Monday, February 14, 2011

Confessions of a Kitchen Luddite

I love to cook. So every year when my birthday rolls around (as it's doing in a few weeks) everybody wants to buy me some sort of kitchen contraption. It's not that I'm ungrateful, and I know that quality equipment is essential. It's just that I have a TINY kitchen and to be completely honest, I already feel fairly "contrapped" in there!

Photo by waltimo on Flickr
I guess I just think that you reach a point of diminshing returns when you cram the kitchen full to the point that you have no counter space and no cabinet space, all so you can have a plethora of single use devices that get used maybe once every few years.

Anyhow... the toaster recently broke. CatMan fixed it so that it still toasts, but the timer no longer functions, which means that one has to pay very close attention or end up with black toast. So, I figured I had an easy way out this year, and I asked for a new toaster.

The thing is, I'm allergic to yeast, so I don't eat bread, and hence I don't eat toast. The toaster is really just for when CatMan is visiting, so I can take some bread out the freezer and toast it for him. Soooo... he doesn't want to get a toaster for me, because he figures it's really for him, and that's not the point of a birthday present. So he's decided that what I really need is a toaster oven.


OK... perhaps you might understand those capital letters better if I explain that I recently finished hauling box after box of crap out of my kitchen and re-arranging the entire thing to get the microwave off of the counter so I could free up enough counter space so that I can comfortably work in there.

Can you see it... if you look carefully you can see a foot or two of counter space to the left of the sink. And about 18 inches to the left of the stove. I know it's pitiful by any normal person's assessment, but compared to how it was before it's WONDERFUL and I am NOT going back to cluttersville in there.

So I really... really, REALLY don't want a toaster oven. But, you see, his sister (who hates to cook) has one, and she loves it. She thinks it's great because you can heat up frozen pizza and cook all sorts of single serving things in it. To which I say, WHY?!? I mean, when I cook, I generally double or triple the recipe and freeze all of the leftovers so I can just pop one in the microwave when I don't feel like cooking.

I tried to suggest that perhaps this isn't exactly what I wanted, and then came the onslaught of emails from his sister about all of the times she's cooked 2 muffins in there etc. Clearly, I'm not gonna get out of this one that easily. So I did some research and found this:
It's basically a toaster that doubles as a toaster oven, but isn't really any bigger than a toaster. I figure I can easily stash it on top of the fridge or cram it in a cabinet most of the time. There will be toaster peace in our time!

Now there's my stepmother... she doesn't even ask, she just dumps more kitchen crap on me. And to make it worse, she figures that everything I own should be "miniature" sized because after all, I live alone, so I couldn't possibly cook any meaningful quantities. I have tried over and over to explain, but it goes nowhere.

I fear whatever it is this year will meet the same fate as the rest of her gifts... the waffle maker, the miniature blender, the single serving dutch oven (WHY?), the set of miniature cutting boards, the mini food processor (I totally don't get why anybody thinks this is easier than just cutting things by hand) the glass teapot that was too fragile to use, etc, etc. I'll use it once or twice to be polite, then move into storage in the basement where it will set for a few years until I haul it away to the thrift store or give it away on FreeCycle.

Oh well, I guess somebody has to keep the Salvation Army stocked with kitchen contraptions!

Photo by Pete Boyd on Flickr
happy birthday to me...


  1. So.
    The toaster oven in the picture is the EXACT SAME one that I have, and that I have bought again and gifted to my Grandma.

    If you can't eat yeast, I've cooked a lot of other stuff in there too. I've even baked a chicken breast in it when it was just myself for dinner and didn't want to heat up the apartment with the oven! I use it to heat up roast beef for sandwiches instead of the microwave.

  2. Well, I'm glad to hear that you like yours. I'm starting to feel a bit more positive about the whole thing. Like maybe this can be a good thing instead of just another thing.

  3. That toaster oven looks awesome!

    Food for thought though... we got rid of our microwave just over a year ago and have used the toaster oven for EVERYTHING else. Everyone thought we were nuts, but it really is an upgrade. We too have a teeny kitchen & our toaster oven's nickname is "The Buick" because it's humongous. Luckily it fits in the 'microwave compartment' overtop of the counter. But nowhere else...

    And if it makes you feel any better, I get the same thing at Christmas/Birthday time with the endless plastic kitchen gadgets that end up at the Salvation Army... We have a continual bag of stuff headed to them at any given time. Must-stop-reading-minimalism-blogs!

  4. Hey Kristin,

    Thanks for stopping by. I'm actually feeling a bit better about the toaster oven these days. I ran into one just like it in the grocery store and it's marvelously light and easy to move, so I figure I can always stash it on top of the fridge when I need some counter space. And who knows, maybe I'll even end up liking the thing! :~)

  5. Ironically, my mother-in-law, a child of the depression, is a junkie for junk. Every Christmas she lavishes the kids (and adults) with shopping bags full of "finds", typically low priced stuff that she finds interesting and thinks that we will too. I think she is singlehandedly supporting the Chinese economy.

    Anyway, with a family of 4 our toaster oven gets used quite a bit. I've always been disappointed at the toast that's comes out of a toaster oven though. If you weren't tight on counter space I would steer you away from a single appliance solution.

  6. John - My mother suffers from the same syndrome as your mother-in-law, only it seems to extend into all facets of her life. Better to have piles of cheap crap rather than a few well made things that you love. I've never understood it.


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