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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Right Tool for the Right Job

My dad used to say to me all the time, "Find the right tool for the right job and your work will go more quickly." I believe this wholeheartedly. As a child, I watched my mom hand chop meats to make fresh ground pork and ground beef for wonton fillings and fried lumpia/spring rolls. Now that my dad has the job of making his special wonton fillings for our families restaurants', he uses a food processor. The wonderfully light and silky texture of my dad’s wonton has not changed but his method’s have. (Probably due to the fact, he has to feed a crowd.)

Today as I was cleaning out my kitchen drawers, (what else is there to do when you are homebound because of snow), I looked at my kitchen tool collection.
Normally I do not collect much of anything, I keep things I like, things I use, but in the kitchen it's a completely different story. I LOVE to have all types of kitchen tools. For example, I do not eat crab or lobster often but when I do, I like to have crab crackers ready and meat picks to get into those tight crevices.

Here are a few photos of my most cherished tools:

Back to front: 1) A great paring knife, for all those little jobs you don’t need the big guys for. Paring an apple, slicing off a piece of cheese for a snack or poking a potato before putting it in the oven. 2) Old fashioned fish scaler that can be bought at Asian stores. This little tool can scale fish in minutes! 3) A lemon/lime reamer is essential when you need citrus juices for marinades, sauces and dressings.

Back to front: 1) I never grew up with a garlic press but I have to one now. It minces the garlic very finely and evenly, no chunks. 2) A silicon pastry brush-No more loose hairs, no more stinky brushes that are hard to wash. I just pop this in the dishwasher. 3) Fish tweezers are fantastic for removing pin bones from fish fillets and make eating fish much more enjoyable, in my humble opinion.

If I had to recommend ten tools to someone just setting up their kitchen I would suggest they start with the following:

1. A knife you can rely on and something to sharpen it with.

2. A great vegetable peeler: for peeling all vegetables and tubers, for making zucchini ribbons, Parmigiano curls, chocolate curls and much more.

3. A good set of wooden/stainless spoons for stirring pasta, polenta, soups, sauces and just about everything.

4. All the stuff for measuring: measuring spoons, cups (for both liquids and solids), a scale, a thermometer for meats and a candy thermometer.

5. A set of silicon spatulas, I love mine so much. They are great because they can stand up to heat without melting, so great for melting chocolate, making sauces. There is nothing worse than stirring a dish with a plastic spatula and then finding out the end melted.

6. A balloon whisk, just one of life’s essentials.

7. A super long pair of wooden chopsticks for deep frying, stir frying and picking up “stuff”. This is the Chinese in me talking, mine are about two and a half feet long.

8. A strong and sturdy cutting board, the debate goes on whether wood or plastic is better. I’ve solved that problem, I have both. The plastic one I use for meats and fish and can bleach if I have to. Usually I put it in the dishwasher to sanitize.

9. My wok, the most versatile tool in my entire kitchen. I can make ragu, soups, stews, braise meats, make a omelet, fry rice, deep fry anything, cook rice, the list goes on.

10. Last but not least…. (I have to go to the kitchen to make sure I did not forget anything.) Aha! I almost forgot about my pepper grinder. If someone told me I could not have fresh ground pepper, I think I would just cry.

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At 3:18 PM, Blogger Yael said...

Hi Gina,
I want one of those pastry brushes, very cool!
Oh and I totally agree with your list of must have tools -I have three balloon whisks and I always keep one right next to the cooker just in case I need it in an emergency (custard, hollandaise etc...)

At 11:46 PM, Blogger Paz said...

Great list! I get excited about the few kitchen tools I have. I need more!


At 7:43 AM, Blogger Crystal said...

That's a great Top 10 list of kitchen tools! My husband does all the cooking in our house but he calls it "the poor man's kitchen" ;-) because we dont' have all the tools. Everything has to be done by hand!

At 1:12 AM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Add to the above Silpat for rolling pastries, etc., and pouring out caramel. S'wonderful.
AND microplane, which has meant I don't have to ask a young and helpful girl to every dinner and when she offers to help say, "Yes, you can grate the Parmigiano!" A hated chore now easy.
BTW, the US food and drug folks tested and discovered that wood naturally kills germs and is safer for meats than plastic, which can get scored and trap germs. So I reverse the uses, wood for meat and plastic for stinky onions.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger illinoissuz said...

I love the fotos. I have a picture of a salad that I had eaten in Alicante Spain. I ate 3 nights in a row at the same place because of the great salad. Upon my return home i showed my husband the picture and asked if we would be able to identify it and find it at some market, perhaps n chicago. I also had a leave stashed in my billfold. My husband looked at me and said....it was dandellions. We are in a gourmet club so i really felt stupid.

At 1:44 AM, Blogger metromon said...

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