For people who love to cook, this time of year, the end of summer and start of fall can feel like a beginning. It’s also entirely possible that in this terrible year, many people who hadn’t previously thought of themselves the type who love to cook found themselves in the kitchen a lot more than they anticipated, and are maybe feeling that fall cooking excitement for the first time! Regardless of whether you’re an old pro or a newer cook, it’s pretty much a given that home cooking is here to stay for a bit, and these inexpensive tools and small appliances can help make your autumn extra delicious.
After a long couple of months of relying on frozen vegetables for fiber, one of the best things about this summer was having access to fresh produce again—if you, like me, are already despondently anticipating a return to that sorry state, it’s a good time to go wild at the farmers’ market. Tools and small appliances that help turn a farmers’ market haul into meals to stock in your freezer, like soups, can help to keep that fresh produce feeling alive. Enter: The stick blender! This little guy takes up very little storage space, is easy to clean, and will make quick work of turning vegetables like tomatoes or squash into delicious homemade soups and sauces—stick blenders are also great for whipping up morning smoothies, if that’s your thing, and for blending up fancy coffee and/or boozy drinks.
Another type of small appliance that can take you from the end of summer-early fall produce haul into colder weather cooking is the good old slow cooker! Crockpots are actually great in the summertime, because they don’t throw off a lot of heat in the kitchen while the weather is still warm, and they’re the perfect thing for the chilis and stews you’ll start craving when a chill hits the air. This year, with people entertaining (small groups only please!) at home more than ever before, a dual-chambered slow cooker—or even a tri-chambered one—allows you to serve more than one hot dish (chili and queso, anyone??) at a time.
Making breakfast sandwiches at home is easy, to be sure. But the cleanup, ouch. If you’re a person who regularly makes breakfast sandwiches, or if you’d like to be but the whole thing feels like more of a chore than it’s worth, a breakfast sandwich maker like this one, that makes cleanup a cinch, is a great investment. In five minutes, you can have the exact sammie you want—on an English with cheese? Sure! Are you more of a hard roll guy? No problem. Want to throw some pork roll in there, pal? Go for it, but for God’s sake it’s called Taylor ham!
If I were in the business of predicting trends, I’d say that homemade pasta making will take the place of sourdough as this fall’s It DIY Carb. You heard it here first! Stock up on semolina now! If you have a stand mixer, like a KitchenAid, a pasta attachment set will probably be the best option for you. If you want a standalone machine, this pasta maker comes with three attachments for rolling out spaghetti, ravioli, and lasagna noodles; attachments for making gnocchi, angel hair, and trenette are sold separately.
Back at the beginning of this journey through seasonal transitions in cooking, I mentioned slow cookers. They have SO many wonderful uses, one of the most popular of which is turning big, cheap cuts of meat into tender, delicious meals like pulled pork or chicken. But! Those big cuts of meat, tender though they’ll be when they emerge from Ye Olde Crock, still need to be shredded up. The old use-two-forks method works, sure, but it can be tedious and very taxing on the forearms. These massive “claws” make shredding much easier than the fork method, so if you plan to have a meaty autumn, it’s worth considering the purchase.