(Image via Cookography, where you can find simple instructions for making yogurt on your stovetop)
When it comes to kitchen gadgets, I’m on them like Plummy on Spanish footballers. While some women dream of little Tiffany’s boxes, my heart races at the sight of the words Sur la Table. If in our travels we pass a kitchen-related shop, Mr. Twistie knows it’s time to go find someplace to kill at least an hour before he can drag me kicking and screaming out again. I own an ebleskiver pan. I use a mortar and pestle regularly. I have different sizes and shapes of whisk to use depending on the job. I have been known to gently pet both my KitchenAid stand mixer and my twelve-cup Cuisinart food processor.
And yet, there are certain gadgets out there that I cannot imagine myself using.
In light of yesterday’s conversation about yogurt makers (and I’m absolutely with Plummy on this one, I honestly don’t think it’s a necessary expense), I thought I would share with you kitchen gadgets that don’t fit into my life. Your mileage may – and very likely will! – vary dramatically.
Pie bird. It’s a fact that when you’re baking a pie with a top crust, you do need to vent the top so the steam can escape. If you don’t, then your pie explodes and you’ve got a horrible job cleaning up your oven. The idea with the pie bird is that you lay your bottom crust into the pan, sit the bird in the middle, put in the filling and then lay the top crust over the bird, allowing it to pierce the center. As the pie bakes, the steam escapes through the throat of the bird.
Okay, some of these little buggers are really cute, but I can’t see any point in using them. I’ve been baking pies for forty two years now, and simply cutting a couple small slits in the top crust with a kitchen knife has never yet let me down. My filling fills the entire center of the pie, and I don’t have to worry about cleaning that fiddly little bird at the end.
Deep Fryer. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy the heck out of deep fried foods. But no, I’m not going to cook them at home. Casa Twistie has very poor air circulation, and anything that gets fried – let alone deeply! – hangs in the air for days afterward. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of disposing properly of the used fat. And frankly, when Mama Twistie made her amazing tempura… she used a very deep pot and a kitchen thermometer and it worked just fine.
Pressure cooker. Not only do I have limited counter space available, this is basically a really fast way of steaming food. I have the time to do it with an ordinary pot and steamer insert. Also, I’ve watched too many pressure cooker disasters on Top Chef and Iron Chef. These buggers actually scare me a bit. Maybe when people aren’t under the pressure of a Quickfire Challenge they’re perfectly safe… but I’m not taking the chance. It just doesn’t seem worth the money or the counter real estate for my life.
Electric griddle. Again, there’s no place to put it. Besides, my beautiful stove, Algy, came with an included cast iron griddle that fits perfectly over that center oval burner. I don’t need to double what I’ve already got with something that will add to my electricity bill.
We all have different priorities. I have no need for a crock pot since I work from home and have the time to tend a stew in an ordinary pot on the stovetop. But for someone who goes out to work or spends more time running around chasing after her kids, it can be a real life saver. A deep fryer doesn’t fit into my world, but for another cook, it may be as necessary as air.
None of this is meant to dissuade you from something you have a real, serious use for in your life. It’s all about figuring out what does and doesn’t make sense in the life you lead. When you see lists of ‘must have’ items, always consider whether you as an individual must have it or not.