Small Appliances for the Everyday Chef
Husna T. Ghani
The past two and a half years have given us more than just a global pandemic; they have given us the opportunity to have more time at home as well. This means more time to eat, cook, and purchase more appliances. In recent years, honing one’s culinary skills has become a national pastime. With the advent of accessible recipes and video tutorials on the World Wide Web, it seems as though most individuals have become (or aspire to become) chefs. However, although we may have more time to cook, we still want to save time in the kitchen. Speed and ease are the keys to the popularity of these nouveau kitchen appliances.
Thanks to social media, we can discover home appliances that we never knew we wanted and now feel like we need. One such appliance is the Instant Pot. The Instant Pot claims to be an all-in-one appliance that steams, boils, cooks, and bakes. It can even make homemade yogurt. The Instant Pot boasts that you can use it to make everything from rice to steaks, bake a cheesecake, and even make haleem, a traditionally slow-cooked wheat and meat dish that typically takes hours. An added bonus to being able to perform multiple functions using one appliance is that the Instant Pot does so in a fraction of the time it would take to do so using a conventional stove or oven.
Another kitchen appliance that has been in the limelight in recent times is the air fryer. I succumbed to the pandemic peer pressure of venturing into more varied cooking styles and bought an air fryer myself, and I can confidently say that it has changed my life. If you want to minimize your use of oil and not have to hover over a pan on a hot stove, an air fryer is a must-buy. Making chicken, seafood, and vegetables has never been easier. With an air fryer, leftover pizza or samosas can be reheated to their original freshness in less than a few minutes. The best part is that you can simply turn the air fryer on, set the timer, and walk away.
Another small appliance (or better yet, kitchen tool) is the frother. A frother blends your beverage right in your cup and can be manual or electric. You can now make yourself a grande half soy, half oat, extra frothy hot latte with a shot of hazelnut and a dash of cinnamon and give yourself $7 for it (don’t forget to tip!). Frothers give your milky drinks foamy goodness at the top, which you can use to make latte art. One type of frother is similar to a mini blender. To use this type of frother, pour your choice of milk in, press a button, and enjoy hot frothy milk in no time. Can you live without a frother? Probably. However, the smile on your face (or on your foamy drink) is well worth the small investment. It has completely changed my latte life.
Panini makers can change up your sandwich game. One of the perks of working from home is a hot lunch. If you only have time to make a sandwich between Zoom calls, why not make it café-style with cheese oozing out the sides? “A panini maker has the power to change leftover meats and vegetables into gourmet works of art,” says Adam Ghani, a busy college sophomore who uses a panini maker multiple times a week. Did I mention the melted cheese?! With grill marks on your sandwich, you will need extra willpower not to Instagram your meal.
Another kitchen appliance that I did not realize I needed is the electric kettle. Have you ever waited for water to boil using the conventional method? You wait, stare, and wait some more. With an electric kettle, you simply pour in the water and turn on the contraption. By the time you get your mug, teabag, and cardamom pods, the water will be ready to go.
Have you ever wanted to blend your vegetables and make soup without having to wash an extra pot? Now you can chop, blend, and cook vegetable soup using a food blender/soup maker combo. You can even put in raw meat, such as chicken, to make a smooth, hot chicken soup. With fall weather right around the corner, a steaming bowl of soup with less cleanup is what we all need.
While conventional appliances such as microwave ovens, regular ovens, refrigerators, blenders, and food processors are staples of every home, smaller and newer kitchen appliances can save cooking time and minimize cleanup. Are these appliances must-haves, or are they simply nice to have? It depends on your eating and cooking styles. Take a survey of what you and your family eat in a month and see if any of the appliances mentioned in this article would help you prepare your meals more easily and/or more quickly. The way these contraptions look, with their shiny colors and cool patterns, they can do double duty as both kitchen appliances and artwork.
Husna T. Ghani has an MBA and an MSEd. She is a former science teacher and a current strategy consultant in the spheres of communication and education. When she isn’t doing her day job, she focuses on dessert-making and saving the world, one pastry at a time.