Useful Kitchen Tools, Part Two

People who know me understand that I’m a no-nonsense kind of person. I don’t dawdle, engage in polite small-talk or ‘hang out’. This attitude extends to the kitchen as well. I like my knives and my techniques and I believe that I can cook anything in my simple kitchen with just my knives and my small arsenal of pots and pans. ‘Have knife kit, will travel’, I say. So for Christmas, my brother gave me a joke gift that he admitted was from the dollar store and was something I might appreciate in a kooky way. I unwrapped the present and this is what was inside

It was one of those “As Seen on TV” tools that I find fascinating but dismiss as gimicky.

This particular tool solves the age old problem of separating the whites from the yolks without using your hands.

I guess some people don’t like the feel of egg whites. (If you can see my face, you will see that I am smirking.)  The other device inside the box is pictured below:

This self-professed ‘clever’ tool is designed to scramble the egg while it’s inside the shell, thus enabling you to have scrambled eggs without messing up a bowl. Gasp! I admit that as of this post, I have yet to try these two gadgets. I love eggs and hate the prospect of wasting a couple on these tools. I realize now that besides my knives, I DO have a few hand tools that are indispensable when it comes to my cooking repertoire. There are a few tools that I love as I wrote in this post. I took another look in my kitchen cabinets and found a few more tools that have become my favorites. Here’s a snap shot of more tools I LOVE:

They are pictured, from left to right, my pot strainer, mini offset spatulas, bread dough whisk, shower cap and peanut butter mixer.

The pot strainer is an old favorite. I’ve had it so long now that I don’t remember where I got it. It’s indispensable in my kitchen because it helps me strain foods that are still in a pot or bowl. It is so much better that using my hand or the pot lid to keep food from slipping through as I drain the liquid into the sink. It’s perfect for a bowl of soaked dried beans that need draining and a pot of hot macaroni that needs to stay in the pot. I have it in a drawer next to the kitchen sink because it is literally very handy. The design is simple and the little stubs on either side help hold the strainer on the rim of the bowl or pot.

The mini offset spatulas are my next favorite.  I began using this tool when I was a line cook. It was one of the few tools I used daily during my prep time and during lunch service. I consider this tool an extension of my fingers.  I loved it so much that when I lost it, I replaced it with not one but two more! When I need to lift something delicate like tiny piped meringues or French macaroons, the offset spatula is perfect. And when my “asbestos fingers” give out, tt’s useful when flipping hot food- liked slices of roasted vegetables or pieces of delicate fish.

This funky looking dough ‘whisk‘ and is another antique in my kitchen. It’s specifically designed to stir bread doughs without getting the dough caught into an unwieldy wad like you would get when you use a wooden spoon. I bought this when I saw it on a cooking show I used to watch- it featured a monk who also was a fantastic bread baker. I don’t recall his name, I just remember him using this tool as he whipped up a batch of bread dough by hand. I marveled at how he quickly and deftly mixed the dough without the benefit of a standing mixer. Man beats machine! I was impressed and went out and purchased this beauty. If you are an avid bread baker, I would recommend this tool.

The next tool is not a conventional kitchen tool. It’s not even a kitchen tool. It’s a shower cap. This particular one I pinched from my hotel room and keep it in my kitchen cabinet.  I found it very helpful when I need to cover something that’s in a bowl- like bread dough. The elastic band keeps a nice snug fit on most large bowls and is faster than whipping out the plastic wrap. Strange I know, but I like it.

Our household is made up of fervent peanut butter connoisseurs. This last tool is a very specific tool that the purist in me would never have purchased. But, we love our natural peanut butter. We do NOT, however, like stirring the peanut butter into the oil that rises to the top. So after several years of using a kitchen knife, a tiny whisk or rubber spatula with little success, I was determined to find an easier way to stir the peanut butter. Fate must have heard me because I found this tool at a hardware store and  purchased it without hesitation!

The thick wire ‘arm’ helps mix the peanut butter while scraping the sides of the jar to insure that all the peanut butter is incorporated with the oil. It’s amazing how quickly it works. God bless you Grandpa Witmer. I love this tool very much.

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