Thursday, February 26, 2009

You bought what??!!

Occasionally you find yourself shelling out perfectly good money for something so embarrassing that you wish you could block it from showing up on your credit card.

No, not THAT.

It's an electric pepper grinder. And it's not like we didn't have a pepper grinder already. We did. That was the problem.

Fresh ground pepper is a wonderful thing, something I never had when I was growing up. Pepper came in a Durkee tin which lasted probably 5 years, so the pepper certainly wasn't fresh. We never noticed. But, unfortunately, when y0u cook a lot and read cookbooks and watch America's Test Kitchen on PBS, you become aware of things you didn't know you needed until then. A pepper mill was one of them.

To try out fresh ground pepper, I bought one of the prefilled McCormick pepper grinder dispensers you can find in the supermarket. What a revelation! The freshness and pungency sold the idea. I used these a while but the grind was inconsistent and occasionally you would bite down on a hunk of pepper. I had to buy a real grinder.

But which one? My husband searched for equipment reviews and discovered it was the consensus that Peugeot made the best ones. Yup, Peugeot, just like the cars. You'd be surprised what some of the European car manufacturers also produce. Peugeot didn't just make a pepper grinder, they made a slew of them. Stainless steel, copper, wood, clear acrylic, acrylic and wood, acrylic and chrome......take your pick.

We finally settled on a set of clear acrylic salt and pepper grinders with black walnut bases and caps. Beautiful things. We waited with baited breath until they arrived, and then filled them and tried them out. Fantastic! They produced a nice even grind, and worked like a finely tuned machine.

But they were small, maybe only 4 inches tall, and didn't hold many peppercorns. And since the grinding area was small too, it didn't produce pepper very quickly. This was fine for the table, but a problem to use when cooking, where you ground and ground and ground and ground to season one pot. We decided that these would be good in the dining room but by the stove we needed another model. And they do look wonderful on the table. Guests never fail to notice the Peugeot emblazoned on the base. I had already had bought a salt pig to keep salt by the stove for seasoning while cooking, which was much easier to use on the fly - just reach in and grab a pinch of sea salt when needed. (And that opens up the whole issue of gourmet salts, in which I simply refuse to get embroiled.)

While browsing through, I came upon a lever action grinder. You could hold it in one hand and pump the lever to dispense pepper. It looked like a good design, was much larger to hold more pepper, and could be used one-handed, which was a plus. So I ordered it.

When it arrived, it was also filled and tested with much anticipation. And while I can say that it does produce a prodigious amount of pepper at a time, the grinder wasn't consistent and the hunk-of-pepper-in-your-food problem re-emerged. Plus, while the one-handed operation was a good idea in theory, you had a seriously tired hand after seasoning a pot of mashed potatoes.

There had to be a better way. I went back to reading equipment reviews.

That was when I came across the Trudeau Gravati, a battery operated pepper grinder with a gravity (get it? Gravati?) switch. Fill it, put in the batteries, and when you invert the grinder it goes to town, producing pepper at a rate hand grinders can only dream about. There's an adjustment on the top for the grind, coarse to very fine, which doesn't seem to impede its production in the least. It's consistent, handy and appeals to all my retired engineer geek genes. It's a winner.

I am acutely aware of the reaction most readers are having right about now. ELECTRIC PEPPER GRINDER? Isn't that a little, I don't know, extreme? Overkill? Ridiculous, in fact? Well, maybe it is, but it works so well I can overlook the obvious reactions that to be honest occurred to me too, even as I was ordering it. But, I have to tell you, if you have any members of the household with dexterity and hand strength issues, it's the berries.Here's the whole lineup, including the salt pig, which really does have pig ears and a tail. I couldn't resist.

If you want something seasoned, you've come to the right house.


Suzan said...

I think it is a FABULOUS idea for the kitchen! I do love freshly ground pepper and have a beautiful olive wood grinder that I got as a wedding present a really, really long time ago. Sadly, the mechanism that grinds is no longer producing consistent grains. With the old arthritis kicking up, hand strength is sometimes an issue. Your electric grinder sounds like it would be great in MY kitchen!

Greenmare said...

I'll be right there with my scrambled eggs, I need a bit of salt and some of your marvelous pepper!

Vickie said...

a super fantastic idea, I shall have to look these up -it kills me to turn the pepper grinder-due to my arm impairment..woohooo way to go -who cares what the statement says if it works it's good yes...I can think of worserer things too see on a CC statment hehehe
cheers Vickie

QuiltingFitzy said...

Sounds marvelous! We buy the McCormicks too and have the large chunk issue as well. Wonder if you could put coarse sea salt in the same one? That'd be the berries!

Chris said...

My husband always wanted one of these but we grew up with the tin too. I have considered blogging about my IKEA cheese grater. It is such a great invention. I can't imagine life without it. :)

The Calico Cat said...

A. I Love America's Test Kitchen! (& the spin off Cook's Country)
B. I too grew up with pre-ground & had no idea how "bad" it was...
C. I grind my salt too...
D. & grate my nutmeg
E. & freshly squeeze my citrus
F. & freshly zest my citrus (with a microplane zester)

(I added the last 4 , becasue off the top of my head those are just a few example of how my cooking differs from my parents or grandparents.)