00:00 AM

Bring Out the Blender

By Jackie Kennedy

My birthday is this month and I’ve asked the kids for an electric knife. They laugh. But as I labor to peck out this blog, I’m painfully serious.

My right hand, my writing hand, is in a splint. The accident happened Easter morning while sawing a ham. When the knife’s point hit the bone, my hand jolted off the handle and up the blade, slicing three fingers and severing a tendon in one.

The injury probably would not have happened with an electric knife. The one I’d used for two decades had sputtered to a halt a few months earlier—and should have been replaced immediately.

But then, I wonder. Even if an electric knife had been in the utensil drawer, would I have taken time to pull it out and plug it in?

And that gets me to thinking about the other small electric appliances I have tucked away in drawers and cabinets. Would I use them more if they were handier?

In my mother’s kitchen, the coffee maker, can opener and blender held honored positions on the countertop. The waffle maker was readily available and easy to reach. We even had an electric ice crusher that was the envy of my childhood friends.

Fast-forward 40 years to my kitchen, and the only appliance assigned to a permanent post on the counter is the Keurig. The microwave is built in above the stove, but all the other appliances are stashed away, out of sight lest they mussy up my pristine countertop.

The blender, hand mixer, toaster, griddle, slow cooker, deep fryer, food processor and standard coffee maker—they all are relegated to shelf space behind closed cabinet doors. The only time these tucked-away electric tools see the light of day is when retrieved for a specific chore. And when their work is done, they’re washed and again hidden from view.

But why is that, and is it a smart thing?

Using small appliances instead of the range for cooking is long-known to be an energy-saver. The microwave, griddle and toaster oven use less energy to operate, but that’s not all. While these small appliances generate relatively little warmth, an oven on bake and stovetop with pots simmering can produce enough heat to make the kitchen feel like a sauna. In turn, that heat causes the A/C to kick in harder, working overtime to cool the kitchen—and push up the power bill.

Along with energy savings, small appliances can provide safer ways to prepare meals. Using a food processor to cut up veggies can prevent accidents—the same as employing an electric knife at Easter likely would have prevented mine.

Sure, small appliances come with their own concerns. You must keep them from water to prevent shocks, and don’t dare forget to secure the lid before turning on the blender, or your kitchen walls could be splattered with spaghetti sauce (yes, guilty).

All in all, the more I consider the advantages of routinely using them, the more I think it’s time to bring out the blender and make small appliances fashionable again, to convert them from relics tucked away in cabinets to mainstays on my kitchen counter.

Or perhaps I should follow the lead of a friend whose oven died about the same time her passion to cook passed away. She could have removed the non-functioning appliance, but what does the lack of a stove do to the cosmetics of a kitchen? That’s like a dining room without a table.

Instead, she turned her range into storage space for her small appliances. Voila!

The warming drawer is her hideaway for the waffle maker, mixer and griddle. And the stove is the perfect place to stash the blender, toaster and slow cooker.

I’m not ready yet to retire my range, but I’m planning to pull my small appliances out of hiding and put them to work.

The range—and my power bill—deserve a break.