Note from Moni: Please keep in mind this post contains purely personal opinion arising from personal experience. Some people swear by these appliances!
Many years ago (pre-Thermomix), it was a very rare occasion that I could exit a white goods store without shelling out some cash on a new kitchen appliance or gadget. Whether I needed it or not was completely immaterial when I laid my eyes upon a shiny new Breville sandwich press. Even if common sense managed to raise a finger in protest, that special discount the salesperson offered me at the first sign of weakness guaranteed a quick sale. Ka-ching!
As I draw closer to moving house and assessing how much stuff I have, I came up with a list of appliances that have largely collected dust in my garage and some reasons why you might consider not buying these things. Of course, if you have any of these gadgets or appliances and actually really love them, then please feel free to comment and let me know. This is merely a personal list but I figured my loss should be someone’s gain, at least in knowledge. I’ll be compiling a list of worthy appliances later this month too.
What appliance do you wish you didn’t buy? :)
Pie Maker (used once a weekend for a month – around $70)
Actually, I blame my husband for this purchase and in fact I recall him coming home with it :| The Pie Maker promised delicious homemade pies for the whole family. It could cook three mini pies at once. All you had to do was provide the pastry and pre-cooked filling.
Sure, the Pie Maker came with a recipe book but by the time you made (or bought) all the ingredients and set up the machine (being careful not to overfill or underfill), my husband could have been to the local bakery and back. The bottom of the pie was also never as crisp as the top, and because I never managed to fill them correctly, every pie making session ended with a major cleanup.
I’d much rather get foil pans and do pies up in the oven as needed. Curiously, this gadgets rates highly among other foodies so I guess this may get used more by pie fiends, parents of ravenous teenagers, or those who have a lot of leftovers to use as filling from casseroles etc. from the night before.
Muffin Maker (used sporadically over a number of years until I got a new oven – around $70)
If memory serves correctly, the Muffin Maker was the pioneering appliance of its kind. It was the first machine that delivered a baked good without an oven. This suited me to a tee as my first house came with an oven that behaved erratically. Back then it was also just hubby and I so we rarely prepared food in bulk.
The Muffin Maker seemed a good idea and for most part it was, but as I became a more experienced baker I realised that some things are just best done the old fashioned way. Also, for the time that it takes to make six muffins in the Muffin Maker, you can make two dozen in the oven (or at least one). The Muffin Maker also relies on you to fill correctly or you’ll be reaching for the Chux.
The Juicer (used for one summer on weekends and one other time after that – around $200)
My parents bought this for me sort of as a house-warming/wedding present and I remember being pretty excited about it initially. They weren’t cheap and the same model today isn’t that much less expensive which is surprising since most electrical goods have dropped significantly in price. As I received the gift before summer, I made use of this machine a fair bit. Hubby and I thought having freshly squeezed apple, watermelon and orange juice every morning was lovely. Soon the novelty wore off and the relatively annoying task of disassembling, cleaning and reassembling the numerous components saw the juicer relegated to a position in the back of the appliance cupboard. I brought it out once the following summer but I just got annoyed again.
Some people may swear by this juicer, particularly if they don’t enjoy pulpy juices but given all the stuff that this juicer removes is what’s actually really good for you, I think this machine kinda defeats the purpose of healthy juicing :| You can of course use the extracted pulp to make delicious fruit leather in a dehydrator but otherwise it’s compost at best. I see a lot of the juice stalls at farmers markets utilise this machine and I have to give props to it for being sturdy and reliable. For me, it was just a giant, clunky beast that only did one thing. This machine is for serious juice freak families that hate pulp and have lots of storage space.
Fairy Floss Machine (used once for a child’s birthday party… – around $40)
Once upon a time, fairy floss was a special treat reserved for Royal Show season or when the circus came to town. It wasn’t something you could make at home so getting a bag of pastel coloured spun sugar every now and then was the bee’s knees. From a dental hygiene perspective, it was just as well too since scoffing down a bag of fair floss pretty much equated to crunching through half a cup of sugar.
Now, if the urge to have fairy floss at home strikes, you can make your own thanks to this golden age of cheap kitchen appliances. For less than $50, you can spin your own delicate threads of sugar in whatever colour you wish. Great? Not really. I bought one such machine for my son’s birthday party one year and I haven’t used it since. Making fairy floss isn’t hard but it’s not particularly fun either. Until you get the hang of it, you end up with some sad looking sticks and even sadder looking kids.
Given the cheap price, it wouldn’t hurt having one if you have oodles of storage space (these things are light but bulky) but it’s not something you use as much as you might think. If you think a fairy floss machine is something you need, consider sharing it amongst a group of friends with kids. It’ll get more usage and the friend who has most storage can keep it. I also recommend practicing with it a few times before a party, and if you want coloured floss, you do need to prepare coloured sugar which needs to dry out overnight. Oh, and one lot of sugar doesn’t actually make a lot of fairy floss so there’s a fair bit of stopping and starting, which never goes down well with a party full of sugar hungry kids. Meh.
Hot Dog Maker (occasionally, when it’s uselessness has been forgotten – around $40)
Here’a another contraption purchase I can blame hubby for. He swore this would be a great idea. For parties. For weekends away. For quick and easy lunches at home. Not. The Hot Dog Maker nearly tied with the Egg Poacher for uselessness but pipped it for a Top 5 position by its sheer pointlessness. At least an Egg Poacher attempts to make your life easier.
In theory, the Hot Dog Maker sounds cool. It warm up sausages in a pot of water while simultaneously toasting buns on a couple of heated posts. The posts also double as a hole maker for the buns, provided you can skewer them through gently enough without breaking them. The problem is that while you can warm up about ten sausages in less than 10 minutes, you can only toast two buns at a time. Furthermore, no matter how long you leave them on the posts, they never seem to get that toasty. Does anyone actually want warm buns anyway?
Ultimately, if you have an oven, a pot and stove, you will have more success feeding the masses in a timely manner the old school way. Try as I might, I can’t think of any good reason to have a Hot Dog Maker. At all :(
NB – I believe the current run of Hot Dog Makers target ‘junior chefs’ so yes, smaller people may enjoy this machine but probably not over LEGO.