Blaming my tools

Smitten KitchenI’ve been reading a lot of cookery books of late. Since I decided to try and curb my spending, I have been at the library at least twice a week, stocking up on books because they’re free and the newness excites me. My love of cookery books is more for fun, than for practice. I’ll read a cookery book if I can’t sleep rather than to find a recipe.

That being said, I have spent a lot of time this month pulling together all the photocopies and flour dusted notebook pages and supermarket leaflets and magazine cut-outs that I have kept for years and actually organised them into some kind of a system and some kind of an order. I carefully went through the pile and culled the ones I was never going to make. Realistically, no one needs thirteen recipes for chocolate brownies. I kept six. I also seem to have five recipes for huevos rancheros and three for guacamole, even though avocado makes me nervous.

Every recipe book has a page, somewhere near the front, where the author explains the equipment that will be necessary for the contents of the book. A blender is usually in there somewhere. The recipes that require a blender are what I classify as Insomniac Reading, rather than Potential Meals.

With that in mind, here is a list of equipment that I do actually use in my kitchen:

– Plastic whisk
I find metal whisks get squashed easily, so I’ve moved on from those and picked up one where the handle does not come apart from the whisk element.

– Two sizes of plastic spatula
Wooden handles are best as plastic handles sometimes melt when you leave them leaning against a pan…

– Potato masher
IT IS HARD TO FIND A PERFECT MASHER. Find it, hold it, do not lose it when you move house. Mine is plastic (metal scrapes horribly on a non-stick pan) and from Sainsbury’s.

– Long handled plastic colander
I use this a lot more than I expected. This is perfect for those draining situations where a sieve is overkill, the colander is too big and using a pan lid is going to end in disaster. Mine is from Joseph via TK Maxx and I will buy this as a new home gift for everyone.

– Selection of sharp knives
I was very lucky that my sister (a knife fiend) gifted me some lovely metal handled knives for my last birthday. I love them. A massive knife, a bread knife, a long bladed knife and a paring knife. I also have a Sabatier paring knife that I love and was the first part of my Running Away Kit when I realised life with my ex-boyfriend was not going to last.

– Plastic chopping board
Mine is from Wilkinson and is super cheap. It is teal and I love it. It takes seconds to dry and I will have no qualms about replacing it. I don’t really hold with wooden chopping boards. I fear for their hygiene. They crack with water and heat and there are few things sadder than a cracked chopping board. Wooden chopping boards are great for serving bread or pizza, but they’re not for me.

– Peeler
Oh, how I struggled with finding a good peeler. I still haven’t BOUGHT a good peeler, to be quite frank. I’ve purchased a lot of poor peelers. My parents have a great one. It’s got string round the handle and a sharp static blade. I want to steal it. Other static blades that I’ve bought have been ridiculously unwieldy or painful to hold and I peel a lot of potatoes. I don’t get on supper well with a moving blade (I can’t think how better to describe it), but my flatmate has one from Norway which is old, but brilliant. I have yet to slice my fingers off.

– Big Kitchen Scissors
The TRAUMA over scissors in my parents’ house. Oh. My. God. No matter how many blue Ikea scissors there are, there is NEVER a pair in the kitchen when you need them. I have no idea what my mother does with them. For a while there they had their own holding station in a spare drainer board (don’t ask, I don’t understand either) under the microwave, but that system fell apart. You need heavy handled, sharp easy to clean scissors. My flatmate is currently the scissor provider in my current household.

– Grater
I don’t really hold with box graters. The handles usually get mangled or disengaged on one side. The three-graters-on-one-plane set up is great, but the plastic frame usually breaks quite easily. I bought a bright red plastic handled Betty Crocker number in Canada and I love it. It has two grades of grating and I haven’t get grated off skin or fingernail.

– Plastic or wooden spoons/ladles
I have one deep bowled plastic spoon which does a lot. I ought to commit to a ladle, but I don’t fancy it.

– Pyrex measuring jug
It’s the law to have one of these, right?

– Electric Whisk
Mine was too cheap from Russel Hobbs. It has five speeds, but speed one already flings the mix around the kitchen. Next time I purchase an electric whisk, I will through some money at it. I have never ever used the dough hooks.

– Metal sieve
It was cheap and I fear for the handle, but it does the job.

– Massive glass mixing bowl, medium sized metal mixing bowl
For mixing and melting. And salads.

– Frying pan, set of three saucepans, one large stock-pot type saucepan
I can’t see how I would need more than this, but every now and again I am tempted

– Plastic spatula for flipping
Lakeland have confused me here with two types of spatula. The one I mentioned earlier is for scraping things from bowls, this one is for flipping things or scraping up chips (for example!) off a baking tray. One of these things is probably called a different name, I just can’t think of it. You need one with a sturdy handle and a sturdy flipping surface.

– Lemon reamer with collector/strainer
I wanted a wooden one but couldn’t find one when I needed it, so bought a bright yellow plastic one with a tray and a strainer. It takes up far too much drawer space and is annoying to clean, but there we are.

– Silicon pastry brush
These can be thoroughly cleaned and don’t leave suspicious hairs behind!

Wow, tongs are great. From lifting toast to hoking kippers out of the boil-in-the-bag bag to grabbing pizza straight off the oven shelf. So so good. I love mine.

– Ceramic dishes
For lasagne and crumbles

– Ramekins
For measures, tiny desserts and mise en place. Mine were originally salted caramel dessert pots from Waitrose. They are blue. No one should ever buy ramekins. They are an excuse to buy puddings.

– Baking trays
A roasting dish, cake tins (round), a flat shallow “cookie sheet” and a square number for brownies. All non-stick, because SCIENCE and washing up.

– Electric measuring scales
Accuracy and space


Things I don’t bother with, because I find them either unnecessary or too much of a faff:
– garlic press (just chop things)
– electric mixer (don’t make those things. Or invest in a stick blender, I guess)
– slotted spoons (why?)
– colander (I have a sieve, a small one and a pan lid. I rarely need something so large)
– ice cube trays (Ice cube bags are more my thing. Bad for the environment, I know)
– pasta spoon (why? Who is making this much pasta? Why is a fork not enough?)
– a steamer (Jamie Oliver it with a sieve and some tinfoil)
– pizza wheel (I have a big knife)

Things I should probably get:
– wine bucket (shoving a bottle in the freezer isn’t classy)
– gravy separator (but Bisto exists…)
– more saucepan lids (I only have two. This isn’t right)
– oven and hob proof Le Cruset type number for making tarte tatin
– rolling pin (but I don’t with the pastry, so…)
– a stick blender
– whetstone (I fear I would only blunt the knives)

Things I want but shouldn’t buy:
– crepe maker
– waffle iron
– copper pans
– electric doughnut maker
– candy floss machine
– pale blue Kitchenaid.


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