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There are many gifts given to me and the family as a tradition each year for Christmas such as Turkish delight or pants and socks and of course the squished up orange battered at the bottom of the stocking. Though one odd gift we seem to receive every year is the pepper and salt shaker. We've had shakers shaped like caravans and hugging... blobs but each, though all good lookers on the breakfast table, failed to work well at all. In comes the 'snowman' as it's known around our house.
On first opening this present, we got overly excited by its appearance (though can only assume this was because we were drunk on Christmas cheer...and champagne). This snowman has quite a modern look to it with its curved 'body' and curved windows to show which side is which. I believe the main reason why we childishly giggled at it was because of the face quite cleverly added. The 'p' for pepper and 's' for salt as well as the arrows are placed in the shape of a face. Slightly tacky for those with a more 'mature' kitchen but perfectly cheeky for ours.
The main feature of the snowman is how the two shakers are cleverly merged into one. The head twists and, depending on the direction, will grind and dispense the salt or pepper from the bottom. This does this very well in comparison to other tougher to twist shakers we had had and may be the best grinder we've used (although my laziness does still make the pots of pepper more appealing).
To refill, the head pulls off with ease. This is where the problems come in. Not only does the head come of unwantedly on occasions leading to a spray of pepper corns and salts to cover the kitchen floor or my dinner but adding the salt and pepper can be quite tricky. Because there is only a small sheet of plastic separating the compartments, sometimes the wrong thing goes in the wrong hole. Not a huge problem as you're likely to want both dispensing but it is a nuisance.
Despite this problem I do think it is the best shakers we have had and would certainly recommend it to others.
~Anyone would think he was collecting ineffective mills~
My husband has a habit of going to boot fairs and coming back with salt and pepper mills. Most of them last only a short time before he realises that they're no better than the ones he had before and then he throws them out. Clearly people hang on to the ones that actually work and so the boot fairs of the land are the conduit for an endless procession of circulating sub-standard grinders.
For medical reasons I have recently needed to follow a really strict low iodine diet for the second time this year. I buy special pink Himalayan rock salt when I have to do this and I had already run down my supply of the fine grained salt whilst making bread. I was left with a pot of the coarse stuff which really needs to be ground before use. I needed a totally uncontaminated grinder so I turned down offers of dodgy mills from charity shops and boot fairs and went out to buy one that was brand spanking new. I saw the Colourworks Salt and Pepper mill - you could say our eyes met across the room; it looked at me, all pink and smiley, I looked back, less pink but equally smiley and he jumped into my basket along with a lot of other pink stuff from the Colourworks range.
~Kitchen Stuff can be Fun~
It's easy to think that kitchen activities are very grown up and to try to be equally grown up about your kitchen appliances and accessories but that's not so easy if you hang out in shops that stock Colourworks products. Their jolly, bright and very functional products charm me every time and this little mill is probably the most charming so far. It stands about 10 cm tall with a diameter at its widest point of about 8 cm. It's shaped like a very perfect snowman - with the head and shoulders being the twisty bit. On the front there are two eyes - one marked P for pepper and the other S for salt. The mouth is a double headed arrow indicating which direction to twist for each ingredient.
There's a lot to be said for a dual grinder - most importantly with only one mill you've got a really good chance of not losing half of the set. And being deep candy floss pink, you're unlikely to miss it either.
The mill is supplied empty which was essential for me but some might be annoyed to not have some salt and pepper included. To fill the mill just pull the head off and expose the two wells, one on either side of the mill. Since you've taken the head off, it's handy that they've remembered to mark the two wells with 'S' and 'P' so you don't get them the wrong way round. The main complaint I have about the mill is that it's really not very easy to fill the two compartments because the grinding mechanism fills most of the opening on each side. I got the salt in without too much trouble but there was so little space available for peppercorns that it was really tricky to get them in and a couple slipped into the salt well instead.
~Give it a Grind~
Once you've got enough into the mill, just push the head back on again. Looking at it you can see the pepper on the left and the salt on the right through the transparent windows on either side - so no excuses for not knowing that you're about to run out.
Grinding is easy - just follow the arrows. For pepper twist clockwise - for salt twist anti-clockwise. Simple. I was initially concerned that it didn't seem to be possible to change the fineness of the grind and my pepper was coming out too find and the salt too coarse. Fortunately I'd kept the wrapper and realised that all I needed to do was turn the mill over and fiddle with the 'grinding knobs' on the base to change the grind. Unfortunately the same instructions unhelpfully suggest that removing the knobs is the best way to fill the mill - take it from me that it isn't. It's the best way to break your nails, fill the air with swear words and tip salt and pepper all over the place. The grinders are ceramic which seems to be better than the usual metal parts, especially as they're less likely to corrode when in contact with salt.
~Cheap as Salt~
I paid £6 for my mill in the Denby shop at Cheshire Oaks outlet village in Ellesmere Port which is better than the prices that I've seen available online. Amazon have a number of traders offering them from £5.95 up plus postage and it appears that price depends quite a lot on the colour that you choose which - in my opinion - is just ludicrous. One joker is looking for nearly £30 for a lime green one including P&P. They were all the same price in the shop where I got mine but I was having a pink day and bought several items that all matched up nicely.
After a couple of months of being used several times a day I'm really happy with my little pink mill. When I was bored silly and hungry by my ultra-restrictive diet, the little smiley face was a welcome distraction from eating the same old same old every day. The mill has stayed clean and unmarked, any dust produced is easily removed with a tissue and it doesn't leave a scatter zone of 'bits' when you place it on the table or the counter unlike most of our other grinders. As I normally use pre-milled 'Low Salt' products I don't really need a dual mill but this little smiler had charmed me sufficiently that I don't think I'll be putting him away just yet.