Some of us are passionate about fashion, others about politics, others are fanatics of technology, others are smitten by music…and I am head over heels in love with anything to do with a kitchen and the home in general. While harmony in a home fascinates me more than good food, I value good food that has been put some thought-into. I believe it sets a good atmosphere in a home. I also believe good food for my guests communicates to them that I am glad and grateful that they came and I do not take their visit for granted. Good food will always make your guests feel welcome, trust me on that.
Let me clarify on this first; it’s different when food is unaffordable. It’s different when you can’t even put two meals on a table in one day. In such a case it is totally understandable that your food will come un-pimped-up, and the most important point then would be that there is at least food to be eaten, thanks be to God. However, when you have the grace to afford some extra (which I pray you will my dear reader), here are my top-ten appliances that make my kitchen life a pure bliss,and that I would recommend to you.
1. THE FRUIT BALLER
Serving watermelon can be such a tedious job, they drip on the hands and clothes, and when cut into the wrong size they smear stickingly around the mouth. They are also notorious for making your fruit salad very watery when mixed with other fruits. Not any more if you buy a fruit baller, you will scoop uniform sizes of melon balls that you can gently toss with other fruits to make a very neat fruit salad. This below is a mixture of sweet melon, water melon and grapes.
Fruit ballers are available in some Nakumatt Supermarkets, and in kitchen shops such as Pots & Pans at Muthithi Road, Westlands.
2. THE VEGETABLE SPIRALIZER
Serve your firm fruits and vegetables in a different shape once in a while. Spiralizers will transform your vegetables into noodle shapes. This is not only pleasant to the eye, but the salad dressings in spiralled vegetables is better infused than in the sliced vegetables. I bought my Vegetti Spiralizer from Armde’ot Interiors, pretty basic but as you will find out from the shop, you can always reach for bigger and better. I find the spiralizer a quick and easy way to make attractive salads. Just put the vegetable inside and turn it towards the blades. However, this type of spiralizer works best with thick vegetables, so if you have thin carrots, move on to appliance no.3.
3. THE MANDOLIN
You must have seen vendors promoting sales of mandolins outside supermarkets . They usually have a table and vegetables/fruits which they use to demonstrate the use of their wares. This one recently caught my attention, at Tmall, Lang’ata. It makes cute slices of potatoes, for crisps lovers. As you can see, unlike my spiralizer, it is kind to my thin carrots.
4. THE SALAD SPINNER
Always remove excess water from your salads, soggy salads are no good. As well, if you intend to dress your salad using an oil based dressing, note that water and oil are immisicible, and dry that lettuce or cucumber or else the dressing won’t work. The easiest way to do this is to toss the salad in a spinner and in less than a minute, get a salad that you are proud to serve. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the salad spinner is also very effective for drying potato chips before frying. This manual spinner is all over in the supermarkets, grab one today. Better still, there are automated ones, check online.
5. ELECTRIC GRATERS/GRINDERS
No offense to pestle and mortar and none whatsoever to the garlic press, but if I am going to cook several dishes which will require garlic and ginger, the easiest way is to toss them in the grater/grinder and let it run while I do something else. This saves so much time. This grater and grinder come with the Moulinex brand of blender, but so many brands nowadays sell blenders with grinders and graters. It’s about time we stop pounding for five minutes and cook a bit quicker, people are hungry!
6. THE STEAMER
I always procrastinated on buying a steamer because I figured the top part of a rice cooker could do the job well enough. But that worked only on the days I had no guests, because if I was cooking a lot of rice it would expand and mix with my steaming vegetables/meat/fish before the steaming was done. That aside, the mixing up of flavours between the rice and the dish being steamed was inevitable. Placing a steaming basket on top of a pan with boiling water also works, but if you will steam different things, better steam them with a steamer because they will not all require the same amount of steaming. A clear steamer lets you see which food item is ready to be removed,and lets you steam the toughest foods at the bottom an the softest on top. Very effective for making mixed vegetables which have just the right crunch and colour. Available in every major supermarket.
7. GLASS SERVING DISHES
Hot-pots would fill my table if I were to use them in serving the same food varieties as are in the picture below. Thankfully, chafing dishes have evolved to suit the domestic front, with better smaller sizes and glass/ceramic material. For quite some time, I have seen them in Enkarasha shops and kitchen stores such as Meglink in Westlands. However, Tuskys Supermarket have come up with a range. Not quite the variety available in Enkarasha, but almost similar. They take little table space, they are attractive, and they keep food hot by use of the tea candles underneath.
8. THE AIR FRYER
I have done an entire blog post about this appliance before, that is how much I love it. It still comes in handy for frying sausages, chicken, fish, stuffed potatoes, meatballs, kebabs and thirty nine other things. The prices have also gone down since then, and cheaper brands have been coming up. Although really, cheap is expensive.
9. THE BREAD MAKER
Waking up to a house smelling of fresh bread, and eating fresh, warm bread for breakfast is one of the sweetest feelings you will miss out on if you will never consider buying a bread maker. It is an invention that saved me from the endless kneading that I talked about in this blog post when I used to manually make bread. Nowadays, making bread is easier than making tea. I simply collect the following ingredients in the specified measure (in the manuals);
I put them in the bread pan and fix the bread pan into the bread machine and press the buttons for settings. That is it, the machine kneads, waits for the rises and bakes the bread and keeps it warm.
There are many types of breads to be made in a bread maker, and varieties of flours that can be used. Check on the manual of the machine you intend to buy, some bread machines have dough cycles that you can just run for dough preparation (e.g. for pizza) and save your time spent in the kitchen. You can buy a bread-maker from HotPoint.
10. MEASURING SPOONS AND CUPS
It is good that a cook gets ingredient measurements right, but you will be surprised how one dining table-spoon varies in volume from the next, dependent on the brand. When following a delicate recipe, such as bread-making or baking, you do not want to get your ingredients wrong. Avoid mishaps by purchasing yourself a set of measuring spoons and cups from any of the shops mentioned in this post. Karanja’s Household also frequently stocks them at the most affordable prices.