A recent discussion about the purpose of stick blenders has inspired me to share some thoughts on home kitchen essentials. This will, by no means, even scratch the surface on such a broad topic, but I’d like to pass along my observations about what kinds of blending and mixing equipment have worked best in my kitchen.
When I got married six years ago, I registered for a whole slew of things I deemed necessary for wedded cooking bliss. The stainless steel Oster blender and the hand mixer were among the more useful items, but that restaurant-style fajita platter — never been used. It just didn’t occur to us at the time that the griddle and wooden trivet setup was for presentation purposes only. But back to mixing equipment…
I never registered for a stand mixer, because chocolate chip cookies are about the only thing I ever dreamed of baking. It wasn’t until recently when I got interested in baking my own bread that I even thought to buy one. This turned out to be a blessing, since most stores just sell Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart, which don’t work as well for making large batches of bread from freshly milled grain. (I’ve heard reports of the Kitchen Aid trying to wobble off the counter during kneading and of a shortened life of the mixer in general because the motor wears out — this isn’t to knock these brands, but if kneading large batches of dough made with home-milled flour is your thing, then this is not the best option.) This is why I bought a Bosch Universal!
Another cool thing abut the Bosch is that in addition to having a powerful motor (this is the same company that makes power tools), it also has a blender attachment. This means you can use one machine for mixing AND blending. So I recently gave away my beautiful Oster blender so I could save counter space! I like the idea of having just a few multi-use appliances (read: Alton Brown) rather than a bunch of monotasking gadgets, so this is really cool to me.
When my 80s-era food processor finally goes out, I’ll purchase the food processing attachment, as well. The blender attachment came with the mixer, so I didn’t spend any extra money for it. This seems like the most economical way to simplify my kitchen, anyway. There are also attachments for:
– citrus juicer
– food/meat grinder
– fruit and berry press
– nut and cheese grater
– sausage stuffer
– pasta maker
…just to name the ones I’d be interested in. So now that I’ve done an advertisement for this thing, I’ll be waiting for that check in the mail from Bosch or Pleasant Hill Grain. 🙂
The stick blender came along later (a hand-me-down from Mom), but I’m beginning to think it’s indispensable, too. Mine does the job I need it to — it blends things directly in the bowl or in a pot on the stove — and it cleans up easily. Mine is by Braun, but since it’s at least ten years old, I don’t know if they’re still made by that brand. Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet has a whole article on the Kitchen Aid immersion blender, so that may be the better way to go.
As for the hand mixer: totally unneccessary, but I think it’s pretty obvious by now as to why. The stick blender is just as portable and easier to clean, plus you don’t have to go searching for attachments.
So the lesson here is: you don’t always know right now what you’ll end up using/preferring later on. I wasn’t much of a cook when I got married — even though I thought I was — and I’ve learned so much more about nutrition in the last few years.