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The One Year Rule: Use It Or Lose It

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It goes like this: If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. Your blender, juicer, cocktail shaker, ice-cream maker. They’re just taking up space you need for other things. 

Baloney, I say.

This edict keeps blowing in the wind like the smell of week-old fish, and it stinks just as badly.

Some girlfriends and I were discussing this over dinner on Wednesday, after the Charlotte Observer had run an article that once again commanded us to use it or lose it in the kitchen.

“What about those things you look forward to taking out and using?” asked my friend Meg. “For  me, it’s the cookie press at Christmas.” Even if you don’t make those spritz cookies each and every year, that cookie press is part of your family’s culinary tradition. The same goes for the cast-iron waffle maker, the spring-form cake pans, or in my case, the entire set of Le Creuset cookware I’ve moved at least twelve times.

Even teenagers understand this. “We don’t always use our big teapots, but you crave a big pot of tea when you’re sick,” said Meg’s daughter Katie, 15. Her 16-year-old sister, Gaby, concurred that re-buying kitchen tools after getting rid of them wasn’t sensible.

Wouldn’t you feel silly if you jettisoned your pressure cooker, and next summer found yourself swimming in strawberries with no way to make jam?

But here’s what leaves the sourest taste in my mouth: Nobody proclaims a One Year Rule against tools or home-improvement items. You can buy a pruning saw, pick-axe, or ball-peen hammer – and no one bats an eye if you haven’t used them even once, five years later.

It’s as if the tools we use to make objects are more important than those we use to make our food. That’s exactly backward. No disrespect to crafters and builders, but nothing is more important in our daily lives than our daily bread.

Even if we only use those special pans once in a while to bake it.