I've always been a coffee drinker, so on the rare occasion that I make myself a cup of tea, I simply boil the water on top of the stove. When I visit with my mother-in-law, an inveterate tea-drinking Anglophile, I must confess that I lust after her electric tea kettle. It works so quickly there's time to make tea and go to the loo during a commercial break. But my kitchen-counter space is limited—I can't squander it on a single-purpose appliance, one that would at best get occasional usage. All that changed when I discovered a world of applications: topping off a pot of boiling pasta, soup or stew; making soup/oatmeal/rice; soaking dried fruit/mushrooms/beans; blanching vegetables; peeling peaches or tomatoes...anything that requires boiling water and a heat-proof bowl. Now, as soon as I start cooking, I put the kettle on.