The Friends I Keep In My Basement

The Friends I keep in the basement“You could use a mandolin for that,”  I advised my friend.  We were out to lunch the other day, talking about a recipe for something or other, exactly what I don’t remember.

“What’s a mandolin?” my friend asked.

“It’s a kitchen appliance that slices things really thin.”

I might have added, “or a musical instrument in the lute family,” but I wasn’t sufficiently on my game that afternoon.  I went on, “Actually I have a mandolin, but I’ve never used it, and I hear you have to be careful because you can slice your fingers off.  You should get one…you can never use it too.”  And that got me thinking, where was my mandolin, and why do we have appliances we don’t use?

When I got home, it didn’t take much searching to find it. My Japanese mandolin, still in its original box, which was a bit faded and beat up from being pushed aside in the small appliance drawer in my kitchen. The $29.99 China Fair label was still on it.  “All You’ll Ever Need!” the box exclaimed in English, French, Spanish, and Japanese. I know exactly why I bought this appliance nearly a decade ago when I was in my gourmet cooking phase, but apparently I never actually got to the point of needing it.

I brought Mr. Mandolin down to the basement. He was simply taking up space in the kitchen, dead to me now– time to be banished to the “appliance graveyard,” closet, as my husband dubbed it many years ago.

We all have appliances we were so excited about at the time, but don’t use anymore, right?  Some sit on the kitchen counter for a while as appliance architecture, before they are banished to the graveyard. Some have never been used. My friends have pasta makers, chocolate fountains, percolators, mixers…tools for a butcher, a baker, a popsicle stick maker.

I placed Mr. Mandolin carefully on the shelf, and surveyed my other friends currently in the appliance graveyard closet who would be keep Mr. Mandolin company until eternity (or at least until my kids clean out the closet after I’m dead. Because, like my own mother, I have no intention of doing this.) This is who I found:

Mr. Breadmaker, banished due to a severe disability in the form of a broken blade. Yes, I’m heartless.

Mr. Ice cream maker, a portion of him kept alive in deep freeze in the basement freezer—just in case of an ice cream emergency (like that 6 months when JP Licks stopped making oreo cookie frozen yogurt.)

Mr. Euro Sealer (Is he gay or European?)

Mr. Slow and Steady Dehydrator.

Mr. Fancy Pants Juicer.

Mr. Reliable Rice cooker.

Mr. I Have No Idea Who or What You Are.  Where did you come from?

Mr. George Forman Grill

Mr. Waffle Maker

Mr. Coffee Bean Grinders, (multiple) Mr. Coffee Makers, and a Mr. French press.  Ooh la la.

As I surveyed my old friends, I smelled fresh baked bread at six in the morning, and recalled exactly where my extra 10 pounds came from. I saw the excitement of my son opening the ice cream maker, an extra “little” Bar Mitzvah gift from our best friends. I heard the collective laughter of our family in New Hampshire after watching an infomercial and buying the Euro Sealer on impulse.

I remembered fondly that my daughter bought the dehydrator with her own money when she became a vegan in high school, and I knew she was in it for the long haul.  I remember the hours of cleaning that damned juicer after making fruit pulp muffins for her.  The rice cooker was a gift from my good friend Karen, because she had two.  The George Forman grill we brought over from our condo in the North End in the 80’s—when we were cooking just for two.  The waffle maker was a used for a long time in NH while sharing long, wonderful breakfasts with friends–I could just about taste the fresh maple syrup.   I could smell the rich aroma of coffee beans from a time we made coffee without the instant gratification of throwing a pod into a machine.

I know that when I wander into the appliance graveyard next I will see the Mr. Mandolin and think of him fondly, despite never having opened the package.  It will bring back a time when I was cooking “gourmet” for a full family–recipes a few times a week out of the “Yellow Book,” as we called the Gourmet Magazine Cookbook, its pages worn and splattered with food.  I will think fondly of a time when the kids were excited about our family dinners, talking about our days before I read stories and tucked them into bed.

The appliance graveyards in our lives hold an awful lot of memories.

No wonder we can’t throw these things out.

What dear old dead friends are you hiding in your basement?   Tell me I’m not alone.

