Propping up the economy

… or, hey, toys.

Going in to places like Zabar’s (upstairs) or NY Cake Supply or Macy’s Cellar is an invite to temptation – lots of decently-priced items that would be fun to have, but aren’t strictly necessary. (As opposed to, say, Williams-Sonoma, where everything is hideously expensive and, for the most part, not awesomely useful.) I am also my father’s daughter and have made do just fine without a proper frying pan or a garlic press or having a lot of bakeware from the last half-century. I have enough trouble putting what I have away and my kitchens are only going to get smaller as I get older, so single-use items are just not an option.

Which doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to cut loose once in a while. Or that I don’t lust after certain items that I’ll live perfectly well without (but would be kind of cool to have anyway). Post-Christmas sales are the perfect time to splurge, and, so, the toys:

knife

I don’t really have a knife fetish. I might have a knife beyond my price point that I would buy if my salary had an extra digit at the end of it, but I’ll work with whatever’s to hand. I’m still excited by having a paring knife with an actual tip (every knife in the family has been used as a pry-bar once too many times) and it’s arguably more important that I brush up on my sharpening skills than I conduct some search for the mythical best knife.

As such, picking up a new chef’s knife wasn’t super-high on my list, especially since the upgrade isn’t huge in size or style features, but this one was very reasonably priced and, wow, sharp. I’ve nicked myself on the fingernail a few times because a (relatively) dullish knife is far more forgiving of sloppiness since you can’t actually cut your fingers off. So not only does this Victorianox slice and dice, but it also improves technique.

lodge

I don’t own a frying pan – the Club with the missing handle makes due (as well as serving as my smaller roasting and broiling pan). But there are times when cast iron is desired and using the dutch oven isn’t practical. And so, this. (It was cheaper when I got it.)

lodge_onions

I was going to break it in with a steak, but the pan arrived on the day when I had been without heat for eighteen hours and I was not in the mood to wait for the meat to warm up to a room temperature that was still quite chilly. So I broke it in with an onion, which is far less dramatic. I made the steak later on, enjoying the handles as I shifted the pan between stove and oven.

I’m still on the learning curve for cast iron ownership – the care part is easy; after keeping a wok seasoned, this is nothing – but learning how to cook with it is slower going if I want to do more than just use it as a heavy surface to brown.

rack_open This is my new baby. It would’ve been awesomely timed if I’d gotten it for myself before all of the Christmas baking, but it’s still been put to good use.

My normal modus operandi when baking is to leave the hot baking sheets on whatever surface they can balance on without melting what’s below, which is at best limited and at worst next to impossible (especially if I want to actually cool something). But now I have something where everything can hang out while flat and out of the way.

rack_used

You can actually unfold just the rungs you need – I could have left that middle one closed and just used the top and bottom, for instance.

(For the record, that’s my oven flashlight, which appears like Hirschfeld’s ‘Nina’ in most of my photos. My oven light, like its clock, doesn’t work. Or maybe it’s just the bulb. I don’t know. I like the flashlight.)

rack_closed

The rack stores nicely, too. The one quirk I have with it so far is that it’s an effort to get the bottom balancing leg closed – those pointy tabs on the left click into slots and you’re supposed to squeeze the bottom run to get them out. But I can’t get it to do that without using a screwdriver as a crowbar and the metal is simply too sturdy to just warp it differently. But it’s not a crisis; the toolbox is nearby.

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