Last holiday season, I treated myself to a KitchenAid stand mixer, after ten months that changed my outlook on everything. I had never been much of a baker, but there I was, hand-kneading dough and boiling my own bagels. Something about the yeast shortage and finally procuring my share sent me down a survivalist rabbit hole, even though the bagel place was certainly open. It was a weird time.
The mixer arrived in a box the size of a window AC unit. I never imagined a kitchen tool would be so large, but it was huge and weighed a thousand pounds. You cannot store it and pull it out on occasion – this thing takes up real estate on your countertop and in your brain. It was worth the sacrifice, but we’d have to make room for it through a massive purge of underused items. We were used to that, though. Purges were a way of life in the city, where your galley kitchen could hold a third of your dishes and exactly three pots. After our wedding, most of our wares ended up in my mother’s basement only to resurface years later, like a time capsule.
But this was not one of them. See, couples often acquire the KitchenAid stand mixer as a gift, but not us. Back then, owning one felt like some sort of negative stamp against my feminism. Despite my eagerness to register for many other kitchen tools, I feared having this expensive mixer would morph me into a woman I never wanted to be, a woman who made muffins for her husband during business hours. Lawyers don’t make muffins, my insecure inner-monologue fought with herself. If I could hug that young woman, I would, and tell her what you bake has zero impact on who you are.
We all have preconceived notions, I think, early on in a marriage. They are a bit cringe to look back on. Certain principles felt so crucial to those people – the people we were – they’re almost too comical to believe. Nothing displays this better than a wedding registry. Recently, as I purged useless tools from our home, I contemplated the most ridiculous gifts we wanted eight years ago, and why we had it all wrong.
The Salad Spinner.
How could I not start with this huge, useless tilt-a-whirl for your produce? Lettuce needn’t be spun – that is a fact. The hours I’ve lost hand-rinsing the leaves, chopping them down to size, and saturating my entire countertop, all just to fit them inside and pump, pump, pump, thinking I’d release enough water. But no, it was never enough. Pump, pump, pump. I rejected bagged salads for far too long, and I’m blaming it on the presence of this time-suck of a gadget, which belongs nowhere but the 2 a.m. hour of the Home Shopping Network.
The Cocktail Napkin Holder.
In my Young Middle Ages, I’ve hosted a lot of holidays and dinner parties. Multi-course affairs at proper dining tables; and yet, not once have I used my fancy Michael Aram cocktail napkin holder. The dozen original black cocktail napkins that came in the napkin holder are still in the napkin holder, and despite it living atop our credenza, no one has ever taken one. It’s too beautiful, the napkins too tiny, and that’s not what wiping your face is all about.
The Popsicle Maker.
Do not assume you know anything about using this beast until you’ve tried it. I don’t care how many BuzzFeed Tasty videos you’ve watched that speed through the prep work for a *three-layer acai raspberry lemon lavender avocado bar* in 25 seconds. They never work, and by the way, only make four pops at a time. Oh, allow me to share with you this labor of love: the one ice pop that came out of the block in one piece. Who decided this was a “must have” item, and why did I believe them?
The Veggie Spiralizer.
Aside from spaghetti squash, which requires no gadget, all veggies “gone noodle” taste bad. We are lying to ourselves to think otherwise, even though many of us eat them often. There’s no reason to make it worse by spiralizing the vegetables yourself. You should avoid the unnecessary labor for a meal that will always end in a subconscious level of disappointment.
The Crystal Bowl.
What goes inside of a hand-wash-only bowl that’s too fancy to use? A potpourri bag from Home Goods? A pack of those flat-faced marbles? A crystal bowl is like a bookshelf’s version of a paperweight – a symbol of our desire to fill empty space with shit that looks fancy. Our parents’ little porcelain tchotchkes and commemorative wall plates were not much different.
Like a helpful little cherub, I do wish I could teleport onto the shoulder of that newly engaged girl I was. The girl with the registry gun at Bloomingdale’s who thought starting a life meant having a three-piece collection of decorative vases. I would tell her, you will love nice things, but you won’t be fancy. Your life will be too busy to make zoodles. You will learn how to work smarter, not harder. And when you do find the time, you’ll be making delicious memories with your daughters: whipping cream, braiding challah, spreading cheesecake.
You’ll need a mixer.
What’s the most useless gift you absolutely needed? LMK: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The little things
My photo does not do this refreshing cocktail justice. But in the summer heat, I had limited time before the ice would begin to melt and turn this into something more akin to the Ketel One Botanical spritz (*shudder*).
Behold, the Coralina Red Wine Margarita, from Patron. The red wine gives it a surprising dry twist and is the perfect use for that last third of a bottle. Give it a try and send me your pics.
Our Tiny Rebellions is going to take a ‘lil summer vacation through Labor Day. The month of August tends to be the slowest for my day job (hopefully), so I’d like to work on some pieces that require a little more time. I’m also hoping to get some much-needed rest. We’ll see.
SEE YOU ALL SOON!