The basic how-to: Many of us don't bother pulling this heavy, multipiece clunker out of the cabinet for fear that it'll drop on our toe (or slice off a finger). But think about it this way: Would you rather spend 20 minutes kneading piecrust or a minute and a half? Just fit the bowl onto the base, place the blade in the center, then turn and lock the lid into place. Insert food using the feeder tube, and voilà: smoothly pureed soups, sauces, pestos and spreads. If you're making dough or crust, pulse instead of running the machine continuously, since you want the dough to just come together and not get overworked.
Common mistake: Forgetting about the shredder attachment, which makes quick work of turning carrots and other vegetables into shoelace-thin pieces—great in a stir-fry or salad (not to mention carrot cake).
The basic how-to: Yes, you can prep your drip coffee maker the night before, but that doesn't mean the French press is at the other, high-maintenance extreme. It's simple, really: Start with a tablespoon of beans per cup of water, and grind them rougher than you would for drip coffee (to prevent the grind from passing through the filter). Pour boiling water over the ground coffee and let it sit for about five minutes; then press and drink right away. And don't be put off by cleaning; most are dishwasher safe. If you're hand washing, use warm, soapy water. Make sure you rinse off any soap residue and let the parts air-dry.
Common mistake: Using water that's too hot, which results in bitter coffee. Let the water cool for a minute or so after boiling it; then pour it over the grounds.
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