While making brown sugar blueberry muffins this morning, it occurred to me I have not yet touted the great aspects of some things that are necessities in my kitchen and how I use some of them as time savers. (Real bakers, beware, you may gasp at my process)
One tool I have never regretting paying a lot of money for and it has paid for itself 10 times over. It is my favorite workhorse, the Vitamix. At the time, I had a cheap food processor, a hand mixer, dough maker, and a blender when I stumbled across the infomercial...yeah, I'm a bit of a sucker sometimes. After some research and reading the reviews, I decided to Ebay all my other pieces and an upright toaster to have some to put toward this. Well, that was 13 years ago! Granted, the wet canister has since kicked the bucket in the last 3 years and I have not replaced it, because I have used the dry one for everything since. It no longer purrs, it growls, but believe me when I say that it does everything.... it makes smoothies, chops veggies, crushes ice, makes ice cream, mayonnaise, grinds spices/coffee, and makes bread dough among a million other things. Here's the real baker's shocker... when I bake anything, I put all the wet ingredients, sugar included, in the vitamix at once, blend, and add this to all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Do I make souffle's often? No. Ever? No again. But, for everything else that is not finicky, it works. Ie, muffins, cakes, breads, doughnuts, you get the picture. It also makes fantastic gravy with no lumps. If anything in my kitchen has helped goad my trip down natural lane, this is it. It has made making food from scratch much more attainable.
The second was a more recent gift from my mom, a Kitchenaid Mixer. This was on my dream board for a couple years and something I was working toward. Not sure why because I was making all my doughs by hand. Actually, maybe that was why. Anywho, when I received it, I was well aware of its worth and broke it out immediately. I use it exclusively now for bread making. Can't tell you how great it is to proof yeast in the bowl, add the flour, and let it knead for 10 minutes while I do other things. I also use this occasionally when we make meringue because the vitamix is a bit harder to see when they are done before they are overdone.
Third, my little dynamo, is a Pampered Chef small spatula. It is the only tool we use to get out brownies, strata, cookies, pizza, and scrape burnt stuff off cookies sheets. This is another one that has been in my drawer for years. Add to this another of their items, the dual liquid/dry measuring cup, and my needs are met ;) I melted my first one and my second has threatened to be melted after putting it on a stove top too soon. Yes, another one of my fire hazard stories. I may have to use it on my brown sugar blueberry muffins as I just realized they have been in there 20 minutes too long....OK, not so bad... and glaze covers a multitude of computer evils!
A recent acquisition from cleaning my mom's kitchen, is a small rice cooker. I've had the microwave types before and used them, but the way they looked after a while made me wonder exactly what was getting into my rice. That and I am not too sure of the safety of microwaved foods either. This little wonder is a cinch to use and I don't burn the rice- yes, that has happened too. Add the rice, cover with water or broth, put the cover on and press the button. It turns itself off at just the right time and keeps it warm after. LOVE it!
Lastly, but not a complete list, is my canner. I use this thing all year, because I can all year. Almost wish I had two because when I get going, I really make it worth it. Sure, you hear the horror stories about pressure canning, but it is a breeze if you do a quick check before starting to ensure the parts are working and again, worth the money.
Most of these items I put on the Amazon links below. Some are not exactly what I have since my things are somewhat ancient, but I found similar ones...