Kitchen Appliances Servants or Toys?

I like to play around in the kitchen quite a bit.  Over the years I have purchased various small appliances and gadgets for cooking and baking.  As I was using a new appliance that I recently purchased I had this thought.  There are some things we buy because they look like we could use them, some we buy for fun and some maybe are impulse purchases and before you know it many of our appliances end up stored on a shelf or given away.  

My recent purchase of a rice cooker got me thinking about how to best define the multitude of appliances available. I have seen so many different appliances that it could require a storage building to house them if I owned them all!  So I like to think carefully before buying any appliance or gadget for my kitchen today.  I try and define my appliances in two ways.  They are either going to be a servant for me or a toy to play with.  With budgets being what they are I look now only to buy those things that will serve me on a regular basis.  I ask myself, will they make my job in the kitchen easier and/or faster?  Will they save me money? Will they help to improve our health?  Will they help relieve stress or add to it?  

Here is an example from my kitchen.  I have a Bosch bread mixer.  It does make the task of bread making so much easier!  I can make 6 loaves at one time and it takes about 1 ½ hours to do this; saving me a lot of time and labor. Homemade good quality bread is much less expensive than buying it from a health food store so it saves me money. It improves our health as I am able to serve a good quality food to my family. It relieves the stress of making bread constantly to keep up with the demands of my hungry family.  So I would consider the Bosch a servant in my kitchen.  I also could categorize my grain mill and crockpot in this category as well. 

I also own a deep fat fryer.  I have had it several years and maybe used it a couple of times.  I used it to “play” in the kitchen and make some doughnuts, I believe.  But now mostly it sits on the shelf collecting dust.  I have a pasta maker.  I have made pasta a handful of times but really not enough to consider it a servant.  Both of these items to me are more toys to play with in the kitchen than a servant.  If I was to consider buying them today I would pass on them because neither has been a servant and they take up space making it more difficult for me to enjoy the benefits of a simple life (less “stuff” equals more simplicity in life to me).   

My Latest Servant 

I bought a rice cooker in December and have loved it.    Years ago when I served my family white rice I had a rice cooker and it was so helpful.  After I switched to brown rice the rice cooker was not able to cook it completely.  It automatically turned off when white rice would have been done and that was it.  So I gave it away and started cooking rice on the stove top.  I was in Walmart a couple of months ago looking for something in the kitchen department and happen to see some rice cookers they had on sale.  I took a look at it and was surprised to see in the last 15 years they have come a long way. They now cook brown rice with no problem.   The one rice cooker I was looking at also had a great feature, a delay timer.  I saw I could put my rice together and set the time for the rice to be all done cooking for as much as 15 hours in advance.  Well this definitely appealed to me!  Now that I soak my rice I thought wow..  I can put the water, brown rice and whey in the rice cooker in the morning and set it to be all done cooking by dinner time without ever having to think about it again.  Well I was sold.  Here was a servant that would definitely save me some time in the kitchen, make dinner prep time less hectic (one less thing to think about at meal time) and we can continue to enjoy the healthful benefits of soaked brown rice in our diet.   

Of course then the disappointment came, the model I wanted was out of stock.  So I wrote the name down, went home and found it on line for a couple dollars less in price.  I ordered it, with free shipping due to the holidays, and had it in less than a week.  

Here is a pic of the model that I purchased:  

You can find them on Amazon (unfortunately the free shipping is no longer available):  

  Aroma 8-Cup Cool-Touch Rice Cooker  

I have been using it and experimenting with it ever since.  It comes with a little rice measuring cup that says I am supposed to use so many of their cups of rice to so many of their cups of water.  I did this the first few times and was not thrilled with the results of my rice.  Plus I got annoyed that I had to have a separate measuring cup just for rice and if we ever lost it I was in bad shape! LOL..  So I began to play around the water amounts and rice amounts and each time I did I was happier with the end result.  Eventually I was making rice in the rice cooker just like I did on the stove, as far as ingredient amounts.  I tossed the little rice measuring cup that came with it and have been very happy ever since!   

Here is how I make rice in my rice cooker: 

2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
¼ cup whey, kefir or yogurt
1 ½ t salt

Combine all the above ingredients in rice cooker.  Set timer ahead how ever many hours until dinner time.  I try and shoot for at least 6 hours of soak times..  but sometimes it is 5 and sometimes it is 7.   And that is it.  When dinner time comes the rice is all done and perfect for our tastes.     

Since purchasing it I have used my rice cooker at least a couple times a week or more.  It has definitely fallen into the “servant” category in my kitchen! 


  1. Crystal,

    As always, this is a wonderful and informative article. I have been considering purchasing a rice cooker like this and I really appreciate your opinion.

    I have been reading your website/blog for years and you have helped me to grow from a overwhelmed young mother of 2 to a confident and happy mother of 5. Blessings to you, dear friend.

  2. I love all my kitchen toys! Most of them are the old fashioned kind and they never break and do the job wonderfully. I will have to share my wall someday on my blog.

  3. Love my rice cooker. But it doesn't have the timer....that would be super. Enjoyed your blog.

  4. Rice cookers are also wonderful for making oatmeal in the morning!


  5. Thank you, thank you for this.

    A few years ago I got rid of my rice cooker because it was aluminum on the inside. When I learned that was bad, I got rid of it and haven't cooked rice since! I'm afraid to try and make it in a saucepan on the stove.

    Since I trust your opinion on all things kitchen, I will look for this model.

    So, thanks again!!

  6. I started to read this and thought how true of servant vs. fun. I too am a gadget lover but due to the amount of money and space this is one area that I'm pretty good about not "stocking" up on unnecessary gidgets and gadgets (not that I don't want to). Anywhoo-I did receive at Christmas 3 new gadgets that I am absolutely THRILLED (Two I asked for and one was a huge surprise). After seeing all the photos and posts you had on canning (you are such an inspiration!) my husband got me a 24 qt canner (this year will be my first year canning-got any tips :-). My husband al bought me a 5 qt Kitchen Aid and I love it as well! So the big surprise was my Aroma Rice Cooker, just like yours, from my MIL. I was shocked but absolutely thrilled because, I too, wanted a rice cooker that cooked brown rice but just couldn't find anything of good quality and she heard me talk about it once and did the research and bought one for me. She's the best MIL any woman could have! So thanks for the post and I love your blog! You are definitely an inspiration (and I bought your products in the past and love them also)!


  7. That is one appliance we could use since we cook a lot of rice. And then with a timer to let it soak and then cook even gets better. Thanks for the info. We finally made kefir from the powder you recommended although we do not have a source of milk right now except traditional store milk. After it is done setting on the counter when we put it in the frig it starts to separate and geet chunky. Is this normal? It tastes fine and we stir it to smooth it out but it definately starts to separate in the frig. I also tastes more like buttermilk to me thatn kefir. We want to try the grains some time too. Blessings.

  8. I have the exact same rice cooker - and it is a big hit in this house! My husband is especially thankful for it because it seems to be the only way I can make good rice! Also, just picked up 25 pounds of brown rice today - will be putting the servant to good use!

  9. I would love to know if you could use this to cook beans. I love double duty servants:) If you would be able to experiment with this and then post about it, it would be a huge blessing. Thank you for all of your wonderful information.




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