked at food processors in recent years? I do not know how I would survive without one! There are just too many things that the blender pulverizes too much. Our food processor also slices and shreds. IT's probably the most used appliance in our kitchen. (Ours is beyond simple to clean - parts go in the dishwasher). Crock pot is maybe second favorite kitchen gadget. One unique item I have found very practical is a hand blender (for soups). Using it to make squash soup tomorrow - this recipe is DIVINE!! So much easier than trying to pour hot soup into a blender - we also use for a lot of our Indian recipes - you blend the sauce up after it cooks all day.

    That said, I am not a fan of fads or uni-taskers. (Have you ever seen Alton Brown on food network? He despises the uni-tasker! He has some very creative frugal cooking methods. He has creative dehydrating methods - might be worth googling for ideas. In particular, his beef jerky process was kind of hilarious - he made up some contraption for that process).

    P.S. I think someone gave us an electric knife too and we have never used it. I also received a Kitchen Aid mixer that I don't find practical in the slightest. I understand if I was a higher volume baker that I might care for it more. But I guess we all have our quirks.

  2. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Oh, yes the Kitchen aid mixer!! Smile I have a serious vintage one from my MIL that I dare not get rid of (yet) in the pantry. All chrome. Never used it, but reach for the little portable one instead (which has TERRIBLE speed control) or a wood spoon.

    Food processors seem so big and bulky too, not a good fit for my little kitchen. Dare I get a slicer as well? Just one of these little simple metal types. I'd love to thinly slice potato (for chip baking) and other vegetables.

    THANK you for the food network tip, seems when I take the few odd minutes to watch TV only junk is on the food/history/science channels. Others in the family use the recorder, I just watch what they watch. So GOOGLE I will.

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    We do have a mandolin slicer. Honestly, the thing scares me (SHARP!). But, admittedly it is a lot more practical when you just want to slice something like potatoes for chips. That does not take up much space, and is also easy to clean.

    You can get a very small food processor (we got one as a gift and that's what hooked us!). BUT, it's just the gateway to a bigger one. Small is not the most useful. Wink But we did enjoy it for several years before I decided we could afford a bigger one.

    Yeah, the mixer fits on our kitchen counter (there is a deep corner that is kind of useless for anything else) and so I have always just kept it, but it will probably *go* next time we move. Either that or I will have to become a master baker.

  4. disneysteve Says:

    I can relate though ironically enough, just a few weeks ago, I got our food processor out of storage in the garage where it had resided for umpteen years. I wanted to try my hand at making our own hummus and that was definitely the best tool for the job. I've made it a couple of times since. The blender probably wouldn't work. You really need the blade to be more in the middle of everything, not just at the bottom. We still store it in the garage but in a more accessible location.

    Otherwise, I agree about avoiding single-use devices and unnecessary appliances. One time, my BIL was shocked that we didn't own an electric can opener. He actually bought us one, which we proceeded to sell at a yard sale. So much easier to just use a hand operated one that stays in the drawer with all of the other utensils.

  5. MonkeyMama Says:

    P.S. My Kitchen Aid was from MIL too so I feel compelled to keep it for now. She actually probably does use it when she is in my kitchen. So, it gets some use?

    Alton Brown's show was "Good Eats" - I don't know if that is still on.

    Here is his written recipe for beef jerky - instead of a dehydrator he used air filters and a box fan and bungee cords. Big Grin

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/beef-jerky-re...

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    P.S. Last comment, I swear. (Maybe?)

    We have a toaster oven/toaster combo. Useful for space saving.

  7. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    I watched the 'dehydrator fan' video - it took 4 days to dry! YIKES

    DisneyS - I use the blender for hummus, works fine. My recipe calls for plain yogurt, a bit of olive oil, a bit of lemon juice, chickpeas, etc. It is liquid enough to blend if I am patient enough to stop and stir several times.

    OH yes! My 25+ year under-the-counter Black and Decker 'spacesaver' drop coffee maker. How could I forget that? It leaked once and I bought a replacement awaiting it's demise. It fixed itself and never died!! I used the replacement in our weekend house.

    Ditto for the under-the-counter electric can opener. My hands don't seem strong enough to open cans many times, definitely not when the kids were little. That one also is 20+ years old. Love it.

