My grandmother was infamous for chasing people out of her kitchen. Narrow and cramped, it had room for one person and one person only—would-be hand washers, water drinkers and snackers be damned.
My own galley-style kitchen has definitely brought out a bit of Grandma in me—I’ve caught myself mimicking her shooing motion on more than one occasion. Faced with limited counter space and infuriating cabinet design, I’m pretty picky about what I bring into the kitchen. Every item has to fit a few criteria: it can’t take up too much room, it should either be the best at what it does or serve more than one purpose, and it should make me happy. That last one is probably the most important—I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, and I want to be around tools that I enjoy using and looking at.
This was a gift from my girlfriend several years ago and I think we’ve used it every week since. It practically lives on the stovetop once soup and stew season hits. It’s not quite as pretty as it used to be, but the weathering lends it a certain air of gravitas.
Granfors Bruks Hatchet
I know it’s a little odd, but this little game hatchet is great for those tasks that could ding up my knives—splitting winter squashes, sectioning poultry and the like. I’ve not yet found a cleaver that I’m happy with, and this is a decent alternative. Plus, I can use it to split firewood when I go camping.
Every cook needs one of these. Period. They’re inexpensive and well made, they’re great for searing, frying and oven roasting, and they lend themselves to unconventional uses—mine sees regular use as both a weight for spatchcocked chicken and a tofu press.
I generally prefer pourover, but most mornings see me bleary-eyed and barely functional, and all that weighing and boiling and blooming and steeping is beyond me when it’s all I can do to stumble out the door. This bad boy makes the best machine-brewed coffee I’ve ever tasted, and I love the blocky, utilitarian design.
This drawer came from my great-grandparents’ pharmacy. I have no idea what it once held (hopefully nothing toxic), but I use it to store bitters and other small bottles on my bar. My apartment building can feel sterile and cheap, so I like surrounding myself with well-built things that have some historical weight behind them.
I bought these last year and they’ve more than justified their cost in the time since. They’re strong enough to move and turn heavy foods and I like how easy it is to lock them. I’m currently eyeing a set of the larger-handled ones for grilling—these work in a pinch, but I’d appreciate a little more distance between my hands and the hot grill.
This is my favorite kitchen tool. It may or may not be the same spoon that she used to chase off kitchen interlopers. The edge is worn smooth from years of scraping, the patina is decades old and the bowl features a scar from an old split that my grandfather repaired using some form of shop wizardry (or wood glue). It makes me think of the two of them every time I use it, which keeps me reaching for it over more practical spoons.
So what’s in your kitchen? Is there an item with a story of its own? Something you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments.
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