Wednesday, October 1, 2008
When it comes to cooking I have a set number of "go to" items that I always use first and will even run a sink of dish water to wash that item if it's dirty. My Cutco french chef's knife, or these wonderful wooden spoons I found at a great gourmet store in Joplin. They are readily available in most cooking stores, made of beechwood I think. I have three different sizes of these spoons and just love them to death. These are the things that put me at ease in the kitchen and give me the comfort and confidence to tackle a recipe or project. I know my tools, I know how they will work and what I can do with them and we just work well together. Do you have that relationship with your kitchen tools? My Granny had a knife she called fingers. Fingers was a pairing knife, but she used that knife for every single cutting project in her kitchen. De bone a turkey--fingers. Peeling a tomato--fingers. It was her knife and she used it for everything. You have to trust your tools.
There are few things in my kitchen that I will run out and re-purchase immediately upon the destruction of the original item. Take my turkey baster for instance, it has long been dead and yet I don't have a desire nor even an inkling to go out and replace this huge syringe. The baster met an untimely death when I needed to lift some watery greasy liquid off a skillet of slowly simmering meat, only to realize the one of my two boys had used it in the tub as a toy and not completely emptied out the watery sudsy mess which left a nice hunk of moldy goo in the bulb. This moldy goo decided to take it's leave into my pan!!! Meat ruined, blood vessels at maximum pressure I frantically tried to clean the thing, leaving it up to my dishwasher to kill any other rouge germs that might have been lurking about. I guess my dishwasher had a thing against it too, because the poor thing was evicted from its utensil basket onto the heating coil and cremated.
When it comes to measuring liquids my go to measuring cups are made by the OXO company. This company has an extensive line of grip friendly tools gadgets, trash cans and anything else you would think of at your disposal. I'm a big fan of OXO products and would highly recommend the purchase of any OXO product. Don't get me started on the OXO peeler please--love that thing [resisting tyraid on OXO peeler]. The measuring cups are just wonderful. I have quite a few OXO products, even my dustpan and whisk broom are OXO.
I love these measuring cups because they have a great no slip grip handle that is far enough away from the bowl of the measuring device that my fat man-sized fingers can grip it. I also love the angle measure marks. You do not have to have a degree in contortion to see how much liquid you are pouring in, or squat down to eyeball the precise measurement of liquid. When baking, precise measurement is critical to your recipe. A lot of bakers will tell you that weighing the dry ingredients is better than using a measuring cup, while I believe that to be true I'm not running out and buying a scale nor am I converting all of my recipes over to weight ACK!. With the angle design you can see the amounts as you look down upon the cup then pour to get the precise measurement you need.
There are four sizes of measuring cup that they carry. A 4-cup measure, 2-cup measure, 1-cup measure, and mini-measure. I did see a 2-cup stainless steel measuring cup on their website that just got me all a twitter, I think that would be cool to have. The mini-measure, which the website sells them in a 3-pack I was super jealous that I didn't get three!, is great for measuring vanilla, milk, or other items you need a Tablespoon of. It goes up to 4 tablespoons which is a 1/4 cup, right? 16 Tablespoons in a cup so 4 tablespoons would be a 1/4 cup, right? Let's just run with that and call each other smart!
I do have the traditional glass measuring cups, and use them on occasion, but I really like using the OXO. The only draw back is if you are whisking up a salad dressing or mixing something. The way in which the cup is designed does not lend it's self well to mixing. It can be done, but it's not fun and a little awkward. Much like I was from 1982-84 while in full puberty. I'd trip over my shadow!
I pulled out my 4-cup OXO measure cup the last week to measure buttermilk for a recipe I was making and when i picked up the cup there was milk on the counter. Curious I didn't think I had spilled the milk, usually pretty careful when pouring. I'm pretty practiced at it. So I walked over to the sink to get a rag to wipe the counter and sat the measure down to get the rag wet. When I picked it up...more milk! Could. There. Be. A. Crack. In. My. Cup? Sure enough a huge crack all along the bottom of my cup. Blast! "BOYS!"Titus didn't admit to causing the crack, Levi just smiled. Obviously my cup was used for a purpose not in it's original design and "cracked" under the pressure. That night we bought another one, I just had to have one.
Target has a nifty little boxed set of measuring liquid and dry cups, spoons, and something else. It's a great idea for a wedding gift. I looked on their website and could not find it, but I know they have them in the store.
What gadgets do you love and can't live without? Hopefully when you buy these you will add them to your list.