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Published on June 10th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard

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Ann’s Gadget Fix

I’m banning myself from watching infomercials.

It’s not that I have a shopping problem. Actually, I’m not keen on shopping at all. It’s just that I’m a sucker for a gadget.

“I could happily go all the way back to California to find the Placerville Hardware store again”

When I see the benefits of a kitchen gadget or appliance being so gloriously extolled on an infomercial, I simply have no resistance.

You could sell me anything for the kitchen.

I watched a homely American woman on one infomercial recently who showed me how genuinely non-stick her gemstone range of cooking pots was. Homely she might have been but when she told me I could cook without oil and just clean the pans with a paper towel, she reeled me right in.

Pacervivle Hardware

It didn’t matter that she cooked terrible food (a ghastly looking lasagne) or that she demonstrated the remarkable non-stick claims by melting a big piece of plastic in a frypan and then peeling it cleanly off, it’s just that she convinced me my life couldn’t function smoothly unless I owned this range.

Most of my infomercial purchases let me down but these pots did not. (Although I have yet to test them with a big piece of melted plastic. Something fun to look forward to).

Paceville - scales

My kitchen cupboards and drawers are full of useless gadgets. The few that could be of some use I can’t find for all the other junk crammed around them.

Take the potato masher I bought recently.

It was different to the four I already had in that it did a bouncy action when you pressed it, much like a pogo stick. It promised me – no, it guaranteed me – lump-free potatoes. It lied.

I have an avocado slicer I’ve used once (so much easier to slice by hand), a lettuce spinner that is never used (never wash lettuce) and a pair of scissors with a dozen blades to chop herbs in a cup (as if).

One especially useless gadget I have is a plastic hook you insert in a prawn to efficiently remove the little gunky vein in one swift, clean movement. All it removed was my fingernail.

Pacerville ladder

Several years ago, in a small town called Placerville in California (yes, I know nobody has heard of Placerville) I came across a fascinating old-fashioned hardware store. It was 150 years old and had creaky wooden floors and rolling ladders attached to the ceiling to reach high stock.

It was chock-full from floor to ceiling with up-to-the-minute gadgets and – this was the really quirky bit – they were all over the store in ad hoc fashion next to feather boas, diamond rings and toilet brushes. You don’t believe me but it’s true.

I spent a happy few hours in the Placerville Hardware store buying a cherry stoner that doubled as an olive pitter, a long thin skewer to prick an eggshell during boiling to test if it was done to your liking, an implement that could brush, wash and peel a potato all in one fast motion, and a scary looking device that mashed a banana and grated chocolate at the same time.

I could happily go all the way back to California to find the Placerville Hardware store again if I hadn’t vowed to fight and conquer my gadget addiction.

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About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.



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