Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Love Thy Local Librarian


"How disposing kitchen krap has increased my disposable kash."

Have I told you this week how much I love my librarians?
Wait. I've only been blogging a week.
Okay, well, my friends have heard it said numerous times, and it still holds true.

Ordering books from libraries across the state has allowed me to preview books, at my leisure, in my own living room, before buying the ones I really will use - from Amazon Marketplace, E-bay, or Borders with a nice 30% off coupon - thankyouverymuch :)

So, for this week. Let it be said, "I love my local librarians."

My numerous visits to the library have actually been quite entertaining. You see, there are many on staff. And, one by one, each week I have gotten to know them, as my 5-10 books or DVDs come rolling in. First I was greeted by a "Oh, you're the one...who orders all these videos." Then it became, "So, you're the Alton Brown fan, right?" Later, "So, does he have a lot of these?"

They work up to, "So, why do you like this guy so much?"
See blog #1.

Lately, it's been kinda fun because apparently there's a guy ordering the AB DVDs, too. So, I've been getting, "You know, there's this guy now who is ordering all these now." I got that from about 3 different people. At first I was saying, "That's fun. Tell him there are about 9 new DVDs now available through Food Network, but no Illinois library has them yet - only Ohio and Idaho or some such."

Apparently, this guy recently saw a stack of Good Eats DVDs and thought they were for him. They said, "No, they're for the woman fan." I've heard enough about him that now I'm just joking back, "Well, find out if he's single, would ya?"

(With my luck, he's still living with his mom and she still does his laundry. Bet ya a Krispie Kreme. But, it sure would be wonderful to find out that there is quirky food loving, kitchen type guy living in the same town. Lord, please let him be a Christian computer nerd, too.)

Nah. Dream on, food fans, dream on.

So, lately I've been getting the "Are you a professional chef question" a lot. Nope, just play one on TV. A few months ago I ordered about 4 huge volumes - textbooks, I found out - from the Culinary Institute of America. (Wow, I didn't remembering ordering anything from Gutenberg.) "So, when are you going to culinary school?" "I only wish," is the honest response.

Each time I go in, I chat a bit with the helpful people behind the counter. One wished she knew more about knives. So, I suggested a couple of video shorts available on the internet. (Links to the video shorts are included in footnotes 1-3 at bottom.) Good primers. Someone else was part of a local food co-op and wished for info on cooking methods and recipes for...I dunno, rutabagas or something. (Actually, it some something more common, but I just wanted to see if typing rutabaga was a fun as saying it. Not nearly.)

Someone else wondered if I had an amazing kitchen with all the gizmos and gadgets. And, of course, in true AB style, I honestly answered, "Nope. I have actually gone through and donated almost all the gadgets I have collected along the years." Then I explained how having a multi-taking tool you use often has significant advantages over the dreaded uni-tasker which is sitting rusty crammed in the back of a crowded drawer.

"But, you must have a large kitchen, for all that cooking you do." Nope.

She indicated that she wanted a salad-spinner, but she would have to get rid of something, since her small kitchen was already at 110% capacity. I suggested she go through and toss everything she hasn't used in the past year - making room for what she will really use. Like the spinner. Come on! Who doesn't need a centrifuge in their kitchen? I mean it's a veggie spinner, fruit spinner, a papier-mâché...I digress. And, of course, the look of "But that's wasting money" came across her face.

I recognize that look. I've made that face.

I explained, tossing out that stuff has saved me money. "Huh?" Well, look. When I emptied out my crammed drawer, I found 3 potato peelers. Now, that's one for me, one for me cat, and one for...our dust bunnies? The cat and the bunnies don't seem to do a lot of cooking, so, that's wasteful. A waste of perfectly usable space, waste of money (I couldn't find what I needed so I apparently thought I didn't have one and bought another - twice.) And, all three were rusty.

Here's the deal. Utensils you can't find, or don't like using because they don't do the job well, are useless. There should be a word - uselesscils. Okay, I need to work on that name - but, you get the picture. If you hate peeling potatoes because the peeler never works right, or you keep cutting yourself, or it's rusty...what's it doing in your kitchen? Get boxed potatoes. Chances are that's what you are doing anyway. So, now you are making room for a box of dehydrated spuds AND a rusty peeler (or, three) you never use.

But, buying new stuff costs money. Okay....sure. granted. But if it's a peeler, not a lot of money. There are good ones, ones you will actually keep - and use - for years - for $7. Seven dollars. That's the cost of a box of spuds. And, your children will get a chance to taste true tubers. Not to mention you'd be supporting Idaho - the state where they have the best-stocked libraries...for those of you paying attention. Bonus!

Anyway, the point is, I have a small kitchen. I do not have a lot of disposable cash. But, I now DO have a kitchen with drawers that open and a peeler that works well. (Notice I didn't call it a potato peeler - it gets used for chocolate shavings, cheese, and many other things as well - it's a multi-tasker.)

So...if all the peelers are under $12, how do I decided which one won't easily rust and will work the best? Research. Don't do the eye roll - I saw that.

It's been done for you. Get a hold of the book, Alton Brown's, Gear For You Kitchen. From food processors to spatulas, this book has it all. "Spatulas? Who needs help buying a spatula?" I heard that. Well, there are a few different designs and materials on the market - and only you know which one is right for you. Use the book to decide. Then your $10 purchase will be the last spatula you buy. (How different can one spatula be from another? There are rubber ones, there are silicon rated to 500 degrees, ones with little divets to hang off your work bowl - if that's important to you, and lastly, the one I have (and wish I didn't) has the "special feature" where blade comes off the handle to clean and / or fall off in your bowl when you least expect it.

So, I'll be buying another spatula - my LAST spatula, now that I know what will help me the most. In sum, if you need more room in your kitchen, or want to get some tools you will actually use - and perhaps enjoy using, or if you need to replace a utencil that hasn't been seen since the first episode of Friend', Alton Brown's, Gear For Your Kitchen.

Or, better yet, preview a copy.
Just ask your wonderful local librarian :)

1 - Alton Brown - 5 min. video short
"The Difference Between Honing and Sharpening a Knife."

2 - Alton Brown - 6 min. video short
"The Very Least You Should Know About a Knife."
Video link is in the middle of the page. (Right above the free band-aid offer.)
Why he loves Shun knives enough to call them and tell them he was going to be their national spokesperson. Yep, he called THEM. He likes them THAT much.

3 - Alton Brown - 1 min. video short
"Ever Wonder Why Cutting Onions Can Feel Like a Tear Gas Attack?"

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1 comment:

gerbmom said...

Or your wonderful friend... ;)
BTW - Use thin skinned Idaho golden russets and skip the peeling routine. My kids actually prefer mashed potatoes with bits of skin. Yum!
Lord, please let him be a Christian computer nerd, too.
LOL. and not Greek apparently?
Thanks for the entertaining post that rescued me from a head banging afternoon!

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