  8. MonkeyMama Says:

    WOW! 4 days?? Maybe that's why we decided not to try ourselves. (It was so long ago that I saw it, that I forgot that detail). Maybe a dehydrator doesn't sound so bad. Wink {Interesting that the link says 8-12 hours}.

  9. snafu Says:

    I've v/limited counter space so every item must 'earn' it's spot by high usage. Breville brand toaster oven, expensive initial investment but very efficient, way cheaper to operate than oven. Great for casseroles, chicken parts, pork loin, pork chops etc., bakes brownies and two cake pans beautifully. Coffee maker [12 y/o] am considering a Keurig since we can continue to use our preferred Kirkland coffee beans instead of expensive one serving k cups.

    Love my rice cooker but it doesn't get counter space. I make a batch of rice weekly and keep the rest in the fridge as the base for a multitude of ethnic dishes like Spanish Rice, Pilaf, Paella, Jambalya + the base for casseroles. I make soup every week during fall and winter. Terrific, inexpensive food stretcher, helps fill up teen boys, incorporates root vegetables usually avoided and uses up weird bits of leftovers. There are a lot of unpronounceable chemicals in packaged and canned soups easily avoided since soup is so easy to make.

    Desire a pretty, colorful, Kitchen Aid mixer but lack space, wouldn't use it enough for the whopping cost. Still use cheapo 20+ y/o hand mixer as adequate. Hardly make cookies any more because batter needs a paddle!

  10. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    I see BedBathBeyond has breville toaster ovens, and at about the price I would expect for a durable one ($150+). I'll go see them, and bring my 20% off coupon!

  11. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I have extremely limited counterspace (especially since my countertop dishwasher takes up half of what I DO have.) The only appliance that sits out is the dishwasher. I HATE electric can openers - never can get them to work right. I have a crockpot, blender, rice cooker, and toaster oven - but they all are stored on top of my fridge. Most of them rarely see any use though. (I keep saying I'm going to use them, but it just doesn't happen.)

    I really like the last piece of jewelry you posted. If I had pierced ears, I might even be tempted. Smile (Or if I ever actually wore jewelry...)

  12. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Thx FT, even just hearing what folks would consider is helpful in jewelry design!

  13. LuckyRobin Says:

    I have a couple single taskers like my mandolin for slicing even slices for dehydrating and my French fry maker, because seriously, we make fries all the time from potatoes and it is awesome, and of course my garlic press and lemon press.

    I don't have a food processor, but I do have a salad shooter that basically does the same thing and is smaller and goes in a drawer. I can shred veggies or cheese with it.

    The bread machine and the crockpot stay on the counter. The George Foreman grill is used frequently, but gets put away because it is lighter to move around. Oh, and I have an egg cooker. It's a small machine that can make either hard boiled eggs, soft boiled eggs, or poached eggs. Very limited, but I love it and use it all the time. It cooks for a certain amount of time and then shuts off, so the eggs are perfectly cooked every time and I don't have to baby-sit them, I can just put them in and forget about them.

    I do have some other machines in storage that I have chosen not to use while living here. Our pasta maker/sausage stuffer and our rotisserie. I used them both often, but when we moved here I had to justify space for everything.

    The lapis necklace is beautiful. It combines one of my favorite stones with my favorite metal.

  14. PatientSaver Says:

    Appliances I use:
    Blender, mainly for summer fruity drinks.
    Love my immersion blender for pureed soups
    Couldn't do without the slow cooker 4.5 quart
    Electric hand mixer I use once in a great while.
    Toaster oven is used often to heat up meals but is impossible to clean.
    I also have a small coffee bean grinder that's the perfect size to grind flaxseed for granola.
    And of course the microwave is used daily, if only to heat up my tea.

    Appliances I don't bother with: food processor, stand mixer, rice cooker, bread machine. Used to have a rotisserie oven but finally tossed it when it got disgustingly filthy and too difficult to clean.

    I hate having appliances on the counter so the only one that sits there regularly is the microwave.

  15. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Ah, my microwave is built in so I don't count it as an 'extra' appliance. Hoo ya the George Foreman !! I got mine FREE Smile by trading for my roomba long ago (husband gallantly trying to reduce my housework and thought the roomba was the answer. NOT.). Like the grill but it stays in the pantry 29 out of 30 days. At least I didn't buy it. THX for the prop on the lapis !!

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