Buy less but buy quality
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.’’