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Jul 10, 2014 07:31 AM

De-Electrifying the Kitchen

I can't manage it completely, but I'm trying to minimize my kitchen's dependence on plug-in and battery-powered stuff. Batteries are expensive, wasteful and environmental cluster bombs; and I hate being leashed to cords and subjected to all the racket my motored small appliances make. I'm not trying to conserve energy or be a disaster prepper, especially, although those're incidental benefits.

I recently got a great manual apple peeler and cherry stoner, and am now looking for a hand-powered coffee mill.

Anyone have any tips or hand-powered tools to share in this vein?


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  1. I hope you already use a swingline can opener, possibly the wall mounted variety.

    EDIT: it's Swing A Way

    8 Replies
    1. re: Kris in Beijing

      Hi, Kris:

      Thanks! I am. LOL, this probably dates me, but I never suckered for an electric can opener. My mom, rest her soul, laid in a strategic reserve of Swing-A-Ways.


      1. re: kaleokahu

        I'm with you Kaleo. I just bought an all electric house that is already pre-plumbed with Natural Gas from the street. The previous owner had a panic attack over "the dangers of natural gas". Considering it is in a rural area, I'm even more perplexed why they did that considering the electrical outages that frequently occur.

        I see a wood fired outdoor oven (thinking pizza oven, probably Vesuvius though I like the Napleno better). Add a good smoker or smoke house and I'm pretty well set.

        Really, other than the refrigerator, all the other electrical things are pretty easily replaced by something our ancestors used or something at the local camping store.

        Looking overseas, things like a Kelly Kettle are easily within reach and much more efficient than the big box store stuff we take for granted. I've got a Tao Charcoal Burner in my future. ;-)

        1. re: Sid Post

          Sid if we're on an off-the-grid DIY tangent, why not use those masonry skills you didn't know you had and build your own brick or CMU backyard oven/grill - bake bread in the morning and roast things in the afternoon.

          1. re: hill food

            There are detailed instructions in the Cooking with Fire book on making backyard grills and ovens of various sorts, including a mud oven.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          I admit, I once used an electric opener. In my own defense, my right arm was broken and in a cast up to my armpit, bent at the elbow, hand canted down and in, what a mess. I could grip absolutely nothing. Not that I had any grip to speak of, what with the broken bone and all.

          Dude saw me trying to wrestle a can open and laughed his ass off. The very next day, he brought me an electric. Worked great, I just pressed down with my cast, and voila! Open sesame.

          1. re: kaleokahu

            I too have never had one. The one we had when I was a little kid terrified me! I quite like the one I have now that leaves no sharp edges. I also buy the pull-top cans whenever I can (tomatoes, tuna).

          2. Dare we ask what power├ęd things you are currently using?

            1. Lehman's hardware store in Kidron, Ohio, has a massive inventory of non-electric tools. They have a large Amish clientele (and also a lot of survivalists -- they sold a lot of stuff in the pre-Y2K panic).

              Order online here:

              1 Reply
              1. Some of the hand cranked flour mills will grind coffee beans too. Or you can get separate plates to do so.

                Options include the Family Grain Mill which has both electric and hand crank bases. I don't have it, so no endorsement implied. They have a variety of other attachments though including slicer and shredder, meat grinder, grain mill. You can see them all at Pleasant Hill Grains' website.

                I think the nicest quality is the Grainmaker, it does flour, beans, nut butters, coffee, flax

                1. You already have a cast iron stove, don't you? You might get some ideas on how to take a step further back in time/technology from a new book, Cooking With Fire


                  This was featured on a recent Splendid Table episode.

                  There are several routes to go with coffee mills:

                  - the kind the chuck wagon refurbishers bolt to the side of their wagons

                  - vertical shaft ones mounted on a fancy wood box

                  - compact ones marketed to backpackers. REI has sold some like that for years.

                  - turkish coffee mills (like tall brass pepper grinders).