My sister is a very wise person. She is kind and funny and thoughtful and tries hard to live her life in a way which honors and celebrates all of those things. A few summers ago she taught me about this person who lives inside of me. Her name is Judy Judger. Judy is not kind, in fact I’d say she’s the queen of snark. Judy pops out especially when I am in someone else’s kitchen or home and she whispers things to me like, “Can you believe these people don’t have any books in their house? That’s just creepy, a house with no books.” Or she’ll snicker, “Oh my gosh, look at this kitchen they don’t even have a _______. How are you supposed to make meals without a ______?” Yeah, Judy is a bee-otch with a capital B.
Ever since Heather made me aware of Judy Judger I’ve kept a close eye on her. She is not to be trusted. That said, sometimes the things Judy says are frankly the bald, honest truth. And I find myself wanting to listen, wanting to voice her comments out loud. Bad Judy. Bad, bad Judy.
Since I’ve been paid to cook since I was 13 and I fell in love with cooking long before that, it is safe to say I’ve been in a lot of kitchens, more than most people. Everyone sets them up differently and has a different definition of what is essential. There actually are a few items which it’s hard to do without. A knife, a large pot, a sauté pan. I could go on, and while it would perhaps be interesting to see what my list of essentials are, especially with two kids who will soon graduate from college and be setting up their own apartments, today’s post is not about the full list rather focusing on one of the items on said list. Below there are a few links to some food writers listing what they consider essential and I invite you to take a look.
Anyhoo, this past weekend I was out of town and I thought I’d make my niece and nephews an Easter surprise, which would then be waiting for them in the freezer the next time they visited the apartment I stayed in. I brought all the ingredients, including a cake pan and parchment paper. What I didn’t think to pack, since I figured everyone had one, was a cooling rack. Queue Judy. “What the heck! How does a kitchen not have a cooling rack?” she snipped in my ear as I rummaged through every cupboard sure there had to be one somewhere. Apparently to some folks a wire cooling rack is not an essential item.
So I improvised by clearing off the wire shelf rack holding cookbooks to place the cooling cake there till it was cool. In retrospect I could have balanced chopsticks or wooden skewers across two books to make an impromptu cooling rack. Or taken one shelf out of the oven before heating it up to bake the cake and used that. What the experience drove home was that for me a cooling rack is one of those essential, must have items. So I’m adding it to my list of favorite tools.
Some thoughts on Essential Kitchen Equipment
Marion Cunningham‘s kitchen had a heavy-duty mixer and 2 (not one) waffle irons
Jamie Oliver claims his “Right Kit” will make you 10% better at cooking
Sally Schneider talks about improvised kitchen tools you can find or create while traveling
Cal Peternell’s essential tools for a first kitchen
Mark Bittman wrote for the NYT his list down and dirty basics for a no-frills kitchen
I could go on, and probably will at some point about what, in my opinion, the basic kitchen essentials are. I’m interested to hear what you my readers view as essential tools. Please let me know in the comment section.