The comments so far are a lovely mix of the purr of the satisfied owner and then bewilderment at the price, stupidity and lack of suitability of things that once seemed worth purchasing. I’ve been enjoying thinking about the rubbish lying around here and watching the things that I use every day, wondering if you could work it out on a matrix. After entertaining myself for a little while I decided against it because the pleasure we take in making stuff in the kitchen will often be very subjective.
Some kitchen things are Objectively Good. The most useful and used things in my kitchen are the whopping big wooden chopping board, a Wusthof Trident 20 cm cook’s knife and a sharpening steel. They’re used every day, a lot, and each is lasting beautifully with care.
After such basics the things that save my time most in the kitchen are measuring spoons, jugs and electronic scales. Ed’s Georg Jensen scale is unspeakably sexier than my Propert one, however mine cost $50 on sale and weighs up to 5 kg in one gram increments and I am happy. I am a bit proud of my (GENIUS!) measuring spoon scenario, adding a 15 ml tablespoon to a cheap ring of standard Australian measures. Useful, cheap and multipurpose.
The bad stuff’s bad though. Like this Japanese rice soaker. Because rice couldn’t soak in a bowl, could it? Not when it could soak in this bowl, with its utterly nonfunctional drainage holes. The Japanese can usually be trusted for tricksy cuteness, but not this time. At least it was cheap
These are both stupendously and objectively pointless items. The asparagus steamer was a gift, but to my mind asparagus cooks fine in a splash of water in a non-stick pan or else on a ridged pan. And as for a special tool for picking up pasta – even if it worked it would be pretty redundant. It’s off to the charity shop to join the piece of plastic with holes in it that apparently told you how much spaghetti to cook for dinner. It wouldn’t matter how cheap any of this stuff is, because like the rice soaker they are not good tools. (And as you can see I wasn’t lying about the cupboards. You may also have noticed the orange benchtops …)
This is useful, but only for the very limited purpose of making dumplings. Don’t let those pictures on the box fool you (click any of these small images to enlarge them). I only ever use the small one and only ever to make Chinese dumplings. It’s earned its place because there are no more complaints that there are not enough dumplings and peace reigns throughout the kingdom – even though I only really bought it (for $2 from an op shop) because the box says ‘The original “Papa’s Hand”!’ which I found slightly creepy yet delicious. I buy quite a few kitchen bits and pieces from op shops – useful things like small standing colanders and food covers and crap like spiral serving plates and leaking bento boxes.
Grocer, Naomi and host Ed all mentioned at Tomato that their big fancy juicers were a waste of time. It need not be that way! This one was pretty expensive and can only really be used for juicing citrus fruit of a certain size. Or pomegranates, which is handy isn’t it? No more time-wasting manual pomegranate juicing around here. Despite those limitations, it is a supremely good juicer and is in daily use in our house. We love it so much that we even take it camping, and on our last trip it was indispensable for making the cocktails that got us through the third day of rain. We bought it from an American supplier on eBay, unable to find it in Australia at the time. It cost as much to ship as to buy, about $125 all up from memory.
Finally, here’s my new love – the cast iron wok burner that compensates so completely for our wimpy stove. It came camping, too. Hungry camper = sad camper. In the photo it’s being used to season a new wok. It’s bulky, heavy and fragile. It creates so much heat and smoke that you have to use it outside, which is starting to get a bit bloody cold. It cost $40, but we then bought a small gas cylinder and the connection fittings, so all up around $80. And after years of rental house electric stoves, I love it like you would not believe.