Kitchen Basics – Part 11: Toasters

With kitchen counter space at a premium, we have to consider just what appliances we’re going to give to that space. We’re repeating some of our early posts for anyone who missed them. In the last repost, we talked about having a microwave and a coffeemaker on the counter, things you use every day. Another is the trusty toaster. It’s not just for bread anymore.

We continue our discussion of basic appliances with the final item of the three appliances on the countertop. The appliances you choose will depend on what you do, what you like to eat and how much space you have. But I maintain that three appliances should be the maximum unless you have a full-size kitchen.

Compactness is important. This last appliance can be either large or small and light. My third choice for a counter top appliance is a toaster. That’s right, just a plain old toaster. Is there any better icon of modern American life than the humble toaster? They come on all sorts of colors, shapes, sizes and styles. There are toasters that look like Volkswagen Microbuses, psychedelic art, teapots and space-age jets. There are toasters that also cook eggs and ones that imprint the pirate Jolly Roger on your bread. There are toaster that look like computer hard drives and even one that plugs into your computer’s USB port. There’s a Hello Kitty toaster and one that mounts on the wall that spits out the toast like a Polaroid snapshot. Costs range from around $5 up to more than $200.

All you really need, of course, is something that makes toast, bagels, English muffins, waffles and toaster pastries. There are a lot of frozen products on the market now made to work in a toaster. Look for something that doesn’t take up too much space, has slots wide enough for a bagel and has a stay-cool type casing. And remember to empty the crumb tray on a regular basis. I guess toasters can be fun, especially for kids. But all I want is something that makes toast. If that makes me a boring bachelor, so be it.

Now you may be someone who’s an athlete and drinks protein shakes, so one of your appliances would have to be a blender. If you do a lot of cooking, you might find a food processor the thing you use the most. Just remember the rule that you have a limited amount of space, so choose wisely.