Monday, 20 September 2010

Do you really need to store cookbooks in your kitchen?

Cooking in our household tends to be split between Annie cooking nice fresh vegetable dishes for the family, and me trying something over-ambitious after spending half the weekly food budget on a couple of unusual ingredients.
So I tend to be the one that will actually flick through cookbooks for inspiration, or just to make myself hungry, and as a result, we’ve got a small shelf devoted to them in the kitchen, taking up a reasonable amount of room.
But do we actually need cookbooks anymore?
Obviously you’ve been able to get recipe websites for a long time now, or download the same books as e-books rather than print. But the trouble is, no-one wants a laptop perched next to hot frying pans or sinks full of water etc. So besides the people who actually bought an internet fridge, generally durable print books have stayed.
But what about tablets?
Not just Apple’s iPad, but what about all the new Android-based tablets that are coming out for a much lower price?
For the cost of two or three high quality cookbooks, you’ll be able to pick up a lower-priced tablet computer which has access to every recipe and image on the internet, assuming you’re likely to already have access to wifi in your house (just buy a wifi enabled router, set your security settings and away you do). Plus, you don’t have to leave a tablet laying on the kitchen counter next to a big bowl of something dangerous to electrical goods.
I’ve already seen pictures of people mounting their iPad into the front of a kitchen cupboard – high enough to be right in their eyeline whilst cooking, and away from ingredients which could hurt the tablet. Besides the risk of stream/condensation, it seems like a tablet in the kitchen is a logical way to be able to also access recipe videos etc, and possibly make shopping (grocery) lists and even buy them online, while you remember.
The only flaw I can find is that it relies on you wiping hands and fingers clean before using the touchscreen. They smear bad enough with just normal fingers rubbing over them, but add in some batter or dough, for example, and they might have serious problems… Maybe you could accept that buying a new tablet every so often, or using a wireless mouse which will need regular replacement, is the cost needed to save on buying any more print books, or needing any more storage space for recipes you might never actually get around to cooking?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Update your kitchen cabinets with some new parts

One way to improve the look of your kitchen without spending thousands on replacing the whole thing is to look at what you can update and reuse. For instance, it's often possible to replace the kitchen cabinet doors and handles to transform the space, rather than replacing all the parts of the cupboards that you'll never see.
There are cheaper ways to find the parts, but I've just spotted some handy art deco kitchen cabinet knobs on ebay which would be just the thing...

They're being sold for £10 each, with £4.90 postage, but there appears to be the chance of a deal if you're buying in bulk. And if you're replacing a number of cabinets, or if you can find a friend that's also thinking about making some changes, buying in largr numbers is often a good way to save money.
Alternatively, there's always the option of checking out secondhand shops, reclamation yards, junkyards and even building sites and skips (obviously there are legal rules on just helping yourself to stuff that you might find).

 I've been thinking of taking that exact approach with our kitchen. The cupboards are pretty dull and not exactly inspiring, but it's pretty rare we'll ever see or notice the back and sides of them. So by replacing the doors, handles and possibly the worksurface, we'll be able to transform them. And we can even split the cost by leaving the current worksurface in place for the time being!