Last weekend, my bread machine died and I’m singing the bread machine blues.
I’m not sure why. Unlike many of the other kitchen devices around our house, the bread machine is rarely used. I think I’ve pulled it out a total of 6 times in the last year. Still, no one ever complained about having the smell of fresh baked bread wafting around the house. Mostly, fresh bread made a convenient and inexpensive way to provide a hostess or teacher appreciation gift or a way to make a meal of chicken soup more appealing.
Once again, folks, I’m asking you to help crowdsource my decision, just as i did with my smartphone dilemma and my Amazon credit. Today’s question: Should I replace my bread machine, an appliance I like but rarely use?
What would you do?
Replace or Live Without?
We have a lot of stuff in our kitchen. We like to cook, and there are some machines that make cooking (and mornings) a lot easier.
That said, we have a tiny galley kitchen, built in the 60’s when people had a lot fewer devices. Space is at a premium, and we need to look at not only replacement cost but storage space versus utilization.
There are some things in our kitchen that would never ever be any question about replacement. If our coffee maker went out, we would probably buy a new one within the hour (hitting Starbucks on the way.)
(Okay, technically our coffee maker is broken. It has a built-in grinder that doesn’t work. That said, we have another grinder and the machine performs the basic function of providing
nectar of the gods caffeine on a daily basis.)
On the other end of the spectrum is my cappuccino maker. Twenty years ago I had to have one because lattes are delicious. However, I used it about twice before realizing that cappuccino makers are a pain to clean and I’d rather buy lattes someone else makes, thank you very much.
In the 20 years I’ve owned the cappuccino machine, I think it has been used 6-7 times. If it broke (or I sold, donated or trashed it), no one in our house would notice. We’d just enjoy that nice newly opened spot of kitchen work space.
The bread machine falls squarely between the two extremes, and that’s why I’m having trouble deciding.
My Love of Fresh Bread
Some people have business in their blood. Others, like Jon, have cars in their blood.
I think I have bread in mine.
Fresh bread really resonates with me. My grandmother made 3 loaves of whole wheat bread a week, and the smell would drift through the house alluringly as I raced through the house with my pack of cousins. Grandma usually served a dinner on Saturday evenings of warm bread, butter and cheese. To this day, the smell of warm bread brings back memories of my grandparents and rollicking extended family sleepovers.
My mom made bread too. Whole wheat bread like her mother, cinnamon raisin bread, and colorful Christmas bread that was almost like fruitcake. Breadmaking wasn’t a weekly event, but it happened regularly and we all enjoyed the bread.
But, yeast breads take time and skill. They are a bit intimidating for novice cooks. The bread machine made them less so. I received my bread machine from my mom (or maybe my Dad?) for Christmas about 14 years ago.
For the first couple of years, I made bread at least once a week, and bread and coffee became my usual breakfast.With it, I could connect to my bread-making heritage in a few simple steps. Combine ingredients, push button, wait. In 3 hours, I too could have homemade bread whenever I wanted.
However, I wanted it a lot less after Jon and I started living together. I switched to more substantial breakfasts of oatmeal or yogurt, and the breadmaker in me went dormant except for holidays and special occasions.
Last Christmas, I decided to do a little baking. I made a couple of loaves of bread but in the middle, the bread machine stopped working. The panel to program the settings froze up, and I couldn’t start the machine. Since the sides of the machine were warm, I figured it had overheated. I left it unplugged a couple of days and it started working again. Until Sunday.
Pot Luck Failure
This Sunday we were planning on going to a potluck that I had completely forgotten to shop for. Looking around, I was able to see I had the ingredients for a couple of options: Berry Cobbler or Vanilla Spice Bread with Honey Butter (that recipe kicks butt!). Jon voted for the bread.
I carefully measured out the ingredients and plugged in the bread machine. I programmed the panel, pushed start, and then…nothing. No soft whir of the motor. Nothing.
I tried resetting the machine. Still nothing. I unplugged the machine to let it cool down (although it wasn’t hot.) Nothing. Jon tried it. Nothing. We tried waiting an hour and then plugging it back in. Nada.
Eventually (after we said “oh well” to the pot luck and decided to
watch football all day stay home) I pulled the gooey dough out and kneaded it, let it rise, kneaded it again, let it rise again. Then I shoved it in the convection oven and it turned out fine (although way too late to change our mind on the pot luck.)
Actually, the bread was better than fine, despite all the issues. Because I baked it in the oven in a Corningware dish instead of the bread maker, the loaf was in a more convenient shape for sandwiches. The texture improved. I lost a bit in convenience and dirtied up more dishes, but the product was better.
Now I’m Torn
So, here I am with a broken bread machine cluttering up my counter space and no real decision what to do.
Arguments for Replacement:
Getting a similar machine isn’t that expensive. I had a Sunbeam 2 pound programmable bread machine. The same machine on Amazon currently runs $44.55. Considering I had mine for over 10 years, it was reasonably durable.
I also know that with the machine I can make very good bread, as well as pizza crust and other items. And I’ll have control over the ingredients, which means no preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.
Homemade bread is a terrific thing to be able to bring to parties, housewarmings, and other events, so it’s nice to have a go-to for them. While I might still be able to make bread, it’s much easier and more convenient with a bread machine.
Arguments for Non-Replacement:
I’ve already said that we used the machine we had pretty rarely: about once every other month. We just don’t eat that much bread in our house.I had used it a bit more in the last month, but I might not have pulled it out again until Christmas. It’s not like our coffee pot or convection oven, which get used on a daily basis. It’s not even like our rice cooker,which probably gets used every other week.
And the bread machine’s big and bulky and takes up more room on my counter than anything but Jon’a giant convection oven (or the random toys our 6 year old leaves wherever.) Considering how overcrowded with stuff our house feels sometimes, the idea of freeing up the space appeals to me.
There’s also the fact that after Sunday’s machine failure, I feel a bit more confident about my ability to pull off fresh bread without the machine. It’s inconvenient enough that I might not do it very often, but I still know I can do it.
What Would You Do?
So I’ve outlined my dilemma: Do I replace my bread machine and use it to occasionally reconnect with my breadmaking heritage?
Or, do I (in the immortal words of Elsa that are imprinted indelibly on the minds and ears of girl-moms everywhere) Let It Go?
Let a little clutter escape my life, reduce warm bread temptation (Yummy carbs….), and maybe try my hand occasionally at less convenient but possibly more delicious machineless handmade (as opposed to merely homemade) bread?
What would you do? Are there any decisions you want crowdsourced?
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