We love to cook and entertain. By love, I mean we’ve cooked for 40 people on a few days’ notice with me heavily pregnant. So it’s no surprise that we also love kitchen gadgetry. Here’s some of our essential favorites:
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, with its plethora of attachments
This is on many lists of top small appliances, but for good reason. We opted for a model with the larger motor and we have invested in many of the attachments. Best among them? The pasta maker, hands down. You can never go back to store bought after your first fresh pasta experience. The attachment is super-easy to use and clean, unlike hand crank versions, which are…well… hand cranked. The stand mixer itself is sturdy, reliable, and sits prettily on your counter when not in use. Ours has been in regular use for 9 years. A very worthwhile investment.
It would be enough that this unit makes fantastic rice – better than our last rice cooker and better than on the stove top. But the reason I purchased the Vitaclay brand was to avoid the Teflon coating found in most rice cooker pots (using a scratched Teflon pan leaches PFOAs into food while allowing a pan to get too hot on a burner allows the stuff to gas off). So it was a total plus that the unglazed Zishaclay pot of the Vitaclay enhances food by lending it a very subtle earthiness. Oh and it’s a slow cooker too!
Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine
There’s nothing like the perfect strong cup of coffee to start the day off right. If this wasn’t a universal truth I wouldn’t be charged upwards of 8 bucks for something you can do at home for pennies. Pennies! And still with the organic, fair trade roasts, the whipped soy, the dusted cocoa… Plus it makes the brunches we host that much better when we’re all sipping on cappuccinos.
SodaStream Penguin Water Carbonator
I have a strawberry lemonade recipe that goes from great to extraordinary when made with sparkling water:
In a blender combine a pound of hulled organic strawberries, the juice of 6 lemons, about ½ a cup of sugar and a bit of water, for easier blending. Pour into a pitcher, top off with sparkling water – about 1.5 litres – mix and serve in glasses garnished with sprigs of mint).
No bottles to recycle, no energy drain (because this unit isn’t electrical), and you’ll make your money back on the sparkling water you no longer have to buy.
Villaware Farmyard Waffle Maker
I know many people have a waffle iron that they never use, but I don’t know where we’d be without ours. During life’s most chaotic times, it’s how we still manage to socialize. Friends and neighbors pop over for the simplest-to-prepare-but-still-totally-decadent weekend brunch.
Honorable Mention for the Best Analog Gadget
French butter dish
This ingenious little piece of pottery keeps butter spreadable but cool on the counter forweeks. The butter won’t go rancid because it doesn’t oxidize. Comprised of two parts – a base with a hollow cylinder and a cup that also serves as the unit’s lid – the butter goes into the cup, the base holds water that creates an airtight seal that doesn’t allow oxygen in, but keeps the butter at the perfect spreadable temperature. Thank you 19th century French science!