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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lady Bracknell seeks the advice of her readers

Many years ago, Lady Bracknell was advised by the gentleman who taught her art in her first year at grammar school (and who, coincidentally, had the same name as a British artist famous for his seascapes) that she ought to sharpen her pencils with a knife rather than with a pencil sharpener. This, he explained, was because the people who manufacture pencil sharpeners are the same people who manufacture pencils. It is therefore in their best interests to produce sharpeners which reduce one's pencil to an unwieldy stub as quickly as possible.

(Not that Lady Bracknell has ever taken a sharp knife to a pencil as the result of that advice: she has chosen to sacrifice pencil-length in favour of the continued physical integrity of her fingers.)

However, she was reminded of that advice today when re-filling her pepper mill. Unlikely though it is that pepper mills are manufactured by distant arms of the companies who oversee the growth, harvesting and sale of peppercorns, that scenario would at least serve to answer the first of the questions she is about to put to her readers:

  • Why are pepper mills designed in such a way that it is impossible to re-fill one without a large proportion of the peppercorns rolling off the work surface onto the kitchen floor, thereby creating a hazard to persons whose sense of balance leaves a lot to be desired at the best of times?

and

  • Are there any mills on the market which can be filled without incurring this irritating spillage?

(Lady Bracknell toyed with the idea of asking her readers why peppercorns cannot be grown in the shape of a cube so that they would be less prone to rolling, but discarded the notion on the grounds of its being exceptionally flippant.)

11 Comments:

Anonymous aendr said...

(I've been reading for a while)

I have the same problem with pepper mills and haven't found one which is easy to fill yet. I usually put mine in a bowl and use a piece of paper rolled into a cone to fill it. I still get peppercorns in the bowl, but not usually over the floor any more... except that one time I knocked the bowl off the side and ended up with glass and pepper all over everywhere. Since then, it's been a plastic bowl :-)

9:56 pm  
Blogger Becca said...

Dare I suggest that Lady B avail herself of a small plastic funnel at the earliest opportunity?

Also, she should consider placing her peppercorns into a jug with a spout to pour them into the mill, rather than attempting to pour directly from bag to mill.

As the previous poster so wisely mentioned, placing one's pepper mill in a bowl (or on a tray) during this operation reduces the hazard to a tenaciously-ambulant pepper mill operator.

10:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think my Mother still regards me as the pepper mill monkey. It's always my good self who usually fills it, and I'm pretty sure that should I depart this mortal coil rather sudden like, my Mother's pepper mill would remain bereft of pepper corns as a mark of respect, and no-one else bothering to fill the blessed thing.

11:19 pm  
Anonymous Chris Mac said...

Sorry. The above is me by the way.

11:21 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Ah. A funnel and a bowl. Not rocket science. Lady Bracknell has a Krypton Factor of about minus 6. At a rather generous estimate.

11:30 pm  
Blogger Katie said...

Miss Katie would like to put Lady B's mind at rest and tell her that has she tried Colanders? they are a fine cooking establishment which would sell pepper mills already filled or you can buy them in other places which have them tready filled.

Miss Katie applauds her ladyship into finding out answers to everyday problems that might occur in the world or in Bracknell towers and sends her warmest wishes to Fishbone from Splodge, Miss Katie's feline companion.

12:30 am  
Blogger jfsouthpaw said...

I went down the funnel and bowl route and it did me no good, as the funnel would always go missing just when I needed it. I now buy Fiddes Payne pepper mills, complete with peppercorns. they have a very wide neck, so it is possible to unscrew the top and refil them, but I just buy a new one each year. I get them from Tesco, they have a clear plastic top and a glass container full of peppercorns.

4:27 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell is much obliged to Miss Katie and jf for their advice, but suspects that her upbringing really would not permit her to purchase a brand new pepper mill every time she ran out of pepper.

Why, Lady Bracknell's esteemed mother would be absolutely scandalised by the thought of such fiduciary profligacy!

6:15 pm  
Blogger jfsouthpaw said...

Well the glass part is certainly recyclable and it is possible the plastic top might be too, I am not sure. As I say, one lasts me about a year or more, so I do not see this as being grossly wasteful. If I were to refill it, I could make one last several years. But then I do live in an area where neighbours think they are supposed to fill their recycling bin to the brim every week (as well as a big black wheely bin.)

One possible solution might be to have an enormous (airtight)container for your peppercorns. That way you can submerge your pepper grinder into it without the peppercorns spilling out over the top of the larger container. It would mean buying lots of peppercorns, though.

3:04 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Ah, yes, Lady Bracknell had forgotten that she appears to live in one of the few remaining post codes where local councils don't provide recycling bins....

3:55 pm  
Blogger Randy said...

Dear Lady Bracknell: If I may be so bold as to offer a solution which, while undesired, (as a peroration is largely rhetorical and flowerey speech and therefore a reply - unneeded) my indeed provide a practical solution to a challenge which may as yet be unmet. The URL following leads to a funnel - one intended quite rightly for peppercorns and other dry spices. It can be purchased for a meager sum ($2.00 US) and if one was to store it in a memorable place, it may never wear out. I found your concern for preventing runaway peppercorns to be discomposing when it has occured to me as I am also a frugal person. Seeing one's valuable peppercorns rolling away to be only found in the dustbin seems such a waste and may justify this investment.
http://chefspecialties.com/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/3/products_id/108?osCsid=0c0dcfc0a3c3ba1b5fda4144937529b6

3:31 am  

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