Kitchen Basics – Part 10: Appliances

An important part of this blog is talking about dealing with a small kitchen, like those found in most bachelor, or single’s, apartments. It’s usually a galley kitchen, meaning everything is pretty much on one side along a wall. On a boat, the kitchen is called a galley, while the dining room or area is called a mess. Galleys usually are a model of efficiency and compactness because there isn’t much space available. We don’t know why the dining area is called a mess, except that’s probably what you get when people are finished eating on a rocking ship on the open sea.

There’s no one pattern for a galley kitchen because how things are laid out will depend on the available space. It also depends on the layout of the building, where apartments often are arranged like Tetris pieces.

The one common element in a small kitchen is a lack of counter space and cabinet space. That means you have to make careful choices, not only about what sits on the counter, but what gets stashed in the cabinet.

We asked readers what appliance they had gathering dust in the back of a cabinet. Diane in Texas wrote, “My Braun hand mixer. Occasionally I will use the chopping attachment with it but not much. It sits at the top of my pantry gathering dust.”

That’s typical. Most people do have an appliance they don’t use. So, what do you do when you only have a small amount of counter space?

Our rule is never have more than three appliances on the counter at any time. In this stage of our discussions, we’re talking about Kitchen Basics, the minimum things you need to cook a meal and eat it. That means there are lots of useful appliances we won’t discuss until later.

Remember your ideas and comments are alway welcome.

So, what three appliances do we think should take up that valuable counter real estate? A lot is going to depend on your own lifestyle and the things you like.

At the top of our list is a microwave. We know people did without this modern convenience for a long time. But the microwave is great for cooking frozen items or quickly heating water for almost anything. It can freshen up baked goods, heat leftovers, melt cheese on dishes and sandwiches and melt delicate things like chocolate without a double boiler. There are also some things it does not do well. Eggs can become rubbery, meat turns gray, meat can explode, baked potatoes get hard and so on. We use it every day. We recommend getting one with a turntable and large enough to contain a medium size bowl.

For coffee drinkers, the next choice is a coffee maker. We’ve seen the fancy ones, the programmable ones and the very, very simple ones. Coffee has become big business and gone from a diner staple to a gourmet experience. But there are some of us who just want a simple cup of coffee, fresh and well-brewed. You can spend a little or a lot, depending on what features you want, size and whether brand names matter to you. But we think the Bachelor is more interested in a cup of coffee than impressing anyone with a fancy contraption that takes up a lot of space with features that are never used. And we think money might be a big consideration for lots of bachelors, especially if you’re setting up your first kitchen. So my choice is this Kitchen Gourmet brand 5-cup coffeemaker. It makes just the right amount for a big insulated mug.

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