Food and drink: A hard domestic is good to find 

The world with – and without – our stainless steel friends

Ach, the espresso machine is on the fritz — is a regular coffee OK from the coffee machine?

Scheiße, the egg cooker poached these eggs way too hard. What’s the matter with this thing?

Here — use this hand blender to mix the pancake batter. Oh no, you’ll have to use a spoon — the batteries are dead!

Ever think it’s the end of the world when your little white molded plastic and stainless steel friends in the kitchen give up the ghost or don’t perform flawlessly? And God help us if it’s one of the bigger guys who goes on the fritz — a bonky refrigerator or freezer can throw the most stalwart stoic into a cold sweat.

While I discernibly flinch whenever I see an electric wok dangled in front of my face at Future Shop and have thus far managed to lead a perfectly happy and fulfilling life without a George Foreman grill, thank you very much (although it’s taken me some counselling and subliminal food binging to get over it), there’s a heck of a lot of us out there — too many, in my humble opinion — who go ga-ga over the latest and greatest in home appliances without so much as batting an eyelash as to how much packaging alone each engenders, or how the bruised and battered hulk will look in the landfill in 18 months when “it” finally busts because of the shoddy power switch some poor bastard in a badly-lit Chinese factory installed without the ground properly connected because he was half-asleep after delivering the truckload of melamine to the powdered milk plant up the street, his second job.

As the “Happy Holidaze” ads and commercials for home gadgetry reproduce like fruit flies right now, I finally understand why people need 18,000-sq-ft homes with 3,000-sq-ft kitchens and 2 km of counter space.

To put things in perspective, you can still order your copy of Rosemary Neering’s The Canadian Housewife: An Affectionate History from in time for Christmas. Then marvel, especially if you’re a woman, at your own good fortune to be alive now.

This from Alice Barrett Parke, who lived on a ranch near Spallumcheen Valley, just south of Armstrong and north of Vernon, where she kept house for her brother in the 1890s:

“Mr. Hays was here this morning so I had the men to dinner. I had intended ironing this morning, but I had to churn, attend to the bread, cook beets, carrots and potatoes, boil a shank and cut the meat up for the hash — & just as I thought I’d have a minute’s breathing space, Mr. Hays ran over a hen in the meadow, cutting its legs half off, so Harry cut its head off & brought it in — & I had to pick and clean it. I roasted it for tea…”

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