If you cook on a regular basis you will have all the basics of cooking: fry pans, saucepans, pots, knives, spoons, spatulas, etc. This section is not about those things. In this cookbook, my goal is not to teach you how to cook: I’m assuming you have basic cooking skills. This section’s goal is to address those little extra things that I use on a regular basis. Some of them might be something you already own, and some might be new to you.
I own no less than FIVE slow cookers. I’m not kidding. From largest to smallest, I own: a roaster, a 6-quart oval, a 3-quart round, a 2-quart round and a dip warmer that holds a mere 2 cups. I use the mid-range sizes the most. If you had to buy just one, I would go for a 4-quart. You’ll notice I don’t actually own this size, and that’s important. My 6-quart is often too large, and my 3-quart is too small. Go figure. I just refuse to purchase yet another slow cooker because I’m running out of storage space! Slow cookers are a fantastic time-saver. It’s great to throw food in before work and have it hot and delicious by the time you get home and it’s THE way I cook dried beans. Period. I’ve tried many brands and they all seem to work fairly well, but do your research and get one with the features you want.
I bought myself an immersion blender years ago when they were at peak popularity, and I use it at least once a month. It’s great for quick blending of crepe batter or a liquidy marinade. I also use these to make milkshakes: milkshakes to me are skim milk blended with a little cocoa powder or PB2 powder and some ice for a cool, refreshing treat. You can blend hot liquids right inside the pot or pan without damaging the container. They can also be used to blend large amounts of eggs for omelettes, or even for pancake batter. The point is, I love mine, and I think it’s worth the money. Make sure to buy one with a metal shaft: it will last longer and will withstand high heat much better.
Yes, a food processor can be a big investment, costing upwards of $100. But it can save your knuckles from the agony of shredding doom, make salsa-making easy and quick, slice potatoes evenly in seconds, etc, etc. What do I use my food processor for the most? Two things: shredding cucumbers for that heavenly dip tzatziki, and homemade pizza dough. It takes less time to knead pizza dough in a food processor than it does to measure out the ingredients. TRUTH. But that’s a story for another day. I think most people love their food processors the most when they make cole slaw, but I never touch the stuff. It helps me make so many delicious things! Stick with a better brand and get the largest cup volume you can. Mine is a 12-cup Cuisinart, and it works fabulously.
Yes, I know they’re expensive, and yes, they take up a lot of space, but if you love making homemade bread, meringue, mousse or stiff battered cookies, you’ll love having a stand mixer handy. I use mine at least once a month, and a whole lot more in the winter when it’s baking season. I make a lot of egg white leavened recipes in winter time, and I abhor just standing still operating a hand mixer when I can run around and do other things while my stand mixer is doing its thing. Better yet? I purchased the meat grinding attachment and can make my own sausage. You want one with a heavy base if you’re going to knead yeast breads: the old one I had was too light and tried to walk itself off the counter any time I used the dough hook. I have a KitchenAid that was a gift many years ago from grateful coworkers who’d been on the receiving end of my baked goods, and I love the thing. If you’re serious about your stand mixer, you can’t go wrong with the KitchenAid brand.
So what small appliance can YOU not live without? Let me know in the comments!