Making Plans

Before I start - using some of the cash from a Half Price Books dump of old Star Trek paperbacks at Taco Bell doesn't count as cheating, right? I didn't think so.

So anyway, new kitchen means room. Room means more space to store and use the kind of equipment that the fine people at Target call "small electrics". So I'm using this post to solicit advice on a few items I've long thought would be nice to have, in case any of you have relevant experience.

Microwave: The apartment came with a microwave. This means I haven't actually purchased a microwave oven in at least 16 years. I know how much portable music players have changed in that time, but have there been any technological revelations in the world of the Radarange since The Rev was on the air?

Turntable is key, obviously. As is a capacity big enough to be useful without being cavernous or excessive. But are they more powerful? More efficient? Better in any way?

Slow Cooker: Slow cookers are cheap. Everyone I know who has one loves them. Is there any functionality whatsoever in the higher ranges that the $40 ones that line endcaps at Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond lack? I can't get this at Cosco, because the Costco slow cookers always have some kind of fucking gimmick like a useless mini-pot bundled with them.

,p>Deep fryer: I know Alton Brown disapproves, but I've tried rocking the dutch oven and thermometer before, and you need better eyes than I'll ever have, and a better stove than I'm even likely to end up with, to pull that shit off. So something with a thermostat that I can set to a temperature would be ideal. I like the rectangular ones, not the round plastic ones.

As an aside. Is there any functional difference between a deep fryer and an immersion circulator, and if not, why the fuck hasn't someone come out with one box that does both? Heats one container full of oil to the 350-400 range, or put another container with water in it and set the thermostat to 150? I suppose deep fryers don't do the circulation part, but that wouldn't make a huge difference in a small countertop model. Make what I want cheap and easy, appliance industry!

Food Saver: I've had a certain minimal success with the cheap vacuum pump and bags that Ziploc put out a couple of years ago, but it is not without a certain amount of fucking hassle. Plus, they tend to lose their seal in the freezer. So a proper vacuum sealing machine like a Food Saver seems like a no-brainer when I cook large quantities, want to preserve CSA vegetables, etcetera.

On the other hand, I am wary of devices with certain infomercial qualities, and I am doubly wary of devices which require me to buy supplies from the people that make the machine. And Food Saver fits both those descriptions, so I'm... triply wary, I guess?

The last likely addition is an electric griddle, but those hold no mystery for me.

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microwaves

Check the wattage - these vary greatly and can considerably screw up any microwave prepping/cooking you do. Most of the instructions I see are based on wattage of 1100 - 1200. Mine is 1400 and I ruined a crapload of tv dinners before I was able to figure out a decent guessing system for altering cook times.

In my experience, the defrost, baked potato, and popcorn buttons are useless and never accurate.

Wattage

Ditto on finding a standard wattage model. Our is only 700 watts, and lest you think that it simply takes a few more seconds than the more powerful models, it can be really hard to gauge how much longer to cook things with suggested times. Like the one time I tried to do popcorn: only half the bag had popped by the maximum time listed, and when I put it in just a bit longer the popped kernels started burning before the rest started popping.

Dazey combo deep fryer/ crock pot

I've had my slow cooker/ deep fryer for so many years its patents have expired. Unfortunately a google search only shows such items on ebay. Maybe under a different brand name. I seldom used the deep fry function, but it works fine. There's a temperature-based controller which plugs into a solid steel tub, which has a non-stick lining. You insert the crockery into it, and it's nice to be able to set the heat to something beside high and low.

Jon

Microwave

Most microwave features are gimmicks. The one feature I had once and really liked was a temperature probe, but I don't think they make those anymore, probably because they're not compatible with turntables. Still, it was nice to be able to tell the microwave a temperature and have it heat to that point and then stop.

Crock Pots

I've always liked my Rival brand crock pot. Also, I'd recommend getting one that doesn't have all the fancy timers, temperature gauges, etc. built in. Better to just have solid settings you can depend on. If you need your pot to turn on and off at a certain time (very handy so you don't overcook things to dryness) get yourself a cheap light timer from the hardware section that you can program to turn on and off at certain times and just plug into that. Another really handy thing to remember are the plastic bag style slow cooker liners. They make cleanup a breeze. Cleaning out a pot that's been cooking all day can be a real mess but with the liners, you pull them out and throw them away. You might also want one small and one large crockpot. The smaller size is nice if you're just cooking enough for two to four, and a big one is nice if you're planning to cook for a crowd or want to freeze up a bunch of leftovers for later meals.

microwave

never used any of the other appliances but the microwave that came with my apartment is pretty interesting. It is bigger than I need and the temperature sensor doesn't work properly but it has a toaster oven like function that is great for toasting bread that is too big to fit in a regular toaster when you don't want to heat a whole regular oven. I'm sure you could find a bunch of other uses for it but it has been unexpectedly useful. It's a GE Profile Advantium 120 if you care.

You have my dishwasher....

...do you want my hand-me-down slow cooker, which used to be a deep-fryer but doesn't quite get hot enough anymore?

And, of course, there's always the salad spinner gambit.

...and MY AXE!

That's all I could think of when I read "you have my dishwasher". Some strange kitchen version of Fellowship of the Rings.

And there's your housewarming party theme.

Also, assuming I ever have money ever again in my whole life, I know what I'm getting you for Christmas. It's not an old deep fryer, either.

Food savers

We have one, and we probably don't use it as much as we should, but it's great for bulk meat and veggie buys. It works pretty much as advertised, but you are kind of limited by their rolls/bags/containers, which can be pricey, so keep an eye out for good deals at Costco and/or Amazon or whatever.

We have a crock pot with three different sized crocks. That one has pretty much taken over as the main crock pot, as it's easier to deal with, but you need to be a bit more careful as the crock sits on the base rather than nesting as thoroughly inside. We got it for free from my MIL, but this looks like the same thing, in better colors.

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