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
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

    Long Term Primary Teacher - Stockport - Start ASAP

    £90 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Primary: Experienced Primary...

    Science Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Science Teacher - South Es...

    NQT Secondary Teachers

    £100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

    A Level Chemistry Teacher

    £120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering