Cooking in the kitchen means getting familiar with a host of tools specifically designed for use in the kitchen. You should get to know your kitchen utensils for what they are designed to do as well as what they are most definitely not designed to do. While you’re at it, take a moment to learn how to deal with a situation in which your essential cooking tool goes missing.
A peeler is absolutely one of the most essential of all cooking tools because the plain and simple fact is that a knife just won’t cut it. Literally. The peeling that protects fruits and vegetables are way too thin to be playing around with a knife in your effort to slice beneath. Of course, you could always try using a thicker blade to make things safer, but that’s really only going to result in losing most of the valuable food you are removing the peeling to get at in the first place. Look for a peeler that is able to swivel so that you can slide gracefully along the contours of the produce. You could do the same thing with a knife…but only after spending about a thousand hours under the tutelage of an experienced instructor.
Many people cook without whisk. These misguided individuals labor under the misapprehension that either they won’t ever make any food that requires a whisk or that they can engage an electric beating device that will work just as well. Here’s the thing: you control the power of the whisk. This helps to avoid the inevitable mess of liquefied food flying all around the kitchen or flour exploding all over your face. Think you’ll never use whisk? If you do any baking requiring the addition of eggs or want to enjoy a quick dessert of instant pudding or just need to thin out some sauce, you can use a whisk. The kind that balloons out provides expanded uses you may not even be capable of imagining if you are just learning to cook.
Even if you don’t eat melon or don’t consume the fruit in such a way that requires such a delicate cooking tool, you might want to make the investment. Why? Because a melon baller can be used to scoop out the ugly underside mushrooms or healthier portions of ice cream. Melon ballers can also measure out just the right amount of spices or hot sauce to make bland foods arrive at a state of perfection.
Any kitchen in which a large number of items are prepared on the stovetop needs a pair of tongs. You will immediately notice the difference if you are currently poking into food with a fork to turn them over. Every time you poke into meat, you are allowing some of the delicious juices to escape and with them goes the flavor. Once you start gently squeezing tongs into a piece of meat and turning it over instead of constantly poking new holes into it, you will question whether you ever really tasted the meat you cooked before. Here’s a tip: avoid tongs with plastic pinchers. Go for metal tongs with the thinnest and sharpest edges you can find. Otherwise you will curse like a French nurse whenever you try to pick up something thin and narrow.
I don’t normally like to give advice on making it easier to get alcohol into your body, so consider this tip only as it relates to use wine in your cooking. If you’ve lost your corkscrew or simply don’t have one, all you need to stop looking like a big pathetic loser is a sturdy type of metal hook that you can screw into the cork. Then get anything in the kitchen that can pass for a large wooden spoon and slip it through the hook so that you can pull forcefully straight upward.
ROLLING PIN BLUES
Time was that no kitchen could be found without a rolling pin. You know…that thing you see women in curlers chasing around with in order to slam their husbands upside the head in old comics strips? If you are rolling out your own pizza dough or pie crust or anything that needs to be flattened and you don’t have a rolling pin, just grab the biggest can of fruit or veggies in your pantry, turn it on its side and start rolling.
If you are serious about learning how to cook, you need to take every opportunity to understand how to use kitchen tools. That’s where an experienced instructor can be invaluable. A teacher who has been around the kitchen counter a few times can share a wealth of tricks on how to turn what seems like a dead-end monotasking tool into a multitasking dream.