We have become used to technology becoming obsolete, but the other day I saw my double boiler sitting on a shelf and realized it too had stopped being useful. My double boiler was first used by my grandmother who gave it to my mother who gave it to me. Like many things from years ago, it was built to last and it has.
My mother used it to melt butter which became the base for the white sauce that she used for tuna and chipped beef. She believed knowing how to make white sauce was a prerequisite for marriage, and she taught me how to make it using this pot. The simmering water in the bottom pan heated the content of the upper pan without burning it. She also melted chocolate in the double boiler using it to make our once in a blue moon hot fudge sauce over vanilla ice cream. Chocolate, like butter, burned easily in a single pan, so the double boiler was essential.
Staring at the pot, I realized that my microwave oven had replaced the double boiler for melting butter and chocolate. I never make white sauce any more, so I don’t need to stir the flour into the melted butter at the bottom of the pan. Chipped beef is too salty and tuna in white sauce no longer appeals to me. So the double boiler has become an artifact, perhaps one day to sit on a museum shelf with children wondering about how on earth they used it “back in the old days.”