Posted on

Kitchen tools and temptations


I admit it. I have, in the past, owned entirely too many kitchen gadgets. Sometimes I would buy them myself, often I would receive them as Christmas gifts. At one time or another I owned a rice cooker, hand blender, electric wok, food processor, blender, electric griddle, ice cream maker, sandwich pouch thingy, pizzelle maker, waffle iron, electric can opener, bread machine, crock pot, cookie press, and God only knows what else.

The electric can opener went out years ago – I’ve always preferred my small manual crank opener that fits nicely into the silverware drawer.

The rice cooker, hand blender, and possibly the electric wok (I haven’t seen it in some time, so I don’t think I have it anymore) were purged in the Great Decluttering of 2006. The sandwich thing, pizzelle maker and cookie press probably should have been as well, but I’ve still got them, since they’re tucked in a cabinet out of the way, and not really bothering me.

Still, that leaves a lot of stuff. The electric griddle was important initially, because I couldn’t for the life of me make pancakes over a flame. I’ve since gotten good at that, and rarely use the griddle. The ice cream maker was used for about a month when we first got it, but I haven’t taken advantage of it since. I’m tempted to get rid of it, but afraid that as soon as I do, I’ll want ice cream. So it stays for now.

I’ll confess that I replaced the Hand Blender, just a few months ago. I never really “got it” with the original one I had. As in, I never understood why you’d need such a thing. Until it clicked what the “immersion” part of “immersion blender” means to a picky person such as myself. Let’s just say, I ate Moroccan Bean and Vegetable Soup last night, despite the fact that I don’t care for beans or vegetables. A little whir around the pot with the hand blender, while the soup was cooking, and suddenly those icky lentils and chickpeas were nothing more than little chunks of texture in a smooth, delicious soup.

Ok, so I’m a hand blender convert. Having it around is proving to be good for my health. I’ll tell you, though, if I suddenly lost my cabinet space and had to only keep gadgets I had room for on the counter top, I know exactly what those two gadgets would be: Bread Machine and Crock Pot. Hands-down, no contest.

In fact, I consider both of those items to be essential kitchen tools, right up there with Microwave Oven and Freezer.

It’s such a nice feeling to dump a handful of ingredients willy-nilly into them, and a few hours later be treated to wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen.  All the while, the machines are doing all of the work. What a boon to the underachieving cook. Heh.

Sandwiches for supper

Along with these essential tools, I’ve kept some cookbooks. You’ve likely heard me praise Beth Hensperger’s Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook as one of my all time favorite recipe collections, but it bears repeating. If you have a bread machine, and you want to use it to its fullest potential, you need this book. Not only does it contain several hundred bread recipes (many, many whole grain options included, some that use produce from the garden, others that are sweet) it also has a comprehensive section on the hows and whys of the machines themselves, and tips for creating your own recipes. Also cool is the jam section. Yes, I said “jam.” Some bread machines come with a jam cycle, and there’s a whole chapter dedicated to putting that cycle to good use.

The last in my month of meals

I’ve gotten many years of enjoyment (and good bread) out of that cookbook, so when I was looking for a modern, healthy crock pot cookbook last year, I was excited to see that the same author had penned one. Not Your Mother’s Slow-Cooker Cookbook has not disappointed me. I used it to make Pot Roast for the first time last year, as well as my own Tomato Sauce. There’s a yummy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe, and so many others that I am looking forward to trying. Like the bread machine book, this one also has a fabulous section that explains the ins and outs of slow-cooking, and helps you to be successful improvising your own recipes.

This Christmas I received Not Your Mother’s Slow-Cooker Cookbook for Entertaining, and I’ve already made one of the recipes for a party (Buttery Rosemary Pecan Halves – mmmmmm) and bookmarked another (Chicken in Champagne).

So, where am I going with all of this? A recent discovery: The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook. Same author, presumably same quality of recipes and good information. Somebody stop me before I replace the unused rice cooker I purged four years ago. Must. resist. (Or, if you really want to push me over the edge, tell me in the comments how your rice-cooker has changed your life, and how you could never function again in the kitchen without it.  Whatever.  That works for me, too.)

24 thoughts on “Kitchen tools and temptations

  1. The rice cooker I have is a hand-me-down from my mom. I don’t even know what brand it is, but I love it. My rice always turns out perfect and I don’t have to think about turning it off, it does that itself when the rice is ready. It only makes about 2-cups of cooked rice, but that’s been perfect for our small family. It also makes quinoa perfectly. I probably would never make rice without it.

