What to CookAmanda & Merrill

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- Amanda

Among the mostly modern array of cookware in my kitchen are a few oldster tools. My favorites are my four bone- or horn-handled forks. They're small and light with carbon steel tines that are thin enough to test potatoes and beets for doneness with out leaving gaping holes, and strong enough to lift a chicken from a roasting pan. My forks, which are well over 100 years old, are sharp, so I use them to pierce impossible-to-open plastic packages, prick pie dough, turn cutlets and mash butter. I love my tongs, but when it comes to an all-around handy utensil, the forks are it.

Here are a couple I found on eBay. I wouldn’t pay more than $20 for one fork.

Horn Handled Forks

Civil War Era Table Forks

If you have a vintage tool you like to use, send me a photo and short description of what it is and why you like it, and I’ll post it here. Email me at [email protected].

Tom Hirschfeld: I love the Sheffield antlered knife and fork I got at some auction for in a 50 cent box of stuff. I found them at the bottom and I have treasured them ever since. They go nicely with the smoked pheasant and lentil pot pie don't you think?

Elizabeth Schmitt: This eggbeater was a wedding shower gift that my mother received in 1948. She used it all her life and it now lives in my kitchen. I remember being allowed to beat the pumpkin pie custard with this when I needed a step-stool to reach the counter. Perhaps this isn't as old as you are looking for, but it's special to me!

Nancy Dennis: I'm lucky enough to have inherited lots of cool stuff from my late
Aunt Alice. She didn't cook at all so most of the stuff is in pristine
condition. Attached is a picture of my roasting rack that folds up into the original
'50's box it came in.

Julia Devine: Grandmother's whisk.  It's a little funky (a little "soft" if that makes any sense), and takes some getting used to, but I still love it!


Mary Constant: I have a ancient marble mortar and pestle that was my grandmother's.  As I was growing up my mother never used it for cooking.  Instead, it was by the barn door where my father filled it with fresh milk every evening.  Generations of barn cats licked the bowl smooth.  When I started cooking I stole it from the cats.  (they also had an old Indian mortor found on our dairy ranch in West Marin) . I have used this mortar and pestle for over 35 years to grind spices, make pesto and butters.  It was the first of what has become a collection.  Last year my vineyard manager from Mexico made me one from the volcanic rock that is everywhere on our Calistoga vineyard.


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