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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Beloved Gadgets and Gizmos

© Another Day in the Country

I never thought of my microwave as a gadget until it stopped working. I’d been babying it along for awhile, resetting all the codes whenever it would have a minor seizure that told me there was something wrong with its innards — heaven knows it had survived quite a few electrical outages with surging power. However, I expected it to last longer than ten years — you can tell I’m from that older generation that expects appliances to l-a-s-t!

When I finally pronounced the microwave “dead”, I unplugged its power source and wondered what it was going to cost me to replace it.

“C’mon,” I said to myself, “there’s no rush toward replacement. You lived a long time without a microwave. What’s the big deal?”

I soon found out! And the Big Deal was not about heating water for tea.

It was my wheat sock! How was I going to heat my wheat sock when I needed some soothing warmth on a back that was aching? What was I going to go to bed with?

If you’ve never tried a wheat sock for comfort, then you’ve missed out on something. I learned about wheat socks from one of those lovely nurses who visits the elderly in their homes after they’ve had some surgical procedure. She made two huge tubes full of wheat to be heated in the microwave and placed around my father’s aching knees. Wheat socks caught on in our family. We even made wheat socks for our guests to use at our bed and breakfast when they came to sleep in the chilly upstairs rooms during the winter. Wheat socks are wonderful!

It took almost two months to get the new microwave home and then get it installed. Last night was a red-letter evening when I got ready for bed and was able to heat my wheat sock — life’s small pleasures.

This morning, as I emptied the dishwasher (which probably qualifies as an oversized gadget), I was thinking about these little gadgets that we come to depend on. I put away the potato peeler. That was a new gadget fifty or sixty years ago. I can remember my Mom insisting that I use the peeler because when I used a paring knife on the potatoes I carved away too much of the flesh with the peel.

Now I have two or three of these peeler gadgets. One will peel off the most delicate, perfectly sized strings of carrot when I make Chinese egg rolls. Instead of laboring over toothpick-sized carrot strips, I can just use my little gadget and make quick work of a carrot.

One of the gadgets I’ve come to depend upon in my kitchen is a small pair of tongs. I’ve been known to carry them in my suitcase when I go to visit a friend if I know I’m going to be cooking. They’re secreted away in a pocket of my suitcase along with my favorite paring knife and a recipe or two. This isn’t one of those long, complicated salad tongs. It is an 8-inch tong made of one piece of flexible steel and it is good for serving almost anything, as well as moving and removing food from hot oil. It’s a must-have! (And they are hard to find — I bought my last supply at a local “Tar-jay.”)

A good can opener is another gadget we’ve come to depend upon. Nothing more frustrating than having a can of food without any way of getting into it efficiently.

Can openers can sometimes be a real pain! You want a good one. My favorite can opener is getting old and worn. It’s rubberized handles keep coming off and I keep gluing them back in place. I love this old thing because it has several functions including a pop bottle opener and a little hook business cut in the metal that is perfect for taking the lid off a jar of homegrown tomatoes. I bought a new can opener with fancy red handles, brought it home and discovered it only does ONE thing — opens a can going round and round.

There’s a couple of drawers in my kitchen dedicated to gadgets. Most of them are only used once in a blue moon; but when you want it, that gadget is a ‘must have.’ Take the nutcracker for instance, (which is useful for all kinds of opening besides walnuts) or the wine bottle opener which is a gadgety necessity in a gadget-clogged world.

All these things we could probably live without but they sure make it nicer spending another day in the country.

Last modified Feb. 24, 2016

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