Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

The Mr dropped a couple of bread slices into the toaster as I was setting the table. He was busy scrambling eggs for Sunday breakfast and asked if I would come watch the toast. 

"Sure," I said.

"The toaster is slow," the Mr commented.

"Pardon, dear?" I hadn't caught what he said. 

"The toast is taking hours!"

"What's that about flowers?" ("Uh, oh!" I thought. I worry one day one of us will start getting words mixed up, you know, at our age. Nothing wrong with my hearing, of course.)

"HOURS! I said the toast is TAKING HOURS!" I heard him that time.

"Oh! Yeah, the toaster is a bit slow." (Repeating things is how we seniors amuse ourselves.) 

"That's the second time it's been down. I can't tell if it's ready yet."

"Did you try the cancel button?" I asked, pressing the cancel button. "Hmm. Not toasted yet."

"Told you. Hours."

I put the toast back down again. "Honestly. They can put a man on the moon but they can't make a toaster that lets you know when your toast is toasted." 

Maybe "they" do. Maybe there is a new-fangled machine on the market that announces when your toast is perfectly toasty. Ours doesn't. But I certainly don't want one like the appliance my friend complained about in an email earlier this week. 

"I bought a new toaster," she wrote, "I got a very cute red Cuisinart model. Guess what…when the toast pops up there is a unnecessary electronic beep to accompany the sound of the spring letting go. Totally not needed! And…annoying. I like the sound of toast popping up. This is a sound that has accompanied me through life. Why now the addition of a beep? It is an intrusion and not a welcome one. But how would I have KNOWN??? It didn’t say anywhere on the box that the toaster would beep when the toast popped up. I took it back."

My friend invited me to write a blog about unnecessary electronic beeps. Up until now I had accepted the various signals around the house as symptomatic of our electronic age: the dryer gives one prolonged beep when it finishes drying; three beeps mean the oven has heated up to the set temperature; four beeps indicate that food is ready in the microwave; continuous beeps sound when the oven timer goes off. Oh, enough! Heavens! Beeps really ARE annoying.

I looked around at some of my historic appliances. Some of them have been with us since the 70s when we got married, you know, back in the Early Paleolithic. My house is a gizmo museum. Nothing that beeps nor sirens that go off when my machines perform their tasks. For the most part they go quietly about their business: boiling, pressing, frying, toasting, mixing, chopping. But on second look, these relics are showing their age. 

My food processor got that recent "recall" for faulty blades. (Yikes!) My hand-held mixer has discolored to that nasty "old Bakelite" yellow that makes you think of hospital corridors. The temperature guide has worn off my electric frying pan and grease has burnt on indelibly around its edges. My stainless steel tea kettle leaves scorch marks on the ceramic cook top —every single time I use it. Good grief. It IS time for new stuff! 

So, this week I bought a Kitchen Aid immersion blender and a Krups electric tea kettle. Where have these been all my life? On Sunday, I hand-blended a huge pot of potato leek soup. The carpal tunnel syndrome from holding it upright has almost subsided. And the Krups kettle has a little window so you can watch water boil! What joy! 

This week I'm buying an electric skillet. I hear they're non-stick these days. I plan to celebrate with a toast to my new appliances — literally, pop me in a slice, won't you, dear? 

Thanks to Bernie Lyon for this story idea! Here's a toast to you, B!