Useless beauties

Green Lifestyle Magazine

Overwhelmed by gadgets of varied and limited usefulness, Richard Cornish pares his kitchen utensils back to the basics.

Kitchen junk

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Every year, just before Christmas, an editor rings me asking me to contribute to the ‘what gadget I want for Christmas’ story. Same time every year I struggle to come up with an answer. Like every kitchen, mine has a drawer filled with devices that are beautiful but useless. We were given an Italian designer ‘spaghetti measurer’ one year. It is a series of stainless steel rings that look like a pair of elegant knuckle-dusters. One slides spaghetti into the different sized rings depending on how many people one is cooking for. And that’s it. It serves no other purpose. Like a pair of stilettos on a building site they are pretty to look out but without another purpose. Which is why I measure my spaghetti using a circle made by my curled index finger and thumb.

Then there is a rubber tube in which one peels garlic cloves by rolling them inside the tube. I use the palm of my hand and give the garlic a good whack to break the skin and then peel it off. There is a garlic crusher in the drawer as well, a gift from a relative. I have never used it. I do however chop the garlic finely, put a good pinch of salt on it and use the flat of the blade to squash it all together using the salt as an abrasive – perfect garlic paste every time.

The knife’s spine doubles as a nut cracker. A good whack from it opens any nut, if the shells threaten to fly about I wrap my almond and hazelnuts inside a tea towel. So the knife renders the nutcracker irrelevant. Egg rings? Unless you’re making fast food egg muffins who needs perfectly round fried eggs? Bottle stoppers? Use corks. Scone cutter? An old Vegemite glass. I don’t need a rolling pin – roll out pastry or pasta dough using a bottle. A salad spinner is useless compared a tea towel full of wet lettuce being swung around your head – outside preferably.

So if my kitchen was to become an ark, and I was only allowed to save some essential tools, this is what I would keep. One heavy-based stock pot – you can live on soup and for soup you need stock. One heavy-based frying pan with a metal handle so it can go in the oven to finish off what I am cooking in it. One medium-sized heavy-based all stainless saucepan – in this you can cook anything from porridge to one pot stews. One wooden spoon. One very good knife. One chopping board. One whisk – I can’t live without mayonnaise or soufflé omelettes. One glass bowl for mixing cakes, a 23 cm round cake tin and a three-sided baking tray – for biscuits. Good tea towels. Perhaps a set of scales and measuring cups.

In our quest to keep up with kitchen fads our kitchen drawers become filled with objects that clutter our field of vision and obscure what is truly sought after. The can opener.