Recently in our Baking Club, we were discussing how Dorie Greenspan keeps a hammer and a screwdriver in her kitchen, and so we all started sharing the unusual items that are surprisingly helpful in our own kitchens.
Who are we to argue with Dorie? Carol Chambers Lovelett uses her hammer to crush nuts and to pound frozen chocolate bars to create chocolate shards. Jan Smith moved her claw hammer into the kitchen the first time she made caramels and ended up with a caramel brick, saying: “I’m sure my neighbors wondered about all the banging! Once I broke it up into smaller shards, it was great to munch on or put on ice cream.” And it doesn’t have to be a claw hammer, any type will do—Lyn Cross is partial to a mallet.
2. Tape Measure
This was a very popular one in the Club (and, admittedly, probably the least strange of the bunch). Mike Margolis uses a tape measure for both getting a rectangle just right for cinnamon rolls and for ensuring uniform circles when making a giant cinnamon star. Janice Lawandi agrees, saying: “Yes!!! I also use it to verify dough thickness as I roll. I like that I can open it up to a certain size and press the lock button to hold it in place for me. It’s just so handy!!!”
3. Dental Floss
Joelle Smalt uses dental floss for cutting perfect cinnamon rolls, explaining: “Once you try it, you will never go back to using a knife! My mom did this when I was growing up. I thought it was magic. It was my favorite step in the cinnamon roll making process!” Just remember to pick up the unflavored floss, not the minty kind!
4. Garden Pruning Shears
Sheryl Hausman-McElwee can’t live without pruning shears in the kitchen. Why? Two- and three-tier cakes require support from wooden dowels, so she uses the shears to clip the dowels perfectly. (It goes without saying that she doesn’t use the same set in the garden, right? Right.)
5. Step Stool
Yes, a step stool is handy in the kitchen for reaching high shelves, but Patty Pomper Leeman also puts hers to use as extra “counter” space in her small kitchen.
6. Hand Towels
Thicker than regular dish towels, Ann Hoang Seidel prefers them for drying dishes, but she also drapes them over her KitchenAid mixer so any flour or powdered sugar dust stays contained.
Lyn Cross uses them for removing stubborn bottle caps, while Carl Oughton puts them to use grabbing the tendon in chicken fillets.
Patty Pomper Leeman keeps a couple of 1-pound weights (the round plate kind) on hand in the kitchen, because they fit perfectly in her strainer for cheesemaking.
Lyn Cross uses a paintbrush for dusting off her mixer and other small crevices after baking.
10. Angler Forceps
Nikki Koch Garmon uses them to remove fish pinbones—Lauren Langston keeps a retired pair of tweezers in the kitchen for the same reason.
11. Hair Dryer
Lyn Cross uses a hair dryer to heat stickers and labels so she can remove them neatly without leaving any residue. It also comes in handy for melting chocolate.
What unusual tools do you like to keep in your kitchen? Let us know in the comments!