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Gear for the new year

Saturday, January 1, 2011

This looks like an ordinary white bowl, doesn't it? It is. There's nothing special about it. Popcorn doesn't suddenly appear in it when you rub the side; soup doesn't season itself; nothing multiplies in it.

Clockwise from left: silicone tongs, 
zester/grater, dough whisk, 
offset spatula, silicone spatula,
and silicone brush
This glazed ceramic bowl is 20cm across and 6cm deep, and I use it for everything: to marinate a whole cut-up chicken; a single serving of noodle soup – even though it's too big for that; as a mixing bowl for sauces and dressings; and for general serving. It's the vessel I reach for most often in my kitchen.

I've had it for almost six years, and have now noticed that it is discoloured in spots and no longer glossy. But it still has a lot of life left in it so it's staying for now.

I cannot say the same for a few other utensils in my kitchen.

Looking through my cupboards, drawers and hanging rail at all my gadgets for an article I was writing (it's for Don't Call Me Chef, this first one for 2011, and it will out in print on Jan 3), I noticed a few things that shouldn't be there. Now, I am not a hoarder – it just takes me a while to get rid of something. So out went the mechanically challenged ice cream scoop, the flimsy whisk and the stained Asian cloth coffee/tea strainer. I found an ugly little plastic basin, a rubber spatula without the handle (so basically, just the scraping part; useless) and some random lid (no idea what for). I put a Mason jar with a rusty lid with the rest of the discards, then decided to throw away only the top and keep the bottle.
   Large stainless steel deep skillet

I do get new tools now and then, and there will probably be a few more additions this year. I admit, I am sometimes simply drawn to how pretty they look (for the Don't Call Me Chef article, my new – and pretty – ravioli mould and my old hand-cranked pasta machine are featured). But I make a lot of practical purchases too and I use these gadgets all the time. Like the white bowl at the top, my essential tools can be seen in these pictures.

Good rolling pins are essential, and I made two really good ones myself by sawing a thick wooden curtain rod into 75cm and 25cm lengths. I use the longer one for rolling out large pieces of dough and pastry (like the pasta dough The Thymes will feature this Monday – it's part of a pictorial guide on making pasta/ravioli without gadgets) and the shorter one for smaller items like chapatti and tortilla.

Oh, I forgot to put in a picture of my very useful work surface, but practically every picture appearing on Monday shows it. It is a marble top and it was the top of a side-table that belonged to an aunt of mine. I'm glad she didn't want that piece of furniture anymore. I use it for all my kneading and rolling out pastry, and it's so easy to clean. That plastic pastry scrapper below works hand in hand with it, and both of them omit the need to add too much extra flour to doughs and pastries.

People who know me know I am hopeless at deep-frying, and they may scold me for not using the candy/deep-fry thermometer that I obviously own. I only use it in candy-making. Perhaps one day I will try putting it in a pot of oil too.

Top three: Rolling pins. Bottom row, from left: Candy/deep-fry thermometer; digital scale;
and plastic pastry scraper
The tool I need most right now is a good can opener. I have bought cheap ones and expensive ones and mid-priced ones and they all work for a while, then go kaput on me. I wish I knew what I was doing wrong.



  1. I can understand the way you collect things and keeping them away, I do that too and always have some excuses to buy new ones!:D Am looking forward to reading your article on Monday, meantime, wishing you a very happy new year :D

  2. Geez, look like you're ready to go to war.

    Remind me not to annoy too much in case you open your drawer, pick one of these weapons up and whack me with it sitting next to you! :P

    Happy New Year Madam Thyme!

  3. Hi Jeannie, happy New Year to you too! :-)

    Hi Niki, and I haven't even shown you my knives... and I have a few weapons in my drawer at the office too! Happy New Year to you! See you at work.


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