They seemed like such solid, multipurpose utensils, the 11 or 19 metal skewers in my kitchen junk drawer. Cake testers. Chicken-cavity closers. Party on a stick.
The devil’s knitting needles is more like it. Kebab chunks spin on the ones with rounded shafts. The flat ones are too long, forcing a dismount of ingredients that squishes tomatoes and separates onion layers. Even though they’re all in one place, I never can come up with the right number for a cookout. As a twist-tied gang, they work themselves to the top of the heap and keep the drawer from closing. And every time I go fishing for so much as a spatula, the business end of a skewer finds that tender junction where fingernail meets flesh.
Hello bamboo skewers, in a package, in with the Glad and Reynolds wraps.
Exile of the stabbers inspired further elimination; see the list below. So long goofballs, castoffs, handouts, also-rans. The drawer and I are both operating more effectively.
Also in the pile: a pie server with push-off lever; decorative wine stoppers; specialized vegetable peelers; a 1970s-era cheese plane; silicone pinch bowls; tomato corer; collapsible silicone tablespoon/teaspoon; a butter-measuring knife (?); the head of a wooden meat tenderizer; an egg separator; a rusted pastry brush; short, spring-loaded tongs with perforated pincers; a flat whisk minus its digital-thermometer guts.
— Bonnie S. Benwick
11-inch nonstick skillet
Not long out of college and trying to expand my cooking horizons at the first apartment I could truly call my own, I wanted a taste of home. I settled on my mom’s recipe for chicken cacciatore. My cobbled-together set of hand-me-down skillets didn’t have anything with a lid or deep enough for the long braise, so my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I set off on a shopping expedition that took us to the local mall.
In one of the department stores, I chose a deep, 11-inch Farberware skillet. (Ever notice how many recipes call for a 12-inch skillet?) It wasn’t too expensive. It even had the glass lid I wanted.
In seven years and two kitchens since then, that skillet has been my workaday cookware. Sadly, the nonstick coating is not so nonstick anymore. The bottom is warped, and my cast-iron skillet has moved in on the veteran’s territory. It pains me to say it, but it’s got to go.
— Becky Krystal
Regardless of where you stand on the Great Garlic Press Debate — an Elizabeth David hater or a Cook’s Illustrated apologist — you have to agree on one thing: a cheap press just mutilates cloves. The metal used for my old garlic press was essentially Erector Set grade. It was flimsy, but even worse, its poor design virtually guaranteed that all cloves would be pulverized into a pulpy mass, half of which would remain in the little metal hopper, awaiting you to scrape out the sticky lump with an index finger. Whatever benefits I gained from this instrument — better flavor, uniform consistency — were hard to reconcile with the sheer number of atomized cloves sacrificed to the garbage. Just as bad, whenever I used the tool, I felt as if I were trying to break rocks with a potato masher. My hands always ached after employing this weapon of mass destruction.