Be­fore you write your Christmas list for Santa, make sure that the cook­ing uten­sils you must have won’t spend their lives un­touched in a cup­board

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - On Sunday -

IT’S a stan­dard joke in my fam­ily that I had to ex­tend my kitchen just to build ex­tra cup­boards to hide all the kitchen kit that I had bought but never used.

For those of you who suf­fer from an ob­ses­sive de­sire to buy things for the kitchen, or those who live with such a chronic suf­ferer and might be con­tem­plat­ing a kitchen gift this Christmas, I’ve gone through my cup­boards and draw­ers to work out what para­pher­na­lia is worth buy­ing and what’s not…


On the sur­face a per­fect present but stick an old one in a cup of boil­ing water to see what fate awaits all wooden spoons. Give it a sniff. Phew, stinky! And you were go­ing to stir your cus­tard with that…

Ask for a $10 sil­i­con spat­ula in­stead. They’re hy­gienic, heat-re­sis­tant and flex­i­ble, so they are great for get­ting into the cor­ner of a pan or get­ting ev­ery last sker­rick out of a bowl.


No one likes poo shoots in their prawn cock­tail but you don’t need a spe­cial de­vice to re­move them. Just in­sert a fine wooden bar­be­cue skewer in a tiny slit made at the base of the tail to al­low you to hook out the al­i­men­tary canal.


I know they are a pop­u­lar sum­mer veg but I can con­fi­dently pre­dict that stuffed zuc­chini will NOT be the next big thing.

Get a $40 mi­croplane in­stead. You’ll find them cheaper, but the best are worth it as they have very fine and flat teeth – per­fect for get­ting zest off your cit­rus with­out any bit­ter pith, shav­ing off a lovely (and more eco­nom­i­cal) snowy mound of fine parme­san, and you can even grate gar­lic or gin­ger di­rectly into sauces and cur­ries.


This scis­sor-like ring cut­ter al­lows you to re­move the top of your egg shells neatly. That’s fine if you are mak­ing the ver­sion of the fa­mous “L’arpege” egg but oth­er­wise it’s just more drawer clut­ter. In­stead ask the cheap­skate to buy you a man­do­line. Good Ja­panese ones start at $80 but there are cheaper. Make sure to in­clude a pack of plas­ters with your gift.

Never give a man­do­line to a clumsy cook as this is a recipe for fin­ger­tip­shav­ing dis­as­ter. Bet­ter to buy them a $10 juli­enne peeler and a good potato peeler, which are far safer and will do a sim­i­lar job – al­beit a lit­tle more slowly.


With its large plas­tic bulb and long, sy­ringe-like body, this de­vice sucks up juices from a roast­ing pan to squirt back over your tur­key or chicken to baste. (In these mod­ern times, it can also be used for home ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion…)

In­stead, on your Christmas list, ask for a $10 gravy sep­a­ra­tor, which al­lows you to sep­a­rate meat juice and fat from the roast­ing pan eas­ily. This is price­less when mak­ing gravy, or “jus” if you are a wannabe chef.


I have found it a good rule in life that, un­like jew­ellery, presents with plugs on them are sel­dom em­braced by the woman you love. (I’m still pay­ing for that footspa I gave one Christmas be­cause her feet got sore at the races.)

And even a kitchen ap­pli­ance fetishist like me will ad­mit that the sel­dom used pop­corn maker / se­cond ice cream ma­chine / bread maker (used only when I need to make pizza dough and am too lazy to knead it my­self) / deep fat fryer (sel­dom used be­cause cook­ing that way is on the way out) take up more space than they’re worth.


So if you must give some­thing elec­tric this Christmas, choose a present that de­liv­ers more bang for your buck.

A set of elec­tronic scales (around $60), a ther­mome­ter so you never over­cook fish or meat again (start­ing from around $20) and a rice cooker (from $25), if you use them re­li­giously, will make you a far bet­ter cook than al­most any­thing else.


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