Thursday, April 21, 2011

Whisky Business ...

Despite the fact that he's British, my friend Mike likes to cook. (Oh, I kid. The Brits do a fine job with food. On my last trip to London, I had many tasty "takeaway" [that's British for "to go"] baguettes from a joint named, adorably, EAT. Interesting combinations of flavors and ingredients [rocket = arugula!], not the fast-food dreck that stretches for miles in every town of this great land. Though you can get our fast food over there, too, and yep, a McDonald's cheeseburger in London tastes exactly the same as a McDonald's cheeseburger here. Which I know because I had to try one on my first trip to London, despite a mad-cow scare. I figured either a) the beef was shipped from the States or b) McDonald's had assurances in place that its patties wouldn't cause its patrons' brains to melt. Bad for business, that. Note: I no longer eat fast-food burgers anyway.)

My point, though, many words ago, was that Mike posted a link to this story in The Atlantic about how folks are spending more and more on showcase kitchens even as they spend less and less time in them to cook.

My kitchen is not fancy. It is pretty much the kitchen I inherited when I bought this house. I had to buy a refrigerator and a stove, and yes, I bought stainless steel, but my stove gets a good workout, especially the oven, and the refrigerator was on sale because it had a couple of scratches on the handle. I ended up spending more than I planned on for the stove, but I saved more than I expected on the fridge, so it all worked out pretty well in the end.

I painted the cabinets a few years ago and swapped out the hardware, but I still have the same counters, which could stand to be replaced, and if I had my druthers, I'd have a checkered floor, but I don't. Like everyone else, I think I could use more storage space, or perhaps I should just have less stuff. But some things are more important than others.

In the Atlantic article, these words, in particular, jumped out at me: "... the sort of perfectionist gastronome who wants to choose from 15 kinds of whisk."

Which made me think about my own stash of whisks, and I could call to mind four, and then I remembered a fifth, which is really not so much a utensil as it is a tchotchke. Or maybe a Christmas ornament.

So, technically, I own five whisks. But only four live in the utensil crock on my counter. And I use them all, and they all have different uses.

The average little guy on the left is my go-to whisk for salad dressings. I plop a few ingredients in a little bowl, give a quick whisk and I'm good to go.

The little friend of the average whisk came into my life tied onto a package of scone mix, a gift from someone from somewhere. He lives in a drawer and I employ him from time to time to whisk up a small bit of slurry to thicken a sauce, but mostly, he's just for show.

The wooden-handled number is my all-purpose whisk and he's held up well over the years.

The roux whisk is one of the best inventions in the history of inventions. Every Thanksgiving, it is my job to make gravy and I couldn't do it without this guy.

The balloon whisk doesn't see as much action as the others, because if I'm whipping up egg whites, I turn to my KitchenAid, but every so often I feel inspired to make a particularly fluffy omelette and this guy helps incorporate some air into the eggs.

Thankfully, they do not take up much space, since my utensil crock could stand a sort. I never, ever use that meat-tenderizer mallet. I just buy tender meat. And my wee brownie spatula just tends to get lost, so I should move him to a drawer.

But I like to think that I use most of what I own. My KitchenAid is sounding a little worse for the wear, so it might be time to invest in a new one. (I covet the model with the six-quart bowl.) The Cuisinart isn't in daily rotation but when I need it, I'm grateful that it's there. I'm not sure how I lived for so long without a digital kitchen scale. And parchment paper deserves a Nobel Prize.

I will confess to not having used my pasta machine. And I forget about my double-boiler insert because I always just use a glass bowl.

But for the most part, I use what I own in my kitchen. My cookware isn't pristine. My baking pans are clearly loved. I don't often use the green-glass pitcher my friends gave me for sangria.

But summer is coming. Someday.


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