20 most worthless pieces of junk: #8 -- Ice cream maker, bread machine

There are two machines in my kitchen that are supposed to save me time, but don't -- an ice cream maker and a bread making machine.

I understand that these machines are meant to save time and produce something better than what is available at the store. The smell of homemade bread is one of the best things around, and home-churned ice cream is great. But neither of these machines works well enough to have me yearning for their bread or ice cream.

Both machines make food that is excellent if eaten as soon as it's ready -- you can't beat freshly made hot bread or cold ice cream -- but after less than a day they each lost their appeal.My wife and I have had a bread machine since we were first married, and I don't think it has worked for at least half of our marriage. But there it sits at the bottom of the pantry -- a bulky, expensive machine made by Oster that was so hard to get the baked loaf of bread out of that some would remain wedged under the rotor, impossible to remove. The rotor doesn't spin anymore, and with the warranty having expired long ago, we're unsure what to do with it.

The ingredients were easy enough to find, but we could never get a loaf of bread to rise enough. And it always seemed that within a day the bread was so hard that I didn't care to eat any more of it. I'd rather go to my local grocery store, or better yet to a bakery, for cheap, fresh bread.

The ice cream maker was a gift I bought my wife. While I wasn't thrilled with having something in the house capable of creating more fat calories for me to eat, I longed for the ice cream my grandpa used to make with a hand-cranked ice cream maker. It was so fresh and creamy that as soon as it was ready, the family spooned it down as fast as we could.

The electric ice cream maker we have takes a fair amount of work to prepare the ingredients, but it churns out ice cream a lot quicker than cranking by hand. But it still doesn't taste as good as the hand-crank version. And while it tastes better than store-bought ice cream immediately after being made, within an hour of putting it in the freezer the creaminess has solidified into ice.

There is a way to make ice cream by hand without an ice cream maker. It also looks like a lot of work. Better to go to your local creamery and buy a pint to take home.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net.

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