25. May 2014 · Comments Off on Found Objects · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General Nonsense, Technology

You know, now and again I wonder if the habits of frugality ingrained by almost fifteen years of living pretty close to the poverty line have turned me into my grandmothers – especially Grannie Jessie who was reputed to pinch pennies so hard that a booger would come out of Lincoln’s nose. I have never had a brand-new car, a totally-new-to-me house, and only occasionally a new piece of furniture or major appliance – the last two such items have come from the Scratch-and-Dent Store. Now and again I do have a brand-spanking new minor appliance – usually freebies from Amazon Vine. There was an electric kettle, gotten for the price of having to write a review of it. The same for the shop-vac, a great clumsy thing and no prize for appearance, but by god, it will suck the paint off a Buick fender. The usual small appliances though, are lightly second-hand; there was the once-top-o-the line Zojirushi bread machine, from a vast community-event garage sale, almost untouched and in the original box for $5. My most recent favorite small appliance toy was the vacuum-sealer, also bought at a yard sale for $5 – and also once top-o-the-line as well as also being barely used. Now, though – I think I have struck some kind of nadir, as far as slightly-used kitchen appliances go. But there is a bit of a back-story.

My kitchen is a small one; storage space at a minimum, you see – and I have a constitutional dislike of kitchen gadgets which only do one thing, and one thing only. Not for me an item like the electric waffle-maker that I remember that Mom had in her kitchen; about twenty-two inches square and eight or ten deep and which only made waffles. These appliances that I give shelf and counter space to ought to be good for more than one task, or amazingly, dazzlingly efficient at that one task … and for extra points, small and easily stashed away. I bought a KitchenAid stand mixer, yea those many years ago, precisely because it had multiple useful attachments, many of which I also purchased.

The current stove does not have a griddle option. (Once we lived in a rental house which had one, and I loved it.) Such things are, apparently, only an option in the high-end gas stoves these days, which is fair enough. One can make do with any number of electric griddle appliances, and there … there is where my multi-tasking option comes in. We have a small electric Delonghi indoor grill (bought at Williams-Sonoma when they were on sale and I was working at one of the reliable but deathly-boring corporate jobs) and a Toastmaster electric griddle, gotten through one of my daughter’s employers who intended donating it to a thrift shop. Both of them are quite adequate to the tasks required … but I had a hankering for something that would neatly combine their various functions … two, two, two in one! And maybe even more … I saw information on-line about a Cuisinart multi-griddle which would do all this and more; it could be a Panini-press, fold out and lay flat to be a griddle, or a grill, and had any number of different dish-washer safe plates, which could be swapped out … yes, that would be exactly the ticket! I put it on my Amazon wish-list, and some months ago, I spotted the exact same multi-griddle for an enticingly-reduced price at an HEB-Plus supermarket. Yes, I’d have to do a bit of finagling; including going halfsies on it with my daughter … but we put it into the shopping cart, and continued through the produce section. There we were approached by a middle-aged woman and her husband who asked most politely if we were going to buy it. I answered yes, I had been looking at and thinking of buying one for months and it all seemed providential … and she launched into her tale of woe. Yes, she had one, had been given it as a Christmas present from her husband … and to make a long story short, it proved to be a total disaster. The handles and catches for the interchangeable plates melted, it didn’t work anything as advertised, bits and parts had been replaced by the manufacturer, it still didn’t work anything like it had been represented to … and. It’s kind of more personal than reading a one-star review on Amazon, when a total stranger comes up and tells you that the item is a total dog. She advised us very strongly to give it a miss.

Which I did, sneaking it back onto the shelf from whence it came, with considerable regret; yes, it was a bargain, compared to the original price, but not at the price of the hassle involved. My daughter and I concluded that maybe Cuisinart was going to come out with a new and improved model soon, which would fix many of the problems, and that was why this one was on sale. I’d wait until the new and improved model to be available. There’s always time.

This week, though – when I was doing the early-morning jog that my daughter insists that we ought to do, in the interests of our health and well-being – I joggled past a house in the neighborhood where the residents had put out a stack of stuff on the curb. Look, I pay attention to this sort of thing, especially at bulk-trash pickup time. We’ve scored no end of useful elements for the garden, this way. We know the family in this house to speak to, since they put out some nice things on the curb before. Paring down the possessions, they said; a relatively-newly-wed blended family. (These days, two adult persons marrying and merging their once-separate households usually have two of everything … so, yes; good and usable stuff extraneous to current needs being put out on the curb. I can totally understand that.) Among the items extraneous to need was a bright red George Foreman grill – the model with a number of extra and interchangeable plates. We took it home, plates and accessories and all, carefully detailed the main unit, ran the washable items through the dishwasher, looked up and printed the owner’s manual, and gave it a test run … and yes, it works beautifully. It’s only lacking one of the grill plates, and they are available for a small sum.

It’s not quite what I had in mind – but if it works out very well, I might later get one of the later models which does open up all the way to offer two flat surfaces for grilling or griddling. But most importantly … the price was right.

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