Three Small Appliances I Quite Like

I don’t like single use tools in general. Sometimes I make exceptions.

~ The other day I went out to a local place where you can get various kitchen appliances, intending to get one thing, walking out with three things. Fist, the one thing I intended to get.

I’ve seen advertised the Sodastream, where you make your own carbonated beverage. Of course, they hype all the sugar laden flavors, in which I have no interest — I just want to make my own club soda…and I don’t want an appliance sitting on my counter. Luckily, they had a single box of the iSi Twist and Sparkle. It’s basically just a bottle with a big twist top that takes up an 8 gram CO2 cartridge. When you’re done, you toss it a drawer with your spatulas.

They give you three cartridges and of course, all the info to purchase more cartridges, and flavors, et cetera, the Mr. Coffee business plan: give away or deeply discount the appliance and then sell consumables, like paper fitters. I just want to make club soda at a steep discount from the average $2-3 I usually pay.

Problem was, while it carbonated water just fine, it didn’t really taste like club soda and so I Googled around. Turns out you need to add a bit of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). So, a half level teaspoon per liter and voila, I have perfect club soda. I just love the tingle. Yesterday, I did an experiment by charging the bottle the first time, then doing a second and that delivers a very nice sting, at double the cost.

I got some refill cartridges at a local restaurant supply (they’re used for whip cream canisters in bars) and then found Gas Depot on the web. I ordered 24 to make sure they work and assuming they do, I’ll order 300 which will bring my cost down to about 30-35 cents per liter of club soda, and I can have it anytime I want. I fill my bottle with chilled tap water from a Britta filter.

~ The eggs, the eggs. I saw this little deal and was intrigued. Perhaps it’s my favorite of the lot.

Eggs should always be done right and I like O/E, sunny, and so on…and the way to do good sunny is to baste the eggs with your hot fat. …Ohhh…yea.

This little device does soft, medium, hard boiled and poached eggs to a precision that I have never seen, and flawlessly and in a “fire and forget” way of operation.

The Cuisinart Egg Cooker does a most amazing job. It’s worth the small price for a single thing. For 1-7 soft, medium or hard boiled eggs, just fill the beaker up to the appropriate line for hardness and number of eggs, pour in the water, and then the eggs, and turn it on. It beeps and shuts off when the water has evaporated (it steams them); then put the eggs in the sink or submerged in a pot of cold water to stop the cooking.

The yolks for the medium boiled eggs are like pudding, every time, flawlessly, with no guesswork as to how long it takes a pot to boil, how long to keep them in, etc. Poached eggs are just as easy. There’s a tray to do as many as three at a time, so really only suitable for one person.

~ Last was a thing I found a bit interesting and kept coming back to it, then decided to go ahead and get it.

Turns out it performs exactly as advertised. It does come with a silly name, however: Yonanas. Anyway, here’s the website that includes a video of what it does.

Very simple and quick, and it’s frozen fruit only. First time, I just used a frozen berry medley and it was great. Makes them highly edible immediately, without thawing or pouring cream over them.

Second time, I peeled a banana and put it in the freezer a couple of hours before, then ran that through along with a couple of cups of berries and when it was done, I added two heaping tablespoons of coconut milk from the fridge and stirred it in for a nice berry, banana coconut ice creamy concoction that got split amongst four people. I don’t recommend this as a means of eating more fruit at once than is prudent, just as a means to enjoy it in a different way.

In a couple of days when I begin using moderate dairy again, I’ll try it with heavy cream.

So there you go. While I really don’t like a lot of clutter in the kitchen, and I don’t like gimmicky products, these three have really proven themselves to be worthwhile.

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  1. Victoria on December 6, 2011 at 09:32

    I love soft boiled eggs too. This is my trick for getting them cooked right ever time. Cheaper and a whole lot easier to store than what’s above (though only good for boiled eggs).

    I love that thing!

    • Victoria on December 6, 2011 at 09:33

      Huh- of course now I click on that link and realize it’s ‘no longer available’ but I’m sure it’s available on amazon somewhere!

  2. val on December 6, 2011 at 09:02

    I love my Stick Blender, my cuisine art (indespensible for chopping large batches of veggies for ferments) and ESP. for the most DELICIOUS roasts and chickens my Ronco Rotisserrie!! (I inherited it from my mom). I can’t live without this wonderful tool.

  3. Sandy on December 6, 2011 at 09:10

    Oh nice, I’ve been in the market for an egg cooker. I love soft boiled eggs but have a hard time getting them right.

  4. Justin on December 6, 2011 at 09:27

    Pouring cream over the frozen fruit wouldn’t be all bad. :P Have you ever had high country kombucha? Talk about carbonated. I’ve been making my own and that stuff (keifer too) can have some fiz!

  5. Mike on December 6, 2011 at 09:33

    You can get the CO2 cartridges at home brew supply shops too. There are several close to you.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 6, 2011 at 09:38

      The ones you use are the 12 gram cartridges. This take the smaller, 8 gram ones. Do the brew suppliers carry those too?

