Low-tech Kitchen Appliance Hacks

Elbow grease + creativity + patience = substitutes for almost every expensive kitchen appliance on the market.
  1. Make ice cream without an ice cream maker!
    Fill a large bowl about halfway with about 4 cups of crushed ice. Stir in 3/4 cup rock salt (look for this in the baking aisle; it’s often labeled “ice cream salt”). Place the smaller bowl in the ice and push down a bit, nestling it in. Fill the smaller bowl with a pint of custard base (lots of recipes online). Whisk for 15 minutes. Cover and place the whole thing (both bowls) in the freezer. Freeze for 45 minutes. Whisk again for 10 minutes, then freeze for at least two hours. Scoop and serve.
  2. Whip cream without an electric beater!
    Same set-up as ice cream above, minus the salt. Pour 2 cups of heavy cream and a teaspoon of confectioner’s sugar, if you want it to be sweet, into the smaller bowl and whip by hand, using a whisk, until stiff peaks form in the cream. (this will take between 8 and 12 minutes of consistent whipping). Be sure to stop as soon as the peaks form, otherwise the cream will seize up and start to turn into butter.
  3. Grind ice, coffee beans, whole spices, and nuts without a grinder or food processor!
    Crush just about anything to your desired consistency by putting it into a sturdy zip-top bag and using a rolling pin or mallet to smack it until it’s broken into a million little pieces. Just fill and seal the bag, making sure to push all the air out of it, then keep smacking until your desired consistency is reached. Be sure to do this on a surface that can take a good beating, like a butcher block table or a sturdy counter.
  4. Make fondue without a fondue pot!
    To melt the chocolate or cheese, simply make a double-boiler by filling one pot about halfway with water and placing a heat-proof bowl on top of it. Fill the bowl with grated cheese and a little white wine and black pepper, or chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, and melt over medium-low heat, whisking continuously, until creamy. Serve the fondue immediately after cooking, with bread, fruit, or cookies for dipping. Keep the fondue over the hot water to keep it warm.
  5. Make juice without a juicer!
    OK, this one does require one regular appliance, but it can be a cheap blender, a food processor or even a non-electric food mill. Puree your desired fruit/vegetable combination (I like beets, lemons, kale, celery and apples) in a blender, food processor, or food mill until completely pureed. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed strainer and into a glass, until the juice and pulp have completely separated from one another. Sip and enjoy!
  6. Make popcorn without a microwave or air popper (or, how people have been making it forever)!
    Heat 3 tbsp coconut, peanut, or vegetable oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan. When kernels pop, add 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat, and count to 30 again (this gets the oil to the right temperature). Return the pan to the heat and let pop until the popping slows to 7-8 seconds between pops. Once the corn has finished popping, pour into a large bowl, add toppings, and serve.
  7. Make fresh pasta without a pasta maker!
    This is a long one, so head over to Cook's Illustrated and follow their wonderful directions http://bit.ly/1CLZH0m
  8. Make coffee without a coffeemaker!
    I own two French presses and a fancy coffeemaker, and I still make my coffee this way sometimes -- it just tastes so damn good. This is also a great trick for camping. Fill a heatproof container with 2 tablespoons ground coffee for every cup of boiling water. Let the coffee and water steep for 5-6 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain the coffee using a fine mesh strainer right into the mug(s).