More of my favorite things. Minus the microplane, which is having its time in the shower, the dishwasher, on the longest and loudest cycle known to humankind. I hand-wash it every time I grate cheese or anything with it, but every week or so I make sure it goes through the dishwasher.
Now, I tell my students not to buy one gadget that does one thing, like a strawberry huller, corn silk brush or mushroom brush. But I do have my favorites, that I keep around for years or give away.
So why don’t we start with the peppermill, the large vertical object left of 12:00 and go clockwise. I don’t remember who even makes this except Jim got it for me at Sur La Table and it has an infinitely calibrated grinding mechanism for peppercorns of any size, plus a large capacity for peppercorns, which I buy at Penzey’s. The top screws off and the entire top reservoir is for peppercorns so you don’t have to fill it all the time or take apart any mechanisms.
To the right are scissors that come apart at the intersections of the very sharp blades for cleaning. Note to spouses: hide these otherwise they’ll end up in the garage.
Next is a sauce whisk. Note its vertical shape to get down into the corners of a sauce pan. I also use it in varied Pyrex measuring cups to make vinaigrette. This is not what you want to use to whisk egg whites.
Ah, my perfect wine/bottle opener has a foil cutter, teflon screw and dual-stage opener that allows one not to disturb sediment on a vertical bottle of aged red wine. The handle is metal. Sur la Table. Buy three and give at least one as a gift.
The spatula is vintage Revere Ware, from Jim’s Mom. I’m trying to find a potato masher with square holes like my Mom has, but haven’t seen one to date. To the right of that is an antique aluminum scoop I bought many years ago. I used it for dog food. Now we mostly use it for parties to move ice from the cooler to glasses. Yes, it was well-washed years ago when my dog passed.
Kitchenaid ice cream scoop. Will last a lifetime, is very sturdy and if you dunk it in warm water it’ll scoop the hardest ice cream!
My favorite wedding gift (thanks MB and Craig) is this strap wrench from Sears. When Jim and I got married, my arthritis was really acting up in my wrists and knees. We got a gift certificate from the local mall from our friends and he said, “Let’s go!” We went to the tool department at Sears and he bought this contraption. Ten dollars, best gift I’ve ever received. Jim is so strong that he re-seals a soda bottle as if his life depended upon it. It helps me open jars and is much less expensive than any product one might see on late-night TV to help older folks open jars electrically. It works!
Needle nose pliers are excellent for pulling pin bones out of salmon. Another trick for scaling fish is a horse’s curry comb which I bought for $4. Once I started using it to get undercoat out of the dog I removed it permanently from the kitchen. Oh, ladies, buy two sets of needle nose pliers so your S.O. doesn’t take yours to the garage.
Meat pounder. I used to have a light wooden mallet with a head that tended to fly off. I had to do ten times the work and worry about beaning Jim or killing Zoe the dog. So he got me this. It’s heavy and does the work for making Chicken Saltimbocca in a flash.
Instant read thermometer. One for meats, one for candy-making that goes to higher temperatures. Note to borrowers: do not place this in the oven in your Thanksgiving turkey for eight hours. It is an instant read thermometer.
Flamey thing. This is a really cool one with a hot and intense flame that will even work to light a grill when it’s windy outside. I use it for lighting candles at dinner parties et al.
Outside is an OXO can opener. If you’re using a grocery store can opener that goes 1/2 inch around a tuna can and stops, throw it away and get one of these. The OXO tools were made for people with diminished capacities but my Dad started buying them for me over 20 years ago because they’re well made and save time and effort in the kitchen.
Next is the potato ricer. Cook your peeled potatoes thoroughly and place them through this and they’ll be light and fluffy. Do not use on rutabagas (as in a Thanksgiving root veg puree) as, well, just say I know better.
Inside is a pastry blender. I can’t use my fingers to mix the butter, flour and salt for pastry to pea-size before adding ice water, because I’ll melt it. This makes it a quicker job than using a fork.
French pop-up sponge labeled Sur La Table. If you live in certain states, Trader Joe’s has their own brand for less. These leave less residue wiping a kitchen counter than a cellulose sponge. My rule is two weeks in the kitchen, two weeks cleaning house, then to the garbage it goes (Ok when I had cats the final two weeks were cleaning the litter box then out).
Finger peeler. Great for long things like carrots, cukes, russet potatoes. I wouldn’t use it to peel an apple. For that I’d use an OXO peeler (again if you have one of those all-metal flimsy things get rid of it). OXO is worth the money for the time and effort it will save you. Lefties, pay attention! A lot of things are ONLY made for righties so check it out before you buy.
Finally, another Sur La Table gem, to be used to measure pastry et al. Inches on one side, centimeters on the other. In the middle of the red plastic housing is a button and everything rolls back in at the touch of a finger. I bought my Aunt one for her knitting.
I hope this helps in the cook’s tools department, as well as photos. PDX, you may have to fly in for a certain event for me to make and photograph that salmon dish!
Have a wonderful dinner tonight and tune in tomorrow for more on the Dee channel.