Our kitchen is not very big at all, but it is well-equipped, to say the least. Earlier this summer a neighbor openly mocked me for the number of whisks we own, but I shrugged it off. There's nothing that makes cooking faster, easier, and more satisfying than having the right tool for the job. That is not to say that every gadget is a must-have item; that is not true at all. I don't own an apple peeler, a french fry cutter, or a tomato mill, because they don't really make the job faster for me. Besides my affection for whisks, I also love microplane graters, ceramic knives, and those citrus juicers that you open, put half the fruit in, and squeeze closed. Those tools are so amazing that I actually get a little thrill when I know I need to use them, perhaps because I still remember a time before they were part of my arsenal.
Probably the most underrated tool I own is the humble bench knife. That small rectangle of metal with a handle has gotten me out of some pretty big jams-- it both scrapes and scrapes clean. Take tonight for example. I was preheating a skillet on the stove when I decided it was too small for the job (I have a good selection of cookware, too), so I switched it for a larger pan. The original skillet slipped from the potholder and landed on the scatter rug where it melted the synthetic fibers into a dark ring before I could retrieve it. Never mind the rug-- the skillet had a layer of melted nylon on the bottom. Without a second thought, I ran it under hot water, pulled out my bench knife, and scraped the stuff completely away- crisis averted.
Oh yeah, and the whisks came in handy today, too. I totally forgot to add the leavening to the pumpkin bread I was baking and only realized it about 10 minutes after it was in the oven. What's the worst that can happen? I thought, and using the smallest of my whisk collection, I took the dense loaf out and stirred the baking powder in, careful not to disturb the sides which had already set. That thing rose like a rocket and turned out just fine, thanks to that tiny little whisk. I only wish my neighbor had been here to see it.