If it’s quiet enough in the house I can sometimes almost hear my mother howling along to the musical score from The Sound of Music. She sang unabashedly regardless of who was in the house. I still remember having a boy over that I was hoping to impress. He was impressed all right just not in the way I had hoped!
Thankfully, it was the era before we had movies on DVD. She had to wait for it to come on the television and that only happened once a year. Admittedly I was never a fan of “raindrops on roses” or “whiskers on kittens” but this year at the request of one of my readers (and maybe a little leftover inspiration from both my mother and Julie Andrews) I decided to share my list of favorite things in the kitchen.
I’ve shared mostly my favorite tools for bread baking but there’s a few others included that I love to have around. If your loved ones are looking for something to put under the tree to help keep your bread habit forming send them this link as a great big hint!
#1: My absolute favorite thing: My bread bowl
There’s just something comforting about having a special bowl for bread. I found mine after Darrell and I rode our tandem around Keuka Lake the summer I turned 50. We ended our ride at a little craft fair in Hammondsport and there it was. I love the idea that I got to meet the potter who made it. His passion made the bowl. My passion fills it.
I’m hoping my daughter wants it someday (Cori, are you reading?) and that she finds herself down the road not only using it but reminiscing about our time together in the kitchen as she does. Your bowl doesn’t have to be a pottery one but if you’re in the market you can check out Bittersweet on Main Street in Brockport to see their handcrafted beauties!
#2: The little plastic thingy technically known as a dough or bowl scraper
You’ve no doubt seen this in pictures on my blog or heard me touting these little plastic scrapers if you’ve taken a class with me! Amazon carries them but I think a better choice is your local baking supply store. My favorite in this area is Cooks World on Monroe Avenue. These little scrapers are the best thing ever for mixing dough. Once you try them you’ll never go back to a spatula. Of course having said that….
#3: Tango Spoonula Spatulas
When I first saw these the tag said “…a spicy kitchen spatula that will make you feel like dancing.” Who wouldn’t want to try that out? I loved it so much I had to buy a second one. Though I lean toward the nerdy end of the spectrum, these make me feel cool! They come in all sorts of colors and shapes, too!
#4: Bench scraper
Mine is a plain old one. The people who lived in this old farmhouse before us were in the restaurant business and left the barn full of all kinds of interesting stuff including this bench scraper. When you knead dough it’s good to keep your work surface clean. This really helps with that plus it’s great for dividing dough and negotiating with rolls that want to stick to the tray after you’ve baked them. I might be due for a more playful one than this. (Santa???)
#5 Tovolo Pastry Prep Mat
I didn’t think mats mattered. They do. We have a great farm table that Darrell hand-tooled from old beams he saved from our reconstruction. The table is developing a lot of character as we gather around it to process food from the garden, work on winter crafts, and share family dinners. It was built to be used but I still like to pamper it at times with a protective layer when I’m working with dough. This mat does the trick and, unlike some other mats I’ve tried, it doesn’t slip all over the place.
#6 Pans for playing, experimenting and just plain having fun!
Chicago Metallic bread pans are number one in my world of bread. They’re heavy duty and come uncoated which is how I like them. I have the 8 x4 for regular ol’ bread and the 9 x 5 for our favorite ever multigrain bread which is a larger loaf. Because the English Muffin bread is so good, I still haven’t gotten to my English Muffin rings and my new brioche pan but I plan to. Think about adding a few specialty pans to your Christmas list for an ongoing adventure throughout the year.
#7: OXO scale with pull out display
I never thought I’d be the kind of cook who needed or wanted a scale but the truth is it’s useful and I like it. I chose the pull out display because my bread bowl is large and it allows me to see the measurements. My only tiny complaint with it is the light goes out after a short amount of time (which just means I have to re-push the light button….so see it really is just a tiny complaint.)
#9: My Fidibus
This is an expensive ordeal but one that I really wanted so that we could buy local grains and stone grind them to add to our bread. There are other grinding tools out there but after seeing this one at work at a NOFA conference I was smitten. I use mine regularly and Darrell grinds wheat for his pancake and waffle mix, too. It was a splurge but note that I am still without a bright red Kitchen Aid mixer because I haven’t been able to justify it…yet.
#10 Another favorite apron!
I can’t help myself. My cousin Cindy (of Cindy’s Whimsies) made me a great apron. Though I didn’t need another, I bought an awesome apron with figs all over it when I made my pilgrimage to France. And, of course, I had a bright red apron embroidered with Kneading Life this year, too. Apparently with aprons, I’m not keeping things as simple as I could be! Still….why not put an apron on your wish list???
BONUS: A hand-crafted tote
Most of you know that Darrell makes great baskets but this new tote design with canvas straps is definitely on my list this year. He only made 2 and they were for a Christmas craft fair. He made it clear that this time the baskets weren’t for me (I tried out my books in them anyway). One of these would be great for trips to the public market or grocery store and I could always use it when I’m dragging around my goodies for classes! I may have to mosey over to the craft fair myself….hmmmm….
So there you have it, a few of my favorite things. What else might be on your wish list? A Kneading Life Gift Certificate perhaps? Contact me directly if you’d like one of those! Right now we’re tentatively scheduling a bread basket class for February 7 and a Sicilian stuffed breads class for April 18! Space, as always, will be limited.
I hope that with or without new additions to your kitchen your journey with both bread and life continues to be a great adventure! Please comment in with your favorite things around the kitchen. I’ll direct Darrell to them when he starts thinking about what to put under the tree for me this year!
Hope to see you around the bread bowl!
In the SPirit of the season: Cousin’s Baking Day