27 February 2011
Indispensable Kitchen Tools
I agreed to host a blog posting event for the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers for February, and my topic was “indispensable kitchen tool.” Of course, being the procrastinator that I am, my own post is going up past the deadline I gave everyone else, but since it’s my party, I can be fashionably late if I want to. :^)
Some years back, I got a digital kitchen scale, having read that it was indispensable for great baking – weights are vastly preferred to measuring cups and spoons! However, not many American cookbooks are written with weights, at least not for the kinds of baking I lean towards (the sweet stuff). On the other hand, the bread baker in the family relies on it all the time, so it’s definitely indispensable for our continuing consumption of homemade naturally leavened bread. And since I’m not good at estimating sizes, I also keep a ruler in my kitchen, for all those recipes that call for things to be rolled out or chopped to certain dimensions. (I’m not so anal that it things must be exact, but I do want to know if e.g. my pie crust is closer to 1/4 inch or 1 inch!)
Of course, given that we have a bread baker in the family, one of our indispensable tools has been our Kitchen Aid stand mixer. We got it at a yard sale around 1990 for $20. Sadly, it died last week: metal fatigue from multiple years of kneading lots of loaves of bread led to the head falling off (in the middle of kneading!). Jonski Papa started making naturally leavened (aka sourdough) bread for us a few years back, and even had a very small bread baking business for almost a year (until he got a new Real Job With Benefits last June). He’s in the market for replacement parts or an old KA; failing that, is looking for a new mixer. Apparently bread baking forums are full of reports that the new KA-branded mixers are not up to snuff for hard core bread kneading so he’s looking at other brands. Since the unfortunate incident on Thursday, I have been using a hand-mixer that my eldest child won me at an auction a few years back – he didn’t know that I had one that I received as a wedding shower gift from one of my 5 year old Sunday School students [or more accurately, his mom!], way back in 1987. My son probably never saw me use it – we had a stand mixer, after all!
What I really had in mind when I came up with this topic is something very mundane and low-tech, and that is a roll of sticky labels. Labels, you ask? Why certainly! Way back in 2002, I got two GIANT rolls of these labels at The Scrap Box. If I recall correctly (and if the box they were in was accurately marked), they were discarded by a large book store company based in our town. I’ve used them as toddler entertainment while traveling; I use them to label boxes for storage, things going to school, mailing envelopes: but day in and day out, I label leftovers and other things going into the fridge (I’ve even been known to mark the ‘date opened’ on certain quick-to-perish commercial items). Almost nothing goes into the fridge without a label (because if it does, we are likely to forget what or how old it is.) The roll pictured here is my 2nd – I used up the first a while back. I don’t know what I’m going to do when this one is gone!
What are your indispensable kitchen tools?