Sunday, April 29, 2007

Essential Tools

235 Essential Tools

We use the term “toolbox” fairly loosely these days. Most of the time, we’re talking about a collection of computer functions marked “tool box” to change image sizes or check spelling or share documents.

Some people have actual (rather than virtual) tool boxes. Such things as hammers, saws, screwdrivers, wrenches and such are thus carried.

In between these are what have come to be called “kitchen tools.” Eggbeaters, spoons, carving knives and the like.

Real tool boxes make fashion statements. The guy with the canvas belt with a pouch full of nails is telling us something. So is the guy with the sleek day-glow yellow plastic box or the mechanic (oops, automotive technician. Sorry) with the big, red multi-drawer chest on wheels.

But even though people who use tools carry many varieties, there generally are one or two that they believe they cannot live without.

The two most popular candidates for this honor are the hammer and the screwdriver, in that order. A good fixer-upper can do wonders with either of these bare essentials. Those of us with minimal mechanical skills are often awed. And we should be.

But what about in the kitchen. What are the hammer and screwdriver of the kitchen? The Main Knife? Spatula? Stirring spoon? Frying pan?

None of the above. The world’s great chefs will never tell you this. This is not in any cookbook. Not even at the high-falutin’ cooking schools will they let you in on this little secret. It cannot usually be obtained in a kitchenware store or in the kitchenware department of a department store.

What is it?

A tweezer.

That’s right. A tweezer. Something you use to pluck your eyebrows or pull splinters out.

Not a big “tong-sized” tweezer. Just something you pick up at the makeup counter for a dollar or two.

Now, why is this so important? Lotta reasons.

Let’s start with the knife and awl functions. Modern packaging is so tamper-proof that you need something that’ll puncture the box or bag of whatever you’re using, whether it’s dish soap, vitamins or vacuum packed meat, poultry or vegetables.

What’s better than the sharp edge of a tweezer to do this safely? (You could use a knife, but that can be dangerous. These days, packaging is tougher than any fork made in the last 100 years, no matter what the material.)

Let’s say you’re making a delecate egg dish and (horrors!) you get shells into the pan. You can’t use tongs. You can’t use a fork. (Looks like forks are becoming outmoded.) Again, tweezers to the rescue.

When you’re cleaning up after cooking, what do you use to get those tiny bits of stuff out of the corners of the oven or the burners? What do you use to get those semi-microscopic pieces of cuttings out of the sink drain?

Right, tweezers.

If your hands are coated with olive oil and you have to sort around in the flatware drawer to extract something and don’t want to have to wash oil off every item in the drawer? Tweezers.

And if you buy one and put it in the kitchen, you’ll soon wonder how you ever lived without it.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

(The “signoff” of this blog is Macro One in the MS Word “Toolbox.”)

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