I’m a little reluctant to enter today’s subject realm – frankly because of the fear that somehow I’m covering ground that others, many others, may have already covered. And yet, as I move from site to site on the web, I continually note that not only do other food geeks enjoy hearing about their comrades’ “toys”, but that there are always many for whom the news is truly new – So, with that knowledge, I’d like to share with ya’all a few of my best kitchen friends – most of these, I use daily – a few I’d feel naked without.
One of the things I simply love is my oil spray device (pictured above). I picked this up several years ago at my local restaurant supply store for, I think, something like $1.79 – I think they’re intended to spray cleaning fluids and such – but the spray mechanism is so sturdy that it has no trouble “misting/spraying” oil with good pressure. At the time I bought this one, I was using something called “Mr. Mister”, which as I remember, cost $20! You had to pump it up before using it, and it soon got VERY old – I was very happy to retire that device.
There’s another nice feature of this as an oil sprayer – I buy my oils by the gallon – the common ones anyway, like olive, grapeseed, and a vegetable blend that I use for general purpose (and usually in this sprayer). It’s very easy to miss the fact that such bulk oils have “turned the corner”, and are no longer worth using. But when you are spraying those oils into the air, you will quickly know if it’s rancid – Helpful.
Boy, I use this thing a lot! Yes, it does get a bit gummed up, unless you give it a good washing just about as often as you fill it (and mine holds A LOT). But for its few faults, this toy is one of my favorites, and I seldom see or hear it mentioned by others – give it a try.
The small one I use much less often – primarily filled with water, to “mist” a hot oven while baking breads – very handy, and very effective. I most often store it empty, and only fill it when I need it – and immediately empty it again afterward – stale water not only can take on strange tastes, but can also play host to some strange playmates.
I’ve included the devices above not as a new discovery or something unique, for I’m quite sure most folks with even infrequent entrance into the kitchen will recognize them as “microplanes”, a name borrowed from the brand, but which today immediately identifies them to all cooks, at least. They are not, certainly, a new discovery – for they have existed in the wood shop for most of the last 100 years as a rasp – but only quite recently have they found their way into the kitchen, where their value, at least to me, is at least equal to what it has been in the wood shop! It simply is far and away the best grater and zester ever a cook held in his/her hands!
I love the Microplanes, of which I have at least a half dozen, because they do what you ask of them so effectively. But I also find it refreshing to know that here is a device which comes to us without the weight of celebrity ties or food industry hype, and therefore it’s actually inexpensive – while at the same time as popular and effective a tool as any kitchen holds.
These two are probably my most useful – the larger one is of course my cheese grater, and with a hard cheese, it creates a fine, fluffy grate. I often also use it as a citrus zester, for which it is superb – I find myself using much more citrus zest now than previously, surely a good thing! Freshly grated nutmeg is another item I’m using a lot more of nowadays, and the little tubular microplane is the reason. Yes, it is a one purpose, dedicated tool – So? Does it take up valuable storage space? No! Hard to clean? No – I don’t clean it; why should I? Any other objections? Alton? OK, hearing none, it remains hanging on the pot rack waiting for me to frequently pull it down for fresh grated nutmeg.
If by some outside chance you are still trying to use that old box grater/zester (even Alton Brown would admit that multi-tasker should go), do yourself a favor and try – just try – a microplane. Once you do, I guarantee you’ll never, never, touch that box grater ever again.
Enough for today – occasionally I’ll return with a few more kitchen friends for another discusion. Stay warm and eat well.