I recently visited an antique centre and just wandering through the different areas brought back memories of both my grandmothers’ homes. We certainly have come a long way with our gizmos and gadgets, but I wish I’d held on to some of those pieces from my grandmas’ houses.
Perhaps if I was still using the old egg beaters, my tuck shop lady arms wouldn’t be so prominent – or at least my right arm would have been more toned! Same goes for the ringer I’d watch Grandma feed the washing through under her house. For such a dainty little woman, she must have had good muscles to wind through the huge washes that came out of the boiler. As well as this she would scrub those clothes to within an inch of their lives – no prewash soaking cycle on her washing machine. And no luxury of tossing the washing into a dryer on wet days or when life was too hectic to hang it out. It was hung out on Mondays, rain, hail or shine. Then there’s the ironing. I can’t imagine using those little but very heavy irons. And having to use the ‘squirty’ water bottle to dampen everything before the ironing began.These days of course the irons are bigger yet lighter and the inbuilt steam function does all the work of the spray bottle.
I also remember Grandma pushing meat through the mincer and juicing lemons by hand (again, improving the shapeliness of those arms). I guess most of us still juice lemons by hand, but there are now electric juicers to do the job. I also watched in awe as my mother-in-law worked and rolled out the finest and yummiest pastry with such expert hands that I now go straight to the supermarket cabinet for my pastry – I just couldn’t compete with her rolling pin skills!
It seems that these days there’s a gadget to do everything but how much cupboard space can one house have? I have a few of these gizmos myself but know those who have an unbelievably large assortment cluttering their cupboards. I have succumbed to the bread machine, the rice cooker, a blender, a food processor (a wedding gift many moons ago), a milkshake maker, a slow cooker, an expresso machine, a stick mixer, hand-held beaters, a pasta machine (which still requires some effort), electric juicer, Soda Stream and of course, the microwave. Now I know that sounds terrible but there are soooooo many other gadgets out there. Here are a few I’ve seen in my travels: pie maker, doughnut maker, cup cake maker, hot dog maker, soup maker, crepe maker, tea machine, robot vacuum cleaner, egg poacher, slushie machines, ice cream and yoghurt makers, popcorn machine, vacuum sealing machines, and the list goes on!
I don’t know about you, but cooking and baking the ‘old fashioned’ way always seems like great therapy to me. Kneading dough for bread releases some tension if I imagine the dough is someone or something that has caused me some angst, and using the meat mallet to thin out some veal I find is equally satisfying! Then there’s the jewel of kitchen gadgets, used for rolling out that pastry or threatening the hus… I mean an intruder! Somehow I’ve ended up with two wooden rolling pins. Perhaps one for the pastry and one for the um…intruder!
I have vivid memories of Mum flapping around the furniture and the tops of benches with a rag duster – sadly I haven’t inherited that gene (life’s too short)! When he was young my son once asked me what that “feathery chicken thing” was that was hanging up in the cupboard – I have to admit it took me a few seconds to remember! And of course that brings to mind the dust buster. For some unfathomable reason it seemed that the men in our friendship group thought we girls would find these gadgets irresistible as a birthday or Mother’s Day gift. That is, until the first one of them did give his wife one for Valentine’s Day and the words “dust buster” have never been mentioned since – I think he may have done a fair bit of dusting himself after that blunder.
There certainly have been some interesting and time-saving inventions over the years but the latest and greatest to date now seems to be the Thermomix. For those of you who haven’t heard about this sensation it is a machine that does just about everything in the kitchen (except bake) and it does it in half the time. A friend of mine is a Thermomix consultant and she is one busy woman! As yet I haven’t managed to convince my husband that these whizz-bang gadgets are worth the price tag, but boy I’d have a lot more room in my kitchen cupboards if I owned a Thermomix. I could get rid of so many other gizmos.
I find myself torn between the gadgets and the pleasure of doing things myself. How do you feel about all these appliances? Do you find yourself lining up for these new items or do you enjoy the process of cooking and baking the way your Mum and Grandmother did?