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My husband and I were at a party the other night and I wound up in a group of young women who were talking about appliances they had received as gifts, but never used. It was interesting to hear them talk. One said she had been given a blender but had never found a use for it. I smiled inside because I use my blender at least once a day to make my daughter's soy shake - twice a day if I'm grinding nuts or seeds.
One said bread machines were a waste of counter space. There was general agreement with that sentiment. I didn't argue, but I thought to myself, if you're baking beneficial bread for Type As, a bread machine is wonderful.
One young mom said that she would like to get rid of every small appliance she owned except for her microwave and her rice steamer. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She had ripped every appliance that I depend on for cooking, then said her favorite appliance was one that I had mocked as totally unnecessary. So I asked - what's so great about a rice steamer?
It turns out her husband is from Thailand and wants rice at every meal. She says the rice steamer makes perfect rice every time. You put in the right amount of rice and water and turn it on. It turns off when the rice is ready. She says it works for white and brown rice as well as her husband's favorite, jasmine rice. It almost makes me want to put a rice steamer on my Christmas wish list.
My favorite appliance for years has been my food processor. I depend on it for grating and chopping. It saves me hours of work. I bought a Robot Coupe 25 years ago. The motor was still running beautifully when the shredding disk fell apart last summer. I couldn't get replacement parts, so I bought a new Cuisinart.
It is my first experience with a politically correct appliance. There are so many safety features to keep me from shredding or chopping my fingers, that it takes twice as long to prepare food. My old food processor had four basic parts - bowl, lid, blade, pusher. My new processor lid alone has 3 pieces that must be put together in the proper order. If I'm shredding or slicing a lot of items, I can't just pull the pusher out and add more food. No, I have to turn the Cuisinart off, disassemble the lid, add more food, and reassemble the lid.
The old processor was easy to clean. Many times if I had been using it for raw veggies, I just rinsed the parts with hot water and put them in the dish drainer. Nothing is that easy with the new one. There is one part of the lid that slides, but does not come apart. It is particularly difficult to get clean.
I began to sympathize with the appliance-hating young women at the party. Perhaps the simple appliances I received as wedding gifts 31 years ago have all been replaced by unfriendly, politically correct models. Perhaps these young brides are not really frustrated with cooking, but with corporate lawyers who spend so much time making an appliance safe that they forget its purpose.
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