If you’re familiar with my kitchen setup at all, you know I’m not a big appliance and gadget person. I like to have the right tools for the job, and ideally the tools I do have will have more than one use. Economy of space, time, money, movement and so forth. And there were two tools that my kitchen was lacking until recently that seem very basic, yet made a very big difference in how I cooked.
A sea salt grinder was the first one. I like to use coarse sea salt in my cooking rather than the severely granulated stuff – I like the texture and taste of freshly ground salt a lot better than the stuff in the cans that has been treated with anti-clumping chemicals and god knows what else. To compensate my lack of a salt grinder, I spent a lot of time smashing and crushing chunks of sea salt under a frying pan. Definitely not an economy of time or effort.
So into Sur La Table I went. This is not a store I can normally afford to frequent, but it is a store that is every good cook’s dream come true. I had to exercise serious restraint. Allowing myself to browse for a minute proved to be troublesome when I started to talk myself into skull-shaped plastic ice cubes and tubes of orange and black cookie frosting in the Halloween display – despite the fact that I don’t like cold drinks and rarely bake cookies that require decorating. I decided it was best to make a beeline for the salt and pepper mill section, which is what I had popped in for.
This also proved to be troublesome. For years now, I have wanted a set of red lacquered Peugeot mills. The tallest models are something like $80 each – so $160 for the matching set (and can you really have anything other than a matching set?). And lo and behold, Sur La Table had a fully stocked display of them. For the first minute, I stood in awe. Then I picked one up, and immediately started justifying this ridiculously expensive purchase. They will last forever! They are made by Peugeot, so their metalworkings are indestructible! They have multiple grinds! I can pass these down to my heirs! It’s payday, so I have the money in my checking account! But then the voice of reason (which sounds remarkably like my husband’s voice in my head) won out and I gingerly put the shiny red Peugeot back on the self and began to scan for a more reasonably priced option.
I finally settled for the least expensive one at $13.00. It’s clear and matches for the most part the clear pepper grinder I currently own. It only has one grind, but that’s fine for my needs anyway. And in the few days I’ve owned it, it’s done exactly what I need it to do – ground salt into food without having to whack it up with a frying pan.
The other item my kitchen was lacking was an olive oil cruet. I like to buy my olive oil in the giant metal canisters because it’s the most economical way to purchase it, and I’m never in fear of running out of oil while cooking. This is very important as I’m someone who uses olive oil almost exclusively in the kitchen.
I wasn’t looking for one of those hokey ceramic Chefs that pours oil out of his mouth or the little individual ones that you can give each person at the table so they can dress their salad with their very own bottle of oil. I needed a workhorse of an olive oil cruet – a tall bottle with a fast pour spout that wouldn’t leak or drip or pop out of the bottle mid pour. It needed to look attractive enough in it’s utilitarianism so that I could leave it sit out on the counter next to the stove.
I knew exactly what I was looking for – a Tablecraft sixteen ounce olive oil cruet with pourer. I love Tablecraft. They do all kinds of things for kitchens and caterers, but most people know them by their diner-style, simple accessories – the plain glass cruets, sugar dispensers, salt and pepper shakers and their accompanying stainless steel holders, napkin and straw dispensers. Did Sur La Table carry them?
Of course they did! And despite the fact that I was in a Sur La Table, the olive oil cruet only cost me $5.00. And now the kitchen is so much cleaner when I’m cooking – no more hefting a giant can of olive oil near an open flame, sloshing oil all over the counter while trying to pour just a tablespoon or two.
A well-stocked and well thought out kitchen makes cooking even more relaxing and fun than it already is. With my salt grinder and olive oil cruet, I can cook anything I want without much trouble at all.