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Real Simplicity in the Kitchen

by Diane Girard

'Tis a gift to be simple, the old Shaker song says. I say achieving real simplicity, especially in the kitchen, requires an ability to turn down gifts and a talent for wrecking small kitchen appliances.

The list of appliances I no longer have, never had, or managed to destroy is long. I had a microwave but I killed it. I had a blender but gave it away. The food chopper never worked and the huge food processor was quickly returned. No one gave me an electric can opener. The electric frying pan fried itself and I've never had an electric kettle. I don't own anything that plugs in to slice, dice, chop, mince, blend, make waffles, bake bread, brew expresso, deep-fry, grill or slow-cook. It's not easy to keep the kitchen simple. The lack of any desire to take small appliances apart and clean their sharp innards after every use motivates me, and so does the lack of space. I have a galley kitchen and a counter about as big as the paper currency from some countries.

Walking the small appliance aisles in department stores, I'm enchanted by the variety of small and not-so-small electric things and surprised that I manage to cook anything without them. I wonder where people who do buy them keep them. It seems some new houses have "appliance garages". After touring those aisles I believe one would need a double garage to keep all the kitchen gadgets in! Even so, temptation is always near. It takes inner resolve to resist, but I do.

After all, the 30-year-old handheld electric mixer that has seniority and waits humbly in a dark drawer still works. A sleek toaster is the only appliance allowed on the counter. It's a shining chrome gem with rounded edges made in the 1950's. It has a new electric cord, and it works. The other small electric item is a red-and-white clock, also circa 1950, a souvenir from my grand mother's kitchen. It is not digital or programmable. It has a dial with large numbers and a sweep second hand, and it works.

When people ask me what I would like as a gift, I never say — "I'd like a small electric appliance please." However, occasionally small appliances do arrive without warning and must then be tactfully dispatched. An electric mixer on a stand might receive my approval, but I don't think they make them any more. For now, my kitchen remains a gadget-free zone.


Diane Girard is 59 years old and lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada near her family of a daughter and two grandsons. Diane began writing poetry and fiction in grade school and has continued to scribble for her own pleasure while earning a living in different ways. She has had several careers and is currently not considering becoming a consultant.

©2003 Diane Girard for SeniorWomenWeb
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