  6. b-nasty on December 6, 2011 at 09:57

    Actually, the chargers used for whipped cream usually contain nitrous oxide (N2O) instead of carbon dioxide (CO2). The N2O dissolves in the cream and gives it a little more ‘puff’ instead of needing to be actually whipped. I doubt N2O would give the desired effect, as it won’t create carbonic acid — the ‘bite’.

    The N2O cartridges can have other uses other than food…but I’m not sure how paleo it is.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 6, 2011 at 10:05

      Well that explains then why they have these for whipped cream and soda chargers, labelled as such. I thought it was just a marketing gimmick.

  7. Madbiker on December 6, 2011 at 10:10

    I love my KitchenAid immersion blender, and my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. The immersion blender turns stewed tomatoes into wonderful sauces, and perfectly blends pumpkin into a creamy soup. I use it to make tomato jam, berry preserves, apple sauce or butter, and liver pate.

    The Kitchen Aid mixer is indispensable. I have the meat grinder/sausage attachment. We use it regularly to grind venison (soon, bear meat! a first for us) and use it to make summer, breakfast, and mild Italian style sausages.

    I wouldn’t be wholly lost without my kitchen appliances, but these two (an a few others) make food prep a dream I thought only available to big-city chefs or charcuterie experts.

  8. Jerry on December 6, 2011 at 10:50

    I also like carbonated water. About a year ago, I decided to start making my own. Got sick of paying $2/bottle at the supermarket. I bought a CO2 tank for $60 on ebay, a regulator for about $10, and some vinyl tubing, a tire chuck, some automotive valve stems, and a few small hose clamps. Hooked the tire chuck up to the regulator via the vinyl tubing. I got a few 2 liter soda bottles, drilled holes in the plastic caps to accept the tire valve stems.

    The way to make fizzy water is to fill a bottle about 1/4 full with water, and put it in the freezer overnight. Next morning, fill to about 80% full with water, squeeze out the air, and tighten the cap. Then turn upside down, and fill with CO2 using the chuck. The CO2 bubbles through the ice water, and most of it dissolves. Shake vigorously, then do it again, and more will dissolve (the solubility of CO2 increases with decreased temperature, which explains why CO2 levels in the atmosphere in decrease AFTER global cooling and increase AFTER global warming, completely disproving Al Gore’s nutty theory). You can do this about 3 times before it won’t accept any more CO2. A tank of CO2 will last several years. Each 2-liter bottle costs only a few cents.

    I usually add a little orange extract and a tiny amount of stevia extract. Tastes mildly like soda, but definitely not like sugary commercial soda.

    Never knew about adding sodium bicarbonate. Thanks for that tip.

    One thing that concerns me: I’ve read that the acidity of carbonated drinks (carbonic acid) wreaks havoc with your blood pH and bone density. In fact, I just read something about this in a great book called “Wheat Belly” (very highly recommended). Homemade fizzy water does not have phosphoric acid, like Coke and Pepsi, and it doesn’t have sugar, but it does have carbonic acid, obviously. So there is reason for concern, and I’m looking into this further.

  9. wrightio on December 6, 2011 at 13:29

    I have that exact same Cuisinart egg cooker, i love it. If you want soft, medium or hard boiled.. its perfect whatever texture like. Easy to clean too!!

  10. GeeBee on December 6, 2011 at 14:42

    I also use my egg cooker for steaming vegetables. They’re only good for one or two serves but great for people that don’t want a giant steamer taking up space.

  11. Mike on December 6, 2011 at 17:54

    More Beer has it. There is a store in Palo Alto.

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  13. ostrichfordiner on December 6, 2011 at 18:42

    nice poacher….
    have an ancient British soda bottle but it doesn’t work after recently tried new cartridges…so now that you got the antidote its worth a try for a new one!

    we have not yet to used our Nuwave cooker but I have been reading about the one and only… we have a vitamix too

  14. Primal Toad on December 6, 2011 at 20:35

    Us kids got our mother the sodastream for Christmas last year. She has to have her club soda on hand all the freaking time. It was the greatest gift she has ever gotten as she uses it every day. It came with the stuff to make pop but she has rarely used that. She just loves her club soda as you seem to like as well.

    I added the egg thing to my wish list. When I have the money I’ll buy that for sure. Thanks for the ideas Richard!

  15. Alex on December 7, 2011 at 16:56

    I’d had one of those egg-perfect timers for ages, and it had developed a crack. I found a replacement at a kitchen store a few years ago. They work really well.

    The Yonanas machine for $50 is a good deal, but I’d rather have a Pacojet, which is bargain priced at around $4800

  16. munichnole on December 7, 2011 at 09:12

    I have the egg cooker as well…put the thing on with either 1 or 2 eggs…pop in the shower and the eggs are done when I come out…..

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