With all the cooking, processing and canning that goes on in a farm kitchen, there are certain appliances that sure do come in handy. Randy, bless his heart, cringes at Christmas and birthdays if I tell him there is one I want. He still goes by the old wisdom that you never. Ever. Ever. Buy your wife an appliance or a vacuum cleaner as a gift. In his defense, I actually agree with that sentiment. Sometimes. But shortly before our 2nd Christmas together, I saw a Food Saver, and there was nothing doing but I wanted it. Knowing our pitiful budget, I decided to ask for it for Christmas. Against all that man ever believed in, he did get it, but had this sickly look on his face for about a week afterward, when he finally realized I really did want it.

There are quite a few appliances in my kitchen that I deem an absolute necessity. I value and appreciate meals prepared literally by hand, but all too often there just isn’t enough time for me to spend cooking meals like that. I love a little time saver every now and then, and that means appliances. Here are a few of the ‘must have’ appliances that reside in our farm kitchen:

Food Saver – you knew this one was coming. However, since Randy hunts deer, pig and rabbit, and loves to fish, this is one appliance I don’t ever want to do without. Our meat needs to last us at least a year, and regular white paper or zip-type bags don’t prevent freezer burn over a long period. With the vacuum sealer, we have discovered a pack of deer steaks that had fallen to the bottom of the chest freezer that was two years old. They still grilled up wonderfully, without any ‘old’ flavor.

Mixer – I didn’t choose my mixer. It was given to me. When I got it, it was already close to ten years old, and that was a little over twenty years ago. It’s an avocado green Kitchen-Aid, and is so old the color is back in style. It belonged to my dad, and I can’t tell you how many batches of bread and goodies he made in it. Although I am a purist and prefer to do my bread by hand, I do love my mixer for baking. For a while, we even used it to make our butter, because turning the hand-crank on the old Daisy churn just about wore my arm straight off my shoulder. I’m not sure this thing will ever give up the ghost, but if it does, I’ll invest in another one. Only the next one will probably be red or turquoise.   Just for a change of pace.

Food Processor – with the great product my mixer is, I opted for the Kitchen Aid food processor when my Cuisinart finally kicked the bucket. That was another appliance that was chosen for me – it’s a long story, but basically it was a gift from Mr. Wilkie, who thought I wouldn’t be able to live without it. He was right. It’s great for chopping vegetables, pureeing apple butter and other thick jams, and we made sure we bought the bigger one this time, so we can use that for making our butter. A food processor also makes quick work of grating cheese and potatoes, and really keeps any knuckle skin from getting in the food from the hand-graters.

Pressure Canner / Water Bath Canner – these two are givens if you process any of your own food items. If we had to freeze everything we grew, we’d have to have a freezer the size of the barn. As it is, we have three that are slam full, and that doesn’t count the tiny ones above the refrigerators. We don’t just can vegetables, jams and jellies, either. In our cellar you can find pork, deer, soups, pickles and relishes, as well as pie filling and fruit cocktail.

Tenderizer – since Randy processes his own deer, the one thing he wants is for the steaks to be tenderized prior to going in the freezer. He says that if you try to do it afterward, it just doesn’t do as well. I will say this, though. Although it is so much easier than pounding the meat with a hand tenderizer, it’s also a pain in the neck to clean. It has to be totally disassembled, and the blades have to be carefully washed if you don’t want to tenderize your hand. Still, with the amount of deer steaks we put up, it is well worth the time.

These are some of my most used appliances. I know your kitchen holds at least a couple that you feel you can’t do without. What are they? Tell us which ones you would gladly get rid of, and which ones would you send your spouse packing if they gave it away. And then, stay tuned tomorrow for The Kitchen Series Part 2: Kitchen Ware.