“Only one in four has a chance at making it…. And right there, I knew that if one of us was getting off dope, and staying off dope, it was going to be me. I was going to live. I was the guy.”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets. I always have. By no means am I a gullible person – I believe nothing I see or hear until there is proof. Most of the time.
But show me a slick salesman on a well-produced infomercial hawking some hunk of slicing, dicing, heating, non-stick, time-saving machine and I will invariably think, “Hey, that thing will change my life – possibly even for the better.”
I’m too embarrassed to make a full list, but here’s a few I have purchased over the decades:
–Fry Baby (can’t believe I bought one of these – it was in the 1970’s though)
–Automatic Bread Maker (Fine if you like cylindrical bread with a big hole from the stirrer in one end – at least it made the house smell great at three in the morning)
–Spiralizer (a good idea that didn’t work – too cheaply made and takes forever to set up and clean)
–Fancy Mandolin (cut the end of my thumb off – afraid of it now)
–Hot Dog Maker (another incredibly bad invention of the 70’s. You put the dogs between two electrodes and it heated them with 110 AC voltage shot right through the “meat”- tasted like burned ozone.)
–Home Espresso Maker (there’s a reason that coffee shops use machines that cost thousands of dollars)
–Toaster Oven (I already had a toaster and an oven)
–Banana Slicer (OK, but half of my bananas curved the wrong way)
–Dedicated Vegetable Steamer (Seems like a good idea, but converts crisp, flavor-filled, beautiful veggies into bland mush)
–Crock Pot (yeah, you have one, they have stood the test of time – but I call it the “Flavor Removing Machine”)
On and on.
Probably it’s the simple combination of two more basic weaknesses of mine – food and gadgets. The intersection of these frailties leads to a synergistic and symbiotic effect that ends up, in my case as an addiction. The desire to purchase the last kitchen gadget I see is tough to resist.
Still, I usually do. I have a lifetime of cobwebby kitchen cabinets full of forgotten contraptions to learn from. My life doesn’t change and I don’t buy the stuff. Of course, the advent of the internet, especially Amazon Prime, has made resisting my obsession infinitely harder. A few keystrokes and a “buy it now” and that box will soon be at my front door.
So… I was doing better. And then, about a year ago, came the ultimate kitchen gadget. I resisted for about six months, but the pull became too much. I called up Amazon and ordered a six quart Instant Pot.
I have always used an old-school pressure cooker to make beans. It saves time and has the lure of having a bomb steaming away on your stove. And now there is an electric, computer controlled pressure vessel available for consumer use. I had to have one.
And, I must say, I really like it. I use it almost every day. The claims of, say, cooking a roast in ten minutes aren’t exactly true… they don’t include the warm up time to bring the food to pressure (which can take a while) or the cooling-down period. That’s not the point though, the big advantage over the old pressure cookers is that you don’t have to watch the damn thing to make sure it doesn’t explode. It’s all controlled by a finicky microprocessor which you command with an absolutely unintelligible array of buttons and an out-of-date red LED display which seems to display random numbers.
Still, as long as you ignore all the online recipes and printed instructions, it works. All you do is press “Pressure Cook” and some sane amount of time, and a hot, cooked meal will come out.
Oh, and one more thing. I can’t believe it, but I make yogurt in the thing. One of my weekend chores is to make yogurt for the next week. Half gallon milk, can of evaporated milk, boil, put in starter, heat overnight… and there it is. Save a little container for starter on next batch. It sounded so crazy and disgusting I made my first batch as a joke/experiment – but it is so much better than store-bought yogurt, it really is. I use it in a lot of stuff – smoothies, curries, salad dressing, coffee creamer, with walnuts for breakfast. It’s cheap and once you have the routine down, easy.
So now I’m happy. I have the ultimate kitchen gadget and I can stop looking… my addiction is done.
Wait… Wait! Someone I know has this new thing… an electric lunchbox. It’s a sort of Bento Box with a heating element built in. You fill it with stuff and cook it at your desk. Or in your car! It works on 12 volt or 110! This thing will change my life!
Weakness always rears its head…. once an addict, always an addict.