I'm adamantly against most modern kitchen equipment. Let me state this clearly: there is no need for a microwave when the stovetop will do. Blenders are for the weak; use a whisk. A Cuisinart or other multipurpose chopper/cutter has too many parts and forces the user to spend half the time washing little bits and pieces out of impossible nooks. Modern gadgets and appliances are quick fixes that cost a lot and generally end up in the back of one of the kitchen cabinets, never to be used again. Witness the number of bread makers that are appearing at garage sales and second-hand stores these days. These makers may have seemed easy to the non-baking masses, but nothing can replace the process of rolling dough and baking bread by hand. In the end, the kitchen implements that were present in the mid-century kitchen are all that a cook needs to make fabulous food.
Forget your George Forman grills. Our grannies knew that you could bake a bird and baste it at the same time with a Savory pot. My mom bought an early design; its oval body and domed lid held together with latches much like jars and soda bottles used to be. My sisters and I thought, okay fine, but why this and not some other roasting pan? The proof was in the chicken. One completely frozen chicken, eight potatoes, a couple carrots and onions, put it in the oven for ONE HOUR, and dinner was ready. Moist and perfect, the chicken and potatoes cooked in their own gravy. The domed lid mirrored the domed underbelly of the pan itself. See, the heat lifts into the edges of the inside of the pan's dome, and then on top of it, the domed lid works as a self-baster. Once, I baked a 14-pound turkey in a Savory pot in two and a half-hours, and it was like buttah.
While most people make their popcorn in a bag in the microwave, I pop my corn in a special popper fabricated in the 30s. It has a domed bottom and a paddle that turns the corn till it all pops in one burst of fantastic frenzy. I get the "kettle" flavor fast enough to make a big batch during commercials. Despite the fact that my sisters don't care about crispy popcorn made the old school way, I searched in junk shops, antique malls and eBay so I could buy one for each of the three of them. They should at least have the option of popping superior corn.
I love old-fashioned gadgets, including my little nut chopper. You place the nuts in a bowl, and with the four blades shaped downwards, you just chop, chop, chop, and it's done. Plus, the red wooden handle with a white stripe looks quite smart.
Another favorite gadget is my syringe-like cherry pit remover. It has only been useful once, however, when someone gave me a great deal of cherries. It did prove to me the value of having the right tool for the job. Have you ever tried to pit cherries without a gizmo? If you have, you probably suffered greatly for your cherry pie.
What if I to go somewhere and need to bring my fresh coffee? The vacuum bottle, made famous by the Thermos company, created the mold which all others must live by. The irritation that I experience by contemporary vacuum bottles comes from their unyielding ugliness. I don't enjoy the sense of drinking from a bullet. I want to pour my coffee into a real cup with a handle, and hey, there's one conveniently located over the lid as a regular feature. I've tried the earlier model, where the lid is a rubber stopper and there's a loosely held cup, but the stopper is more difficult to get out when you need it. Other Thermos models have included a soup container, a larger drink dispenser with the little spout, and the 10 oz as well as the 16 oz options for adults and children.
In November, my boyfriend received a cast-iron grilling pan from his roommates from a high-end kitchen supply company. I saw its cost in the catalog and knew its jaw dropping monetary value, but couldn't help but think that the cast iron pans that I have could not possibly be any worse, or different. I fry in them, put them in the oven, I grease them lovingly, and they will last my lifetime. I cannot be bothered to season new cast iron, as I demonstrated when I cracked a skillet I was given by an ex-boyfriend's mother. Oops.
The counter tops of most homes are too narrow to actually cook anything that takes any energy. I was elated when I found the remedy, the "pie table." The enamel surface stays cool under the dough, and allows for easy clean up. I can run an apple peeler/corer, or roll out pie crusts, pasta dough, and gingerbread with plenty of elbow room, and still have space on the table for a glass of red wine.
With all of these vintage kitchen gadgets and pots and pans, my friends have noted that my kitchen looks like a time capsule, circa 1955. Nonetheless, there are a few modern conveniences I am not willing to give up, namely running hot and cold water and refrigeration. And my new coffee grinder.
Features: Travel: Finding Harmony | Collecting: Reverend Jen and the Troll Museum | Decorating: Vintage Wallpaper | Photo Gallery: Vintage Fashion | Home: Vintage Kitchen | Manners: Interview With Etiquette Expert Letitia Baldrige | Lifestyle: Where Did You Get That?
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