Small appliances found in the home are useful for many tasks in the kitchen, the laundry room and the bathroom. Specialty small appliances used to prepare various kinds of food include bread makers and deep fryers. More convenient than the oven range, operation and cleanup are far speedier. Electric tea kettles, too, offer a faster, more efficient means of heating water for a warm beverage. In the laundry room, the most common small appliance is a steam iron. Some households may use a steam iron press as an alternative. These devices combine steam and pressure to remove unsightly wrinkles from clothing and other materials. Lastly, hair flat irons are bathroom appliances used to de-frizz, flatten, smooth and straighten hair.
Bread makers, or bread machines, as they're sometimes called, are produced by Cuisinart, Black & Decker, Oster, DeLonghi, Breadman, Panasonic and more. In the price range of $50 to $250, bread machines provide a fast, convenient way to bake fresh bread. Consisting of the self-contained oven, a removable bread pan or tin and a detachable, internal paddle, most bread machines are capable of making loaves from 1.5 to 2.5 pounds, or about 700 to 900 grams. Making bread is very easy with a bread machine: simply place the ingredients in the proper sequence into the pan, set the timer and walk away.
Bread machines typically bake rectangular or cylindrically-shaped loaves, depending on the shape of the tin. The tin itself is commonly made from nonstick aluminum or stainless steel for easy cleanup. Most bread machines feature a dozen or more preprogrammed settings, a crust color selector and size selector. In total, there are often over 100 possible combinations. Choose from white, whole grain, French, low-carb or gluten-free breads. Or, bypass the baking step and prepare fresh dough for making pizza. Design features commonly include a multi-hour delay start, digital or LCD display, keep-warm setting, viewing window and electronic controls. Select units come with an automatic nut/fruit dispenser and/or a one-hour express bake function.
Home Deep Fryers
Rather than use a pan and the stovetop to fry up onion rings, chicken wings, french fries or other delectable deep fried foods, consider using a countertop deep fryer. With home models, there is no splattering oil and no crumb-filled pans to clean up. Brands such as Waring, Presto, T Fal, Rival and Hamilton Beach offer a number of deep fryers for home use at prices ranging from about $40 to $300. Home deep fryers are relatively compact, consisting of either a heat-resistant polypropylene or stainless steel shell and several removable, cleanable parts. The oil reservoir, fry basket and sometimes the heating element itself are washable and often dishwasher safe. The reservoir may be stainless enamel-coated steel, providing a nonstick, easy-to-clean surface.
Indoor home deep fryers are electric powered and have up to a 20-cup capacity. Smaller deep fryers can typically contain between 4 and 12 cups. Common design features include a pour spout or drain to easily empty the oil reservoir, a sealable lid with viewing window and a built-in odor filter. Safety features include cool-touch handles, a magnetic breakaway cord and an automatic shutoff circuit that places a ceiling on the temperature. Home deep fryers commonly feature a 1,500- to 1,800-Watt heating element with a temperature ready light, programmable timer and electronic or mechanical controls.
Outdoor deep fryers are propane-fueled units that consist of durable, welded-steel frame, cast iron burner with an integrated regulator and an oversized stockpot commonly 30 to 32 quarts in size. Offered by Bayou Classic, Brinkmann and King Kooker, among others, outdoor deep fryers are useful for frying whole turkeys, a unique twist on an old recipe. Instead of using cooking oil, use an outdoor fryer to boil fresh seafood or a large quantity of veggies for outdoor cookouts. Accessories typically include a perforated poultry rack, grab hook and steamer basket.
Ranging in price from about $40 to $150, electric kettles work fast and efficiently. About the size of a coffee maker, an electric kettle may be corded or cordless, with its element located in a power base. With a 1- to 2-quart capacity, electric kettles from Chef's Choice, Cuisinart, Breville, T Fal and Krups come with features like an anti-scale filter to prevent mineral buildup, an auto shutoff circuit and a water level indicator. Their stainless steel heating element is conveniently concealed beneath the base. Other features include power-on and/or temp-ready indicator light, a hinged, locking lid, easy-pour spout and an ergonomically-designed handle.
Going from the kitchen to the laundry, steam irons and steam iron presses are found in most households. Handheld steam irons from Black & Decker, Bosch, Rowenta, Panasonic and more can cost anywhere from $20 to $200. Used to remove wrinkles from clothing, steam irons also straighten seams, cuffs and collars. Common design features include a nonstick, stainless steel soleplate for better gliding over fabric, a temperature select button and an anti-drip valve. Irons have an auto shutoff feature in up to 3 positions. Select models can be used on flat-lying fabrics or hanging garments.
Steam iron presses, by contrast, provide a larger steaming area. Designed to press an entire pant leg, sleeve, blouse or other garment, presses feature dual plates up to 35 inches long and 12 inches wide. With over 100 pounds of pressure, a steam iron press works faster than a handheld iron. Prices can reach $500 for high-end models. Features include a large water tank, steam burst button, temp-ready light and a lockable handle.
Hair Flat Irons
In the bathroom or for travel, a hair flat iron is used to straighten and otherwise style hair. Conair, Hair Art, Corioliss, Hot Tools and Solano are just a few makers of this small appliance. Adding shine, smoothness and healthy condition to all types of hair, a flat iron seals in moisture and reduces frizziness. Flat irons feature dual ceramic styling plates, often infused with nano tourmaline particles or coated with titanium. The ceramic/tourmaline combination releases negative ions that neutralize static electricity, while titanium-coated models provide a smooth, snag-free glide through hair.
Features include an energy-saving heating element that reaches full power in a matter of seconds, digital temperature control with a range of about 170 up to 450 degrees F and an ultra-slim, ergonomic design. Flat irons come with plate sizes ranging from 0.5 to 2 inches that have beveled edges to add flips or curls while straightening hair. Flat irons are priced from about $40 to $200, while newly-designed models with a built-in MP3 player go for around $250.