Welcome back to the monthly edition of Where Bloggers Live! I am lucky to have joined a terrific group of bloggers who give a peek into the places and spaces where they spend their time.
Today's topic is Favorite Kitchen Appliances/Tools...and while I am not an eager chef, I do have my list of indispensable items:
1) Slow Cooker
4) Air Fryer
I grew up with a Crock Pot and still consider it an important piece of my kitchen. The whole "throw some stuff in and let it cook while you do other stuff like go to work" convenience is amazing, and there are several things that I know I could cook other ways but always turn to my slow cooker for. My mom has a simple recipe for boneless pork chops that is basically "put pork chops and some herbs/spices in the Crock Pot and cook for a long time until they are fork tender" that my husband makes frequently.
Microwave ovens have a bit of a strange history in my family. My mom bought one way back in the early 80s and mentioned to my grandmother (her mother-in-law) how useful it is. My grandmother scoffed at the idea of a microwave as a ridiculous newfangled fad gadget that no reasonable person would want (implication: my mom is an idiot)...until several years later when she got her own microwave and became a convert and evangelist in the Way of the Microwave. Then she wouldn't stop telling my mom how wonderful it is, seemingly having entirely forgotten that she had been such a...well, a jerk about it when my mom told her about it years earlier. (It's also not clear that my grandmother even realized/remembered that my mom had already had a microwave for years and indeed had been the one to tell her about their existence in the first place.)
This phenomenon of a person being insultingly negative about something, only to later sing its praises to the heavens, treating it as their own personal discovery while never acknowledging their change in viewpoint, goes by the term "Grandma's Microwave" in my circle. As in, "Well, she may have hated cargo pants last year but she's all Grandma's Microwave about them now."
Am I the only person who always says the words "microwave oven" like Dire Straits in Money for Nothing (around the 2:33 mark here)? Yes? OK, moving on...
Some time in the mid to late 90s, I was living in an apartment without a microwave. For Christmas that year, I got a small gift wrapped and labeled in my dad's handwriting, which was a shock in itself as my mom typically did all of the gift buying and wrapping. But this was a gift my dad picked out himself, and he was very excited for me to open it. It was a dish used to cook scrambled eggs in the microwave. The microwave I didn't have. "I knew you'd like it because you eat scrambled eggs so often!" he said. "Yes, Dad, that would be great...IF I HAD A MICROWAVE, WHICH I DON'T!" My mom was just like "I had nothing to do with microwave egg dish." This whole forgetting that just because he has a microwave doesn't mean that every single person in the world has one felt like such a My Dad Thing.
When we got to the end of the gifts, my dad went to the back of the house and emerged with a huge wrapped box for me...which yes, contained a microwave! So the whole thing with the egg cooker was a trick, and he played it perfectly. Astonishingly, my mom (who is not good at lying) didn't give the trick away either. Playing on his own tendency to cluelessness to set up and execute this trick is one of the most My Dad Things ever. It was brilliantly done and I loved it.
The InstaPot was something I bought after my dad told me how great his was. (And no, I didn't do a Grandma's Microwave about it.) My husband likes making hard boiled eggs and chicken in the InstaPot (separately, not together). Chicken breasts cook up very juicy in the InstaPot, so my husband will sometimes just cook and shred chicken (using these Bear Paws that I got him) for us to make wraps, burritos, etc. He also likes to cook the chicken in a green salsa to make into nachos or enchiladas. My dad swears by the InstaPot for cooking white rice.
I've had an air fryer for a while now and I absolutely love it for roasted veggies, sweet potato fries, and potato wedges. (I may have eaten tater tots cooked in the air fryer a couple times this week also.) It's just really nice to cook something fast and without heating the entire house with the oven.
So when I read Jodie's post about her air fryer and some tongs that she likes right before Father's Day this year, I had the idea to get one for my dad (I called my mom to get her permission first since I know that the counter space in their condo's kitchen is at a premium). I ordered my husband the tongs and my dad both the air fryer and the tongs.
When Amazon said that the tongs would arrive the Friday before Father's Day but the air fryer would arrive the Monday after, I had the sudden inspiration that I could totally pull a version of his microwave trick on me in reverse! I put a gift message on the tongs referring to their use with his (non-existent) air fryer. I brought my mom in on it to help sell the idea. What I loved about the plan was that it was a win either way: he'd fall for the trick (priceless) or he'd recognize it as a trick referencing his own trick (also priceless).
He called me after he got the tongs, and once again I emphasized how great they were with an air fryer. He corrected me very gently, "Do you mean InstaPot?" And I was like, "Oh, InstaPot, air fryer, I get those terms confused" (which had the benefit of being true, as my husband could attest). This was perfect because my dad had opened the call telling me (in another so My Dad Thing) that he has started to experience "nominal aphasia" (aka forgetting the words for things) for nouns, and that most recently he'd been able to think of the word for pencil in German, French, Swedish, and Russian, but not in English (which, when you think about it, means he still knew the word pencil in four more languages than the average American).
Fast forward to Monday's arrival of the air fryer, and he said that he'd totally been taken in by the trick! So I was able to finally, after almost 30 years, turn the microwave egg dish trick around on him. That was SO satisfying! Oh, and he's enjoying using the air fryer, which is also important.
My favorite recent air fryer recipe is this very simple one for cooking boneless, skinless chicken thighs in jarred pesto that I found on Pinterest. I have used this pesto chicken two ways so far (I'm not a food blogger so my photos aren't as appetizing as the finished products really are!):
#1: Chicken Pesto Pizza
Flatbread of your choice (I use Stonefire whole grain naan rounds)
More jarred pesto (I use Barilla rustic basil pesto)
Chicken Pesto, cut into pieces
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Cook in oven or air fryer until cheese starts to melt (about 400 degrees for about 7 minutes)
#2: Chicken Pesto Pasta
I make a version of this recipe using:
Small whole wheat pasta (e.g., rotini)
Garlic (from a jar)
1 pound brown mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
Jarred pesto (I use Barilla rustic basil pesto)
Salt & black pepper
Thanks for joining me in sharing my favorite kitchen tools/appliances and some goofy family stories involving them!
Next month's topic is If I Could Travel in Time...and wow, I have so many different ideas in mind already.
In the meantime, visit these lovely bloggers as they share about their favorite kitchen tools/appliances:
Bettye at Fashion Schlub
Daenel at Living Outside the Stacks
Em at Dust and Doghair
Iris at Iris’ Original Ramblings
Jodie at Jodie’s Touch of Style
Leslie at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After
Do you have a favorite kitchen tool or appliance? Have you ever done a Grandma's Microwave on something you once disparaged but later loved? Have you ever played a trick on someone with gift giving?
Blogs I link up with are listed here.