To Plug or Not to Plug


Stove2 I just put my KitchenAid coffee maker in the basement, in favor of a no-plug Chemex.  Felt great.  Takes up less room on the kitchen counter.   Unlike the machine, the kettle is multi-purpose. 

I'm suspicious of the actual utility of many appliciances.  After all, we've been sold electric knives, electric blankets, and electric can openers over the years, none of which is really labor saving.

Then one of my favorite catalogs arrived–Lehman's–which offers lots of non-electric tools for fundamentalists, survivalists, and aesthetes like me made grumpy by plastics and plugs.  I was fascinated to learn that I could replace my heavy and expensive KitchenAid stand mixer–a really good appliance–with an even more expensive hand mixer–$650!

I am also completely obsessed with the little Australian woodstove to the right.  It not only generates heat, it has a little pizza oven in the bottom.  I would like to remake my small kitchen to feature such a stove.  Alas, funds fail.

I would also like one of their nice wooden cider presses that cost $700.  GIven all the cow apples on my country place, it seems crazy not to make better use of the fruit.

But I'll probably have to settle for some sauerkraut making equipment: a $30 wooden lid for a crock and a $20 wooden board to keep the cabbage submerged under its brine.  Sauerkraut is the easiest way to preserve a garden vegetable.  Just shred in the food processor and salt.

Oh yeah, another plug.  But the food processor, I like.



  1. I remember my parents stoking the wood stove that warmed our house. And my siblings & I carrying firewood & kindling to the woodpile, then to the back porch for that use. While central heat is lovely, safe, clean & (best of all) covers the entire house, I do miss the crackle & glow of a real fire. The gas fireplace I have now just doesn’t compare. And with that pizza oven, it would fabulous for the winter kitchen !

    I love Lehman’s ! The Weck canning jars I bought from them are beautiful – the kind of jars you don’t give away with your preserves ! I’ve also have a cherry pitter (must-have for drying cherries), a butter paddle & butter stamps from them. The butter paddle makes lovely grooves in homemade gnocchi & the stamps dress up sugar cookies & the occasional ram of homemade butter.

  2. I agree – I too am totally obsessed with that little woodburning stove – I covet it for the pizza oven. I am a kitchen gadget geek. It makes my husband (an every-other-kind-of-gadget geek) very amused….

  3. We made the switch from coffee maker to french press ages ago, and we’ve never looked back. I never bothered to set the clock on the stupid coffee maker anyway!

    We also recently put in a pellet stove. Heats our whole house and the emissions are negligible compared with a wood stove. We even found a cast iron one, so it “looks” like a wood stove (and I can stare at that fire for ages). Of course it does plug into the wall… and it doesn’t make pizzas. Oh well, can’t have it all!!! 😉

  4. I would rather burn the wood from the trees cut in the yard then use electricity generated by coal to heat the house. Trees are renewable, coal is not.

    The mixer seems a bit ridiculous to me. Whatever happened to a wooden spoon and a strong arm?

  5. The only coffee-maker we’ve ever used is a Melitta filter cone. Electric coffee-makers have just always seemed so overkill, especially in a household where there are rarely more than 2 coffee-drinkers (and only for a morning cup). Now our grown son gave his coffee-maker away and bought himself a filter cone too; much happier.

    Our house and business are heated by woodstoves, and I’m always excited in the Fall when we fire them up, but tired of splitting and carrying wood at the end of Winter. Still, it’s very satisfying when the power goes out (as it does a lot in our rural area) to keep warm and have the option to cook and heat water and food. That little stove with the pizza oven is mighty compelling!

    Check out the Territorial Seed catalog–they have all kinds of manual meat and food grinders, juicers and even a solar fruit dryer. I think plug-less is the way to go!

  6. I have more live wood standing and dead wood fallen than a couple of forest fires could effectively tidy up. With all that free wood plenty folks were perplexed why I wasn’t all over a wood burning stove for the cozy cabin. A wood burning stove would heat that small space easy.

    Homeysteader don’t chop no wood. I don’t want to cut it, split it, haul it, tend it or clean no stinkin’ wood stove. There’s enough chores around here. Besides it bothers Michelle D.

    I can live without an electric can opener too. They are just annoying.

  7. Lehmans is a few counties over. Passed it every time we visted my mom’s side of the family. Never stopped. “It is for the tourists (coming to see the Amish) and over priced.” my parents would sniff in disdain. Yeah, it is that, but it is fun to visit, which I do on occasion. But if you want to get the non power stuff at a reasonable price you go the places the Amish do shop, and they aren’t targeted at tourists. And not available on line.

  8. Wait, why did you put your coffee maker in the basement? You have upgraded, you don’t need it anymore, pass it on. What else do you have down there?

  9. Save the $20 on the wood block and use an old plate turned upside down with a clean rock on top. I love pickling.

  10. Oh yes, I forgot to mention: Trick I used when I made sourkraut. Use a freezer grade storage bag. Fill with brine solution. It fits perfectly snug inside the container opening and didn’t need anything to weigh it down and if it leaked it was the brine. And it was way cleaner that the cheese cloth , old plate and bricks I used to use.

  11. Can you handle a small digression regarding coffee?

    I’m using our spent coffee grounds to grow oyster mushrooms in our kitchen. The hot water has eliminated any contaminating fungus, so the oyster spawn won’t have any competition. After we’ve harvested all mushrooms a time or two (or 3 maybe), the spent grounds (and filters) get tossed in the composter.

    Check out my buddy, Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain, in this video:

    And then check out his website:

    and order up some oyster mushroom spawn for $10 a pop.

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