Kitchen Tool Talk: Three (More) of My Favorite Things

For this edition of Kitchen Tool Talk, we’ll be addressing heavy equipment. Not quite bulldozers and dump trucks, but the counter hogs of the kitchen. The stuff that costs money and makes you doubt if you’ll ever use it or make space for it.

Gentle readers, it’s survey time. What’s on your counters and in your heart?

These are three of the heavy lifters in the Practical Cook kitchen. Here’s how they made the cut.

1. Bread Machine

Freshly Baked Bread

Freshly Baked Bread

The Practical Cook’s Mom (PCM to those who know her) is both a bread machine fan and talented thrift shopper. She purchased one for us for ~$10. At that price, why not? Lots of people get them as gifts and don’t use them—take their loss as your gain.

Get some bread machine recipe books, find what you like, and go for it. All the money-saving books recommend making your own bread. It’s cheap and easy, and it really does taste that much better. (The muffin tops used to bother me, now I just go samurai on it with my trusty bread knife and eat it while it’s still hot. Okay, sometimes I just rip it off like a wild animal. The Practical Cook is exceptionally fond of hot bread.)

Still not convinced? Try reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

2. Kitchen Aid Food Processor

Food Processor Pesto

Food Processor Pesto

This is the love of my kitchen. I waited for years, stalked the sales, watched for the colors, and have sworn to make space on the counter in any kitchen I cook in for my black Kitchen Aid Food Processor.

You may recognize it from such recipes as Peanut Butter Powerhouse Snacks and Spaghetti Bird’s Nests. Unparalleled for the shredding of large amounts of cheese, carrots, and cabbage. The best for instant scones. Great for pizza dough.

Do your research, get what you want, but consider one of these beauties if you don’t own one already. If you do, dust it off and take it for a spin.

3. Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker

This has been a tempestuous relationship, but I have finally come to accept the Slow Cooker as a necessity with limitations. This beauty creates an amazing Apple Butter with zero effort sans the peeling and chopping, Vegetable Stock from scraps, and a passable pot roast (truthfully, much better when seared in bacon fat first). I plan on trying steel-cut oats in bulk soon.

For other dishes, I felt like I was working too hard to make the food taste like anything. The Practical Cook’s family tends to like high-flavor profile food, and not so much large quantities of the soft texture that the slow cooker tends to yield. So use it for its strengths, ignore the recipes that aren’t a match, and find a good storage spot in between.

And that brings us back to Doh! Tomorrow is Sunday, which means weekly menu time, and the kick-off of a birthday week for Team Practical Cook. There will be blueberry muffins made in bulk, Carrot Cake decorated (recipe coming this week), and a treasure hunt created for the newly reading crowd.

Strap in, I feel a whole lot of punting coming on.

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