Per­ils of kitchen de­vices

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - ROB STOCK MONEY MAT­TERS rob.stock@fair­fax­me­

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.

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