Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kitchen Tools

Summer is skating by!  I've had opportunity to be in a variety of kitchens helping with get-together foods, and I'm always delighted to learn about someone else's kitchen.  But it gives me a look into the way we do things generally and makes me come home with a critical eye to my own space and tools. So, this is my take away this summer:
Ladies, it is time to do a tool inventory. 
I've lamented my own pans losing their non-stick coating, and now I've used a variety of interestingly aged tools from other kitchens too.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why put up with the under-sized, dull knife or the sticking pans?  Often I think, we just make do and don't think twice about it, but it is time to do the thinking.

My husband was the first one to introduce me to the idea that the things in my kitchen are not gadgets for play, but tools for hard work.  I have spent good money over the years investing in good tools for the daily work of my kitchen, but in recent years we have spent an unusual amount of time being not our average tight budget, but stretched to the maximum and holding, so tools have not been replaced in a timely fashion in my own kitchen. (I'm praying for a certain oven element that seems to be getting temperamental, and I'm gingerly using my favorite chopper.)  All that said, I've decided to make a list of the sad plight helpers in my kitchen and start to work for their replacements.

Some ideas that may be useful in doing this:
1) Watch at yard sales/thrift stores.  I bought a knife at a thrift store recently, and one of my super-awesome sons sharpened it for me.  It is working nicely for the $2 I paid for it! Use a critical eye when choosing from used things, but don't discount this avenue. Remember my Retro Appliances.
2) Watch sales and use a coupon or rebate when things are already discounted.  I have a lovely little hand mixer that cost me $6 at Kohls after the sale price + coupon.
3) Host a Pampered Chef party.  I do this if I can peel off about $50 to spend.  I find that it takes at least $50 and a dedicated couple of weeks to get out invites, buy food, and gather orders, but then I can choose from free and discounted items that are great quality.
4) Share your list with friends and family.  Because we cook and eat very individually, often we have languishing tools in our kitchens, perfectly useful, but never used.  Your sister may have the thing you want, just gathering dust, she might be willing to trade for that other thing that is at the back of your drawer. Another way to do this is to share your list with Santa, or make a birthday request.
5) You can scan classified ads for items you need and get them at a discount.  Do your homework though, check what the going price is at your local store or online so you don't pay more than you should.
6) Save up for big items.  You can help yourself concentrate on this by finding a picture of what you are saving for and posting it where you can see it often.  Then do some research on when that thing goes on sale (there is a sale season, many kitchen tools and appliances go on sale at the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving baking), and target your savings accordingly.
7) Buy the best you can.  You and your time and energy and emotional well-being are all WORTH IT! These are the tools you use.  My husband is a contractor, and he doesn't put up with a junky tool for a moment.  He knows safety and expense are on the line if he does so.  That is the same in a kitchen.  A dull knife is an accident waiting to happen.  A sharp knife without a guard is dangerous in a house full of children. Chuck those tattered hot pads that burn your fingers every time you pull out a tray of cookies.  Replace the pot that always burns food if you don't hover over it. (Me Too!) Treat yourself to the best you can.  You won't regret it.
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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

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A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!