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Was it QVC that sparked the single-purpose paraphernalia craze? Shark tank? (Sorry Shark Tank.) Perhaps the surplus of cooking tools can be traced back to the globalized ’90s, when Walmarts showed up faster than foreign manufacturers could fill them with cheap plastic.
And by everything we mean everything. Watermelon cutter. Avocado cutter. Egg slicer. Bagel cutter. If knives could speak, they would certainly wonder whether we homo sapiens are evolutionarily falling behind in the motor department. Not that we know if knives have an interest in anthropological issues; we should probably also consult the wheel and fire to find out.
Seriously, we kind of feel sorry for the average American kitchen cabinet, not to mention the drawers. What happened to the very usable world when a couple of excellent pots and pans and a sufficient set of knives did the job? When did simplified and simple – the best go hand in hand? Have we ever asked our kitchens what they think of their contributions to the Great Pacific Garbage Speck? (Hey Marie Kondo is talking to the houses she’s cleaning up, why can’t we?)
Herewith the complete list from OA with all the superfluous, unnecessary and simply wasteful things that nobody needs in their kitchen.
Yes. That’s true. We just got out there and said it.
Blasphemy! Away with their digital heads!
See, we get it. Instapot has evolved from a buzz about eating out over the past year, and whether you’re busy organizing both work and family or just stewing covid (got it?) … we get it. As passionate hobby cooks, however, we can long for the days of a good Dutch oven and the old family cooking pot. Probably a lost battle. And yet. We will not go under with this pot.
We also have something to say about slicers
We are like that. Over. Slicers. That slicer list above is just a snippet of the world of goofy devices that claim to cut better than, um, a knife. In the name of the late great Allium slayer Julia Child and (obviously) our knives, onion choppers make us cry.
Slicing, dicing and chopping machines are not only overrated – they also clog your kitchen drawers and create chaos. And let’s face it, you’re in luck if you even think about looking for, let alone using, these tools.
One Pan Wonders
There is no pan that can do everything (note: we didn’t say “can”). Every kitchen needs at least a cast iron workhorse, casserole, soup pot, sauté pan, and a non-toxic, clean, non-stick pan. But that’s it – most of us don’t need dozens of pots and pans of different sizes building towering Pisa-like piles in the cupboards. We’ve found that a few hard-working pieces will suit even the most adventurous chefs.
A garlic press
OA founder and trained chef Laura Klein is the first to announce that most professional kitchens do not have a garlic press.
Under the category of things you didn’t know, you should know: depending on how you cut, chop, or mash garlic, the taste changes. Pressed garlic makes the allium taste hot and astringent and can easily overwhelm a dish. And pressed garlic isn’t just astringent; the press is annoying to clean.
It’s just not an item you need. Trust.
If you mash garlic with the back of your favorite chef’s knife, remove the skin, and chop, you now have a milder and, in our opinion, more delicious garlic.
A paper towel holder
How did it get so ubiquitous? Paper towels can go under the sink. In addition, they are already equipped with their own holder: the recyclable, environmentally friendly cardboard that is known as an insert for the paper towel roll.
And let’s be honest, should we really use disposable towels several times a day? Probably not. It may be better to do without paper towels altogether. Yes, it takes courage … but hold on to your hat! We are not finished yet.
The pop-up toaster
… listen to us. The toaster oven toasts bread and also bakes and grills. The pop-up toaster is just … well, toast.
Still with us? No? Buhler?
Don’t worry – we’re going back to less controversial territory now. (Maybe we’re just not over the childhood trauma of Pop Tarts.)
An egg timer
Hooray for smartphone timers! Also worth a try: watches. ‘Nuff said.
A giant knife block or three
One of our employees has a friend who really has three knife blocks with knife blocks. Ask most of the professionals and they will tell you all you really need is a great chef’s knife that fits your hand, plus a paring knife and bread knife. Having a more complete set if you want is great (especially an investment in: steak knives that will last a lifetime). But don’t feel like you need too many specialty knives to succeed with every recipe you want to try.
The “extras” we love? The santoku and the paring knife.
The egg yolk separator
Nothing that the eggshell itself can’t handle, or even your hand. Yes your hand How? Beat the egg, open the palm of your hand with your fingers closed, and simply pour the egg through your fingers. Watch the egg whites slide through your fingers and you have the yolks in your hand.
Panini presses, mussel pans for pancakes and other single-purpose cooking appliances pollute the environment and your kitchen. For most urgent purposes, a regular hand press will do – or if you want to keep it simple, get hold of a plain old brick.
Bricks are used by many acclaimed restaurants for delicious sandwiches, brick chickens, and more. How many people do you know who pull out a rock to take a Sando to the next level?
Don’t have a brick to make chicken under a brick? Use one of your most important heavy parts like a classic cast iron pan or Dutch oven to make a flat panini sandwich in no time!
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