A Survival Guide for the Hyper Focused
After it was all over, and I made a comment that indicated that I’d totally missed the guys setting the sawdust pile in the attached garage on fire, my hostess calmly said she was glad to know about this superpower of mine. Now she knew that should the place ever catch on fire again, she needed to slap me on the shoulder as she ran by with the kids.
I suspect I am not the only reader capable of phenomenal powers of concentration. This trait also shows up when I am writing.This talent, if you will, requires special tools and skills, especially in the kitchen. I know more than one writer who has boiled kettles or saucepans dry, burned things in the oven, or cut off a fingernail chopping vegetables. As an expert at trying to injure myself, may I offer up a few suggestions?
For starters, consign your teakettle to decorative status, unless you’re standing guard over it heating water for a tea party. A whistler is no guarantee that you won’t boil it dry. Microwaves will not truly boil water, and that water cools down quickly. Don’t even think about putting a saucepan of water on to boil and walking away, unless a timer is in your hand–and stays in your hand.
A stainless steel electric kettle is a godsend, and the best tool ever for a writer who likes to drink hot fluids. A plastic kettle is lighter, but I couldn’t stand the taste of the boiled water. So if you’re a super taster, don’t bother with one that is plastic. A detachable base is wonderful, and the kettle must – must – turn off automatically once it hits boiling temperature. My own unit (it worked like a Trojan for six years, and died on my birthday) had an on/off light, an outside water level indicator window, and a locking lid that would not release until the base unit was turned off. It was a Chef’s Choice, and was a gift. I liked it a lot, except for one little problem – it got very hot on the outside. I burned myself reaching past it once (and promptly moved the location of the item I was reaching for…) This kettle, and many like it, must be treated as if it’s a teakettle fresh off a stove burner.
Features I wish it included? I wish it kept the water warm after boiling. After a time, I had to re-boil water. There are kettles that do this, but my older model didn’t, and you can still buy this solid little fellow in the same incarnation. I wish it had more than one heating temperature, so I didn’t have to wait for the water to cool when I wanted green tea. That feature is available in kettles, but it varies in how well it works and what you’ll have to pay for it. I really wish I could get one that is cool to the touch on the outside!
Another little problem with electric kettles – looking at reviews on sites, there seems to be about a 20% failure rate. Most people love them, but a measurable percentage report being disappointed or disgusted with the product. When I look at new contenders to dream about, I find that even the Krups Silver Art is seen by many as a failure, with some kettles flawed right out of the box. The Brevilles are highly recommended by some users, and others fear that the plastic water windows in several models may contain BPA. (A few Breville models now specify that the plastic is BPA-free.) Cost doesn’t seem to enter into quality, at least up to $100. The Amazon reviews are eye-opening.
But when you get one that works, it will boil that water, and then shut off. That is a huge improvement over setting the kitchen on fire.
So – here is a review of 24 different units. A friend recently recommended this Cuisinart to me. It has tons of fans, but also has a measurable percentage that fail right out of the box. Sigh. When budget allows, I think I’ll go for this Adagio, after weighing price, features and popularity. Not my style, but how it looks is secondary to how it works, at least for a writer who boils saucepans dry. I’m not ready to drop several hundred dollars on a kettle, but…if the perfect one appears? I’ll start saving up!
Do you have a favorite electric tea kettle? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Would you buy it again?
Next time, let’s talk about timers, because timing is everything.