Hands up who has a love/hate relationship with their kitchen appliances and gadgets? They make our life easier – love. They do fancy things that we might struggle to do ourselves – love. There are so many of them and they take up so much damn room – hate. Many of them only have one purpose – hate. But hang on a mini-mo, perhaps that’s not as true as you thought. It has come to my attention in recent months that I’ve not been working a lot of my kitchen equipment nearly hard enough, foolishly only using them for the thing they’re most known for, when they have a stack of other brilliant tricks up their sleeves. For example…
1. Ice cube trays
If you’re only using ice cube trays, to, like, freeze water, you are so missing out. From freezing leftover food items like tomato paste, stock, salad dressings or wine, to freezing herbs in olive oil, to making mini desserts, you’ll be amazed at what a versatile little storage facility these babies are. Check out this list I did for Kidspot for some more great ideas.
2. Rice cooker
Don’t let the name fool ya, rice cookers can be used to cook a whole lot more than just rice. Paella, bread, porridge, desserts, all can be whipped up with little more effort than pressing that trusty ‘on’ button. But the best rice cooker hack? Creating your own ‘steam towels’ to give yourself a spa-style mini facial or refresh your guests post-dinner, air hostess style. I know, fabulous, right?! Here’s a Kidspot post I did on great ways to use your rice cooker.
3. Slow cooker
If you’re like me, you probably use the slow cooker mostly for winter stews and casseroles, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, sometimes a slow cooker is perfect in summer because it means you don’t have to heat up the kitchen by turning the oven on. Everything from cooking potatoes in their jackets, to baking bread, making a pizza, caramelising onions or baking a cake can be done in the crockpot. Yes, really. Find some more ideas here.
4. Sandwich press
Ham and cheese toasties, yes, of course. But how about grilling bacon, haloumi, tofu, vegetables and burgers, making omelettes and hash browns, reheating pizza to perfection and warming croissants, or making cakes or brownies? What is the world coming to?! Find out more here.
5. Coffee plunger
While it does a stirling job of making coffee, a French press style coffee plunger is also ideal for making tea, either with tea bags or loose leaf tea. You can also use it to froth milk or even whip cream by gently pumping the plunger up and down. It also happens to be perfect for rinsing quinoa (don’t you hate it when those little grains slip through the colander?) or straining any number of things that tickle your fancy. Get some great tips here.
Ok, so you’ve discovered that a sandwich press is far more effective for reheating pizza, but don’t write off your microwave just yet. Aside from defrosting food and steaming the odd veg, you can use your microwave for everything from disinfecting sponges and chopping boards, to getting yeast dough to rise super quickly, to softening brown sugar, roasting garlic and decrystallizing honey, and even doing a spot of tie dying if you’re so craftily inclined. Find out more about these and other great uses here.
7. Egg slicer
Admit it, you bought that egg slicer on a whim and then realised that you don’t need to slice eggs very often. We’ve all been there (says me, as I push my apple slicer to one side to search for my melon baller). No need to hang your head in shame though, because an egg slicer is also ultra handy for slicing many things including strawberries, kiwifruit, mushrooms and semi-soft cheese like mozzarella. It’s a pizza and pavlova maker’s best friend!
8. Pizza wheel
It’s been clogging up that second drawer down for far too long, now it’s time to put that pizza cutter to use. Turns out it’s the ideal way to cut up herbs – it’s faster and less bruising than a normal knife. It’s also very handy for cutting out strips to make a lattice-top pie, or most other rolled-out dough, avoiding the lifting and puckeringthat pesky knives can give.
Apart from being able to use your dishwasher to clean everything from kids toys to make-up brushes and hair brushes, to manky rangehood fan grills and more, you can actually COOK FOOD in your dishwasher while it’s running. Yes, you heard. I’m too terrified to actually try this myself, but I have it on good authority that it works a treat. If anyone is brave enough to try, here’s a recipe for dishwasher lasagne… report back please.
If your little one is sensitive to dust mites (or if you just don’t like the thought of a colony of microscopic insects and their faecal matter being snuggled up to by your child), then just stick their favourite fluffy toy into the freezer overnight – it kills the little blighters. Your freezer can also clean your jeans without fading them. Simply place your jeans in a sealable bag and stick them in the freezer for a week – this kills bacteria, gets rid of any fusty smells, and restores your jeans to their former crisp glory.
So get into that kitchen and start looking at all your bits and bobs in a whole new light! Do you have any sneaky tricks for using kitchen gadgets and appliances in new ways?