Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tools of the Trade

I'm still trying to decide which recipe to make this week (leaning toward cookies, because they're easy and the oven warms up the house on a cold winter night and I have friends who'd be happy to help eat them. Are you all in a cookie mood?), so I thought I would share some cooking tools I inherited from my grandmother and great-grandmothers.

I'm not sure how long I've had the rather dangerous-looking implement at the top of this picture. Grandma gave it to me a while back--I'd guess sometime within the last dozen years. I'm pretty sure this one belonged not to her mother, but to my grandfather's mother. It's a potato smasher; that bell-like end is solid wood. I have to confess that I've never used it, but maybe I'll give it a shot the next time I need to mash some potatoes. I suspect it's harder to push than a modern potato masher precisely because of that solid piece of wood, which doesn't give the potatoes anywhere to go. I have to confess that I've often thought it could double as a blunt instrument with which to defend myself should the need ever arise!

In our house, there were always two old tools known simply as "the black knife" or "the black fork." There were several forks, but apparently only one knife, which is currently at my parents' house. I have one of the forks, though, which you can see above. I realized last night that while I don't know for sure how old it is, it is probably pretty close to 100 years. For all I know, it could be more. Grandma used it to mash eggs for egg salad, to great effect, where a regular fork just wouldn't do. I think it's the length of the tines and the fact that they're rather thin that makes the difference. We also used it, if I correctly recall, to top sand tarts with a bit of beaten egg, much like you would press down the dough for peanut butter cookies, to glue on a bit of pecan or walnut. (I don't see any reason why a regular fork couldn't do that job just as well.)

How about you? Have you inherited any old-fashioned kitchen gadgets? Anything with a story attached? Please tell us about them in the comments!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I inherited my Grandma's tube cake pan which she always used to bake Chiffon Cake. I have the recipe and the pan, but haven't tried to bake it yet--high altitude baking has thrown me a lot of curve balls. Her Chiffon cake was always delicious, like a cakier angel food cake, I imagine because there are a few yolks in it. I'm going to have to get around to it one of these days!

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