Cave Daddy: Wow! Look at that lightning! So cool!
Cave Mama: Get me out of here NOW!
As defined by the Home Store of the May Company many years ago, the Small Electrics department includes such items as space heaters, alarm clocks, and air purifiers; however, for our purposes in Lazy Suzi’s Kitchen, we are going to limit our discussions to such modern miracles as juicers, coffee pots, mixers, and all the other small appliances that make your job as an every day chef just a little (or a LOT) easier. So who do we have to thank for all of our plug-in time-savers?
Now there’s a name you don’t hear every day. Since we are talking about electrical gizmos here, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking of Ben Franklin and his kite right off the bat, but actually Ben only verified that lightning and electricity were the same thing. You might have thought of Thomas Edison because of the light bulb, or maybe even George Westinghouse, because of all of the patents he owns on so many inventions involving electricity. But I’m going with Mr. Pixii because he’s the first guy who figured out how to turn motion into electricity, and generate an alternating current (AC), which is how power comes into our homes today. I won’t get all wonky about the timeline here, but Pixii had it figured out in 1832, and the guy who usually gets all the credit, Nikola Tesla, didn’t create the first AC motor until 1883. (In a sad but true side note, Pixii wasn’t trying to invent the alternating current and couldn’t figure out any practical use for it. Direct current (DC) was the preferred method of delivering electricity from point A to point B at the time.) In any case, once Tesla’s cat was out of the bag, people like Westinghouse and Edison got straight to work, and before you could blink twice, we no longer had to whisk ourselves into a frenzy to make a birthday cake or heat up our irons on a hot stove anymore.
The Power Tools of the Kitchen
Today we have so many small appliances for the kitchen, it’s hard to keep track of them all. It seems like there’s a little machine for nearly every activity and every chore we face, and you even have your choice about which type of machine you want to use to do any given job. It helps to think of these small electrics as the power tools of your kitchen, and treat them accordingly. Unless you have a walk-in kitchen closet or a full wall of cabinets, you’re going to have to be thoughtful about what you want to work with in your humble home.
Work or Pleasure
I’m personally acquainted with quite a number of these gadgets, and as a former home store employee, I’m familiar with a whole lot more. However, my appliances tend to fall into three categories:
- the ones I need all the time,
- the ones I keep handy because I use them often enough, and
- the ones that take up space on the shelf in the basement because I don’t have room to keep them in the kitchen, and I don’t love them enough to make space for them, but I don’t want to get rid of them either.
I have more that fall into the last category than I like to admit. Some of these I received as gifts from well-meaning friends or family who thought I might enjoy using them. And I did. For awhile. It’s not like I never used them at all. But there are few I thought I’d like, that I bought for myself, that turned out to be more trouble than they were worth for me. Of course, the tools I use in my every day kitchen might not be the same ones you find essential. For example, I own a Keurig, single-cup coffee maker, a vintage 12-cup percolator, and a small commercial urn that will brew enough java to keep a small crowd alert, but my husband and I drink coffee like it’s our job so the quick and easy Mr. Coffee-type of appliance works best for us. You might prefer to do away with a coffee maker entirely and use a French press whenever you feel like a coffee-flavored pick-me-up, or maybe you never drink it all. On the other hand, you might crave smoothies every day, so you need to keep the Vitamix or the Magic Bullet within arm’s reach. Let’s remember, we’re furnishing a kitchen that suits your style, and our aim here is present you with information to help you do just that.
Just one last point about those small appliances I keep squirreled away in the basement. Lazy Suzi is a 365 days a year, do it the easy way cook; however, there are times when culinary boredom sets in, and the only remedy is to create something so completely different, so complex and time-consuming, it crosses the line into the realm of “hobby.” For these occasions, I am fully prepared with an arsenal of choppers, grinders, processors, mixers, etc., and if I am successful, we eat like royalty. If it fails, I think of it as a science experiment, and we order take out. In either case, I’m cooking for fun, and there’s plenty that can be said for doing anything you really enjoy. So don’t kick yourself for investing in that bread-maker you use maybe once or twice a year, if that. Enjoy the project when you feel like it. You’ll be facing that familiar package of frozen chicken thighs all too soon!
I mentioned my indispensable coffee-maker, but I also put my electric skillet to work on a regular basis. What’s the small appliance you can’t live without?