Archive for the ‘equipment’ Category

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Under pressure

April 16, 2009
I'm told they don't look like this anymore ...

I'm told they don't look like this anymore ...

I read with great interest this article by Suzanne Gibbs on pressure cookers  in last week’s Good Living section of the Sydney Morning Herald, primarily because my friend Steph (aka the Empress of the Chick Pea) is always banging on about how she just whipped up this or that traditional nine-hour confit/chick peas/cassoulet in her trusty pressure cooker in a matter of seconds. Well, almost.

Anyway I have always been terrified of the things, even though our mum cooked half our childhood meals (the half of our diet that wasn’t cooked in the electric frypan) in a pressure cooker without incident. I can’t actually remember what she cooked in it now, but I can still recall exactly the sound of the little jiggling whatsit on the top and the slowly rising whistle of building steam … eeek!

But my fear of pressure cookers isn’t just about explosions – it’s possibly more the idea of having to adjust cooking times for every damn thing – I’m soooooo bad at numbers (ask anyone) I can barely double a recipe, let alone do whatever might be required to cook a chick pea in half a minute rather than two hours, or whatever it is.

The other thing is my reluctance to have yet another giant (and heavy?) appliance taking up kitchen cupboard space – but perhaps in my gleaming new kitchen-to-come there will be room for such a thing.

But I’ve only just embraced the diametrically opposed slow cooker last year – clearly I need convincing. But the experts don’t – Suzanne Gibbs even scoffs at the slow cooker revival, saying of her trusty pressure pot:

“To me, it works better than a crockpot because you don’t have to do it all before going to work and have it cooking all day,” she says.

Hmm. Anyone else have experience with the fancy, funky modern numbers that have replaced the terrifying old steel buckets with the tinkling toppers?

Empress, I await your argument …

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Your mother’s kitchen gear you wish you had

March 25, 2009

frypanIn a beachside holiday house recently I had the pleasure of using this rather spesh Sunbeam electric frypan – the kitchen was small, there were three of us cooking at once, and I needed to cook split peas. This sunshiny baby emerged from the cupboard and became my new best friend. Quite a flash version too, with very good thermostat and a half-lid-opening arrangement. It reminded me of my mum, who through the seventies seemed to cook everything in an electric frypan, from roast lamb to cheesy puffs.

Last year, reminded by a newspaper article of the joys of the CrockPot, I bought a slow cooker – the modern version – and now can’t wait for winter to get it humming again for curries, soup, casseroles and shanky brothy things (even caramelised onions in it once which worked amazingly well).

The other mainstay of my mother’s late 70s kitchen, apart from some dubious cork tileage and a lot of mushroom-coloured Laminex, was a Kenwood Chef mixer-cum-blender with forty thousand attachments, which weighed a ton. Not to mention the various trusty toasted sandwich makers that sealed the edges of the baked-bean sanger in a most excellently crispy way. But there was also the appliance cemetery, if I recall correctly, where all the useless Mother’s Day gifts were swiftly interred, such as the electric knife sharpener – and that most irrelevant of gadgets, the electric can opener, to name a couple.

Was it just my dad, or were all fathers obsessed with electrical kitchen gifts for their beloved wives in the 70s? What was the most useless gadget your mother ever had? And which ones do you still yearn for, even now?