When we moved to Ohio, we brought nothing but clothes with us. The apartment was furnished, including kitchen stuff. Then when I found a house, the kitchen was quite bare (The former owners left us a paper towel holder that matched the cabinets and a kitchen witch. I suspect I could get along without them, but why risk it?) I bought a coffee maker while Brian was traveling and he noticed it the minute he returned. "I see you bought a coffee maker." "Yes. It's red." "That's fine, but I'd prefer that you not fill the house with gadgets."
Who calls a coffee maker a gadget?! I continued on my merry, gadget-collecting way and that kitchen is now bursting with gadgetry. I returned to Maryland my kitchen had some new things in it and was missing some old ones, including the coffee maker. I haven't replaced it. Turns out you can make coffee one cup at a time by first pouring hot water over a spoonful of ground coffee, then straining it into a cup. It gets tedious if you want to make more than one cup at a time, but I rarely do. This is not to say I would be delighted to return to Ohio and find my coffee maker missing.
I've read it in at least a hundred different places: good knives are more important than anything else in your kitchen. Oh well. Whenever I look at the prices of good knives I turn back to my drawerful of crappy but cheap knives and resign myself to a lifetime of bludgeoning onions and tomatoes. Maybe if I had bought them twenty years ago I would have seen a decent return on the investment; at this point I don't think I have enough chopping time left.
Here are the gadgets I've used the most. If your favorite is missing from the list, let me know!
Slow Cooker - I have a huge one for making bbq for a crowd, also a 6-quart one for making dinner while I'm gone all day. I love them both, although the big one only gets used a couple of times a year.
Food Processor - I only used the whirly chopping blade. I don't even know where the grating disks are. What I have, though, I use a lot.
Steamer - This is a plug-in thing that lets me steam vegetables (One might steam something else. I never have.) when all my stovetop burners are in use.
Electric Kettle - It boils water quickly. I use this a lot. The one in Ohio is better because the kettle can be removed from the corded base for pouring. The one in Maryland has a cord from kettle to the outlet so it's on a bit of a leash.
Pressure Cooker - If you forget to use the Slow Cooker early in the day, you'll be happy to have this. Very nice for cooking stews and soups. Other things, too, but the ability to turn a couple of frozen chicken thighs and whatever was lurking in the fridge's crisper drawer into a decent meal in a mostly unsupervised hour is what makes this a superhero gadget. Also, it works even when the electricity is out.
Rice Cooker - This is another gadget that leaves a burner free for other things. I have a tiny one in Ohio that is too tiny (but it's red) and a gigantic one in Maryland that is too gigantic. I guess 5-6 cups would be ideal, although I'll continue to use what I have until they go belly-up.
Immersion Blender - I love this thing! I blend everything with it.
Ice Cream Maker - I only have one in Ohio and it's a terrible idea to have one at all because it just makes ice cream even more delicious than store ice cream. I have the kind with a motor that turns a canister in a big blue bucket you fill with ice and salt. The fact that it's a messy noisy ordeal is a nice regulator.
Hand Mixer - Do you know what the secret of hand-held mixer success is? I will tell you. Put a folded damp dishtowel under your bowl to keep it from skittering around. I learned this from the internet, pre-WWW.
Presto Microwave Popcorn Popper - I don't have this in Maryland, so I make popcorn in a pot with oil. It's just about as fast, really, but the Ohio popper is super-easy and uses no oil at all. It does use a special cardboard disk that fits into the bottom and needs to be replaced every so often (I use one until the burnt brown parts start flaking, maybe every two dozen uses).
Post-Post: This post brought to you by my curiosity as to whether it would be difficult to type whilst walking at my—oh yes—walking desk. Conclusion: it is not terribly different from the seated type of typing.