Dinner With The Omnivore

Consumer tat and kitchen essentials

Posted on: June 8, 2010

Several years ago I asked for a juicer for Christmas. Excellent, I thought – after reading all the blurb about healthy fresh-pressed juices and how potato could make a great milkshake, honest – freshly squeezed orange juice for brekkie, what a wheeze. Unfortunately the blurb didn’t mention the fact that you need about 150 oranges to make half a litre of juice, the kitchen ends up covered in a sticky orange film and it takes three days with wire wool and a scrubbing brush to get the thing clean again afterwards.

The ideal Jamie Oliver Blender

The juicer finally ended up on eBay during a clear-out and left me a tad cynical about exotic kitchen appliances. Is there really any sensible use for all those Gordon Worrall-Oliver waffle-toasting healthy grill and ensuite teasmade machines that people allegedly find so indispensible? Other than to fill up odd corners of landfill sites in China. (Mind you, I can definitely see the point in the Jamie Oliver Blender. Irritating little twerp.)

I’m baffled by the proliferation of specialist cooking appliances as well. Do I really need dedicated machines specially for cooking rice or making popcorn? I’m sure I’ve got some pans somewhere, can’t I just use those? I’m not sure how people manage to find the space for all this stuff either – admittedly my kitchen is far smaller than I’d like, but on the other hand it would have to be the size of a ballroom if it was going to accommodate all these gizmos.

At the moment I’m casting a jaundiced eye in the direction of the food processor, which apart from anything else is ridiculously too big for two of us. Much as I like home-made hummus, I don’t really need it in commercial quantities. The food processer has so far survived my ruthless decluttering purges because unlike the juicer, it has actually seen some action occasionally. Though since I use it predominantly for making curry paste I could just as easily manage with the hand blitzer, which fits in a drawer and doesn’t take nearly as much cleaning.

My favourite  kitchen widget, and the one I’d rescue from a house fire, is the slow cooker. These things are a bit out of fashion at the moment, probably because following their popularity in the ’70s they are irretrievably associated in people’s minds with Bruce Forsyth, fondue sets and Black Forest gateau.

slow cooker

Kitchen wonder-gadget

But the slow cooker is a wonder-gadget. Whack all the ingredients in the pot before you leave for work (or more likely round here a day’s snowboarding), leave it to do its thing,  and then dish up home made beef bourguignon within five minutes of piling into the house in the evening. Fabulous. Why doesn’t everybody have one?

Here’s my favourite thing to do with a slow cooker:

Take a whole chicken, brown it in the frying pan, then put it in the slow cooker pot. Fry off some lardons, an onion and veg of your choice (I favour leeks and carrots), add some stock, white wine, thyme and flour to thicken. Bring it to the boil and then pour it into the pot with the chicken. Tuck the veg down the sides so everything fits. Leave the whole thing for about eight hours until the chicken threatens to fall apart when you prod it. Turn the whole lot into a warmed serving dish and then scoff it with nice bread to mop up the sauce.

This proved to be by far the best way of doing Christmas dinner for two, as it left our rather small oven free to roast potatoes, parsnips and stuffing.

The only drawback to the whole process is that the cooker won’t crisp the chicken skin, but you can always bung it in the oven for 20 minutes at the end if you prefer it like that. I always make sure I do too much sauce with it as well, so that I can turn it into soup the following day.

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2 Responses to "Consumer tat and kitchen essentials"

What’s the advantage of a slow cooker over a nice big cast iron pot and a good oven, capable of cooking accurately at low temperatures? I’ve never owned a slow cooker, but it strikes me I’d get less use out of it than my food processor!

Uses a fraction of the electricity (or gas or whatever). I don’t really like going out all day and leaving the oven on either, though I suppose it’s no different to leaving the slow cooker to get on with things.

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Food for thought

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

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© Christa GIMBLETT 2010-2011
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