A Valentine's ode to my toaster oven
Posted by Nola Poirier
My parents bought me a toaster oven for Christmas. I loved it the moment I saw it. Our old one finally retired in November and when my parents came to visit around that time, they overheard my husband and I lament its loss.
We'd received our previous toaster oven as a gift as well, nine years ago, from a friend who'd found it in a thrift store for 50 cents and gave it to us because our tiny student apartment didn't have an oven. That was my introduction to the wonders of toaster ovens, and when it finally cooked its last meal, I wandered about the kitchen in a bit of a daze.
I'm serious. The toaster oven has a key role in my kitchen. Thing is, I hardly ever make toast in it. I do if I have guests and want to make four or six slices at once, but during the week, when it's just me, I use a regular toaster. So what do I use my toaster oven for? Nearly everything else.
So many options, so little time
Our new machine has a lot more functions than the old one, which had: on/off, keep warm, toast, and bake.
Like many current models, our new toaster oven has a convection setting, which cooks food more quickly and at a lower temperature, it also preheats in minutes and dings to let you know it's ready, it turns off when the timer stops, and it looks good on my countertop.
I don't think we've used our full-sized oven since Christmas, and yet we've made cupcakes, cookies, pies, and cobblers; roasted squashes, pumpkins and platters of sunchokes, beets, carrots and garlic; cooked up homemade pizzas, and baked delectable wedges of curried yams.
In the past, we've also used our toaster oven as an additional oven when we've had large dinner parties, and in the summer, because it doesn't heat the house if you want to bake a batch of cookies.
A toaster oven uses about half the energy of a conventional oven to cook the same meal. And with a convection toaster oven, the savings increase.
Of course, whether you're using a full-sized oven or a toaster oven, it's important to cook efficiently:
- Only preheat when necessary (usually only baking requires it),
- Don't open the door to peek – it can lower the temperature by as much as 25 degrees.
- Turn off the oven several minutes before the recipe indicates. The residual heat will keep the food warm enough to finish cooking.
- Use glass or ceramic cookware. Glass and ceramics conduct and retain heat better than metal. If you switch to glass or ceramic, you can lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
You can also check out the BC Hydro Appliance Guide for more helpful information on toaster ovens and other small cooking appliances.
Fun for the whole family
There's one more thing I love, truly love, about my new toaster oven. Until we got it, my husband had only ever baked two desserts. But somehow the toaster oven has fired up his inner baker and he's been whipping up pies and cookies at least once a week. In fact, tonight he's making a batch of double chocolate cupcakes.
If you're looking for ways to fire up your own toaster oven baker, or cook, there are great some toaster oven cookbooks out there, including one by Canadian Maria Hauschel called Toasted: The New Toaster Oven Cookbook.