There is a special vulnerability/susceptibility in our brains for kitchen gadgets that I’d like to explore together. The other day Brian announced that he ordered an air fryer at a friend’s suggestion. He did it before I could stop him and I would have stopped him because I can’t handle another unused appliance. Not to throw Brian under the bus here because we all do this – we think that we need the newest way to cook to make our lives easier. Around the same time, I was on Shavonda’s instastory and she was talking about the Instant Pot versus the Crockpot/slow cooker (and how the instant pot might be BS) and it got me thinking of how I wish someone would tell me exactly what small kitchen appliances are necessary and which ones are marketing gimmicks to help “make our life easier” which end up in a landfill. Because it’s my thesis that almost everything can be done in the kitchen with far less.
This revelation came after I bought the much hyped about Instant Pot which proceeded to make every soup mushy and saved me only a full 10 minutes of cook time. I didn’t know at the time that it’s best for things that normally take 8 hours, to instead take 4, but is that really worth the savings? Two years in we realized that we only use the Instant Pot for boiled eggs. That’s it. A whole appliance for the once-a-month boiled snack that we could easily do in a normal pot!!! But, Brian promised that the air fryer would be different and it was already ordered. So we tried it, making my potato mojos that I usually bake in the oven and they turned out 10 minutes faster and 5% better with slightly less olive oil. They also had a weird chemical smell/taste. To me, that is not good enough to have to drag it out of the closet, clean it, and put it away each time. Now maybe if you are on a strict diet and want to reduce as much oil as possible in your life it would be good, but we barely ever fry anything and usually bake with not too much olive oil. The point is, I don’t understand the full need for it if you can do everything in an oven with just a bit more time and a bit more oil. Don’t get me started on the fancy juicer I bought 2 years ago when I was doing that celery thing which had 14 parts that needed to be cleaned every time we used it… or the chopping “system” that I was gifted that had more plastic parts than I could possibly ever store (I think 18 different chopping options in total).
While I’m on the subject, for chopping vegetables unless you are running a commercial kitchen, isn’t just a good knife and a cutting board enough? Do companies need to keep making the newest version of the slap chop or am I the only person who enjoys chopping and washing/storing less stuff? Listen, I also know that I’m in a privileged position where I work 7-4 pm so around 4 pm I start prepping out dinner and legitimately enjoy that hour of prepping/chopping/stirring while I listen to a podcast or music. I know that so many parents out there don’t have the luxury of that time. The nighttime scramble (especially when you add that commute back in) is real and if an Instapot makes your life easier then please use it.
So I was thinking about the extra things that I do have that I use daily that are worth the extra cleaning. They are not the same as “kitchen essentials” but rather extra tools and gadgets that I use often and love:
1. Cuisinart Salad Spinner: I know that I can just use paper towels to wipe off my lettuce, but I HATE wet lettuce and wasting paper towels. This big gadget is annoying to store, but I use it very often and there really isn’t a good substitute.
2. Dual Citrus Squeezer: While you can absolutely just squeeze a lemon, this gets far more juice out of it. Again, almost daily I reach for this.
3. Ninja Blender: Ok I’m sure there are blenders that make more sense, but this is so easy to clean and small to store! Sometimes I have to liquify things in batches which is annoying, but a big blender sounds even more annoying. I suppose at the farm we’ll have a bigger pantry so storing a normal-sized blender will be fine, but we’ve also got along for 3 years with just this, so why would I add to it?
4. Stainless Steel Steamer with Extendable Handle: My friends make fun of me for still steaming vegetables, but I like it! I don’t really know how I would do it without this. It’s not genius or anything, but it works and is easy to store.
5. 5 Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer: To be fair I’ve never used this but Brian does. He loves making cookies with the kids so at the beginning of quarantine we bought this and he has used it a lot. I also wonder if we need it just for cookies – we don’t really make cakes, but I suppose having one stand mixer is requisite for having a home.
What I really want to know from you all is do you really use your panini presses, air fryers, pancake makers, slap chops, juicers, waffle makers, egg poachers, etc? Or are there actually any genius tools out there that I’m missing? Appliances and gadgets that truly do make your life easier and not just give you more to clean and store? I personally can’t wait for the Crockpot vs. Instant pot showdown in the comments 🙂 LET’S GO!