It was a container of my favorite smoky Pimenton De La Vera that came crashing out of the pantry when I was looking for a vanilla bean that made me realize I've gone insane and needed an intervention. Simply put, my pantry is overrun. Sure, I could blame this compulsion on my day job, but truth be told I'm a little obsessive at times. After some rooting around I rediscovered a small arsenal of extra virgin olive oils from practically every country you could imagine, vinegars made from fruits I've never even heard of and enough sauces and marinades to fill an olympic-sized swimming pool. Mind you, these were items I swore I needed and would use at one point or another, and damnit, I just couldn't stand to get rid of them.. for heavens sake they were still good. But then the rational mind kicked in– that's it, I said, no more! I will attempt to keep a tight clean ship around these parts and lighten up. Heck, winter is on her way out, I should wise up and get a jump on my Spring cleaning.
With pantry doors open I proceeded to begin my purge. So far so good. Giving away baskets of condiments to friends was the easy part. I knew these items were going to good homes. But then suddenly, looking around my kitchen, I suddenly felt a general sense of uneasiness, a nervous tingle developed in the pit of my stomach and tiny beads of sweat began to appear on my brow. Oh my god, please, no, don't.... don't make me.... I can't.... I won't.....
The gadget drawer.
Oh, The Gadget Drawer. Well, it's more like 4 gadget drawers. Also known as the place where kitchen utensils go and die. Or just hang out. Permanently. A place where orphaned wooden spoons eternally wonder if they'll ever find a mate. A place where kitchen shears stack up upon each other once their blades go dull. A land of rusty vegetable peelers, lone measuring cups, cracked egg timers and mix-matched chopsticks go to live. And die.
I knew what had to be done. And I knew I was the man to do it. However painful it was going to be, I rose to the challenge, put on a brave face and purged the kitchen gadgets that no longer worked and that I no longer needed. All of a sudden I felt a sense of liberation, the unease began to disappear as I placed each old tool in the recycling box. And you know what? It feel great.
All this spring cleaning was good for me. It made me realize that no matter how much I collect things, I've got a small trusty set of gadgets and devices that I cannot do without and I shouldn't ignore them. They need me. They love me. So the next time I feel the urge to buy that fuscha silicon whatchamathingie or my 127th set of cheese knives, I'll remember that less is always more.Matt's Top Ten List of Things He Couldn't Live Without In His Kitchen
Quite possibly the most low tech item I own, it probably also has the most history, not only in my kitchen but also culinarily speaking. Made of stone, this morter & pestel gets a regular workout, mashing garlic, spices and making my collection of chunky sea salts a bit more usable. Couldn't live without it.
9. Kyocera Ceramic Knife.
Ok, so it looks like it should be taken to a picnic, it's light, white and feels like plastic. All similarities stop there, though. Produced in Sendai, a small city in southwest Japan on the island of Kyushu, this knife simply kicks ass. Made of high tech zirconium oxide, this material is second in hardness only to a diamond and lasts years without sharpening. I wish I could say the same for my expensive metal knives.
8. Zyliss Cheese Grater.
I don't know how many of these I've gone through over the years, but for a cheese lover they are indispensable. I love you, Zyliss!
I'm a citrus freak. The snappy zing of lemon or lime makes me happy. Adding lemon zest to muffins, roasted chicken, dressings and Caprese salads adds that sparkling quality that cannot be created by any other ingredient. Having a zester makes it easy, and it also works great with ginger.
6. Wine Openers.
"Hahaha you should really put 'wine opener' on that, babe. I mean, that's totally something you use EVERY SINGLE DAY at home, if you know what I'm saying. Remember that time you couldn't find it and you freaked out because you you forgot that you put it in the picnic basket for the Hollywood Bowl and you were about to grab a screwdriver to push the cork in because you said you really wanted a glass of wine? Man that was funny, good times you guys".Yea, very funny Adam. Real funny. (yet true.)
5.Silicon Ice Trays.
I couldn't help but notice the perfectly square bar ice in my cocktails in Barcelona. Three beautifully formed cubes in a Collins glass was pure perfect simplicity. I had to recreate this at home, and my quest led me to Sur La Table where I found these cute little silicon ice trays. My friends laugh at me over my excitement, but put two cocktails side by side, one using bar ice and the other with those ugly malformed automatic ice machine ice cubes and tell me which one you'd like to drink. Yea, I thought so.
4. Kitchen Thermometers.
I test many recipes for work and accuracy is always important. My other half, the man with the sweet tooth to end all sweet teeth, is always talking about hard and soft ball stages when he makes candy. Enter the thermometer. Checking temperatures for doneness and readiness isn't something that can be easily guessed and a thermometer gives you that assurance. I can't stress the importance of this enough. Unless you're a superhero. Or a psychic. In which case you can just use your mystical powers.
3. Egg Timer.
If I had my grandmother's intuition I wouldn't need this. I would know when my eggs are ready at every at every point in the boiling process. However, I am not my grandmother but a boy who must rely on this drop-in timer so he can have a perfect soft-boiled egg with truffle butter and toast. God I love technology almost as much as I love eggs.
2. Silli Silicon Brush.
Nothing irks me as much as the feeling that no matter how hard I try I cannot get a basting brush clean. Well, as clean as when I bought it. As a result, I kept buying new ones. Until I got my Silli brush. It's a small brush with silicon bristles and it makes basting and brushing a cinch. Olive oil, butter, bbq sauce, anything. Plus I love the name.
and my #1 favorite kitchen gadget...
. My partner and the best husband anyone could ever wish for. He's a dishwasher/handyman/cook/baker/guinea pig, all wrapped up into one beautiful tattooed package. And he cleans up my messes and experiments with a smile on his face. Now if everything in the kitchen were this good.