Monday, March 30, 2009

Spoon Me

Saucyman, Wooden, Steel or space-age polymer – what stirs the saucypot? Spooning

Stainless steel gets used a lot, there is a lot of in the Saucykitchen. It is indestructible, easy to clean, can be thrown in the dishwasher. Stainless steel (pans and) utensils are non-reactive – they won’t change to the color of the things your cooking like tomato sauce or do things like cause cream to turn gray. For all the upside stainless steel, they are rather ruthless. At some point this year, I read something, somewhere about how stainless steel should never used making risotto because it breaks up the arborio rice and causes the risotto to get all sticky. I pretty much thought that was a kitchen tale, but I thought I would give it a try and despite my skepticism, my risottos have had a much better texture since I retired the stainless

As for the space-age materials, I own a couple silicone spatulas, used mostly scrape out bowls for soon-to-be-baked goods – cookies, doughs, etc. I don’t really use them to cook/stir. I don’t own any non-stick pans so the need for a soft plastic cooking utensil that won’t ruin a pan’s surface while preparing a meal. Rubberized plastic and melamine spoons and spatulas have largely been replaced by silicone in the last decade or so. The silicone can handle the heat, so they stay in the kitchen –and they can stay in the pan without melting. Silicone's predecessor, rubberized plastic had a habit of melting into things like scrambled eggs. Melamine doesn't melt, but it is hard enough to scratch cooking surfaces but quickly turns the color of the thing your cooking. Plus association with formaldehyde is enough for me to label the material useless in the kitchen.

Lately wood is winning the day. Which is amazing because wooden spoons are hard to clean (can’t go in the dishwasher), they break easy and I have a bad association with them: In my Saucyouth, wooden spoons were not so much for stirring but meting out parental justice one knuckle rap at a time. The wooden spoon came to symbolize authoritarian crackdown for minor breeches of discipline – talking back, not coming when called and like minded offenses. Part of my personal wooden spoon revival has something to do with getting a bit cranky in my old(er) age - longing to see adults tell teens to belt their pants or quit txtng people constantly - while menacing them with a wooden spoons.

That and practically speaking the risotto does work better with wooden spoons.

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