Utensibility – There’s an Elephant in My Kitchen

Like me, Sam of Becks n Posh has a June birthday, and one of the gifts she received was a very generous gift certificate to Sur La Table. She has asked us all to help her decide how to spend it by posting our favorite kitchen utensils and appliances – splurges and bargain basement deals. Of course, I’ll be interested in seeing everyone else’s suggestions, since my GlitterFreak friends gave me a birthday gift certificate to Surfas. *happy happy*

Unfortunately, I was at a bit of loss because, as I’ve written for The Cook Next Door, there are no wonderfully luxurious utensils in my kitchen. I cook like a renegade. A refugee. It’s all done fairly primitively. I try to convince myself that I’m a purist and like to do everything by hand – chop herbs with a knife rather then a mezzaluna; grate, crush and mince with the side of my knife rather than a mortar and pestle or a microplane; get my hands all “fragrant” peeling garlic rather than using a peeler. But the reality, I’m just too cheap and won’t spend money on gadgets. Alright, so I have a little food processor that’s great for a pesto and a hand mixer, that’s absolutely essential for a souffle, but those are just…so boring (and I also didn’t buy those for myself).

my wusthof 8
the only thing i ever need in the kitchen

And so, it all comes down to my knife. In my daily food blog travels, I’ve seen others, like Chubby Hubby and Delicious Days, who have taken beautiful photographs and written loving words about their knives, and I have to say, that truly, my 8” chef’s knife is my most cherished tool in the kitchen. There really isn’t a thing I couldn’t do with it, and over the years, I have learned that if you’re going to spend a pretty penny on any ONE thing, it’s a magnificent knife. Mine isn’t necessarily the best out there – there are some that are far more incredible, uh, also far more incredibly expensive, but for me, there is nothing better than the my Wüsthof I have. I do occasionally dream about having one of those sensational scythe-like swords that the sushi chefs use to slice fish, but that’s a little ways down the line for me. Is it strange that I dream about knives? ;)

who says a white elephant is no good?

But there is also another tool that I do love, and that’s an electric rice cooker. Every Asian household has at least one. There are lots of different brands, but I love my tiny white elephant – Zojirushi. Some rice cookers are small enough to make just one cup of rice, and others can make up to 10 cups of rice at once. We’ve all seen the giant rice cookers behind the sushi bar (or at a church picnic) that make enough rice for a dining room full of people. You know, the ones with wood paneling like those Buick stattion wagons that every family on your block had in 1982.

The funny thing is, I don’t even like rice all that much, so my tiny little elephant doesn’t get much daily personal use in my house. But when I’m cooking, especially Korean or Asian dinners, it’s so wonderful because it requires absolutely no attention through the entire cooking process. Just rice, water, press the button, and a half hour to forty-five minutes later, a little *ding!* and there’s a whole pot of perfectly glossy, steamed white rice – “bahp.”

People have gotten pretty creative with the rice cooker, steaming grains, beans, vegetables, fish, and even making chawan mushi, Japanese steamed egg custard. I remember one friend’s mom who used to mix tomato sauce, garlic, vegetables, and sausage in with the water and rice. After the *ding!* it was pizza-bahp. Very strangely creative.

They don’t cost all that much, so with a gift certificate to Sur La Table, Sam, you could probably buy five of them!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Suebob July 4, 2005 at 12:00 am

Zojirushi no ka oi (it’s the best) (in Hawaiian not Japanese. I guess in Japanese you could say it’s ichi ban).

I love my little white elefant, too!


2 Kirk July 4, 2005 at 3:53 am

A wonderful salute to your knife – as I believe my chef’s knife is the most important kitchen tool as well! I have a regular old Panasonic I press one button and it turns red – means it’s on rice cooker!


3 Xericx July 4, 2005 at 10:42 pm

You’ve got to check out the Shun knives, which I love. So cool.


4 Anonymous July 5, 2005 at 5:18 pm

Don’t even get started on all the “creative” uses for an electric rice cooker. You think pizza-bahp is bad? You ain’t seen nothing til you’ve tried canned tuna mixed in with the rice. WITH MAYO AND AMERICAN CHEESE!


5 sarah July 6, 2005 at 1:49 am

well, i do think the pizza-bahp does get a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese right before serving – you know, melted on top of the rice – lol!

and i love my knife. honestly, i don’t know how i ever cooked with such a ghetto knife in college before. miserable, dull little thing.


6 Sam July 11, 2005 at 7:17 pm

Hello Sweetie – you are not the last person on my utensibility list – but pretty close – so a visit to Chez Delicious Life suggests I have almost come to the end of my round up. Hooray. I plan to publish it tomorrow. I would have done it today but it clashed with something far more ‘dishy’ and important.
I love my rice cooker, which was bought for me by my ex-roomie who now lives in your neck of the woods. It doesn’t have an elephant on it though. My bread machine does, but not my rice cooker.
thanks for your entry


7 sarah July 11, 2005 at 7:49 pm

haha! i didn’t think you’d have a rice cooker – but nice nice that you do! :)

i am actually very very curious about seeing what everyone has recommended for you – though i’ve already seen quite a few of them in my daily food blog travels. i gotta figure out what to do with my certificate for surfas, too!


8 Sam July 11, 2005 at 11:27 pm

there are some really great suggestions
Particulalry check out Keiko at Nordljus and Clement at A la Cuisine, specifically for the things they want next, as opposed to the wonderful things the pair of them already have!

despite doing the round up – i still dont know what to buy, but it is narrowing down a bit.


9 Melvz June 10, 2008 at 9:08 am

You have a very nice blog here. If you want to find affordable and durable kitchenware, check out this directory site about kitchen knives. They have plenty of sites which offers quality knives.


10 zojirushi bb-cec20 review June 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

zojirushi bb-cec20 review


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