You might be surprised to hear that when we hosted Thanksgiving a couple weeks back, only one thing went in our oven for any length of time: the turkey. Yes, the sweet potatoes went in for a little bit too, but that was only long enough to melt the marshmallows on top. In general, we rarely use our oven. It is a big heat and energy sink and is not necessary for a lot of the things we make. Oven meals also seem to take longer and we simply don’t have the time. So, how do we eat? Simple, using our small kitchen appliances. Here are the ones we use most and why:
Photo credit: Nicola since 1972 / Foter / CC BY
Slow cookers are fantastic appliances. In fact, we now have two. You can make so many different meals in these things and it is essentially a set it up before work and have food when you get home. Doesn’t that sound like a dream? We make everything from soup to macaroni and cheese to chicken pot pie to black beans in ours. I have been eager to try the new trend of preparing a bunch of crockpot meals ahead of time and freezing them so that in the morning I can empty a bag into the crockpot and have dinner when I get home. If I were to do the undergraduate college thing all over again, I think I would have a crockpot in my college apartment. Actually, all high school graduates I know will probably get one as a graduation present from here on out.
We received a rice cooker as a wedding present back in May and now use it almost every day. We are big beans and rice fans, but rice can be so picky to make on the stove. If you open the pot too soon, it might not steam right and it is easy to overcook. Thank goodness for rice cookers! We seriously add the rice and water and then it tells us when it is done. With ours, we can even steam veggies at the same time and essentially have a stirfry ready to go as soon as the rice is.
After our wedding, we were able to pick up a bread-maker for less than $10 thanks to some of our registry rewards. We were having issues with the bread we were making in the oven crumbling in our hands as we tried to eat it and having the bread machine has been a huge help with that. It also uses less energy than the oven. Ours is a 3 pound loaf machine that can make loaves of bread twice the size of the ones you find in the grocery store and we make it for about a third of the cost. Once again, the bread-maker makes it very easy to set it and forget it.
This was my big splurge back when I absolutely loved to bake in college. After burning out about 3 of the handheld mixer motors in a year, I decided the Kitchen-aid mixer was worth the money. These things are made to last. I think my grandma still has one she got as a wedding present and she has been married 60 years now! Yes, I know they are a bit expensive, but they are definitely worth it if you do any homesteading. Last night, I used ours to make brown sugar and I know many people who use it with a dough hook to make large batches of bread. We also have a pasta roller attachment for ours that we use on a regular basis.
Until recently, I didn’t realize how amazing a food processor really is. In the past, we have used it to puree some foods, but did you know that it is the best tool for making pie crusts? We have also used it to make almond milk and homemade Nutella. I also know of some people using theirs to make nut butters. We use ours to shred the cheese we buy in bulk blocks before splitting them into different bags and freezing them (if you do this, add a little bit of cornstarch to prevent the cheese from clumping). I am still discovering all the features.