    1. I’ve gotten into the habit of going to the local Chinese take-out place when I want a nice batch of sticky rice. Sure would be nice to be able to do that at home…

  2. I don’t have a rice cooker, but I love my slow-cooker and I’m always excited to find a new cookbook to investigate 🙂
    .-= <small>See wendy’s latest blog post: late night ponderings</small> =-.

    1. It’s a good book. And writing that post made me want to have a slow-cooker supper 🙂

  3. sold. i just bought that and the custom knits book too. now, stop tempting me. 🙂

    1. Hee hee. Consider it payback for every time I visit your website and see your book peeking at me from the sidebar 🙂 I’m so close to succumbing, it’s not even funny.

  4. Hi Lisa.
    My immersion blender is the most used tool in the kitchen. Keith is a big fan of chocolate milkshakes and makes one almost every weekend. (I am not so much a fan, so he pours me a little tiny milkshake in a shot glass.) I am the maestro (maestress?) of soup, and find the blender indispensable in that regard–I can’t imagine pureeing the soup batchwise in a regular blender! Other than that, the only gadget-y thing we have is the quesadilla maker, which we also use a lot. Hmmmm–maybe I should bring that this weekend to Clayathon & make quesadillas in the room….now that’s an idea!

    1. Ooh, I could go for that. How about I bring my bread machine? We could tear apart hot loaves and eat bread by the handful like barbarians. Ok, maybe not, but is it any wonder I have weight issues lately? Seriously carb-addicted over here…

      I’m going to bring a batch of those buttery rosemary pecan halves to the Clayathon, I think. See you this weekend!

  5. I use the heck out of my immersion blender, too. And I’m with you-when my electric can opener died, I dumped it and started using my heavy duty hand cranked one. Much better! I can usually make pretty good sticky rice in my saucepan-just give it a stir every now and again.
    .-= <small>See Marty’s latest blog post: The Escape Artist</small> =-.

    1. I’m not particularly good at saucepan rice. I tend to just wander over to the local Chinese take-out place when I want good sticky rice. The 20 minutes it takes me in transit is better spent than 20 minutes trying to do it myself 🙂

  6. I *live* with my bread machine and slow cooker – the hospice nurses would laugh at me while my mum was dying I made bread daily – it made the house smell so good and I felt like I was *doing* something (rather than just lighting a candle)

    1. That makes sense. There’s something comforting about baking smells, I think!

  7. Yum. Buttery rosemary pecan halves sound awesome.

  8. i’m a fan!! the whizzer {immersion blender} and the crock pot! yay! i have to cook 4 loaves of bread or we would never have bread. 🙂 i will be on the lookout for those yummy cookbooks. thanks for sharing!!
    .-= <small>See becky’s latest undefined post: If you register your site for free at </small> =-.

  9. i couldn’t live without my rice cooker. we have rice a lot. and i just tend to burn it on the stove. i like that it turns itself to warm when the rice is done. i make sticky rice all the time. we have a ton of different types of rices here at home. i think you’d enjoy it!
    .-= See gerri’s latest blog post: customizing a book, part three =-.

    1. Ok, I’m sold. Time to go rice-cooker shopping 🙂

  10. One of your best posts EVER! I have a slow cooker that I battle with. I do love my blender and my manual can opener that “opens” the lid in a safe way. Great for dog food cans when I need to keep covered in refrig. Your posts have motivated me to get a bread machine, possibly.

    1. I got mine used on eBay for $20, about 8 years ago. Best twenty dollars I ever spent.

  11. My rice cooker is my can’t live without gadget. It makes perfect rice every time, and will hold it for hours. Talk about convenience! I have an abundance of flavor packets from top ramen, and will put some of that in with the water to flavor the rice, along with some corn or peas. Or add some dill, lemon zest, and garlic- smells soooooo yummy while it’s cooking!

    And yes, get the rice cooker cookbook. There is more to life than plain white rice!

    1. Ooh, I’m teetering on the brink now! So, so tempting. Especially since we need to eat less pasta than we currently do. Certain rices and grains would be excellent substitutes… There. I think I’ve just justified it in my mind. Time to shop 😉 Thanks for pushing me over the edge!

  12. I have that same bread machine cookbook. I love it! My bread machine lives on my counter because I have room for it, but I really should make bread more. I also love my slow cooker and rice cooker. I buy the bulk pearl rice at our local WinCo, makes very yummy chewy rice.

    1. Ooh, I wish I had counter space for all three of those things, especially the bread machine. I do use it frequently as it is, but I’m sure I’d use it more if I didn’t have to lug it out of the cabinet in the dining room first.

  13. […] may remember I’ve mentioned in the past that my bread machine has a jam cycle?  It makes roughly 2-3 cups of jam per batch, […]

Leave a comment!