I like to cook, but I do so without very many gadgets. We have a small kitchen and there isn’t a lot of room for stuff we don’t use all the time. Much to the surprise of most people who notice, we don’t even have a microwave. Somewhere downstairs we have various processors, mixers and blenders that don’t get a lot of use. I figure it takes more time to clean one of those things than it saves me to use it. In spite of all this I went and bought a kitchen gadget.
We were in Paris Ontario the other day visiting friends and there on the kitchen table was what I learned was a fat separator. I learned this because it intrigued me so I asked, “hey what’s this item?”. Being a kitchen gadget dummy, I had no idea such a thing existed. I regularly make braises, and typically, when whatever I’m braising is ready, I take it out of the pot, then skim off the fat from the top as best I can with a spoon before reducing the braising liquid to make a sauce. This clever gadget pours off from the bottom, so it’s easy to separate out the fat by just pouring off the liquid, leaving the fat at the bottom.
I expect there are folks experienced in the ways of kitchen junk who are mildly amused that I’m so taken with this miracle of modern technology. You must be thinking, this is Canada in the 21st Century. Everybody knows about fat separators. Well, not me. Not until now.
I do have a couple other interesting kitchen tools here at 27th Street though. For instance, I inherited my Uncle Harold’s chef’s knife.
Harold, my dad’s big brother, was a remarkable guy. He was an accomplished chef, good enough that he wrote articles in Gourmet magazine, was featured in LOOK Magazine, and wrote a cookbook in the early 70s called Haute Cuisine Without Help. He was an accomplished musician, who wrote a book on Counterpoint as well as a symphony. He was friends with Alice Toklas and Man Ray and many more of the artists kicking around Paris after the 2nd war. Harold was also a spy, but that’s another story. Somehow or another, after the death of Harold and his wife Virginia, I ended up with his chef’s knife, a fantastic catalog of the work of the Italian painter Enrico Baj and a gorgeous watercolour brush.
The other really notable kitchen tool we have is an ulu, which was given to Tuffy P during one of her visits to the Canadian Arctic. It makes an excellent pizza cutter.