Small Electrics in the Kitchen

My sister-in-law, Judy, while visiting us, was wondering what I did to manage in a small kitchen. That got me to thinking about what small electrics I consider necessary.  When we started married life, it was in military quarters in Germany.  I got along with an electric coffee pot, a toaster and a Sunbeam stand mixer for 5 years.  I didn't have the 1947 dream kitchen pictured on the right even in the 70's.  I'd like this kitchen today, even the cheery color scheme!  Makes you feel like you could be the Beaver's mom!
What I have and use:
Toaster Oven We use a toaster-oven every day. It takes up the most space, and we have graduated to a larger one from Breville that will hold a 13x9” pan, as well as make toast. First, it makes good toast.  I bake everything but yeast bread in it, because I usually make 3 loaves at a time. I have, however, baked single loaves of quick breads, single pies, pizza, I regularly make pans of a few cookies, and I bake fish, meat, casseroles, biscuits, muffins, single layer cakes, etc. in it. It preheats so quickly I can often bake things faster than I can preheat my regular oven. I have had good luck with Cuisinart ones too – but they are much smaller.
 A good toaster takes up a lot less space, and Myrna prefers a toaster to a toaster oven.
Coffee Pot I only buy electric ones that have a small footprint. I have had an electric coffee pot since I had my first single-girl apartment, and with a Norwegian dad, I was raised to have a cup of coffee always at hand. I don’t drink it as much any more, so I toy with the idea of non-electric coffee making, but I’m not there yet. I certainly made my share of “boiled” coffee growing up, and camping. I do have a non-electric coffee grinder, however, and I like being able to stash it in the cupboard.
Microwave I have had over-the-oven microwaves before and have one now, but they can interfere with canners and large stockpots.  Until recently I used a simple $50 basic model that had a small footprint and it did what we needed. The microwave would probably be the first thing I would give up if I had to.
Kitchenaid Mixer I have a bowl-lift 5 quart model, my second one. What an improvement in power over that early Sunbeam! I can fully mix 3 loaves of bread at a time.  I have most of the attachments for it to help justify it's existence   I couldn’t cook without it, but it takes up a lot of counter room. I often just use a whisk, or my OXO egg beater or  hand electric mixer that I can keep in a drawer.  I also have an electric stick blender that I find especially handy.
Cuisinart Food Processor – I have a large 14 cup basic model, specifically for making bread and grating things like cheese and cole slaw. I don’t use this as often as the mixer, but I would probably replace it if it gave out. For several years, I made bread exclusively in one when I couldn't find room for a Kitchenaid mixer.
Crock Pot – I have a regular size and small one. I don’t use them a lot. I keep them in a cupboard out of the kitchen where I store canning supplies. I could do without them, but I have room so I keep them.  I would not buy another one for such a small kitchen (and I don't work outside the home anymore either, when I think they are most useful).
What I don’t have:
Bread Machine I have had several good ones, but I found I only made dough in them, and the dough cycle takes too long. I wouldn’t give up space for one again.
Blender I can’t justify the space for this either. I used one more when I didn’t have a food processor.
Can opener Maybe if I had arthritis or something. We bought one when they first came out, and used it for years. I like my small Rosle can opener just fine, and keep it on my tool rack. Myrna uses a nice wall-mount Swing-away one, and we grew up with one of those. I don’t open many cans except maybe tuna or pineapple, as I home can.
If I were just starting out again, I would probably continue to just have those basics I first had, a coffee pot, a toaster, but this time the toaster-oven, and a mixer, again, this time a Kitchenaid or other big mixer.


  1. I would love to have the red kitchen pictured. So cheery! I love the baking center in the middle, with all the tools hung up in their proper places. And the designated spot for baking sheets is great!

    What do you suppose the lower cupboard next to the refrigerator is? It looks a little like a dishwasher!

  2. Yes, I think it is an early dishwasher. Notice the big compressor on top of the refrigerator. This was part of a gas company advertisement, I believe. Just makes you want to cook, doesn't it?

  3. I love the pictures...and like you, even today I would love to have the retro dream kitchen to work in during dreary fall and winter weather! I especially like the little shelf in the corner for cookbooks.

    Your post made me sit down and think about what appliances i have that I can't live without...I have an embarrassment of appliances at the moment. I think if I had to pare them down I would keep my kitchenaid mixer, since it's so versatile and makes bread making easy, fast, and relatively mess-free. I would also keep my toaster oven, although if pressed it would go in favor of my roaster oven, which has been invaluable this year. I pretty much use it for everything I might a toaster oven, except for making toast! I can set it out on the porch in the summer and bake two loaves of bread or two small pies at a time without heating up the house, but it is really invaluable during canning season, keeping jars hot or making massive batches of sauces. It also comes in handy at Thanksgiving--we cook the turkey in it and free the oven up for side dishes, and for making large meals at church functions and potlucks. It does have a large footprint though...I have to store it under my spare bed.

    Aside from the mixer and the roaster/toaster oven, my only other must-have appliance is a medium-to-large crockpot for soups and stews and lean roasts when I'm busy. I also use it for making yogurt, mulled cider, and hot tea in the winter. All of my other appliances I already have low-tech alternatives for...a stovetop percolator for coffee or heating water for tea, a mortar and pestle for grinding herbs and nuts, and just a knife and chopping board in place of the food processor. Most days I find myself reaching for these instead of the appliances anyway, it's usually just as fast as digging the appliances out of the pantry, setting them up, and cleaning them up and putting them away afterwards. Maybe it's time to see if I can't find them new homes...

  4. I enjoyed your post. As I read through it, I was thinking about what I have and use. I use my blender, Cuisinart food processor, coffee maker, and toaster daily. My stick blender gets regular use too; even more so now that it's cold weather Soup Season. My electric hand mixer has taken a back seat to the Cuisinart. [ (I hope it likes the view from there ;) ]


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