Shopping: The thing about...Kitchen gadgets

Can anyone lend me an ice-cream maker? It's not that I can't find 49 quid, it's simply that I know the novelty will wear off after a few weeks and my shiny new Glacier will be stuffed into the back of the cupboard with the sandwich toaster (pounds 23.75), the citrus press (pounds 17.75) and the pasta machine (pounds 31). I have nothing against kitchen gadgets. On the contrary, my kitchen is full of them but I'm not buying any more. Culinary clutter may seem like a recent phenomenon but a mere glance in grandma's pantry reveals a wealth of rusty nutmeg graters and mincers with 27 moveable parts all designed to lighten the housewifely load. For your mother's generation the great time-saving device was the pressure cooker, a large, potentially explosive saucepan that most women were simply too frightened to use. On the rare occasions when anyone felt like knocking up a steam roly-poly in minutes, no one was ever able to find the lid. Remember the Chicken Brick? Terence Conran's fortune was made when Habitat began marketing this curious terracotta box as a means of pot-roasting poultry. Along with the fondue set and the avocado dishes this was one of the great dust- gatherers of the late Sixties kitchen. By the late Seventies the food processor was the must-have item but the day they started selling huge chicken-shaped Magimix cosies to keep the dust off you knew the storm had passed. But at least the Magimix (pounds 139) was versatile. The truly useless kitchen gadget should really only have one, ideally rather recherche function. Much smarter. The possession of a fish kettle and an asparagus kettle suggests a huge kitchen, a fondness for extravagant entertaining and more money than sense.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the gadgets mentioned so far; asparagus kettles cook the stalks without turning the spears to mush, home-made pasta is delicious, but many gadgets do not have even utility to recommend them. The Lakeland Plastics catalogue, spiritual home of kitchen clutter, is packed with preposterous ideas for complicating your life: grapefruit corer, butter melter, spoon rest, tea bag squeezer. Don't sneer; it could happen to you. One day, blood sugar falling, you will find yourself sending off for some superfluous whatsit. Your need for it, its very function will be forgotten before the package ever arrives. Years later a houseguest will be rummaging through your odds and sods drawer (an unholy jumble of swizzle sticks, dud corkscrews and birthday cake candles): "What the hell is this?" "Ah", you mumble "That's my caper spoon". "Your what?" Yes. Readers of the latest Lakeland Plastics catalogue are encouraged to wave goodbye to soggy caper misery with this handy spoon (pounds 2.95).

Once in a while a gadget enters your life and changes the way you cook and eat. The microwave is one such device, the breadmaker may well become another. You laugh. It's expensive (pounds 199) but it has none of the fiddle associated with other so-called labour savers. You don't have to faff about making dough or mixing custard: you put in the ingredients, shut the lid, press the button and four hours later your kitchen smells like Little House on the Prairie and there's a finished loaf of bread inside. I use mine every day. And no, you can't borrow it.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

    Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

    Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

    Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices