by Kate Heyhoe
A couple years ago I discovered a fat, faded book called 1001 Kitchen Appliance Recipes at a garage sale (here in the mountains garage sales are the local cottage industry). It had no author credited but delving into the copyright page I discovered it was written in 1976—by Irena Chalmers (!), now a prolific cookbook author known for such works as the Great Food Almanac. Sadly, the book offered no tips on using the appliances, just a whole slew of 1970's style recipes (Curried Turkey Spread, Ground Beef & Noodles, etc.) for electric crepe pans, crock pots, food processors, microwave ovens, pressure cookers, electric skillets, toaster ovens and woks. I bought it anyway for 75 cents just as a collector's item.
Segue to the present: a new book bills itself as the "definitive guide to the 20 best kitchen appliances." Lora Brody Plugged In indeed makes each appliance the main attraction, with 375 supplemental recipes inspiring the reader to actually plug in their machines and get cooking. Each chapter focuses on a single appliance and includes a general description, explanation of how it works, what it does, care and maintenance and handy tips. You can learn a lot from this book.
Lora Brody, best known for her works on bread machines, may be the author listed, but she also praises a bevy of her online companions who co-created this book. Communicating by email, message boards and eventually in person, these appliance-driven cooks shared their experiences, tips and recipes to make this collection broader than a single author's perspective, giving it greater credibility in my mind. Meanwhile Lora synthesized theirs and her own input into a succinct guide to today's most ubiquitous appliances, along with a few of the more obscure. The book includes chapters on the blender (upright and handheld), bread machine, deep fryer, food processor (standard and mini), electric grill, ice cream maker, microwave oven, mixer (hand and stand), rice cooker, skillet & wok, slow cooker, electric steamer, tortilla press, waffle maker, and water smoker.
If you're wondering whether Lora Brody Plugged In is for you, here's a sample from the chapter on Slow Cookers, including a page of tips and a recipe for caramelized onions, a wonderful flavor enhancer to keep around for all occasions.
Lora Brody Plugged In
by Lora Brody
William Morrow and Company, $25.00
384 pages; 1998
Recipes and photos reprinted by permission.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
Modified August 2007
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