Saturday, November 24, 2007

NaBloPoMo Day 24: Kitchen Prejudice

I have something against kitchen things that only do one, very limited thing. My mother-in-law bought me an avacado slicer for Christmas a few years ago. I have an avacado slicer already--it's called a knife. It also doubles as a tomato slicer, a mushroom slicer, a chicken breast golly, it really slices just about anything. The avacado slicer slices just avacados, and from the looks of it, it doesn't really perform that one single task that well.

Alton Brown annoys me a little bit, but he is just really right about kitchen gadgets. I believe in tools that multi-task. An olive pitter? No thanks; my meat mallet and a clean kitchen towel do the same thing in a lot less time. Lemon zester? Nope, microplane. Did you know that there's a tool that forms cute little butter balls? Dear God, why? I am prone to putting the butter on the table on a plain old ordinary plate. If I like you, I'll unwrap it from the paper wrapper. Just lop off whatever you like.

Since moving out of my parents' home, I've never had a huge kitchen, the kind of food that a food nerd like me really wants. The one I have now is perhaps the most sensibly-designed that I've ever had, and I am still short on space. If you had no limit on space in your kitchen and you didn't have to worry about things like multi-tasking kitchen tools, what's the kitchen tool you wouldn't ever have to live without?

I am ridiculously practical. Mine is my Cuisinart Classic Food Processor, with the 14-cup bowl. I use it almost every day for everything from making salsa to shredding cheese to chopping vegetables to making bread dough. It is obscenely versatile, can do just about anything, and works like a champ. A close second would be my 6-quart cast iron enameled Dutch oven. It's not an Emile Henry or anything. It came from Target, and cost, I think, somewhere around $40. But this particular one was Chef's Illustrated's runner up, right behind the Le Crueset one that cost something like $315. It's oven-safe to something like 500 degrees, tough as nails, perfectly even when browning meat, with a tight-fitting lid that rarely lets a drop of braising liquid get away. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking about what I need to buy for carbonnade a la flamande, a Belgian beef stew made with dark beer and onions that comes out perfectly in this pot. My mother-in-law gave me one for Christmas last year, but I actually already owned it, so it's still sitting in its box in my pantry, waiting for me to remember to give it to Kimberly next time I see her (I've now forgotten three different times).


Treen said...

I hate Alton Brown with a passion. He's just so annoying.

Those butterballs aren't so cute when they're your sidework for the night at work and you have to make hundreds of them as you're getting triple sat so people can have excessive amount of butter. They're basically just mini ice cream scoops, they double as mashed potato scoopers, baked potato topping scoopers, and a ton of stuff that the preppers make in the morning scoopers. The big one we used to use just got vetoed by corporate in favor of this teeny tiny little one so we use less butter. Except that people immediately look at the scoop before I even set down their bread and go "I need way more butter than that". So, I will never ever have one of those in my home because it lost it's novelty about 4 years ago.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know about butter balls, eh?

meloukhia said...

Amen, I hate gimmicky kitchen gadgets.

merseydotes said...

I really do love my Microplane grater. I also love my Oxo locking tongs with a deep passion and my silicone-lined oven mitts.

My MIL just got me your food processor for an early Christmas present and I can't wait to figure it out! I've never had a food processor before, and I'm so excited.