We've already talked about items that we love because they do one thing and do it well:
|One-hit Wonder Woman|
To qualify for retention in my kitchen under this test, an implement must prove its versatility in accomplishing a wide variety of tasks. There's some overlap here with the frequency-of-use test, because things with a wide range of uses tend to get used frequently. But there is a difference. Subtle as it may be. Just go with me on this one; indulge my meticulous distinctions.
Versatile tools are a godsend to those of us inhabiting small living quarters. We swoon at the very concept of 2-in-1, because we barely have room for even that 1. Tools with multiple functions create extra space for those Hello-Dolly tools that we have to keep around for their single — albeit crucial — function. (Have I mentioned my corkscrew?)
As you can see from the level of grime obscuring its true beauty, we run our toaster oven ragged.
This little appliance not only toasts our bread, but also our bagels and other baked goods in non-standard shapes and sizes. Unlike in regular toasters, you can also do melty cheese toast in here. Or reheat/crisp take-out pizza slices (you can cram in 2 slices at a time if you're strategic). Or heat up leftovers. Or pretty much any task that requires raising the temperature of some solid substance. Many people clean their toaster ovens (I've heard) when they get messy, but we were lucky to find this one in the trash downstairs just when our last model was getting too grimy for even our permissive standards.
(Our regular gas oven/stove was a castoff as well. Last summer, our neighbor offered us her nearly new, pristine, top-of-the-line Maytag when she got a hankering after something even fancier in brushed aluminum. Thanks, Irma — you're a gem! And just in time — we would've had to clean that old one soon.)
Ironically, I almost never use the next multi-function item for the primary use it was designed to do:
Not being that kind of cook, I'm rarely feeling the need to measure anything, but this oven-proof measuring cup is great for beating eggs and then pouring them into a pan, chopping herbs with kitchen shears, making salad dressings, baking my breakfast fruit, storing leftover tea when I need the pot for another batch, watering plants and refilling the dogs' water bowl, and holding liquid ingredients awaiting addition in something I'm preparing. And I guess I do use it to measure grains and water, so I get the proportions right.
Cast-iron-ically, this sweet little pan is the other thing (besides my mortar/pestle) that I miss a lot when I'm cooking away from home. It's beautifully seasoned from years of use, and cleans up easily with just a scrubber sponge and water. (I always dry it over a flame to prevent rusting.)
What do I do in my 8-inch skillet? I scramble eggs, grill hamburgers and small steaks, roast cumin and sesame seeds and other spices (this is its most frequent task), roast peppers and other veggies, pop spices in oil for the chaunk that finishes many Indian dishes, heat corn or wheat tortillas, cook flatbreads, bake egg tortillas, and whack Peter over the head when he's been out too late carousing. That last application is false, obviously. It's completely inconceivable on so many levels. But the little pan is multi-talented nonetheless. And I'm sure it would actually make a good weapon if I ever needed one. But not against my D.P.
I'm hoping you'll comment below about creative and perhaps unexpected uses to which you've put some of your kitchen tools. Maybe you will enable me to reassign the function of one of my lesser-used tools to another tool and free up some additional shelf space. Or you'll at least entertain me.
We're in the last 5 days of February — spring will be here soon! (Translation for Aussie readers: We're in the last 5 days of February — fall will be here soon!)
Tomorrow: the quality-of-results test