I am a huge fan of kitchen equipment and gadgets. My idea of heaven is a long, lingering mooch in a kitchen supply store. My mooching doesn’t always result in a purchase though, as I am blessed with a practical mind and reluctance to waste money – don’t get me wrong, I love spending money but I hate wasting it! Something that is intriguing me at the mo and may entice me to flip out the credit card is a vegetable spiralizer
…….this may also have to do with me currently being on the 5:2 diet! With this “shall I, shall I not?” purchase hanging in the air it got me thinking about these kind of fad kitchen items that I grew up with and what I currently use in my own kitchen. Kitchen equipment and gadgets can fluctuate like fashion trends. You have your timeless classics – rolling pin, whisk, wooden spoon – and then you get the more gimmicky items that look good, you might think are essential but are a total waste of drawer space and money such as – a banana slicer! Yes, a banana slicer which in my opinion is a sad reflection on the human race, but hey, somebody probably made a lot of money out of it for a while. So will my vegetable spiralizer save me from myself? Love to hear your opinions to help me make that final decision, but in the meantime I thought it would be fun to see what didn’t make the cut in my kitchen from my 70s childhood.
This was probably my favourite gadget from my childhood. I found it fascinating how it effortlessly cut though hard boiled eggs, but my favourite use of all was as a musical instrument! Thankfully I progressed onto the flute and I am now a professional singer – I might not have made much money from playing an egg slicer.
My Mum loved Tupperware so we had a lot of it in the house! When you attend a party there are little give-aways and the orange peeler is probably one of their most famous. I do think it is a great little gadget and makes peeling an orange really easy; but now I don’t need one as I have a husband!
I actually have on loan my Mum’s Spong, but to be honest my fit of nostalgia led to a rather dramatic episode after attempting to mince raw turkey meat. For a start I used the wrong mincing wheel and the meat came out in a pulverised mush. I changed the wheel to a bigger setting and then it didn’t come out at all! I am neurotic about cross contamination when using raw meat, so the kitchen became a lockdown situation after this Spong encounter. My hands were covered in raw meat, I couldn’t touch anything, I didn’t want to contaminate the dish cloth and I couldn’t turn the taps on! Husband came to my rescue and cleared the sink and cordoned off the area for hand sanitization, then he diligently washed every part of the Spong in scalding hot soapy water while I sprayed every surface of the kitchen with anti-bacterial spray! I have read a few online reports of people still using them – for cutting peel in marmalade making or mincing leftover roast meat joints for Shepherd’s Pie – but I am giving Mum’s back and will stick to pre-minced meat or a knife!
Jelly Rabbit Mould
Such a retro childhood memory – who didn’t have a jelly rabbit for their birthday party? Red jelly rabbit on a chopped up green bed of jelly grass. Perhaps that’s what’s wrong with the world, we need to revert to our childhoods and enjoy the occasional bowl of jelly! I don’t own a jelly mould now, it just isn’t in my cooking orbit!
My Nanny always had a swizzle stick which she used when mixing a G&T or a Martini. Swizzle sticks were served in drinks in bars during the 60s and made a cheap and effective form of advertising as people would sneak them into their handbag or pocket as a souvenir and use them at home, providing a little nostalgic memory. I have to admit we use a chopstick to swizzle our tipple. Swizzle sticks are quite collectable now, and I am feeling my kitchen drawer is seriously lacking for not having one. Here is a little potted history from the Los Angeles Telegraph where you will see they go back to the 16th century!
I have just inherited a box of Splayds. Perfect for the buffet when one is swooning about the place with plate in one hand, and a Splayd in the other. Due to roving grazing and hand limitations the Splayd is the perfect eating tool as it cuts, prods and spoons in one. Seriously this is not my scenario, but they made it into my kitchen drawer as they are our one piece of cutlery that will go into the dishwasher since everything else is old and need handwashing – good when we have a crowd! So I guess they did make the cut into my kitchen but not for their original purpose.
Another one of Mum’s purchases from a Tupperware party! The must-have item for separating egg yolks from their whites. If you fancy trying a new method, look at the new kid on the block in the kitchen gadget world! This little gadget sucks up the yolk leaving the white behind – this adorable sucking fish may change my mind!
I think this item just fell out of my kitchen orbit but my Mum, Grandmothers and Aunts all used them and are still probably using them. I did try them and loved one particular one as it was a Poole Pottery dolphin spoon rest which was given to me by my Great Aunt– then it got broken. Then my friend found the exact one to replace it – and it too got broken! There is something rather homely about using a specific spoon rest for your stirring spoon. I just use a side plate now as required to keep my bench top clear of clutter and save myself from the heartache.
Electric Carving Knife
I don’t own one but it was probably up there in my Mum’s top gadgets – along with her pressure cooker and microwave! The familiar pulsating, serrated whirl coming from the kitchen indicated that Sunday roast was almost ready. Neatly sliced roast beef swimming in gravy – I am salivating at the very thought of it now. Joints of meat were mealtime favourites: roast pork, roast chicken, roast beef, boiled ham and I know Mum found the electric carving knife much easier than a traditional carving knife, or prizing my Dad away from the garage to do the ‘man’s job.’ I learned to carve at catering school so have never considered buying one.
When I was quite little I was often dragged to Bingo by one of my Nans. Boredom was broken for me when I suddenly found my card was actually a winner. My prize was an orange Mouli AKA a rotary grater which I proudly gave to my Mum. For me a rotary cheese grater is just too small scale now and I haven’t got the patience to cut my cheese up in match box size chunks.
Confession time. This is probably the item I nearly buy the most, but never actually do. I see them all the time in charity shops and antique centres and I just love them for themselves, and for the memories they evoke. As a child of the 70s we only had strawberries in the summer and they were a real treat. The sugar dredger would come out from hibernation and we would dredge our delicious English strawberries with caster sugar and top with a generous glug of cream. Now dredging one’s strawberries with sugar is probably up there with class A drugs – so I guess I will keep abstaining!
For all my cooking prowess the pressure cooker eludes me. I didn’t really understand them apart from the fear that they raised in me as a child. Hissing and spitting on the stove top with pungent cabbage smells swamping every corner of the house along with the fear that it might explode at any minute – this gadget just became an evil saucepan that had no place in my happy home. It seems my memories have rather overruled any practical aspect, so now facing the fear and doing some research I am stunned as to what I have been missing! It seems pressure cookers are making a comeback with promises of cooking things faster, saving energy and working magic spells on cheap cuts of meats and pulses. After reading how slow roast ribs which normally take three hours to cook could be accomplished in 30 minutes – well I am suddenly sitting up and listening!