I suppose you can look at this either of two ways – you can view spending money on kitchen tools and equipment as fun or you can dread the idea. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. For me, the tools that are used in the kitchen represent something that I “use,” therefore they have to be of good quality. And as long and I’m purchasing something of quality, I don’t mind it all that much. It’s the disposable and consumable items I don’t like paying for, such as soda, fuel and chlorine for the pool. I know those were completely random products, but the point is that as long as I’m able to hold something in my hand and keep it forever, I’m okay with it. I’m not happy when things simply evaporate before my eyes.
This introduction brings me to today’s post on a few tools I picked up last week. Yes, I had to shell out some cash for them, but what I’m beginning to learn is that if one buys the proper equipment right off the bat, they may never pay for that same equipment again. I’ve failed in this respect. I’ve been through this two or three times already. I blame my effort of saving money on this failure. I’m cheap. Unfortunately, the first rule of cooking is to not be cheap.
I’m going to show you which items I purchased below. Along with each one, I’ll give some short commentary on why I purchased it and why I think it’s so important for every aspiring home cook or chef own what it is I’m displaying.
Without knowing it, I’ve needed these bottles very badly since I was around 20 years old. For years and years, I’ve been struggling with overusing oils and condiments to quite an excessive degree. If you’re familiar with the “gulp, gulp” sound of pouring olive oil out of those huge bottles it comes in, you know what I’m referring to. As a society, I think we’re consuming way too much of the stuff.
To be clear, my priority is to save oil, not to skimp on flavor. The thing is, since about a year ago, I’ve exclusively used extra virgin olive oil on my nightly salad as a dressing – and virtually every time I get to the bottom of my salad, I find a puddle of oil. It’s not huge, but I’d rather add only the amount I need to flavor what I’m eating. I don’t like to waste and I don’t like to end up attempting to soak up the excess oil with something else.
Gordon Ramsay turned me onto these bottles. As I was watching him go over his crispy salmon recipe, I heard him mention that practically every restaurant in the country now uses them. I saw how he took advantage of their efficiency to drizzle olive oil in his pan to cook a few things and I also saw how he used them to store a vinaigrette dressing. He had such an easy time. I knew I had to have them.
If you take a look at the picture above, you can see how small the hole is in the cap of the bottle. It’s this small hole that prevents “over oiling” things, such as hot pans and food. And now that I’ve used these bottles a few times, I can smell a sweet, sweet future in the kitchen. If you don’t already have these, I suggest you get them. They cost around $11 on Amazon for a pack of six.
Let’s be honest here. How many times have you needed a basting brush and haven’t had one available? How many times have you been tempted to buy a paint brush to use as a basting brush? Finally, how many times have you found a bristle from one of your 30 year old brushes in your food? I know. I’ve been down this road as well. The funny thing is, being a guy, I know all too well about the paint brush idea. Stop laughing.
I finally bit the bullet and bought some basting brushes. From what I’ve gathered, the new “hip” thing to do is to get some silicone ones. They’re all the rage these days. What I’m particularly excited about is that if I find a bristle in my food, it’ll be big and orange and I’ll most likely see it before I ingest it.
Since I began learning how to cook a few months ago, I’ve been seeing pictures of the silicone versions of the brushes on all sorts of culinary websites and blogs. So when it came time to take out my wallet, I decided to join the crowd. I purchased the Mahal brand. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to use them yet, but I can see Laura circling them like a shark. Any time now, any time. How much is a set of two? Around $7. Not bad for something that will hopefully last a long, long time.
I think there’s a real problem out there when it comes to measuring spoons. One of the problems is that many of these types of tools some in plastic. I don’t like the idea of that. The way the spoons are stored in a good majority of kitchens is to have them thrown in a kitchen drawer. When mixed among other utensils and junk, they can break. That’s not fun. The other problem is, if they’re metal, they’re thin metal. Thin metal bends and twists and gets all cruddy over time. Cooking is no fun when the tools you use don’t please you anymore.
Enter the heavyweight, stainless steel Cuisipro measuring spoon set. You’ve got to feel these things – they’re heavy. Just the way I like them.
Besides being constructed of thick stainless steel, each spoon is marked with, not only the regular capacity, such as a teaspoon or tablespoon, but with its metric conversion as well. For a teaspoon, that would be 5mls and for a tablespoon, it would be 15 mls. Remember, three teaspoons in a tablespoon.
If you’re going to pick up some measuring spoons, I suggest you get some good ones. Do it once and they’ll last forever. I got my set for $10, so I wouldn’t say it’s a big investment. Oh yeah, if you’ll notice in my photos, the spoons I bought are elongated. That’s helpful for scooping out of spice and herb jars.
If you want to know the problems of the good ol’ measuring cup, all you need to do is re-read the section I just wrote on measuring spoons. They’re virtually the same thing. If I really wanted to, I could head into the kitchen right now and take a few photos to show you how half of our current measuring cups have no handles. Ask me how those handles fell off and I’ll answer that I have absolutely no idea. What I do know is that they were only tack welded on as opposed to being constructed of all one piece. Here, take a look at this picture below.
If you’ll notice above, each cup handle is bent right out of the cup itself. There’s no gap. It’s continuous. That, coupled with the fact that these Bellemain measuring cups are constructed with thick stainless steel (it says 18/8 SS on the back), is comforting. I probably couldn’t bend these cups if I tried. I just tried. I couldn’t.
This item was the most expensive of the bunch. At $19, I’d still say they were worth it. I’m willing to bet, if I don’t lose them, they’ll last for the duration.
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