Cooking is so much easier thanks to our appliances, both major and small. Apparently the appliance marketing guys didn’t think too clearly when they named appliances. There are no minor appliances. There are major appliances and small kitchen appliances. Perhaps the naming is no minor deal to the appliance guys but it makes no sense to those of us who notice these little things. Or would they call them minor things?

Two of the major appliances are the stovetop and the oven. Most homes have a single stove/oven unit but others have separate units. You should be quite familiar with the stove and oven. If not you’re probably a Microwave Queen or live in a city where everyone eats out 7 days a week. The stove is that thing with 4 burners on the top. The newer stoves have 5 burners but we won’t get into that. The oven has a big door that opens from the front. Gas stoves and ovens heat much differently than electric. Get to know your new friends, the stove and oven. As a rule, gas heats up faster and hotter than electric. On an electric stovetop you might cook scrambled eggs on medium heat but have to cook them at medium-low on a gas stovetop.

Induction ovens are quite popular. Theoretically they generate heat by magnetic transfer. If you haven’t used an induction stovetop, be aware that the cooking area gets very hot and will remain hot for quite a while. It’s a myth that induction stovetops are cool to the touch. You’ll get burned proving that myth wrong!

Convection ovens are much different than traditional gas or electric ovens. They normally require lower temperatures. If a recipe lists the temperature as 350 degrees, you’ll probably need to lower the temperature of a convection oven to 325 degrees or even lower. Chances are if you own a convection oven you already know how to adjust the cooking temperature for almost all recipes.

The other major appliances worth mentioning but not requiring much discussion are the refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, and garbage disposal. If your dishwasher drains slow or plugs up, visit an appliance store and ask for dishwasher cleaner. Yes, they do make it. It will clean the dishwasher as well as the discharge hose or pipe. Garbage disposals should come with a warning sticker. Do not attempt to grind up anything that absorbs water. It will expand in the pipe and clog the drain. Pasta and rice are the biggest culprits. Do not put pasta, rice, or anything that absorbs water in the garbage disposal. Trust us on this one!

No mention of appliances would be complete without discussing the microwave. When heating anything in the microwave, make sure the bowl or container is microwave-safe. Most cheap plastic bowls are not microwave-save. Recent studies have exposed the possibility that plastic might leach chemicals into the food. If you must use the microwave for anything other than heating water or popping corn, please make sure the container is microwave-safe.

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