what are your favorite kitchen tools?
I knew it.
I had my favorite kitchen tools as a cook. But then I went to culinary school. And wondered if my favorite, lovingly-worn out kitchen toys would start getting less attention. Get left on the shelf, forgotten in a drawer---icons of a novice cook. I remember watching myself... would my preferences completely change [because of culinary school] or would I retain my enthusiasm for using kitchen shears? Will I become snotty about using only metal mixing bowls and scoff at rubber spatulas, leave my garlic crusher by the wayside---and would I still err on the side of gluggs, tosses and pinches?
And you know what happened? It changed, but it didn't. I still use all bowls---not just metal ones. I fell in love with sharp knives---I started to notice that my knives at home were annoyingly dull---and I purchased a scale for my counter. But I still use my micro-planer [for nutmeg, chocolate, cheese, zest], and my kitchen shears [to cut pizza slices, herbs, fat off of poultry], and cook with gluggs, tosses and pinches (maybe even more so).
But I added a few. All of a sudden I loved my hand-held immersion blender, regularly used a strainer to smoothen out my sauces and was increasingly a fan of whisks. And I appreciated my knife---more than before.
Besides, I actually really like the weird habits I learned at culinary school.
And now it has been a year plus since cooking school and you know what? It changed again. Not because of training, but because of circumstance. I lived in Italy for the better part of a year, in a little, furnished, rented flat. And with it came 3 shoddy knives (1 was double-sided serrated, another had such a warped wood handle it pinched you while you cut and the 3rd was less than an inch high, 14 inches long, dull and wobbly). And no hand-held immersion blender or food processor, no microwave, no pizza stone or garlic press. No kitchen aid, no blender, no silpats or muffin tins. No coffee maker, no disposal, no spatula or micro-planer. I was starting from scratch. It would be like taking all your kitchen tools, toys and accouterments, dumping them into a box (oh yeah.... I actually DID that) and walking away.
I was stubborn, too. I didn't want to spend a lot of money filling in my kitchen-toy void. Not when I knew I would only be here temporarily and suitcase real estate was in high demand (better to buy cute little bowls). Nope, I would wing it. Be creative, innovative, figure it out with what I had. I was up for a challenge. I DID buy: a cheap toaster (but barely use it, now I use my stove-top grill), a stove-top cast-iron grill, a little strainer, a cheese grater, cutting board, silicon brush, tongs, cheap scissors and one 9x13. Huh.
And in this kitchen I constantly use: the stove-top coffee maker, the food-mill (pictured; especially for basic tomato sauce), a set of tongs (WAY more than before; I love tongs!), the stove-top grill, my 9x13 pan, shoddy knives, cheap scissors, 1 lovely whisk, wooden spoons, cutting boards, skillets, and a large pot for boiling water and stock. I use foil and parchment more, grill more bread and vegetables, and reheat sans microwave. It has been a fun challenge to make it work; challenge makes you grow. And this sparsely equipped kitchen pushed me to stretch my habits and try new things. And I founded out I needed less, and that many of my kitchen tools really are clutter.
But here are toys I missed:
- my salad spinner. Yeah, the green leaves over here are really out-of-the-ground dirty, and when I clean them and want them dry, I swing them around---in a kitchen towel---like a madwoman and it makes tread marks up and down the walls. Though... it makes me laugh every time.
- my immersion blender. I miss it less than I thought I would, but the lack of my little hand-held has led to less soups.
- a good knife. I miss this the most. I am holding out for a really good one... I hope to buy the new 'knife of my life' in the coming months.
- my pasta roller. I love that I miss this... because I have had one for years that I never used. I WILL use it when I return to the states. I am ready to make pasta, roll it out and stuff it a million times over. A roller will become a new favorite toy.
So tell me... what are your favorite kitchen tools toys?