Update from appliance central

August 3, 2016

Dehydrator, which I cannot get to turn right-side-up.

Dehydrator, which I cannot get to turn right-side-up.

I’m a sucker for a kitchen gadget, as you may have figured out if you’ve been reading my blog very long.

And not just gadgets. Small electrical appliances, too.

And now I have a new one.

How it was, was like this. The damned eGullet forum has a thread devoted to kitchen gadgetry and appliances. T’other day, it had an entry that noted Aldi had food dehydrators on their special “we got a truckload of these and they’re on sale cheap” aisle. For $19.99.

OK, I thought. That might not be bad. Never really thought about having a dehydrator, but it WOULD be easier than dehydrating stuff in the oven, wouldn’t it?

I looked when I was next at Aldi. No dehydrators. OK, I figured. Must not have gone everywhere. No biggie. Lived this long without a dehydrator, guess I’ll keep going.

So earlier this week I’m at Aldi because I’m out of half and half and cream and I needed a pineapple, and for two quarts of half and half and two pints of cream and a pineapple, that’s a total of five bucks saved over Kroger prices. And I turned down the special aisle and there it was. The dehydrator. $19.99.

So I bought the damn thing.

I mean, $19.99. Why not? I’d already saved five bucks that day, so really, it was just $14.99, right?

It rode around in the back seat of my car for a couple of days until I remembed to bring it in, and then I just couldn’t wait to use it. I had a box  of cherries in the fridge that I hadn’t touched since I brought them home, and had no idea what I was going to do with them when I bought them, but it needed to be something and it needed to be soon. OK. I’ll dry those suckers.

So I set about pitting a box of cherries. Note one gadget I do NOT have is a cherry-pitter. I have read of a technique for pitting cherries with a chopstick; I am here to tell you it doesn’t work. I pitted the whole box with a paring knife and my thumbnail, a practice that gets cherry juice up to your elbows and leaves you with a sore thumbnail.

They made up two shelves in the five-shelf dehydrator. Now, there’s no reason it can’t run with just two shelves, but what the heck, let’s fill those other three. I had three bananas that would have been bad before they got eaten, and I didn’t feel like banana bread, so they were next up to dry out. Then, as there were two shelves left and I had some of those loaves-and-fishes cucumbers mentioned in last post left, I figured, what the heck, let’s try drying cucumbers.

Not sure what in the Sam Hill ones does with a dehydrated cucumber. Guess we’ll figure it out.

I plugged it in and it’s merrily drying away in the laundry room. By this evening, I should have nicely dried out cherries, banana chips and cucumber chips.

Meanwhile, as long as we’re at it, here’s a report from CSO oven-land.

I’ve had my Cuisinart combo convection-steam oven for a little more than two weeks. I have used it, I believe, every day since I’ve had it. My big oven has been turned on exactly one time — to bake something on a pan that was too big for the CSO.

First, roasted new potatoes. There’s not much in the world I love better than a roasted new potato, but the CSO takes them to a new level of wonderful. Wash them, halve or quarter them, toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with a little Lawry’s seasoned salt, and stick ’em in on steam-bake for 40 minutes at 450 degrees.

Perfection. Golden brown outside, with just a touch of crisp. Creamy smooth inside. And the sweet, lingering taste that is unique to a new potato. I could eat ’em every day.

I have learned, though, to my sorrow, that one does not cook sweet potato wedges at the same temp and for the same length of time one does white potatoes. Suckers burn.

I’ve made toast. That’s excellent. The CSO goes a LONG way toward reviving a stale piece of bread.

I’ve baked pork chops. Pretty much perfect. And I’ve warmed any number of frozen things, except for Amazing Grandchild 2’s chicken nuggets, because that boy does not want nary a speck of crisp anywhere about his chicken nugget, so we nuke them in the microwave, so the breading is all nice and limp.

Odd kid.

What I love most about the thing, I think, is that it doesn’t heat up the house like the conventional oven does. Using that and the Instant Pot, which I do quite regularly, cuts the ambient heat factor for cooking a meal by about three-quarters.

Don’t you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em let me get close to anything else that plugs in for the kitchen.





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