Daniel Neman: Kitchen appliances: You love them until you forget about them

Pressure cookers were all the rage a few years ago, but might be collecting dust or sitting forgotten on basement shelves.

They’re the kitchen equivalents of a treadmill, or an elliptical machine.

You know, those heavy pieces of exercise equipment that you always tell yourself you’re going to use but somehow never do. And so they hulk off in a corner somewhere, or are folded under a bed, collecting dust.

Many a kitchen is cluttered with small appliances that were used once or maybe twice, and then forgotten. It is as if they are stranded on the Isle of Misfit Small Kitchen Appliances.

I’m talking here about pressure cookers. They were all the rage just a few years ago. They take hours off the time it takes you to cook something, right? Everybody likes to save time. So, for a while, everybody bought a pressure cooker.

And some people, no doubt, still use them. But mine has its own dedicated place on a basement shelf, where it sits, forlorn and forgotten, waiting without hope to be useful again one day.

A similar fate has befallen our electric rotisserie—which, unlike the pressure cooker, was actually used more than once. An electric rotisserie is a spit that automatically turns, with a source of electric heat on one side. As the meat turns on the spit, the heating element slowly roasts it and keeps it supremely juicy and full of flavor.

It’s a marvelous invention. I can’t imagine what it is doing in my basement. Maybe this weekend I’ll bring it up and make something good with it.

And how many breadmakers are shoved into closets, next to the single gloves and an old hat? Making your own bread sounds like a wonderful idea, and you don’t even have to spend much time on it with a breadmaker.

And yet … that bakery is so close and their breads are just so amazing. Maybe you can make a loaf next week.

And somewhere in this happy land, someone is using an iced tea maker to make iced tea. I drink so much iced tea, myself, that I have had to cut back. But I’ve never used an iced tea maker. I’ve just made hot tea and poured it over ice. Really, it’s not hard.

Air-pop popcorn poppers have gone the way of the Duesenberg, having lost their relevance the moment someone figured out how to make popcorn in the microwave. You could always feel virtuous when you used one, because the popcorn would be popped without fat. And then it would be so dry you would have to pour a quart of melted butter over it to make it taste good.

I will steadfastly deny the vicious rumor that I have never used my immersion blender at all. That is scurrilous and defamatory, and I categorically refute it. However, I have no comment to the charge that I have used it no more than three times.

Electric skillets—or griddles, or woks—have the great advantage that you can set them to the temperature you want. That combines the best features of an oven and a cooktop. But I don’t see how it will do anyone any good when it is sitting on the floor in the pantry.

So far, I have managed to avoid getting an air fryer, even though a food-writer friend just cooked a truly great-looking cake in one. My basement is already so full I wouldn’t have anywhere to put it when I get tired of it in about a month.

And I never got one of those countertop deep fryers, either. I don’t fry enough to need one, and though a friend loved the one he had, it did break after just a few months.

All of which is leading up to a confession: I do not own an Instant Pot. I know it’s the only appliance you’ll ever need. I know it can replace your entire kitchen, including the sink. I know it makes food with such incredible ease that it actually goes to the store for you and buys the food it needs for each meal.

I know all of that. I think I’m just waiting to see if it is a fad.

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