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In Praise of Single-Use Kitchen Tools

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I hear (you hear, we all hear) that every tool and gadget in your kitchen should serve more than one purpose. That I (et al.) should streamline our kitchens, have one version, the best version, of only the most versatile tools and get rid of the rest. Downsize, organize.

I beg to differ.

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My kitchen drawers and cabinets would make the King Of Multi-Use, Mr. Alton Brown (whose cookbooks, TV shows, and recipes I love, by the way) go apoplectic. His head would explode should he dare look into any of my general population kitchen drawers. You know what, though? I know what’s where, and why—in my mind and my own illogical logic, it all makes sense. (This does not include the kitchen junk drawer. That is a different story for a different day.)

I have a LOT of single use items in those drawers.

Inessential Tools: Tofu Press
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Inessential Tools: Tofu Press

Case in point—take my most recent prize, the can colander. It is a round, standard can-width rubber colander. It is perfect for draining the goo off of beans, a task which I had previously done by either trying to leave the lid partially attached, flushing the beans with water, and draining them using the lid as a sort of bean dam (pain in the rear, prone to down-the-disposal bean loss) or by dumping them into a strainer, rinsing, and then adding them to whatever pan is their final destination (cleaning bean shrapnel out of a fine strainer is also a pain in the rear). Now my perfectly-sized colander with perfectly-sized holes makes bean draining a snap—it fits right on the can. I can drain the goo, then rinse the beans (still in the can), and drain the water. And the cleanup is a breeze.

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Let’s talk about cherry pitters. They pit cherries. The can also pit olives, but then you have that one cylinder of olive still attached to the pit that you don’t want to waste so you have to stop what you are doing and nip it off. Better just to buy pitted olives. The cherry pitter DOES, however, work on cherries. I am here to tell you that when you are pitting one zillion cherries for a pie or a batch of cherry jam, you want that pitter. Who cares if it only comes out a couple of times a year? You NEED it those couple of times!

Julia Turshen Gives the Humble 1/4-Cup Measure Its Due
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Julia Turshen Gives the Humble 1/4-Cup Measure Its Due

There are quite a few used-once-or-twice-a-year times in my kitchen but I am always happy to find these friends at the ready when I need them. Yeah, they take up a lot of space, but I would rather get a bigger kitchen (seriously, I need a bigger kitchen!) than get rid of them.

Pictured are a few of my friends:

1) Weird cheese knife. Used only for cheese, specifically hard cheese. It’s cool looking, right?

2) Cherry pitter. We have already discussed this.

3) Pie crust protector. If you bake pies and you DON’T have one, you are remiss.

4) Put it in the water egg done-ness thing. This actually does not work; I threw it away. Even I have standards.

5) My can colander!

6) through 8) This is a thingy for mushing garlic. You use that blue tube to peel the garlic, the green ceramic to rub the garlic into a paste, and the little brush to sweep in into whatever. I actually never use this as it is more trouble than it’s worth, but I bought it in D.C. at a food expo for the National Beef Cook-off, so it has memories attached plus it’s pretty. I am keeping it.

9) though 17) Even I don’t know why I have six wine openers and three beer openers. Well, two of the beer bottle openers were gifts (the turtle and the wall thing), and my mother-in-law got the third (the fish) in Japan in the 60’s. This does not explain all of the wine openers.

18) through 20) Yep, I have three citrus squeezers. I got the silver one first and if it ever breaks (it won’t) I am getting the green one. Maybe I will anyway. Is there a big pink grapefruit one? If yes, I want it.

21) This is a zero-use spoon. The shape is odd and makes it ungainly. It’s pretty though, isn’t it?

22) Oyster knife (we actually have two of these).

23) Wooden thing into which you shove the oyster and hold him there while you shuck him. We have two of these, too. Oyster shuck-off anyone?

24) Egg topper. You can top your soft-boiled eggs and also raw eggs that you empty out so you can make your own cascarones. Which I have never done. But I could if I wanted.

25) Egg poacher. I rarely use it.

26) Bread dough mixer thing and all around cool-looking tool. Makes a well-mixed, shaggy bread dough. And, yes, I have two. Gifts from when I first started making bread.

Are Spiralizers Here to Stay? These (Very Different) Books Bet Yes
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Are Spiralizers Here to Stay? These (Very Different) Books Bet Yes

There’s more! I have a Spiralizer and all it does is make things into spirals which is FUN and, well, just fun. I have an oil warmer from Italy, I suppose you could warm other stuff in it too but the bowl is pretty small. One could argue that my electric tea kettle is single use, but I literally use it every single day. Anyhow, you get my point.

And so I say to you: GO FORTH and BUY THOSE GADGETS! Crap up your kitchen drawers and cabinets, and next time you need just the exact right tool for just the exact task at hand, you will be prepared. Right now I am going to make some sweet potato twirls to roast a piece of chicken atop. I rest my case.

We like single-use tools, too:

R. Murphy Wellfleet Oyster Knife

R. Murphy Wellfleet Oyster Knife

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Sourdough Starter & Danish Dough Whisk

Sourdough Starter & Danish Dough Whisk

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Magnetic Bottle Opener

Magnetic Bottle Opener

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Apple & Pear Slicer and Olive & Cherry Pitter Bundle

Apple & Pear Slicer and Olive & Cherry Pitter Bundle

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Walnut Handled Sandwich Spreader

Walnut Handled Sandwich Spreader

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Citrus Juicer, Microplane, and Grapefruit Knife

Citrus Juicer, Microplane, and Grapefruit Knife

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