After the Accidental Locavore dissed five appliances for being (hard-to-clean, stainless steel) single function space-hogs, you may be amused to see what does take up that valuable kitchen real estate. Unlike coffee makers, tea kettles and various ovens (toaster, microwave) that get a daily workout, these sit quietly until called into action:
- Electric slicer: This was a gift from a friend who was occasionally on the receiving end of my year of charcuterie. While it’s not something I use a lot, it’s there for a specific purpose, slicing my homemade bacon, which it does remarkably well. Surprisingly, if I ever gave it up, it would be for a bigger one. As much as I like challenging my knife skills, slicing five pounds of bacon, evenly, is a job, whereas the slicer quickly creates a perfect rasher every time.
- Vacuum sealer: Once the bacon is sliced, what do you do with it? Vacuum pack it! This was also something I thought I could live without, until I bought it. If you freeze food, or want to experiment with cooking sous-vide, you need this. It totally prevents freezer burn and makes perfect packets for cooking sous-vide. The more expensive ones work better than the cheaper versions, so go for the bells and whistles.
- Slow cooker: My hack for cooking sous-vide, I actually own two, a big one and a smaller one. Bring a pot of water to 160°, pour it into the slow cooker and you’ve got a decent answer to the $500 machines. Oh, and it makes great stews, braises etc, but you already knew that.
- Food scale: As you know, I’m not much of a baker, so a food scale was never on my radar until I read an article about how everyone should own one, followed by a sale on Gilt. It’s amazingly useful, not only for my bacon and other charcuterie items (where accuracy is important), but for scaling up recipes for Christmas gifts etc. It takes up very little room, and is easily cleanable. Get one.
- Food processor: I’ve had my Cusinart since college (thanks, Mom & Dad!) and it’s still going strong. Virtually indestructible, this is the one appliance that I would want on a (solar powered) desert island. As you probably know, it dices and slices and purees, makes great mayo and hollandaise and thousands of other things at the flick of a switch.
- Mixer: My red Kitchen Aid mixer was another much-appreciated gift from my parents. While it certainly takes up a lot of counter space (and is heavy enough that schlepping it from the closet is a pain), it does make a lot of things easier. A little less aggressive than the Cuisinart for making things like dog biscuits, or chocolate chip cookies, it’s a wonderful over-kill for mashed potatoes. With the grinder and sausage attachments, I grind meat for steak tartare or sausages like merguez.