No con foisted on the general public is so atrocious, so wrongheaded, or so widely believed as the one that tells you you need a full set of specialized cutlery in various sizes. I wish sometimes I could go through the kitchens of amateur cooks everywhere just throwing knives out from their drawers — all those medium-size ‘utility’ knives, those useless serrated things you see advertised on TV, all that hard-to-sharpen stainless-steel garbage, those ineptly designed slicers — not one of the damn things could cut a tomato. (via Kitchen Confidential)
His rant got me thinking about the number of useless, single-purpose-only kitchen gadgets available in the market. Walk into any House, Matchbox, or General Trader, and you’ll find shelves overflowing with timers, egg poachers, egg-white separators, apple dividers, garlic crushers, garlic peelers, single-pasta-serve measures, cherry pitters, melon ballers, potato mashers, corn peelers, julienne peelers, meat tenderisers, herb mincers, pie servers, pizza wheels, shrimp cleaners, nut crackers, turkey basters, jar openers, and strawberry hullers. You might also find specialised kitchen appliances such as rice cookers, ice-cream makers, soup makers, sandwich makers, popcorn makers, bread makers, coffee grinders, electric deep fryers, ice shavers, milk frothers or something completely random like the Clever Cracker and Egg Scrambler:
While most of us are sensible enough not to gather every imaginable type of kitchen gadgetry against our aproned bosoms, we’re probably guilty of owning one or more of the above. For instance, I own an under-utilised egg-yolk separator and a rather useless garlic/ginger grater. I also own a tagine that rarely leaves the box it came in because my frypan does a good enough job when it comes to cooking Moroccan.
Instead of filling our kitchens up with crappy single-purpose-only equipment, we should look towards investing in multipurpose tools. A wok, for instance, can be used for stir frying, shallow frying, poaching and steaming. As an impoverished twenty-something, my friend Grace even used her hard-working wok to cook pasta. And if we’re to take heed of Anthony Bourdain, ‘ONE good chef’s knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand’ should be able to do the job of several specialised knives:
This should cut just about anything you might work with, from a shallot to a watermelon, an onion to a sirloin strip. Like a pro, you should use the tip of the knife for the small stuff, and the area nearer to the heel for the larger. (via Kitchen Confidential)
Other gadgets that you can skimp on include timers (use your microwave or mobile phone’s timer), garlic presses (squash the cloves with the flat of the knife), egg yolk separators (a water bottle will do), potato mashers (use a fork), pizza wheels (use a knife), and soup makers (stop whining, and make it in a pot over the stove like everyone else).
Of course, you shouldn’t feel guilty buying a rice cooker if you eat rice every day or a pizza wheel if it helps you cut through the paratha as well as the pizza. But there’s only so many items that can pile into the kitchen drawers before your ‘good chef’s knife’ goes MIA amongst the detritus.
Cut the crap. Buy what you need, not what you want. You’ll save money and have more room in the kitchen to store that 20kg bag of onions:
This post is part of a Buy Nothing New series for Buy Nothing New Month 2012. Yep.