 

 

Ronna Benjamin

Ronna Benjamin

When BA50’s Managing Editor and Partner, Ronna Benjamin, turned 50, she had an epiphany. After 28 years of practicing real estate law at both a large downtown law firm and then solo at her own firm, Ronna realized how much she loved writing and how much she hated lawyering. She jumped into the world of writing at betterafter50.com and never looked back. Ronna writes humorously about the things BA50s are concerned about – personal experiences with adult children, the illnesses and quirks of aging parents and in-laws, and their own mental, emotional or physical health issues (READ: insomnia, anxiety, and bulging waste line). She is an active BA50 with her pulse on what BA50s care and are talking about from politics to the most recent episode of Downton Abby. A native Bostonian who loves to spend time with her husband and three adult children, Ronna also enjoys sailing, cooking, running, and biking, and she tolerates skiing so she is not left home during family vacations. 

  9 comments for “The Friends I Keep In My Basement

  1. debbie hollander
    February 4, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Hey Ronna,
    Great article! I am Jacks sister (from Pa)… Not only do I have many of the same things.( including the perfect pancake maker…..there are also the “impulse buys” like the thing you wear around your waist to make you thinner immediatly.. the tights that burn fat..I am a total sucker for all of it! you are right.. good luck to the kids cleaning it all out!
    really liked the article!
    Debbie

    • Ronna Benjamin
      February 4, 2014 at 7:58 am

      Hi Debbie! Thanks for writing. I’ll take those tights, because I’m a few pounds up and I am really sick of exercising and I can’t seem to shut my mouth. I’ll pay the postage if you include the waist reducer in the same package….love it!

  2. February 4, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Wonderful article Ronna. I did eliminate many “old friends” prior to selling the house and relocating to an apartment, but just bought a MANDOLIN (introuced to me by a friend over the new year’s holidays at her house) to slice and bake applie chips which are better for us than the ice cream maker that has gone to the burial ground!

  3. Robin Zorn
    February 4, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I am the opposite of you: they call me the gadget queen out here! I now have tons of kitchen stuff that I use, way more than I used to! I even have TWO mandolins! I can see my kids rolling their eyes right now… But seriously, if it makes it easier for me in the kitchen, I’m there. The UPS guy loves me, and Jeff Bezos? He adores me!!!

  4. JUD
    February 5, 2014 at 10:58 am

    THAT’S A GOLEM IN YOUR BASEMENT. HE/SHE IS KEEPING AN EYE ON ALL YOUR STUFF INCLUDING THAT WHICH YOU TOOK OFF THE BOAT. HOW’S THIS FOR AN ANECDOTE: AT YOUR INLAWS I REMARKED THAT I HAD JUST BUILT A SAUNA IN MY BASEMENT. KENNY SAID: “OH, I HAVE ONE”. HE THEN PROCEEDED TO UNFOLD A PROTABLE SAUNA AND SET IT UP. WHAT A GUY (SORELY MISSED EVERY TIME I GO ABOARD THE BUNNY HOP. I JUST TURNED 90 AND 50+ GAVE A BANG UP PARTY FOR ME. WOW! THEY EVEN SUPPLIED A 40 YEAR OLD TO HOLD MY HAND ALL EVENING. UNFORTUNATELY I GUESS THSY DIDN’T PAY HER ENOUGH TO WARRANT HOLDING ONTO ANYTHING ELSE OF MINE. LOVE AND MISS YOU GUYS, PARTICULARLLY FREDDIE. (ABBY IS HERE FOR A MONTH. REMEMBER HER MICHAEL AS SHE WAS YOUR SITTER AT ONE POINT IN TIME?) LOVE, FOREVER JUD

  5. February 5, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    I don’t have a basement but a pantry floor that does house a waffle maker, I don’t like waffles, and a juicer that weighs about 35 pounds and lots of parts not with it and an electric knife sharpener that really doesn’t get knives very sharp!
    What I don’t have is a wok. Our new range’s stove top has a grate that flips so you can use a wok. I called a few friends who have basement appliance holding areas and one had 2 woks. When I asked if she wanted to part with one she wasn’t sure if one of her kids would want it. I understand that is an excuse and really it is about parting with a friend, even if it is a twin.

    • Ronna Benjamin
      February 6, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Those juicers….heavy duty in many senses of the word! Ok, go out and get a wok….I wish I had an extra to give you– I actually use mine!

  6. Stephqnie
    August 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Laughing, because my parents tried to give me their meat slicer from the basement….,since I married a vegetarian, I was pretty sure I wasn’t ever going to use it.

    Although my parents did laugh at Adams bread maker ….one of his first gifts to me….which I love.

    Now, what to do with the Popsicle maker…..exchange it with your waffle maker?

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