My mowing meditation this week was about a great post on Cluttercut about the planned obsolescence that is the basis of our very loopy economy. How does it work that it is “economical” to produce, transport, sell, dispose of stuff that is no use for anything? How did we get suckered into believing in this Ponzi scheme?
Which led me to thinking about kitchen tools and utensils and the Masterchef phenomenon that is leading to a boom in sales of kitchenware. Which then led me to thinking (this is how a mowing meditation goes!) about my favourite kitchen utensils, and how they fit into the whole Story of Stuff.
I love my Braun food processor. I bought it second hand, so I don’t know how old it is, but I have used it several times a week for several years. I compare it to the piece of Chinese made junk that a friend brought home from a K Mart sale, that lasted all of two weeks and was replaced, on warranty, with another one the same that lasted about the same. My Braun is proof that it is not about being a Luddite. I look down my list though and realise, it’s the only favourite that hasn’t already had, or is destined to have, more than a generation of use.
I love my big central kitchen bench that four or five people can comfortably work at together. It reminds me a little of my Nana’s pine kitchen table that was the centre of the house, where kids could help shell peas and listen in on conversations. Modern kitchen designs with benches around the edge are an artefact of a culture that doesn’t get it that food is social.
I love my double sink with two draining boards. It came out of a house that was installing a dishwasher and one of those bizarre in-sink garbage munchers that turn good compost ingredients into aquatic pollution. It uses no electricity and is very economical with water, it can deal with the biggest wash-up, and I never have to dry up.
I love my three really good kitchen knives. The bread knife came from an op shop about 20 years ago. Who knows how old it is. The other two were gifts from my grown up daughter, who knows what I like (and what she wants to inherit!)
I love my mortar and pestle, a gift from the same daughter.
I love my garlic rock, found on the beach. It is a perfect hand size and the perfect tool for crushing and peeling garlic.
I love my big heavy hand carved wooden spoon, bought at a craft market in Central America.
I love my pressure cooker, a gift from my mother. I use it several times a week, often as a pressure cooker for beans or vegetables, but also as a big stainless steel pot or just as a pot with a good fitting lid. I don’t dare ask but I think it was diabolically expensive, but it is destined to become an heirloom.
I love my coffee pot. We became coffee snobs in our time in Cuba, but I don’t get the current fashion for electric expresso makers. They just look like too much cleaning for me.
I love my heavy bottomed cast iron fry pan with a lid, that can go in the oven. I bought it second hand at a garage sale. Why would someone get rid of such a beautiful versatile thing?
I love my pottery casserole pot, a gift from a ceramic artist aunt.
I love my old fashioned egg beater. I inherited it from my grandmother, and it’s a design that hasn’t been improved upon.
I love my macadamia nut cracker. It’s another brilliantly designed tool. I bought it at a market, slightly skeptical about whether it would turn out to be a white elephant, but it has earned a place on the list by cracking macas so easily that they are worth growing.
I love my Rayburn slow combustion stove, bought second hand over 20 years ago and just about to be re-bricked – which is one of the things I love about it – that it can be repaired. We have to plant a dozen trees a year for firewood for it, but otherwise it provides free cooking, hot water and house warming for the winter.
I’m love my Radiation gas stove that we use in the summer. We found it on the side of the road in a throw out, waiting for the Council dump truck, and took it to a gas fitter who replaced the jets. That was 20 years ago. I think it has style that modern stoves lack.
And that’s about it. There are a few more that are “likes” rather than “loves” – a muffin tray, a roasting tray, a bread tin, some cake pans, a can opener that actually works. But there is very little in my kitchen that will end up in a garbage dump, at least in my lifetime.
I’d love to hear your favouite kitchen gear, and how it fits into the story.