Perils of kitchen devices
Everyone’s an aspiring master chef now.
Some days, it feels like all there is on TV are cooking competitions.
It’s paved the way for the marketing of a massive range of specialised kitchenware so wonderful it’s easy to lose control and end up with cupboards stuffed to bursting with single-purpose items.
In my household there’s a strict(ish) ban on buying things that do something only marginally better than we can already do it.
Single-purpose items are welcomed, only if they will be used frequently.
The other day I enjoyed the guilty pleasure of leafing through Milly’s Kitchen’s catalogue.
I love Milly’s Kitchen. It’s a shop in Auckland’s posh-butquirky suburb of Ponsonby.
Entering is like stepping into a polished copper wonderland.
It’s hard to leave without stuff
you didn’t know you ‘‘needed’’ before you went in.
Some of the items in the catalogue were so specific, they were funny.
Bear claws ($39.95): Imagine knuckle-dusters in the shape of plastic bear claws, so fearsome I suspect you’d be arrested if caught wearing them in the street. ‘‘Perfect for shredding meat, and pulling pork’’, the catalogue says.
Onion goggles ($16.95): Brightly-coloured rubber sealed eye wear. ‘‘No more tears when slicing onions’’.
Herb scissors: ($19.95): Fivebladed scissors to cut fresh herbs into little bits with one fifth of the snipping effort.
A real chain-mail coat for your chicken called a ‘‘Roastcosy’’ ($154.95).
Helps your chicken roast better, and look massively cool.
I have no doubt each item does its job, but it is expense to achieve a modest amount of betterment.
Some better in every life is clearly good, but there’s a Kitchen betterment mania going on, and single-use items seem to me to be exemplars of the trend.
I could serve better coffee, if I bought a coffee machine.
I could make toasted cheese sandwiches more easily, if I bought that press. I could juice a lemon faster with that gadget.
I could do four pieces of toast at one go, if I upgraded my toaster.
My boiled eggs would be perfection with that egg-cooker.
For me, small increments of betterment shouldn’t get in the way of the really big kinds of better in life, like clearing debts and having money in the bank. Here’s my rule of thumb. If your kitchen is TV-ready quality, your coffee would win barista awards, and your main courses would get you through to the My Kitchen Rules final, but your retirement fund is woefully tiny and your mortgage terrifyingly huge, it’s time to rethink your priorities.
Fortunately, I’m not cursed with expensive culinary tastes, and I’m something of a one-pot cook (casseroles, macaroni cheeses, Irish stews, soups, etc).
Give me a cast iron pot, a knife for chopping, a chopping board, and I’m pretty much tooled up for cooking.
Beware the allure of better Buy less, buy quality Get your balance right Diplomacy, as Winston Churchill once said, is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions. Last week, New Zealand was on the receiving end of exactly that kind of treatment.
Within 24 hours of President Donald Trump’s issuing his infamous travel ban, our other allies - Canada, the UK and Australia – were able to ascertain that none of their citizens who share dual nationality with the seven Muslim-majority countries on the Trump target list would be affected. More than 72 hours later though, New Zealand was still none the wiser.
Evidently, no one thought of ringing up Peter Thiel (our billionaire pal and Trump insider) to ask him if he could shed light on the situation.
Ultimately, we were reliant on the US Embassy in Wellington getting around to providing a clarification. Benign neglect, rather than malice, seems to have been driving the delay.
For the record, dual nationals from the seven targeted nations can travel to the US on their Kiwi passports – assuming, that is, New Zealand has dual nationality deals with the countries in question.
For several days, Prime Minister Bill English was left to claim that there wasn’t really a problem, or at least not one he knew about, and everything seemed fine.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully was carpeting his officials at MFAT and demanding (a) an explanation for how this entirely unsatisfactory outcome came about, and (b) concrete assurances it wouldn’t happen again.
Essentially, MFAT officials were being flogged in private for what thePM was saying publicly wasn’t a problem at all.