The Kitchn Cure Day 9: Dealing with Small Appliances (in Which I Instruct You on Something I Have Very Little Experience With)

published Sep 17, 2015
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(Image credit: Henry Chen)

The Kitchn Cure Day 9: Give your small appliances a good cleaning.
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Today we’re going to take care of those small but hardworking appliances that help make our kitchens truly function. If you own a dishwasher, microwave, toaster oven, and a coffee grinder, then this is going to be a busy day. But it’s also the last of the major cleaning, so one more push and the heavy labor will soon be done.

But first, a confession from yours truly about her relationship to small appliances.

Here it is: I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to small appliances. Despite growing up with one, I have never owned a dishwasher in my adult life, and it’s been many years since I’ve owned a microwave. I do have a very decrepit but hardworking toaster oven and a 30-year-old food processor, which I cherish as much for its quirky charm as its workhorse-like capabilities. I also have a pretty nice KitchenAid stand mixer.

But mostly my time in the kitchen is pretty unplugged. I’m a fan of the mortar and pestle and the sharp knife and cutting board methods of preparing food. I think this is in part because I’m around mechanical things all day, and when I go into the kitchen, I like to have an experience unmediated by machinery and technology. It helps me to relax and transition away from my work day. I need the sensuous experience of handling and smelling my food. I need it to call me into the present and bring me back into my own physical body.

I am aware that this situation is very unique to me and the circumstances of my life. I don’t have children to feed, for instance, and I write about food for a living, so being in the kitchen is my full-time job. For many busy people, small appliances are a godsend — dinner simply cannot get on the table without them. I absolutely understand and respect that and hope you’ll forgive me for my quirks and practices around being unplugged. But I also hope you’ll find the time (maybe this weekend?) to try going unplugged for a bit, especially if your kitchen is usually in high-production, hyper-convenience mode.

Perhaps you can start with a bunch of fresh basil (maybe even the last of the field-grown basil from the farmers market?) pounded in a mortar and pestle for pesto. Or make it on the chopping board like Italian grandmothers do. Or maybe you can make a loaf of bread and knead it by hand. Whatever you choose, try doing it completely by hand, the slow way. Sink into the moment by being present for all the smells and textures you wouldn’t necessarily experience when there’s a hunk of metal and plastic between you. How does this change your mood, your perception of the day? What does it feel like to show up for the present moment when it smells like crushed basil and garlic?

And if all this talk about pleasure and the present doesn’t ring your chimes, remember that you just cleaned all your appliances, so maybe you don’t want to be in such a hurry to gunk them up again. The unplugged kitchen can totally help you with that.

Because I’m such a luddite, today I’m going to rely on The Kitchn’s list of previously posted appliance cleaning tutorials. Depending on how many you own and how dirty they are, you may have your work cut out for you today. But even if you can’t give them all a deep clean, consider at least giving them a quick wipedown and polish.

Your Guide to Cleaning Small Appliances

(Image credit: Henry Chen)

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