Kitchen Conundrums

Or, things you learn by accident.

Yesterday I pulled out one of my favorite pans and rediscovered it again. I haven’t used it in a long, long time, which is a bit odd as I really like the pan. It is the right size, it has a clear glass lid, and it can go into the oven.

Why don’t I use it? Simple. It is too heavy. Empty. When you add food into it and proceed to use it for what it is intended to be used for, it can be unwieldy and potentially dangerous to use.

I bought the pan from an open stock inventory a few years ago when I was trying out cookware to replace a set that is almost as old as I am. I had some criteria I wanted from the new set. It had to be oven safe. It had to be easy to use and care for. It had to be a reasonable price point. What I didn’t expect, or even consider, was the weight of the pan.

That test pan is, as I said, a favorite but I didn’t buy the set it came from, I looked elsewhere and found a set of pans that met all my criteria and were of a weight that I could wield when full without fear of harming myself.

Kitchen tools can be tricky things. We purchase what we think we want without always knowing all the questions to ask. When we don’t use them, or we don’t actually cook, we often don’t realize that the problem isn’t that cooking is hard, it is that the tools we use aren’t doing their job, which is really to make the job easier, more efficient, more user friendly.

Kitchen knives are another item that you might think is a no brainer, but if you don’t have the knife that fits in your hand and becomes an extension of that hand, if it is difficult to keep sharp, you have a tool that is not only dangerous but makes the process difficult and frustrating. And, make no mistake, a knife that is not properly sharpened is a danger to the user. You will have more potential for problems with that knife than with one that is properly sharpened, that does fit your hand.

Using measuring cups and spoons are the most direct method for either accuracy or ruining a recipe. Don’t kid yourself, they are NOT all the same. Some can be off by small amounts, others by quite a bit. All impact the end result giving you either an fantastic product or a disaster. Those cute designs could be sabotaging your cooking.

When you watch cooking shows you are constantly reminded to purchase the best food products you can afford as it will impact the end result. What they often don’t tell you is that you need to apply that same rule to the tools you use in the kitchen to make that recipe.

I would like to suggest you take a look in your kitchen and identify those items that you don’t use, or haven’t used, in a while and ask yourself why. I’m not talking about those specifically holiday oriented, although it would be a good idea to address those, too. I’m talking about the mixer, blender, food processor, spoons, knives, cookery tools, etc.

I gave up my microwave over 20 years ago because I never used it for anything other than heating water and steaming vegetables. Things I use my stove for. I gave up a blender that I inherited not because it was old, but because I rarely ever used it. Why keep things that just take up space? I’ve said before, my kitchen is postage stamp sized. I don’t have the luxury of storing things just for the fun have having them around.

When you find those items you don’t use, please give them a new home so someone else can make use of them. Instead, find items that work for you so you can do the kind of cooking and baking that you want to do.

Happy cooking!

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