Top 6 Pieces of Kitchen Gear I Own

by Anne Maxfield on January 27, 2014

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:Accidental Locavore Slicer

  1. 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.
  2. 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.Accidental Locavore Sealer
  3. 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.
  4. 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.Accidental Locavore Cuisinart
  5. 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.Accidental Locavore Kitchen Aid
  6. 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.




What Kitchen Gear Don’t You Own? My Top 5

by Anne Maxfield on January 20, 2014

Accidental Locavore Pressure CookerNow that we’re past the silly season of appliances that only see the light of day when the Chia Pets come out, the Accidental Locavore was thinking about kitchen gear that I don’t own and why. The gear that made this list was just what I’ve recently considered owning. As you will see, a lot comes down to size, storage, counter space and usefulness. If you’re a staunch defender of any of them, please comment and let me know what I might be missing and I’ll clear out a place for them!

  1. Pressure cooker: True confession, there’s a bit of a fear factor here. Growing up, pressure cookers exploded. Watching Top Chef, pressure cookers get stuck closed, requiring much hysteria to pry them open (if I want that much stress, I’ll just go back to dealing with my health insurance). Storage is an issue – they take up a lot of room and there’s a lid to deal with, too.  Usage comes into it, too – how much cooking time is a pressure cooker going to save? Mark Bittman recently had a delicious-looking recipe for lamb meatballs made in a pressure cooker. The total time for these is 30 minutes. I’m going to make these meatballs, probably on top of the stove, and cooking them like that probably adds no more than another half hour to the cook time.
  2. Deep fat fryer: It is said that if you fry foods properly, it doesn’t add much fat to the food. We’ll agree to take that on faith. To me, a fryer is the beginning of a lot more fried foods chez moi. Because I hate the smell of previously fried food (which is what you get when you deep fry in a pan), I very rarely do it. This is probably good news to my waistline and my doctor. Deep fat fryers also demand a lot of valuable kitchen real estate, along with the large containers of oil needed to feed the beast.Accidental Locavore Sous Vide Machine
  3. Sous-vide machine: This is a tough one. I’ve come extremely close to buying a cute little red sous-vide machine a few times and backed off at the last minute. Why? Space is the first consideration and even though I have a big kitchen with ample storage, it’s rapidly running out of space. Truthfully, I’m not sure how much I would actually use it. They’re wonderful for duck confit and perfectly cooking fish, but I’ve developed a pretty good hack, using my slow cooker (another space hog), so haven’t been able to justify it, even in red.Accidental Locavore Combi Oven
  4. Combi oven: I was fascinated by the raves the new Cuisinart combi oven got in a recent Food & Wine. This puppy steams, convects, bakes, broils, toasts, will change the way you cook forever (or something like that) and is pretty reasonably priced. Think of it as being a larger than a toaster oven and smaller than a microwave and you’ll know why it’s not on its way to my house. No counter space, and this isn’t something you wouldn’t keep on the counter. So the cooking/baking will have to proceed in its usual fashion.
  5. Induction burner: For my city crash pad, this would have been a relative no-brainer, but for one thing: out of all the pots and pans that we own (and trust me there are plenty!) only three of them would work on an induction burner. Who knew, in the glory days of Calphalon that someday in the future there would be induction cooking? While the burner is extremely functional, pretty compact and inexpensive, buying and storing new cookware isn’t.

I want to thank my new friend B. for letting me take photos of all this gear. If any of them do make it into my kitchen, I’ll be sure to let you have the sale!