Monday, July 10, 2006

New kitchen gadget

Not to be outdone by Tanya over at the Purple Giraffe with her new washing machine, I must show off my new appliance, my very first electric kettle . When I was living in the U.S., pre 1974, I don't ever remember coming across these, but it's a very common appliance in the Australian kitchen.

So why am I blogging about it? Well, electric kettles have long been on my banned gadgets list, along with microwaves and mobile phones. Our current conventional kettle is a wreck: blackened from having stove spatters burnt onto it (do not send cleaning tips please), and the whistle cap broken from having been dropped, so that it not only looks yuk but also no longer whistles, a disaster-in-waiting (if I'm forgetting the days of the week, how am I going to remember that I put on the kettle a few minutes ago?).

But the Man Who Cooks convinced me that an electric kettle would be an improvement over the conventional one. It won't take up any more space than our current kettle (a big objection to new gadgets), and it does not sit on a stove so can't get burnt black; it shuts itself off automatically and it boils water much faster than a conventional kettle. OK, already, I'm convinced, but that's the thing: I need to be convinced that buying something new is necessary and will offer an improvement over what we already have. I am a reluctant consumer.

Electric kettles are a mainstay of even the most budget of hotel and motel rooms in Australia, where coffee, tea and sugar are supplied, as well as milk in a small fridge in the room. I was amazed to see that when arriving in Australia, don't know if that's done in other countries. It's very convenient, and can save money too as it means we have the ability to make a simple bread and cheese breakfast. But we always bring our own coffee - both of us are Coffee Nazis.


Alice said...

I was going to say that an electric kettle will be more economical to heat but since you have a gas stove, I don't know how it compares.

You've had your old kettle for many years. Well, we had been married for nine years before I bought a toaster. Until then I'd always made the toast in front of the fire in the wood stove or under the griller of a small electric stove. The morning after moving into our own home (this one) I turned on the griller to make the toast, and almost set the house on fire. The kitchen people had forgotten to removed the cardboard packaging around the griller when they installed the stove. It made me realise that it was time to buy a toaster. So I did - the first of several over the past 30 years.

Back to kettles - I remember the heavy black kettle on the woodstove on the farm, whistling the hours away. It didn't have a whistle, it was just the steam escaping. A very comforting sound.

Val said...

Movng to a rural village many many years ago, we had to stop using our toaster because it kept setting off the trip switch to our electricity supply, and plunging the house into darkness. It took many years to replace it with something more modern.

And yes, UK hotels nearly all have kettles and supplies for any time brews of tea/coffee.

Val said...

Alice, you really can bring times, places and situations to life with the way you write. I can almost hear that kettle whistling.

Toasters – now there’s a product that’s gone downhill over the years. We’ve had “several” over the past 30 years too, but why do they need replacement so often, and they don’t even do a great job, despite all the designer features that are included. I remember my grandmother’s old toaster that you’d have to watch and then turn the bread to the other side. It could toast 2 slices at once and had sort of an A-line shape. Do you know what I mean? I used to love the taste of toast on a fork over the gas flame - simple but effective.

Val, I wonder if that's a British thing that Australia has adopted, with hotels supplying kettles, etc.?

DellaB said...

aah .. I think I must be a 'gadget junkie' ... everything that opens and shuts, and some that have never actually done either!

I tried to upgrade all the important things before I stopped working full-time.

I wish I'd been a reluctant consumer too - I might have a bit more money stashed away ::smiles::

Granny said...

With our antiquated wiring we can use only one appliance at a time. Still, I have a lot of them. No electric kettle though. We drink tea but not as much as you do. I have an electric coffee pot.

And yes I have a toaster. You're right about planned obsolescence though. My mom's toaster was still going strong when I left home. It probably held out for at least 20 years.

Sue said...

Most hotel rooms here have a small "Mr Coffee" type drip maker. I remember electric tea kettles about twenty years ago, but they were sort of a passing fad.
I agree with the other commenters. Why can't we get decent toasters that work right and last? I have a toaster oven, and it rarely gets the toast right!

Val said...

we've had an electric coffee maker since the 70s, not the same one though! We're more coffee drinkers than tea drinkers, but in the couple of weeks since I've been retired, I've been drinking herbal tea during the day. I try to restrict my coffee intake to 2-3 cups in the morning.

yes, now I do remember staying somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas a few years ago and the motel room did have a nice coffee maker in the room.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Most motels have coffee makers, but we always bring our own too...we just like the taste of our brand of coffee.

I've never seen an electric kettle, but we do have an electric coffee maker which I also use to heat water for tea.

I don't have a toaster...I use the oven broiler or the small toaster well for us. I remember having a toaster once and can't remember why I never replaced it...but that was years ago.

Lindsay Lobe said...

We have choir singing practice at our house regularly and we found our electric Kettle would not cope with all of the cups of tea and coffee afterwards. The end result, after prompting from a choir member was to purchase second Kettle. Just a cheap one that handles the increased demand well.

I think we tend to take modern conveniences for granted these days. I also try to limit my coffee intake.

A nice post and sone wonderful comments from everyone.

Merle said...

Hi Val ~~ This is the 3rd time I am typing this, keep losing it. Electric
kettle is a must for me, for instant soup, gravy, jellies tea and coffee.
Hard to get a good toaster that cooks evenly all over. My son got the pumpkin, I either roast it or mash it, depending on the meal. Daughter makes soup, but I prefer pea and ham. Do you think we will win another game this year? Fev is doing well to lead the goal-kicking in a losing team.
Bad luck to lose Murphy- he's good.
Take care Val. Cheers, Merle.

Kerri said...

It's a puzzle to me why electric kettles aren't a regular kitchen item here when they're such a staple in Oz. We have a little version called a 'polypot' that belonged to my MIL. My husband used it in the barn to boil water for a cup of tea during milking sometimes. My MIL would bring 'treat's' (small containers of fancy ice creams, little cakes and cookies, etc.) to my hubby and son, Andrew, while they were milking. She was fattening them up (for what, I don't know :) Andrew really missed that when she stopped.
We've had the same 4-slice toaster for about 23 yrs. Before that they never seemed to last long. I'm thinking this one is about to die though, after all these years. It's been a beauty.
Great subject Val! Isn't it funny what causes a good discussion and plenty of recollections?

Tanya said...

Congratulations on the new kettle. See, isn't buying new stuff fun? Though I have to admit, it doesn't take me much convincing that I need a new anything!

I am amazed that electric kettles aren't common in the U.S. I lived there and in Canada and can't remember what we used - I just assumed it was an electric kettle. How very strange...