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Published May 13, 2014, 03:13 PM

Halgrimson: Kitchen tools not as important as the cooking

Cooking equipment as well as cookbooks have always been my downfall, and as I try to pare down, I’m pitching out. In one box went the flan rings, croissant cutter, timbale molds, a brioche mold, a fancy pate mold, a Pullman bread pan and many tartlet tins better known in a Norwegian kitchen as sandbakkel tins. None of the preceding had ever been used.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

Cooking equipment as well as cookbooks have always been my downfall, and as I try to pare down, I’m pitching out.

In one box went the flan rings, croissant cutter, timbale molds, a brioche mold, a fancy pate mold, a Pullman bread pan and many tartlet tins better known in a Norwegian kitchen as sandbakkel tins. None of the preceding had ever been used.

Some of the equipment came from the Bridge Kitchenware Corporation, which used to be at 214 E. 52nd St. in New York City, where I always went to gaze at the amazing collection of cookware and talk to Mr. Bridge, who sat on a high stool and held forth. He was the king of his domain. Mr. Bridge is gone, and the store has moved to New Jersey of all places.

Another box held an espresso maker, a jam jar and a piece of equipment I didn’t recognize. The latter wasn’t for the kitchen at all but rather a gizmo for massaging one’s reachable body parts perhaps after a workout in the kitchen.

And the next box contains my beloved fish poacher, a large mortar and pestle and a covered ceramic pot in which to bake a chicken.

After I’d prepared the first boxes, I called Casey Steele at Square One Kitchens, which has two commercial kitchens for the use of small food businesses and an event center for use by the public. They also offer cooking classes.

What better place for cooking gear, and the likelihood that it will be used is far greater in Casey’s kitchens. The facility is located in Fargo at 1407 1st Ave. N. and online at www.squareonekitchens.com.

I swoon with desire every time I go to Square One and wish I was still able to teach cooking classes.

Some other equipment that I still have was necessary when I was teaching cooking classes. There is a copious steamer that we used in Chinese classes for steaming. And the molcajete y tejolete, a Mexican mortar and pestle, and muffin tins in several sizes. I don’t bake muffins anymore.

A lot of equipment I have never succumbed to, such as a microwave oven. I like to be involved with what I’m cooking. I’ve also never invested in a Crock-Pot, which I think makes food indigestible. And I’ve never had a garlic press. A good knife and a little salt works better.

And since one of the able assistants at Ace Hardware in Moorhead told me I could use parchment or waxed paper folded twice with the pointed end cut off for the same purpose as one uses a pastry tube, that’s been a goner, too. I’ve never decorated a cake anyway. I used it for filling ravioli and wontons.

But I have three food processors, a coffee grinder, a spice grinder and a blender.

The most useless kitchen adornment I’ve ever seen is a wooden banana holder, but I suppose it’s to keep the stink of them from permeating the counter top. And I only buy one banana at a time, a green one, and I eat it right away.

The best things anyone can have in the kitchen are good carbon steel knives and steel with which to sharpen them. There’s not much you can’t do with a good knife, and carbon steel ones are the finest.

The following books will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about kitchen equipment:

• “The Well-Tooled Kitchen” by Fred Bridge and Jean F. Tibbetts

• “The Cooks’ Catalogue Edited by James Beard, etc.”

• “Cooks’ Tools” by Susan Campbell.


Readers can reach Forum Food Columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com.

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