The right tool for the right task, they say. But me? I take that concept to extremes.
Testing an oat bran muffin recipe at 4 a.m. this morning, I was almost frantic because I couldn’t find the right wooden spoon. (Husband had been putting away the dishes again.)
I have, at last count, 14 wooden tools — spoons and spatulas and paddles. How many do I actually use? Four: a slotted olivewood spatula, a long-handled wooden spoon, Grandma’s deep-bowled jelly spoon and a koa rice paddle carved for me by a friend.
I will stop mid-recipe if I can’t find the “right” one. The spatula is for sauteing and stir-frying and scraping the good stuff off the bottom of a pan. The long-handled wooden spoon is for stirring soups, stews, batters, polenta and boiling pasta. The jelly spoon is for, well, jelly (jam, marmalade). The rice paddle . . . you know.
It’s a zen thing. These tools feel right in my hand. With familiar dishes, they reassure me that the recipe will once again turn out right. When I’m trying something new, they lend me confidence. Their appearance pleases me, and they prompt happy memories. When I’m working with them, I don’t have to think about what I’m doing; they become part of my hand.
This isn’t just a cooking thing, of course. Ask any artisan. Painters have favorite brushes; my watercolor teacher does everything with one brush — a round, sable Kolinsky). Calligraphers prefer one pen over another; the woman who taught me lettering rejected costly instruments in favor of a dime store fountain pen snipped to just the right angle with a nail clippers. Woodworkers like my husband fall back on the same carving tools again and again.
What are the go-to tools in your kitchen? And why?