The Five Machines I Don’t Want to Be Without

As my “end of harvest season” work load ramps up, I find myself using my favorite tools over and over.
So, here is my list of Big Ticket Items that make this kind of life easy.  Well, easier.
Also, in the interest of making myself feel better, NO.  We did not spend thousands of dollars kitting ourselves up in style.  We’ve been lucky to gift, thrift, or exchange for the bulk of these items.  In fact, the freezer is the only one we went to a store and bought straight out.  I’m only printing this list in the spirit of sharing what has really, REALLY helped alleviate the work load for me.
  1. Deep freeze.  You can always find pounds and pounds and POUNDS of meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and pre-prepared foods in my freezer.  (Bulk batches of gnocchi and pot stickers, anyone?)   What would be better?  An upright freezer would be an awesome substitute for this.  On the plus side, easy to organize, easy to find space to “flash freeze” things on cookie sheets, and easy to find things.  On the down side, more expensive to purchase, more expensive to run.
  2. Stand mixer.  I have a shiny red Kitchen Aid.  (Well, it would be shiny if I took the time to clean it properly, daily.  Let’s not nitpick.)  Our family eats roughly a loaf of bread every day, so I make two-loaf batches every other day.  Roughly.  A two loaf batch fits perfectly in my mixer, and it is SO NICE to put everything in, turn it on, and walk away to let it mix.  I come back every so often to add more flour or check on the dough ball, but my hands-on time is cut down drastically.  What would be better?  A bosch mixer can handle much larger batches of dough, so if you’re wanting to make mondo batches of bread (up to 4 loaves at a time) Bosch is the way to go.  Or, do it by hand.  But that’s not really the point of this list, is it?
(The only photo I could find of my beautiful red machine…isn’t it nice?)
chocolate chip cookies
  1. Grain mill.  I have the WonderMill, and love it.  L.O.V.E.  No, it’s not cheap.  But, I can get white winter wheat for 46 cents per pound, bulk, and make bread that would cost $4 at the store.  It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, it tastes better, and it will pay for itself!  One thing about this mill- it only makes flour.  No cracked wheat.  No cornmeal.  Grinding wheat and popcorn together makes the best corn bread you’ve ever had, but you can’t grind your own polenta.   It will grind any grain, bean, or seed provided it isn’t too oily.  I’ve even ground my regular short grain rice to make a pretty decent mochi, when the craving strikes.

(Image from

  1. A big, fat blender.  I have a VitaMix, inherited from my parents.  Yes, it’s 30 years old.  Yes, it’s chrome.  Yes, it’s a BEAST and I love it.  We use it for smoothies almost daily, plus soups, sauces, hummus, bean dip, etc.  If this thing ever dies, I am going to use the Vitamix “trade up” credit to send it in and order a new one!  (You buy a Vitamix from the company, then send in your old one and they’ll refund $100 as a “trade up” credit.  Sweetness.)  Oh, and I’ve heard that this blender can double as a grain mill!  This particular model, I’ve not been impressed with the flour I got out of it.  However, a chef friend has a newer one, and doesn’t even bother with his grain mill anymore.

Old Vitamix

  1. My Sauce Master.  You’ve probably never heard of it, but I don’t want to make apple sauce or apple butter with out it!  And, considering that I normally process 2-4 cases of apples every year, that makes it essential.  You put your soft fruit in that funnel up top, turn the crank on the right, and it’s spiraled through a sieve-lined tube.  The good stuff comes down the chute in front, and all the detritus comes out at the end of the pipe.  This particular one is vintage, and a much-appreciated gift from my mother-in-law when she was cleaning out her cabinets before moving.  Only, now she doesn’t ever remember owning this, so where it came from is a bit of a mystery!  This monster can make juice or puree.  (I dream about having enough grapes to make grape juice.)

making applesauce and apple juice

And there you have it!  What’s on YOUR list of “don’t wanna live without it”?



3 Responses

  1. I have all those things, except a vitamix–but it’s on my “want” list. Someday! My list of essentials would also include my dehydrator. We bought a commercial size factory refurbished one at a discount (sweet!) and I use it ALL THE TIME! dried fruits and veggies and herbs are just the start for me. I love it!

    • Wonderful, Erin! I have a dehydrator..but you know, I just never use it, so it didn’t make the list. Weird. I dried tomatoes and figs in the oven this year. I have used it before, for blueberries and cherries, but it just took so very verrrry long, and took up counter space, and made noise…I think I have a weeny machine 🙂 (Check out the refurbished prices on They’re better than I thought they’d be!)

  2. I have grapes, but no machine. I may need to find one, I usually just end up making grape jelly… tastes just like Welches!

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