Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Mommy Has Favorites

I am very fond of my red kitchen, which is very functional and full of groovy tools. But there are some for which I have particular fondness. Plus, I'm pretty sure it's in the rules somewhere that all food blogs must, from time to time, wax rhapsodic about essential cooking tools.





The coffee maker.



Duh. Because you have to have coffee. You have to have coffee to start the day, you have to have coffee to cap the perfect meal. (This also assumes having decaf in the house, for the light weights. Sometimes I forget that).



The corkscrew.



We have to replace this tool about every 2 years. I live by the motto that you should never cook with any wine you wouldn't drink. That's why I've never purchased "cooking sherry" in my entire life and never will. Wine does not merely accompany a meal. Wine is the soul of a good sauce, vital to a delicious daube. The Spouse insists on a glug of red wine in the house pizza sauce.



The beauty of a corkscrew, as we were reminded during the Big Blow of '06, is that it isn't powered by electricity.



I call this wooden spatula "Dame Judi", because it is an all-purpose, useful thing, like my mom. I found it at a yard sale for 25 ¢. "Dame Judi" can stir, scrape up deglazed bits from a pan, flip pancakes, flatten fried plantains...whatever is asked of her. She bears her age with remarkable grace.




The microplane. I saw people using these bad boys on cooking shows for years but never had one. A grater is just a grater, after all, right?

Wrong.

Microplane graters come in all sizes. We have a box grater microplane that The Boys gave us for a hostess gift and which I love but this little number gets used all the time. Food glides right over it. I can reduce a hunk of very hard Parmesan fairydust bits without breaking a sweat.



When we were first married, The Spouse worked for a specialty food company. He drove truck in the morning and did computer stuff in the afternoon. One of the benefits of this job was that he got to bring home goods that couldn't be sold. If, for example, a bottle of olive oil broke in the case, all the bottles that got oily couldn't be sold so they just sat in the warehouse, free for the taking. For years we never spent a dime on oil, balsamic vinegar, capers and the like.


Once there was some food show at which his company had a presence and one of the other vendors was using KitchenAid mixers at their booth. When the show was over, The Spouse negotiated an obscenely good price for one of the mixers. One of the first things I ever used it for was marshmallows. (Hmmm...haven't made those in a while....). These things are built to last. I expect my great-grandchildren will still be using this mixer.






My Nigella Lawson measuring cups. I ♥ them because they look like proper teacups. I'm a sucker for good design and like having tools that are both functional and beautiful. I like that they look like teacups because long, long ago, that's what women used when a recipe called for a cup of something. I feel very retro when I use these.





For years I used cheap whisks from the grocery store. Then we discovered Dick's Restaurant Supply. I have 2 of these big balloon whisks. They have heft. That's important when you're whisking egg whites and don't want your arm to fall off from exhaustion.





This is, after our house, the single most important investment we've ever made.


I big, fat puffy ♥ my Viking. It has 2 ovens (one with a convection option), 6 burners and a griddle. It is beautiful. I love that it has little legs so it looks like a piece of furniture. I love that it is so big. I love that it is gas. (I'd never cooked with gas heat before we got this...I burned a lot of sauces before I got the hang of it).


We've turned out some pretty amazing meals on much smaller, much crappier stoves, all the while dreaming of what it would be like to have the capabilities of a big Viking range. And I'll be honest, we balked at the expense. But then we told ourselves that it would more than pay for itself.


When we remodeled our kitchen (designing around this purchase) this view was confirmed by the unanimous reaction from our friends, who all said, "I can't think of two people who will get more use out of it".

So we spent The Child's first year of college tuition. She can get a scholarship, right?




My hands. And I don't mean that in the obvious sense because of course I have to use my hands to cook. Rather, I consider my hands to be tools. From separating eggs to kneading bread dough to mixing meatloaf, sometimes using your hands makes the most sense. It's efficient, they are easy to clean and you can't drop them on your toes.

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