Buy less but buy qual­ity

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): Bright­ly­coloured 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 also 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 Re­cently, Prime Min­is­ter Bill English claimed to have de­tected a ‘‘swerve’’ to the po­lit­i­cal left by the Labour Party.

So far though, the can­di­dates the Labour hi­er­ar­chy are seek­ing to re­cruit for this year’s elec­tion would sug­gest al­most the ex­act op­po­site.

Law and or­der ad­vo­cate and for­mer Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion chief Greg O’Con­nor has been tapped as the likely Labour chal­lenger to Peter Dunne in Ohariu.

Re­port­edly, broad­caster Wil­lie Jack­son has also been mooted for a high place on the Labour list. Nei­ther of th­ese wor­thies are renowned for be­ing so­cial lib­er­als.

The over­tures to Jack­son in par­tic­u­lar have caused ruc­tions among the party faith­ful, and within the Labour par­lia­men­tary cau­cus.

More than once, Jack­son has apol­o­gised for the mock­ing in­sin­u­a­tions and vic­tim-blam­ing he in­flicted on a teenage vic­tim of sex­ual abuse in 2013, but ev­i­dently, the episode has not been for­got­ten.

Why would Labour be woo­ing such can­di­dates for its Elec­tion 2017 cam­paign?

One pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion is Labour aims to use the likes of Jack­son and O’Con­nor as a fire­wall against the in­evitable gov­ern­ment ac­cu­sa­tions that Labour’s elec­toral part­ner­ship with the Greens makes it too riskily left wing for vot­ers to con­tem­plate.

Jack­son and O’Con­nor would be a use­ful feint in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

Jack­son’s views on gen­der is­sues and O’Con­nor’s views on law and or­der would also as­sist Labour’s pitch to its own so­cially con­ser­va­tive vot­ers, who have been drift­ing away to New Zealand First in re­cent years.

For some time, for­mer Labour front­bencher Shane Jones has been tipped as the even­tual right to buy prime ru­ral land here in re­turn for what was (for him) only a rel­a­tively mi­nor out­lay.

In the process, the gov­ern­ment formed a joint ven­ture fund with Thiel in 2011 that – among other things – saw tax­payer funds be­ing used to match Thiel’s in­vest­ment in the es­tab­lished local firm Xero, as if Xero were a start-up ven­ture.

In essence, the struc­ture of this joint ven­ture vir­tu­ally pri­va­tised the prof­its in Thiel’s favour, while leav­ing tax­pay­ers to bear the lion’s share of the risks.

Fi­nally, Thiel trig­gered a gen­er­ous buy­out clause and walked away with a re­ported $23 mil­lion re­turn for his circa $9 mil­lion in­vest­ment here. No won­der he says nice things about this coun­try.

Last week, Bill English en­joyed a pleas­ant phone call with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Per­haps Thiel, now a Trump ad­viser, put in a good word for us: ‘‘Very few reg­u­la­tions. Not many refugees. Good guys, Mr Pres­i­dent.’’

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