So… I thought it would be a nice addition to the blog to list those items that I use most in the kitchen. By and large, I haven’t listed the really esoteric stuff (and while I do use a food processor from time to time, the H hasn’t yet convinced me that my future lies in embracing it. Mostly because it’s a lot of hassle to clean…). I’ve provided links to amazon, not to endorse stuff, but mostly because short of taking pictures of everything it was the handiest way to show you what my appliances look like (I’m very peculiar about some stuff, as you’ll see).
(and yes, I haven’t been cooking enough to provide a recipe and needed a cooking post. How did you guess?)
1. 13-inch wooden chopsticks: very handy for anything from beating eggs to fishing blanched carrots out of boiling water. There’s much, much larger models for deep-frying and wok cooking, but I’ve always found them rather unwieldy for everyday cooking.
2. Garlic press: I know there’s a big debate on whether it’s a good idea to use a garlic press. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no debate at all. I need chopped-up garlic almost every evening, and I don’t need to make the taste of the garlic milder (who’d want to do that?). I could use item #3 on my list (mortar and pestle) to make a purée, but when I just have a few cloves to mash it’s just easier to reach for the press, which is much lighter and cleans more easily. I got my garlic press from the Chinese district in Paris for a ridiculously low amount of money, but if I had to buy one again, I’d pick one where the grid of small holes detaches (makes it way easier to clean up), and make sure that it’s sturdy enough and heavy enough. Mine looks a lot like this except not at that price point.
3. Granite mortar and pestle: handy for mashing ginger (which I do for about one meal in three or one meal in two), puréeing large amounts of garlic, or grinding spices. I used to have an olive wood one and basically never touched it; for some things you just need stone. I was told that the sound of the pestle hitting the mortar was one way families picked out their future daughters-in-law in Ancient Vietnam: it had to be regular, thereby proving that the owner knew how to cook. Makes sense, seeing how useful the thing is for everyday cooking! Mine is a 5″ model (I think it’s the outer diameter?), which is a nice compromise between being light enough for me to lug it to the sink, and large enough to handle what I put in it. Though if I had to buy another one, I might go for a 6″ model. Looks exactly like this (and probably was imported from the same place).
4. Chopping knife: my weapon of choice here is a 15cm-Santoku knife. The H and I differ quite wildly in our handling of kitchen knifes: he’s used to a chef’s knife, but for some reason the Santoku just sits more easily in my hand (I suspect it’s more congruent with both the shape of my hand as well as what I expect from a knife). I have a metal one; have to admit that if I
hit jackpot sell my novel, I might very well invest in a high-quality ceramic one.
5. Angled measuring glass: someone sold me on the 2-cup Oxo angled measuring glass a couple years ago, and I haven’t looked back. Compared to my old measuring glass, it has three advantages. One is that the angle makes it much easier to see what you’re measuring from above as well as from the sides; the second is that it’s handily graduated in imperial and in metric (my old glass, like many French glasses, was by weight of what you were measuring, like flour or chocolate or sugar); the third is that the metric scale indicates the first 10 mL (which is really useful for small amounts of liquid and avoids me juggling with tablespoons and teaspoons). I see, though, that the version for sale on amazon.com doesn’t really seem to have #3 on my list, which is odd?
And that’s all for this week–tune in next week for the next five items on the list
What about you? What items couldn’t you do without in the kitchen?
(part 2 of this list is here)