I like kitchen gadgets. My wife thinks I’m a little indiscriminate in my kitchen gadget purchases and reigns me in. Depsite that, we’ve managed to accumulate a lot of stuff, some more useful than others. What follows is my list of useful and not so useful stuff. What do you have?
Cuisinart ice cream maker: My wife was very dubious about this purchase and had it pegged for a permanent place shelved and forgotten in the basement. Surpisingly, she is now a fan of it. We use this about once a month to make our own ice cream.
Slow cooker: I was convinced we needed one of these and my wife hemmed and hawed until it showed up at Costco and we picked it up. It’s been a huge asset to the kitchen. It’s especially good for when we are both going to be late getting home for dinner, we can make something that is slow cooked for a long time; set it up before we leave for work and dinner is ready when we step in the door. This one is rated as indespensible.
Waffle maker: I could have sworn that this would be something I use all the time. Instead, it sits mostly unused. I like waffles. It just seems I can’t be bothered to mix the batter or clean up the mess. I’d rather just grab a box of Eggos from the freezer. A bad buy on my part.
Stick blender: Myy wife thought it was just another power toy for me to play with. She now uses it all the time. Although not indispensible, it’s highly useful.
Rice cooker: It’s a fancier one with timers and settings for rice and congee. We’re a Chinese household so it’s obviously indispensible. The only question was whether we should have spent the extra money for something even fancier. I lost.
I buy my girlfriend kitchen gadgetry on nearly every major occasion. She just lives for it, and I kind of enjoy the process of finding good ones, unique ones, and usable ones.
She’s got the same ice cream maker, probably, but she uses it at least weekly. The quality of output varies, but she does lots of experimenting and sometimes it comes out really fucking good. Our waffle maker gets more use, too, and she’s made some pretty crazy waffles since I got it on X-Mas last year. Stick blenders are, like you said, immensely useful devices, as are rice cookers. I haven’t invested into a good one of those yet, so suggestions are welcome, as her birthday is coming.
We also make good use of our soy milk maker, and of course, the king of all kitchen gadgetry, the Champion Juicer.
Even Alton employs more unitaskers than he admits to. He uses that same ice cream maker! And he’s done waffles, as well as a “shopping for rice cookers” segment with W. I admire his philisophical opposition to obscure, seldom-used gadgets, but I think unitaskers are warranted when they are something that you use very frequently (rice cooker), or when they are something that allows you to perform some task that is impossible to do otherwise (ice cream maker, waffle iron).
The stick blender and slow cooker aren’t unitaskers, of course. Those are useful for all sorts of things.
Our kitchen gadget of the year is our SodaStream seltzer machine. Because man, I love me some seltzer.
I like our waffle maker, though it doesn’t get used as often now as when it was newer. IIRC, we had gotten something silly, like a single waffle Mickey Mouse waffle maker when we got married, but it isn’t really practical to make waffles 1 at a time. Our current waffle maker does 4 large, deep waffles at a time.
I recently got a Panini press and like it.
We’ve really enjoyed our popcorn maker. We started with a fancier version (Cuisinart, I think), but went through 2 of them that both broke in short order (I think we got refunds, though), and have since switched to something cheaper (the main downside is that it has to be hand cleaned).
Most noteably is the electric kettle that heats up to 2 gallons of water to a boil, or to a nice 85°C which is perfect for green tea.
I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, and a neat combo that is a blender, but also has a small food processor that sits on the blender base. It’s only big enough for about a cup, but that’s usually only as much as I need. I actually use that quite a bit for making fresh breadcrumbs and stuff.
I also have an immersion blender but almost never use it. Same with the slow cooker and waffle iron.
I also have two different vacuum sealers that I never use, people have given me for christmas on two separate occasions.
Dumb question. What is a food processor? Isn’t my food already processed? I have never used one of these or seen anyone use one outside of my characters in the Sims. A google search tells me they are indeed real, but what do they do? It looks like it cuts up your food for you?
It has to be churned and frozen at the same time. Ice cream machines have a fluid-lined bowl that you keep in the freezer prior to use. You put your mixture in the frozen bowl, and the machine slowly churns it until the cold thickens it. The churning keeps it from freezing into a solid ice cube by breaking up ice crystals as they form, and by working air into the mixture as it freezes (air is what makes ice cream soft rather than solid).
If you whipped up your mixture in a food processor and then threw it in the freezer, you’d either get a nasty, slushy result like freezer-burn gone wild, or (more likely, IMHO) the air would just settle out as it froze and you’d end up with a big, ice cream-flavored ice cube. Either way, you wouldn’t have ice cream. An ice cream maker is absolutely an essential gadget if you want to make your own.