01 November 2011

Sensible Style - Multi-tasking Appliances and Other Holiday Helpers

The holidays are just around the corner – I know, amazing, isn’t it! – and your kitchen has been slacking off for months now. Especially during those lazy summer days when you lived outside by the grill. Break time’s over…

You’ve got company coming and it’s time for your kitchen to earn its keep again. Is it up to Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Boxing Day and whatever else you celebrate with family and friends at this hectic time of year?

Here are some resources that could save you time, space and even tootsies!

Multi-tasking cookers

Why have just one appliance when two in the same space can do twice the work? Many of my clients who have lacked the space for double ovens have benefitted greatly from a convection microwave in place of a standard microwave. The convection feature turns the microwave into a supplementary oven, giving you two in the space of one. No, it won’t handle your holiday roast, but it’ll nail those pies and sides.

Here’s one to consider for a relatively simple swap-out. This new, over-the-range GE Monogram Advantium model should fit where your current builder-grade micro lives, but it also offers speedcook, convection cooking and warming. That gives you four appliances in the space of one. Nifty, huh?

GE Monogram’s new Advantium puts four ovens where one plain microwave used to live!

This is the combo I’d like for my own kitchen… with a really special bonus feature!

This KitchenAid combination oven offers convection, microwave and steam cooking, which I fell in love with a couple of years ago and have wanted ever since.

Multi-tasking chillers

The holidays really stress out your fridge and freezer capacity, don’t they? All those extra ingredients, left-overs and drinks taking up space you just don’t have. There’s help at hand!
Add a drawer that works as a freezer or a fridge, depending on your needs. You select the setting you need and Fisher & Paykel’s innovative CoolDrawer becomes the cooling machine you need – even for wine! If you’ve room for a three-foot cabinet and a licensed electrician to wire it for you, you’ve got an extra 3.1 cubic feet of well-organized coolness.

Fisher & Paykel’s CoolDrawer handles frozen food, fresh food and wine with the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast.

You’d really like to have extra space for an ice maker this season, but you also want a beverage fridge. The latter will serve you well all year-round, whereas you mainly need extra ice capability when you entertain. Consider this dynamic duo by U-Line that gives you both in the space of a standard beverage fridge.

U-Line’s Combo Refrigerator/Ice Machine can be an entertainer’s best friend!

Countertop multi-taskers

A slow cooker can also be your best friend during the holidays. I wrote a loving ode to this category recently, stressing its ability to deliver delicious, healthy dishes to time-stressed individuals like myself. The best models work overtime as food warmers and servers, too.

You’ve got a full day of holiday shopping ahead and company coming for dinner later. Put the ingredients you prepped last night into the slow cooker, set it on low for the desired hours and get your errands done. If you run late, no problem… Dinner won’t burn. Your Crock Pot will turn it from low to warm automatically and it’ll be fine whenever you get home. By the way, Crock Pot is a brand name, (like Coke and Kleenex), and is one of the few that offers the auto-warm feature I cherish so highly. That makes it the ultimate convenience appliance!

Incidentally, there are numerous desserts you can make in your slow cooker, too, freeing up one of your ovens, along with your schedule.

A slow cooker, like this eponymous model by Crock Pot, can be a busy bee’s best friend.

I’ve been eying this Cuisinart PowerBlend Duet Blender/Food Processor for a year now. It fits two appliances that are potentially worth having into one convenient package, saving both space and money… And who has more than enough of those, I ask??? I like its versatility for the part-time home chef. If you’re a cooking enthusiast, and I’m not, its food processor capacity is probably too limited for your needs.

If, however, you’re more of an occasional cook, this might be a good tool for you. Ditto if you’re spending the holidays at your vacation home, where you’d rather mix margaritas than make muffins from scratch... This could be the perfect item for your appliance stocking!

It’s a food processor… It’s a blender… It’s Cuisinart’s space-saving PowerBlend Duet!

I love my GE indoor electric grill-griddle-panini maker and you might, too. When I was renting a furnished studio last year, it came with a George Foreman model. I liked how it worked, but it was a nuisance to clean. My GE has removable, dishwasher-safe, non-stick grill and griddle plates and a drip cup to minimize countertop mess. It can be used open or closed, depending on how much I need to cook. The plates are super-easy to pop in and out, and the machine has multiple settings for just about every need. (It’s almost identical to Cuisinart’s Griddler, but about half the price at WalMart!)

Holiday time and the pancakes are easy with GE’s 4 in 1 Grill/Griddle, available at WalMart

Holiday helpers

Holidays stress out more than your appliances and budget, don’t they! Your countertop and storage space jam up with seasonal gear. Organizers can help with this any day of the year, but especially now. Consider easy-to-install back-of-door organizers for cleaning supplies; roll-out trays for pots and pans; drawer organizers for knives, silverware and utensils; backsplash organizers for paper towels and spices and a drop-down cookbook rack to keep your favorite holiday recipe book away from countertop spills.

Keep your classic cookbooks convenient but clear of spills with this CS Household Under-Cabinet Cookbook Holder from Amazon.com

Holidays are also hellish on your body. After standing in front of the stove all day your feet, back, hips and legs positively ache.

Since I’ve written so very often about the benefits of GelPro cushioned mats, I got an offer from Wellness Mats to sample one of their products. I gratefully accepted and have loved it ever since. They now have a wider range of styles and sizes to fit your kitchen and I’m happy to recommend them without hesitation.

Wellness Mats -- Heaven underfoot… Any day of the year!

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